CDCS tips - CDCS study techniques and develop a study plan

CDCS study techniques

Using your experience, think about study techniques that have helped you in the past and any others you may have come across.

Some ideas you may want to consider include:

•        Summarize the main ideas in the text.

•        Write study questions for self-testing based on materials in the text.

•        Use the key terms to identify not only definitions but use them for review.

•        Identify/flag key words, terms and concepts you do not understand or that are new to you.

•        Prepare ‘flash cards’ to capture key terms, definitions, exhibits and other material that you have identified for additional study.

•        Work with a partner or study group to teach and test each other.

•        Test yourself frequently. Do not spend time studying what you know. Use what you know for review at the end of the study process.

•        What is troublesome? Identify someone to help you understand sections you do not know and find difficult.

•        Use the resources available through ifs School of Finance and IFSA: Check the web site of the CDCS Forum, a listing of review/revision courses and other examination-related information.

•        Note questions to ask others with more experience or members of your study group.


Develop a Study Plan

Once you have considered the different study options available to you, it is still important to draft a study schedule/timeframe based on your objectives and a realistic view of your time for study and preparation. Your study plan should reflect your individual preferences and methods of working. It is important to remember that a study plan is a flexible document and is both an indicator of where you are and where you want to be.


The first step you should take is to determine your personal study objectives based on the Content Outline and Study Text.

•        You may find it helpful to write out your objectives and post them in a visible location.

•        Advance planning will provide multiple benefits as you prepare for the CDCS examination. It will not require much time to develop a study plan, but doing so will establish your priorities. The most important part of a study plan is to identify how, when and where you want to study.

•        By reviewing the CDCS Content Outline and Examination Specifications (Sections 2 and 3), you will be able to identify the areas with which you are familiar; those you wish to review in detail; and those that are new to you and need in-depth study.

•        You will now be in a position to develop an overall study plan with specific timelines. In drawing up your plan, you may find the following useful:

− Prepare a study schedule — be realistic. Space your studying and allow ample time for review.

− Keep a copy of the CDCS Content Outline in a prominent place as you will refer to it often.

− Make the best of your environment. Some individuals prefer to study in a quiet place, while others prefer working with the radio or television on in the background. Whatever your preference, you can usually create the environment you want for your study session.

− Be prepared to study in free moments, whenever you can. This means identifying times that are available to you for study, such as travel time, standing in lines and queues, waiting for a meeting to start, etc.



Relax while studying. The CDCS examination is an opportunity for you to learn and to demonstrate your knowledge and ability. Maintain a positive attitude that you will be successful on the examination and will allocate the resources required to ensure success.

Do not worry about how much time is left before the examination. You have planned adequately to allow for the maximum use of your time.

Take breaks, exercise. Keep your body and mind relaxed.

A sample Study Plan will be publish in the next CDCS tips – you may wish to reproduce it to assist you in your preparation for the examination.

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