We asked candidates “Which Techniques Improve Your Retention of CFA Material” and the overwhelming majority (66%) said “do practice questions”.

We then wondered just how many questions it takes to achieve retention. The results are pretty even around the 2,000 question level.

Analyzing the results of the number of practice questions undertaken by candidates preparing for the CFA exam provides valuable insights into potential strategies for success. Let’s discuss action steps and address the conflict between doing too many and too few practice questions.

Action Steps:

  1. Understand the Middle Ground: The majority of candidates fall within the range of 2000 to 5000 questions. This indicates that a moderate amount of practice questions is common and might be effective for many candidates. Action: Aim for a balanced approach with around 3000 to 4000 practice questions. This allows for thorough coverage without overwhelming yourself.

  2. Assess Personal Learning Style: Individuals have different learning styles; some may benefit from more practice questions, while others may prefer quality over quantity. Action: Reflect on your learning style and adapt the quantity of practice questions accordingly. If you grasp concepts quickly, focus on understanding fewer questions in depth. If you learn better through repetition, a higher quantity may be beneficial.

  3. Quality Over Quantity: Simply accumulating a high number of questions does not guarantee success. It’s crucial to understand the concepts and reasoning behind each question. Action: Prioritize understanding the rationale behind each question. Use practice questions as a tool for learning and reinforcing concepts rather than just memorizing answers.

  4. Focus on Weak Areas: Identify and concentrate on the areas where you struggle the most. Allocating more time to challenging topics can significantly improve overall performance. Action: Prioritize practice questions in your weaker areas. This targeted approach maximizes the efficiency of your study time.

  5. Simulate Exam Conditions: Practicing under exam conditions is crucial for time management and stress preparation. Action: Set aside dedicated time to simulate exam conditions periodically. This helps in building stamina and refining time-management skills.

  6. Utilize Adaptive Learning Platforms: Adaptive learning platforms can tailor practice sessions based on your performance, focusing on your weaknesses. Action: Consider using adaptive platforms that adjust the difficulty of questions based on your proficiency. This can optimize your study time and target areas that need improvement.

Conflict between Too Many and Too Few Practice Questions:

  • Too Few Questions: Risk: Insufficient exposure to a variety of scenarios and concepts. Action: Ensure a minimum baseline of practice questions to cover key topics and build confidence.

  • Too Many Questions: Risk: Potential burnout, diminishing returns on investment of time. Action: Prioritize quality over quantity, focusing on understanding the underlying principles.


Balancing the quantity and quality of practice questions is key to successful CFA exam preparation. Find the middle ground that aligns with your learning style, prioritize understanding over accumulation, and adapt your strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses. Regularly assess your progress, simulate exam conditions, and leverage adaptive learning tools to enhance your preparation.

How does your study approach measure up? Take a 2-minute survey to get your score.

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