I honestly didn’t think I would be able to write this post. Because I honestly didn’t think I would pass the Canadian Securities Course (CSC®) my first try. But here we are and thank god for it!
Let me give you some context. I’ve been in the personal finance world for almost a decade now, starting out as a hobby personal finance blogger in 2011. That hobby blog evolved, and 4 years ago I left my corporate job to work for myself as a content creator, speaker, money expert in the media, and financial counsellor.
After I became an Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada (AFCC®) at the start of 2018, I thought I was done with formal financial education. It took me a year to get those credentials and I felt wiped out by the end of it.
Cut to 6 months later and I got a bit restless. Although I really enjoyed the AFCC program (maybe I’ll write about that in a future post), it didn’t go in-depth on topics like investing. Moreover, although I’ve been able to bring more awareness to the program with my platform, most people have still never heard the term “financial counsellor” before.
You know how annoying it is when someone asks you about your credentials, you tell them, and they look at you blankly because they have no idea what an Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada is or if it’s even “legitimate”. It is by the way. It’s just not as popular a program in Canada compared to the U.S. where it originated. Typically most people who do the program pursue a career as a credit counsellor for a credit counselling agency. But I digress.
The Canadian Securities Course through the Canadian Securities Institute, on the other hand, people have heard of. Almost every other Canadian personal finance expert I know, not to mention journalists and financial planners, have taken it.
So to me, it was the natural next step to take. However, now that I’ve checked it off my list, I’ve set my sights even higher. I’m slowly pursuing the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. I’ve even signed up for Financial Planning 1 through the Canadian Securities Institute to continue down that path. But I’m not here to talk about the CFP or the AFCC. I want to share with you my experience and my study tips for passing the Canadian Securities Course.
How Long It Took Me to Pass the Canadian Securities Course
From cracking open Volume 1 of the CSC coursebook to passing the Volume 2 exam, it took me 3 months to complete. Would I suggest this as a reasonable timeframe for doing the Canadian Securities Course? Absolutely not! My heart starts to race just thinking of the stress and pressure I put on myself to do it so quickly.
In the course, it does provide a study planner for 3, 6, 9, and 12-month windows. To me, 3 months isn’t really enough time to let all the content truly soak in and for you to do all the interactive quizzes, watch all the videos, and take all the practice exams.
So…why on Earth did I try to do it in only 3 months? Money. That’s why. I signed up for the course in 2018. I paid to renew it in 2019. And in 2020, I had to take it otherwise be forced to pay the full fee once again (you can only renew it once). Thankfully, because of the pandemic, my course license was extended. It was set to expire in July 2020, but it was extended to the end of October. This little saving grace motivated me to get serious about studying. Still, I didn’t leave myself much time. I started studying in mid-July, had my first exam Sept. 23, and my second exam on Oct. 14.
Although the course provides a study planner, since I was in a time-crunch, I just did my own thing. If I was smart and left myself more time, I probably would have opted for the 6-month plan. Instead, here’s what I did:
2 Weeks: Volume 1 has 12 chapters, so I studied a new chapter every day, which also included me watching all the accompanying videos and doing the interactive quizzes.
2 Weeks: Volume 2 has 13 chapters, so I studied a new chapter every day to replicate my process for Volume 1.
3 Weeks: I went back to Volume 1 to study since that was the first exam I booked to take. I re-read the entire textbook, highlighted sections, wrote notes and terms on flashcards, re-watched a few of the videos, then did both practice exams. I passed both practice exams, which gave me confidence that I’d pass the real exam.
1 Week: I needed a break from studying (and my mental health!), so I took one week off from studying.
3 Weeks: In the final 3 weeks, I studied Volume 2 again, which included re-reading the entire textbook, highlighting sections, and making flashcards. I only did one of the practice exams because I felt a bit burnt out from all the studying, but I passed it, and thankfully I passed the real thing too!
So yes, I read both textbooks twice! And I can honestly say I have never studied so hard for anything in my life! But I’m glad I did. Not just because I passed, but also because that information is very much ingrained in my mind now and for the future.
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