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How to Use a Mock CFA® Exam to Sharpen Your Testing Skills

By: Kaplan Schweser
November 7, 2022
How to use a mock cfa exam to prepare for the cfa exam

Taking mock CFA exams is an important step in the process of preparing for a CFA exam. Surprisingly, some CFA candidates do not use them, but those who do, report being much more confident in their knowledge and skills when it comes time to sit for the exam.


What is a Mock CFA Exam?

A mock CFA exam is a simulated test-taking experience provided by CFA prep providers for CFA candidates. Mock CFA exams are designed to build candidates' confidence by immersing them in realistic testing conditions and exposing them to the format, difficulty, and length of the CFA exam.


When Should CFA Candidates Take a Mock CFA Exam?

CFA candidates should start taking mock exams a few weeks before sitting for the actual exam. If they have access to multiple mock exams through their prep provider, they can consider taking one a little bit earlier to begin identifying their strengths and weaknesses but should avoid taking one too early. If they take a mock exam too late, they won’t have enough time to improve their performance in identified areas of weakness.

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How to Choose the Right Mock CFA Exam For You

Each CFA prep provider will offer a slightly different mock exam experience and content. When considering which mock exam is right for you, look for information about how closely they simulate the testing conditions. Most candidates won’t be able to simulate exact testing room conditions because they won’t be able to travel to the testing location and take a practice test in that room but they do have control over which mock exams they use to prepare for exam day.

CFA Expert Tip: Check with a local CFA society to see if they offer in-person mock exams.

One basic feature candidates should look for when choosing a mock CFA exam should be if the exam is an online computer-based exam. Then they should look for information about how closely the interface imitates the actual CFA exam interface


Schweser Mock CFA Exam Interface Example

Another important feature to investigate is figuring out if the mock exam experience mimics the actual experience candidates will face during the exam. One of the most important experience factors is time.  Candidates should make sure the mock CFA exam provider offers an experience that imitates the actual time limit candidates will face on exam day. 

Candidates should also look for important features like breaks and completion constraints. Will they be allowed to take a 15-minute break in between sessions similar to how the actual CFA exam is administered? Also what happens if they don’t finish the mock exam in the allotted time? Will they be able to go over the time limit to finish? The answer should be yes to all of these questions.  

Once those features have been satisfied, candidates should make sure the mock exam gives them access to explanations about why the answer is correct or wrong, and scoring and performance tracking by topic area. This feature is what candidates should use to identify curriculum knowledge gaps and improve testing-taking skills. 

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How to Strategically Use CFA Mock Exams While Working Full-Time

If a candidate is working full-time they may not have spare time to waste on the topics or skills they have already mastered. Using a mock CFA exam is a great way to do a last-minute check on how far along they are in mastering the curriculum and skills needed to pass the exam. Mock CFA exams should give candidates performance tracking by topic area and that information should be used to turn weaknesses into strengths. 

How to pass the CFA exam while working full-time >>

Computer vs. Paper-Based Mock CFA Exams

Remember, all CFA exams are administered through computer-based testing. So if a candidate decides they want a printed copy of a mock exam that is fine. When it comes to answering questions in a mock exam, candidates will want to make sure they use a computer-based format that mimics the actual interface they will encounter on exam day.

What is a Good Mock CFA Exam Score?

On any mock CFA exam, candidates should be scoring above 65%. Some levels require a higher score and that’s because the minimum passing score is different for each level and gets adjusted after each administration. Assuming all mock exams are equally difficult, which they may not be, below are general mock CFA exam scores candidates should aim for.

Achieving these target mock exam scores should make candidates feel very confident sitting for the CFA exam.

Mock CFA Exam Level

Target Mock CFA Exam Score

Level I75% or higher
Level II70% or higher
Level III65% or higher


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How To Use Mock CFA Exam Scores To Improve a Study Plan

A mock CFA exam should be used to test candidates' knowledge of the curriculum and expose them to the testing interface. Mock exams should be used in the last few weeks of preparation so, if a candidate takes a mock exam and scores lower than the recommended target score, they should start by using the mock exam software analytics to identify what is holding them back and focus on the issues. 

Another option is to ask questions about your performance in an online forum or directly to a CFA prep instructor. They may be able to quickly point you in the right direction to keep you on track for exam day.

How are Mock CFA Exams Graded?

Mock CFA exams are usually graded by the software used to take the mock exam. Results are quickly calculated and candidates are given a percentage score that indicates if they passed or failed. Mock exam scoring systems are good indicators of how candidates will do on the actual exam and the process for grading mock CFA exams is much simpler than how CFA exams are graded.

How Many Mock Exams Should Candidates Take Before the CFA Exam?

For each level, CFA candidates should take a minimum of 5 mock CFA exams. Level III candidates should take more than 5 CFA Level III mock exams because this will help them fully prepare for the writing skills that are needed to answer constructed response questions.

For level I candidates this will be their first introduction to the exam testing experience so they should make sure to get fully acclimated to the interface.

CFA Expert Tip: There is such a thing as too much practice, so candidates should remember to use mock exams strategically and purposefully.   

Does CFA Institute Provide a Mock Exam?

Yes, CFA Institute provides a mock CFA exam as part of their Learning Ecosystem. These mock exams can be available to registered candidates within two months of their exam date.

Mock CFA Exam vs. Real Exam

Every CFA prep provider’s mock exam experience can be slightly different but candidates should expect the mock exam to be as close to the real exam as possible. 

A Kaplan Schweser mock CFA exam offers a “Sim Mode,” which simulates the interface, format, difficulty, and length of the actual CFA exam from Prometric.*

This mode is timed using the same time limits and built-in breaks of the CFA exam that serve as guidelines so candidates can replicate exam day as close as possible. Once the timer hits zero, they don’t have to stop the exam, however. They can continue completing the mock exam including flagging, skipping, and filtering questions just like they can at the official testing center.

What’s the Difference Between CFA Exam Practice Questions and a Mock CFA Exam?

CFA mock exams are designed to assess your mastery of everything you’ll be expected to know and do when you sit for the actual CFA exam. Mock exams are not a substitute for practice questions or tests, and practice questions and tests are not a substitute for mock exams. Each has its own purpose and uniquely prescribed usage.

Nearly all CFA exam review providers incorporate practice questions and tests into their curriculum. For instance, Kaplan Schweser offers the SchweserPro QBank® as our question practice, and our study packages include practice exams that mimic the types and order of questions on the exam. These tools are meant to be used throughout your preparation to ensure you have an understanding of what you’ve already studied and are prepared to move to the next topic.

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Best Mock CFA Exam Simulator for Practicing

If you want to put an exclamation point on the time you’ve spent preparing for the CFA exam and give your chances of passing an extra boost, a mock exam is a worthwhile investment.


*Kaplan Schweser and the Mock Exam Simulation are neither endorsed by nor affiliated with Prometric.

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