Early this May, I wrote Exam #1 of 3 for the Chartered Market Technician certification from the Market Technicians Association (MTA). I decided to pursue the certification to continue my education on the financial side of things, in particular in technical analysis which I have been doing for a while now.
As I’ve been doing technical analysis for a while now, I decide to take Exam #1 on a short study schedule. I didn’t start studying for the exam until the beginning of April and took the Exam on May 1st. I had attended an informational webinar put on by the MTA on the CMT certification, and the host had stated that it would be possible to pass the exam on a minimum of 40 hours of studying if you’ve been using technical analysis. I would say that statement is probably correct, but only if you’ve been studying/using the technical analysis techniques that are covered in exam #1. For example, I really had done nothing with Cycle analysis but a good portion of the exam was dedicated to that topic. Plus, I’ve spend a good amount of time studying Volume Profile, but this is not covered in the CMT. Thus, I ended up studying closer to 100 hours prior to the exam.
Exam #1 consisted of 132 multiple choice questions with a 2 hour time limit, leaving a little less than 1 minute per question. The most stressful part of the exam for me, was that the passing score was not published. I had no idea what mark I needed to get in order pass this exam which basically meant that I really didn’t know if I was prepared when I walked in to the exam. On the one hand, I understand that doing this means you really need to study to know the material inside out, and that’s a good thing. But on the other hand, I think it could be particularly frustrating if you don’t pass the exam, especially give the cost of the exam being $250 (Not including MTA membership fee and CMT registration fee). That said, it certainly drove me to try to learn the material deeper. In the end, I passed with a mark of 85% meaning I still have room for improvement.
The recommended reading list for Exam #1 consists of:
Technical Analysis: The Complete Resource for Financial Market Technicians (2nd Edition) by Charles Kirkpatrick and Julie Dahlquist
Technical Analysis of Stock Trends, 10th Edition by Robert Edwards and John Magee
Technical Analysis Explained by Martin Pring
In the informational webinar, the host stated that the most important book was the book by Kirkpatrick and Dahlquist and then the Point and Figure book by DuPleuss. I decided to not read Technical Analyais Explained by Pring, and Technical Analysis of Stock Trends by Edwards and Magee to reduce my study time.
To help accelerate my studies, I purchased the following study guide:
Other available study guides:
Kirkpatrick and Dahlquist’s study guide provides a good condensed overview of each chapter, hitting on most of the main topics and keywords, although a few were missed and needed to be referred to in the textbook. This guide also included answers to the textbook chapter questions, along with additional multiple choice questions that I used to test my knowledge of each chapter.
While I didn’t purchase Pring’s study guide, I plan to for Exam #2. I also think that for someone who is well educated in technical analysis, it would be possible for someone to pass Exam #1 by just studying the Study Guides and not the textbooks. But only for someone who is already educated in technical analysis and is looking for more of an overview rather than the details.
I utilized Kirkpatrick and Dahlquist’s Study Guide heavily to create an Anki Flashcard deck so that I could quiz myself on the topics but relying on Anki’s timed repetition algorithm to study the newer cards and cards I had trouble with more often. For those of you not familiar with Anki, Anki is a powerful flashcard program that uses spaced repetition based on how well you state you know the answer to the card. This gives you the advantage of being able to study a large set of cards, but focus on the cards you don’t know as well more often, and those you know well less often, making your study time more efficient. Additionally, you can add images (great for charts) and audio recordings (better for language learning) to your cards, so you can create questions based on a chart, or show a chart on the answer to better clarify a topic.
You can get Anki for Windows for free at www.ankisrs.net, and there are versions for iOS and Android. You can request the CMT Exam #1 Deck I created if you want a starting point, but it is usually in your best interest to build your own flashcards as it is a great way to learn initially, but you can also develop them in a way that suits your learning style.
Next, I downloaded and completed the Practice Exam from the MTA website, but wanted additional practice questions. So I decided to purchase the Systematic Technical Analysis Chartered Market Technician CMT Level 1 from Lulu. This ebook includes over 700 practice questions from a CMT holder, but someone who is not at the MTA. My feelings toward this book are a bit torn, because it was nice to have additional questions to test my knowledge, but many of the questions were repeats (or near repeats), poorly worded, or focused on irrelevant details. One question asked about a particular technical pattern but from the perspective of Pring and not the other authors. This meant that the authors of the recommended reading list had differing opinions of this particular pattern, and that it was somehow important that we knew Pring’s version. I feel that this particular piece of knowledge was useless and hoped that this type of question would not be asked on the exam (It wasn’t). For me, it would be more important to understand the logic underlying each of the authors belief around a technical pattern. That logic is what should be asked about, not what each author believes or not.
Despite these shortcomings, I felt the ebook was still worth the investment given my short time frame of studying for the exam, and my uncertainty around not knowing the passing grade. I wrote one of the practice exams the day before writing the actual exam and only scored around 60% which concerned me but ultimately didn’t matter for the actual exam. Thus it is up to you if you want to purchase these questions, but I certainly would be on the lookout for something better. But I’ll probably skip it for Exam #2.
Next, the MTA had done posted a webinar series for each of the exams. For Exam 1, there are 4 videos with a total time of approximately 7 hours. They are free and definitely worth watching for a good overview, but I do wish that they were longer and went into more depth. I also wish that they were available in other formats as I would have liked to have watched them on my iPad. I hope that the MTA would look at providing these video in formats that could be played on devices in the near future.
While the textbooks did a good job of explaining most topics, there were a few topics that I needed clarification on. I knew the MTA had a Knowledge Base so I turned to it a couple of times but ended up disappointed. I looked for some clarification on certain Point and Figure chart patterns, but found nothing in the knowledge base. The pages that were there didn’t do a great job of explaining the topics, so I ended up Googling things and looking elsewhere.
I also made use of an older set of videos I had from Martin Pring called “The Complete Technical Analysis Course“. These videos were a nice break from all of the required reading, but I wouldn’t rely on them to help you pass the exam. I used them mostly for review and repetition of some of the concepts, especially when I just wanted to sit back and watch something rather than actively study it. But they certainly aren’t required, but another resource that is available.
Finally, on the exam there were a few questions that I didn’t know the answer outright, but I was able to eliminate 3 of the 4 options as incorrect. While I wouldn’t recommend planning to pass the exam in this manner, by taking your time and thinking through the tougher questions, you can often use deduction to come to the answer. The downfall of this is that is definitely takes more time to answer a question in this manner, and you don’t have a lot of time to spare in the exam.
I’m hoping to take Exam #2 in Oct of 2014, but that will ultimately depend on my schedule and how much studying I can get in between now and then. The reading list is a bit larger so I’m planning to spend a larger number of hours studying for that exam. But I’ll be sure to post my study techniques when I pass that exam.