4 Tips For Effectively Studying For Your Financial Services Certification Exam


When you’re studying for an important test like a certification exam, every minute you have to prepare counts!

A certification in the Financial Services field can be a big boost for your career, but they can be challenging to obtain. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to learn all the material required to pass the exam. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pull all-nighters and spend every day in the library. The key to an effective study strategy is to use your time wisely and work smarter, not harder.

Want to know which certification is right for you?

Here are a few of the most useful certifications for Financial Services positions:

  • A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is typically required or preferred for any Financial Planner or Financial Advisor positions. It equips you with the knowledge needed to create financial plans and help clients make informed decisions.
  • A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is definitely a certification you should aim for if you plan on working in Investment Banking. This is a highly competitive sector of the Financial Services industry and having this globally recognized designation can show employers and clients that you’re more than capable of analyzing the Financial markets.
  • A Personal Finance Planner (PFP) is an excellent credential for any Financial Services position where you need to work with clients to create a plan that’s best suited to their financial situation. It requires you to understand a range of topics, such as Insurance, income-levels, real-estate, and how all those different factors affect one’s financial plan.

Ready to leave your procrastinating ways in the past? Start with these simple and effective study tips!

Narrow Your Focus

Let’s face it: if you try to learn everything about every Finance topic, you’ll run out of time very quickly. To maximize your efforts, focus on researching topics that are more likely to be on the exam or have been on past exams. For example, if you’re studying for the level 1 CFA certification exam, try to dedicate extra time for topics on Financial reporting and analysis, ethical and professional standards, and quantitative methods because they’re core concepts. Of course, you should still aim to cover as much as you possibly can, but if you’re short on time, this is the best way to ensure you have the most important topics under your belt.

Study from Different Types of Materials

As a student, you have access to numerous sources to study from, so use that to your advantage. Whether you learn best by seeing diagrams, reading, or doing exercises, you don’t want to stick to just one type of study material. You have them at your disposal, so ensure that you review from your textbooks, notes, and recorded lectures if you have access to them.

Furthermore, many Finance certification exams will cover a vast amount of information – much more than a regular university exam – and it can easily start to feel a little overwhelming. When that happens, remember that repetition is key. Going over the same topics presented in various forms will help your brain retain information better and longer.

Test Yourself

Want to find out if you really know your stuff? Test yourself! It’s truly the only way to distinguish what you know like the back of your hand and what you think you know, but really don’t. Do yourself a favour and complete a practice test. In fact, for more well-known certifications, such as Chartered Professional Accountant or Certified Financial Planner, there are practice tests tailored to help people preparing to take that specific exam.

There are many different practice tests online, both free and paid, so be sure to take more than one. Why? Because if you do the same test over and over again, you’ll start memorizing the answers in the order that the questions appear, which pretty much renders it useless for studying purposes.

Tip: If you have access to problem sets and exercises, those are excellent for studying specific subjects that you need more practice in, such as calculating interest, making financial statements, or applying a math formula.

Apply Good Work Habits

Sometimes, students tend to psych themselves out and overstress when studying for a certification exam. However, you should look at it like any other exam – just on a bigger scale. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the large volume of information. Instead, apply the same good habits you’ve developed from studying for university level exams. Remember to eat healthy, follow a study schedule, and get enough sleep the night before.

Regarding the study schedule, we recommend that you take the time to make one. Having so many different Finance topics to cover can lead to procrastination – before you know it, you’ve spent two hours on YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram (trust us, we’ve all done it). Scheduling in specific times to rest can help deter you from taking those overly long breaks and stay on task.

Additionally, when you’re making your study schedule, having goals for each session can be very effective. For example, aim to review a set of stock market terms or complete a math problem set in one sitting. Just take it one step at a time, and you’ll find yourself making your way through that mountain of information faster than you think.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re studying for that Finance certification exam! And remember, it’s only a test – you’ve done hundreds of these in your lifetime, so take a deep breath, drink some water, and study smart. Good luck!

Eager to learn more about the financial services industry? Read our Financial Services Career Guide!