Mastering the CFA Exam: Choosing the Right Calculator

As an expert in the financial industry and a CFA charterholder, I have seen many aspiring candidates struggle with the CFA exams. One of the most common questions I receive is whether or not a calculator can be used on the CFA Level 2 exam. The answer is yes, but it's not as simple as just bringing any calculator with you. In this article, I will share my insights on the approved calculators for the CFA exam and why it is crucial to choose the right one. The CFA Institute has confirmed that two calculators work well for the exam: the HP 12C and the Texas Instruments BA II Plus.

However, in this tutorial, I will focus on the HP 12C as it is specifically designed for financial applications and is recommended by the CFA Institute for its curriculum. It is essential to use an approved calculator to ensure that you have all the necessary functions for the exam. Please note that the CFA Institute does not endorse or guarantee any products or services offered by third-party providers such as Kaplan Schweser. Regardless of which approved calculator you choose, it is crucial to practice and become proficient with it before taking the exam. The CFA exams are highly quantitative, and having a reliable calculator can make a significant difference in your performance.

Therefore, I strongly recommend bringing your own calculator to the exam as not having one can significantly decrease your chances of passing. It's interesting to note that there are two completely different calculators approved for the exam, and it's impressive if you are well-versed in both. However, if you don't have another model of an approved calculator, I highly recommend using the HP 12C for its specific design for financial applications. Choosing the right calculator for the CFA exam is a personal decision, but it can save you a lot of time and stress during the exam. The CFA Institute takes its calculator policy very seriously, and any use of an unauthorized calculator can result in your test results being null and void. As someone who has worked in the financial industry, I can attest that the CFA designation is the gold standard and having it on your resume can open many doors for your career. Since you won't have access to the calculator manual during the exam, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the approved calculator beforehand.

This means learning how to use all the necessary functions and becoming comfortable with its layout. Trust me; this will give you a significant advantage in time management and reduce calculation errors. At Level 1 of the CFA exam, the most common and complicated calculations you'll encounter are NPV (Net Present Value) and IRR (Internal Rate of Return). These are essential concepts in finance, and having a reliable calculator can make these calculations much more manageable. It is essential to note that you cannot borrow a calculator during the exam, and any possession or use of an unauthorized calculator can result in your test results being null and void. Therefore, it is crucial to choose an approved calculator that you are familiar with and have practiced using before the exam.

Serena Lubahn
Serena Lubahn

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