With the Chartered Market Technician exams fast approaching in almost a week’s time, many candidates have been asking me how they can focus their review to maximize their time and effort as they race against the clock to learn, review, and memorize information.
1.) CMT Tips
My first suggestion is that they check out our CMT Tips page to make sure they understand the basics of the exam and preparation. Once they have done that and gotten a basic feel for the exam, they are ready to tackle the most important element of organizing their notes and review.
2.) The CMT Level 1 Handbook
For this process I highly recommend following and organizing notes according to the Level 1 Reading Plan laid out in our CMT Level 1 Handbook. The reading plan covers all recommended reading for the Level 1 required by the MTA and is organized in a way that makes sense. For example, rather than reading each book cover to cover, all pages for each topic are grouped together across all books. In this way candidates learn a single topic at a time while referencing two or three books simultaneously.
This method of preparation and review has many advantages. The first and most obvious advantage is that the plan is laid out in chronological order and is designed for someone who has no previous knowledge of technical analysis. In this way they can start with the most basic information and work their way through the material, progressing from most basic to most advanced. The topics are organized into “blocks” so that each one builds upon the block that precedes it, as well as lays the foundation for the block that follows it. Imagine a tower of technical knowledge being constructed from the bottom up in your head, block by block, and you should have a good idea of how we like to prepare our CMT candidates.
3.) Notes by Topic
When you are detailing your review notes, it makes sense to organize by topic. This sounds obvious, but is harder to pull off in practice. Should you group candlestick patterns in short-term patterns, area patterns, or charting techniques? The reading plan does that for you automatically.
4.) Focus on One Thing at a Time
As you go through each topic in our plan, the material will be very fresh in your mind. This will allow you to extract the novel information while skimming over the material that is redundant. This method works best when you look at a single topic at a time without breaking your concentration as the important information will be readily apparent from the less-important filler and redundant information. By organizing your review notes in this way, one topic at a time, and making sure you practice memorizing them before the exam, you will be well prepared on exam day.
5.) Be Realistic About What You Know
We have mentioned this before but we feel it is important to mention it again. Why bother spending time reviewing what you know you already know? You must focus your energy and mental concentration like a laser on the topics that you do not know as well because you had less time to read up on them, or on the topics you have had difficulty recalling details about. In the former case, you know what areas you haven’t devoted as much time. Inevitably there will always be one book, usually the first or last book we decided to read (or never got to in the first place), that we just weren’t able to really get into like we would have liked. This is fairly common, and I find this happens to the majority of candidates, so don’t be alarmed if this sounds like you. It just means you must recognize your weakness and adjust your review accordingly.
6.) Test Yourself
In the later case – in areas you have difficulty recalling – you must first determine where your weakness lies. The best way to do this is by testing yourself. The MTA offers several questions that you can download from their Knowledge Base to get you started. Additionally, Market Tech Lab offers our own third-party practice exams – for both Level 1 and Level 2. When you are done taking our exam, you will have a chance to identify areas that you struggled in, which brings us to our next point.
7.) Review Incorrect and Uncertain Answers
In our exams we not only explain why the answer is the correct answer, but we also reference every page where you can find the explanation word-for-word from the reading list. This allows you to quickly identify why you made the wrong choice and quickly move on to the next question. Additionally if you are still confused or would like more explanation, you can turn to the specific pages that really flesh-out the topic you are reviewing. This will save you countless hours of hunting and page-flipping trying to find just where the explanation is, as well as leaving you with a feeling of security that you know exactly where the question came from.
8.) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
After you have taken the practice exam and review the questions from the MTA, you should repeat the process to make sure you definitely have the information learned in your mind. This will accomplish one of two things… Remember the tower analogy from point #2? Well now you must cement the blocks together in your head so the tower doesn’t topple. The first thing it does is that you will cement the material in your mind by reinforcing your review of incorrect answers when you answer correctly the second time around. The second is that for all questions you will become quicker at recalling the information and therefore quicker in answering questions on test day. This will give you more time for the more difficult questions on exam day as well as peace of mind.
9.) Review Level 1 and 2 Material
If you are taking the CMT Level 2 or 3 Exams, you are not merely required to know only information from the selected readings for each respective level. Each exam is cumulative, which means level 2 candidates must know level 1 information, and level 3 candidates must know level 1 and 2 information – all of it. While the level 2 and 3 exams will certainly focus primarily on new material, there could be questions on material from other exams and there will definitely be questions that involve material from both 1 and 2 or all three levels (in the case of the Level 3 Exam). It would be very difficult to test the body of technical knowledge based on what you know from only one of the levels, since so much builds on itself – the tower analogy again.
10.) Review the Market Technician’s Blog
This blog has plenty of practical articles and updates on applying and learning technical analysis. Most posts fall into two categories. The first is descriptive. I have laid out various indicators, oscillators, theories, etc. to provide another viewpoint and explanation that typically combines material from all of the reading. It is my hope that these explanations are more concise than what you would find in the books without sacrificing the necessities. Usually these also tie in a chart to provide a present day example.
The second category is application. This will apply most directly to candidates preparing for their Level 2 and 3 Exams, however, all candidates can benefit from the material. In the application postings I have detailed technical methods to analyze current market environments as well as potential implications. The level 2 exam tests technical application, while the level 3 exam is exclusively application. In this way candidates should get a better idea of application in practice rather than in theory, as the suggested reading typically lends itself to.
Be sure to stay vigilant in reviewing before your exam. Use this guide. Use your notes. Use your study questions. Use this site and myself as a resource. Follow our Twitter account. We offer tutoring services as well for those that feel they would like the extra guidance. You are welcome to forward any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help you out. At Market Tech Lab, our mission is to help candidates prepare, help candidates pass, and help candidates succeed as CMT’s. I envy you, the candidates, as you get to put your knowledge of technical analysis to the test after months of immersion in the topic which we are all so passionate about. I wish you the best of luck on your journey of empowerment through technical analysis.