Mastering the CFA Exam Calculator: Tips from an Expert

As an expert in the field of finance and a CFA charterholder, I have seen many candidates struggle with the use of calculators during the CFA exams. It may seem like a small detail, but choosing the right calculator and mastering its functions can make a significant difference in your exam performance. In this article, I will share my insights on what type of calculator is allowed on the CFA Level 2 exam and how to make the most out of it. First and foremost, it is important to note that regardless of which certified calculator for the CFA exam you use, repetition and extensive practice with the calculator are essential to becoming proficient enough to pass the exam. The CFA Institute (CFAI) has a list of approved calculators that are allowed in the exam room.

It is crucial to choose one from this list as using an unauthorized calculator during the exam may lead to the suspension or cancellation of your application in the CFA Program. When considering which calculator to use, keep in mind that you will be using it not only for the Level 2 exam but also for all three levels of the CFA exam. Therefore, the real cost of the calculator is nominal compared to the value it provides. As we all know, CFA exams require a lot of calculations, and your calculator is a device you can count on in more ways than one. The CFAI also has a list of personal items that are allowed in the test center and that candidates can use as a checklist before exam day. This includes your calculator, pencils, erasers, and approved reference materials.

It is important to review this list beforehand to avoid any last-minute surprises or issues at the testing center. If you work or plan to work in the financial industry, you know that the CFA designation is the standard of reference. Therefore, it is crucial to not only pass the exams but also to excel in them. And to do so, your calculator must become a natural extension of your approach to problem-solving. Prior to the CFA exam, the testing center will perform a series of inspections to verify that everything is in order and in accordance with CFAI standards. This includes checking the calculator's configuration to ensure it is suitable for most of the calculations required in the CFA exam curriculum.

It is important to note that candidates are not allowed to borrow a calculator at any time during the exam, and the use or possession of an unauthorized calculator may result in the nullity of the exam results. Now, let's talk about the specific types of calculators allowed on the CFA Level 2 exam. The two most popular options are the Texas Instruments BA II Plus and the Hewlett Packard 12C. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. The BA II Plus comes in two versions - original and Professional. The Professional version has additional features such as more memory and a more user-friendly interface.

However, both versions are widely viewed as an easier-to-use option compared to the HP 12C. An effective way to familiarize yourself with the calculator is to use it while practicing with CFA mock exams.

Serena Lubahn
Serena Lubahn

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