12/3/17

CFA L1 this Saturday... I've taken the LSAT before, but building confidence for this beast is pretty damn hard even if you've majored in finance, accounting, or econ and put in 300 hours already. So, to help break up some study time, are there any great success/dumb luck stories from past candidates?

Comments (41)

11/4/17

The institute is great at taking a bunch of luck out of the equation. I hit band 10 my first go-around on level 3, and hated but totally understood it. The more interesting stories are from the people who assume there is luck involved. I think there's one lying around about somebody who failed level 2 ten (!) times disputing his score with CFAi

I break things internally before we roll them out so people don't break them externally, and find data problems. I also know the story behind every one of our ETF's performance quirks back to inception. Our PMs come to me when they need help.

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11/5/17

got band 10 on my first go at level 1, studied for about 50 hours over 1.5 weeks

let's see Paul Allen's card

Best Response
11/5/17

Level 1 is basically the background check.

I break things internally before we roll them out so people don't break them externally, and find data problems. I also know the story behind every one of our ETF's performance quirks back to inception. Our PMs come to me when they need help.

11/7/17

Yes my crazy story: I was super nervous a week before my L1 exam in December, even after putting in a good 400 hours. MY main question after the exam was who passed? Did anyone pass? And I ended up passing.

11/7/17

400 hours? That's kinda crazy for L1, unless you were starting from scratch.

11/7/17

Hey, I did it. I studied for 400 hours. You cant take those hours from me.

11/7/17

My roommate got his CFA 2 paid for by his bank and he already has a pretty solid banking gig so he didnt really care about passing. He started studying 1month in advance and studied for only 4 weekends. He failed every single practice exams with about 40-50%.

Yet, somehow he passed the CFA 2... no idea how this happened.

11/7/17

They had a system glitch with results this summer. Normally they send emails out around 9am, and that's when most of my friends got their results (most of whom passed). My result however, didn't come until around 5pm. I thought they sent out the passes early on, and saved the rejects for later. I must have hit refresh on my inbox 5,000+ times, and didn't get a thing done all day.

Passed tho, and I'm not looking forward to starting level 3

11/8/17

I actually never received my results via email.
I had to find out via the website portal after waiting for 8 hours. I was so fed up that I didn't even care whether I had passed or not - though I ended up passing.

11/7/17

I took CFA level 1 and 2 ACA professional exams together (UK equivalent of CPA. There are 15 exams in total). Did everything in less than 2 months while working till 8pm pretty much every workday and went away for holiday for about 4 days. Some of my peers studied their ass off for those 2 ACA exams for more than 2 months. Everyone thought I was crazy.

11/7/17

This summer my level 3 email result came roughly 30 minutes before the window even opens. It sounds dumb, but I almost lost it when I went to check my email and saw the results email before mentally preparing myself. What can I say... level 3 is stressful. Passed at least.

11/8/17

Same thing happened to me. Thought it was some kind of error at first, had to check it a few times before I believed that I passed

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11/7/17

The fucking email was in my junk folder - I had created a "junk" folder in my inbox on top of the default junk folder. Took me more than 12 hours post results announcement to figure it out. The CFA doesn't make you any brighter as attested by my personal example

11/7/17

I know a guy who studied for a week for level 1 and passed. Then studied for a week for level 2 and passed.

Then he failed level 3 three times.

I know another guy who literally put in 1000 hours for level 2 and failed (he passed the next year). If you're wondering how he studied for 1000 hours - he had a gov't job - would study at his desk all day lol.

11/7/17

I passed all three on my first attempt without sleeping the night before.

No matter what I did, I could never fall asleep due to the anticipation.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

11/8/17

Friend of mine studied sporadically for a month or two for the Level 1. Probably adds up 30-40 hrs max there. Took the 2 weeks before the test date off of work. Went on a massive substance-fueled vacation for a week and then crammed for the next week. Easily passed.

That's Level 1 though and my friend readily admits that that would not work for Levels 2 and 3.

11/8/17

L1 is not technically difficult whatsoever. It is just memorization.

11/9/17

Someone posted an article, blog, whatever a couple months back about some Baylor bro that passed in only a week. There's your crazy success story. I think God had enough of their lying, hence the abysmal football record.

11/30/17

That and the fact it's a rape farm, probably had a lot of bad karma due.

11/12/17

Uh... L1 is basically a review of what you studied in your freshman and sophomore year. You shouldn't need to study for hundreds of hours. If you study L1 for 300 hrs and fail, I'd say just give up CFA.

11/27/17

This post is honestly garbage. I studied for 120 hours and passed Level 1 by a wide margin. Being a Finance major I hadn't covered anything in Ethics or Alternative Investments as well as many parts within FR&A, Derivatives and Economics. The only reason I had everything covered in fixed income is because I took two fixed income electives one of which was Master's level. The content isn't what's studied freshman/sophomore year and is very detailed. Even if you had taken all the material in school it would take quite a while to relearn/commit to memory all that info.

11/27/17

What you're saying is that CFA Level 1 should not be closely past 120-150-hours of studying?

No pain no game.

11/27/17

What I'm saying is that candidates for the Level I exam have a vast spectrum of previous finance/investments experience. That the material on the exam isn't simply freshman/sophomore year of finance undergrad. And that different people will need different amounts of time to study for the exam based on their previous experience and study habits. It's stupid to say if you study 300 hours and fail to quit the CFA, many people underestimate it.

11/27/17

What guide did you use for the CFA Level 1? Or was it a course?

No pain no game.

11/28/17

I used AnalystNotes.com to identify some of the major topic areas/get some reading on it. After that I went back and searched around online for videos/information related to topics I felt shaky on. Then I dove write into mocks/practice questions and again reviewed online for topics I was shaky on. I would highly recommend not doing this and just spending the money on the Kaplan books. You'll have a much better chance of passing the exam.

11/29/17

It's perhaps the most comprehensive and rigorous course on finance studies out there, and a very well respected and reputable name, particularly in the fields of fixed income and asset/portfolio management. Many do tend to underestimate the rigour and sometimes go in gung ho, but it is certainly no joke :)

I will be sitting for LIII this summer, but opted to go for the once a year path rather than the back to back that allows you to jump one year in advance. I can say that Level 1 is one where you can comfortably pass if you have an accounting/finance background at the undergraduate level (going through the accounting EOC questions and really memorizing the ethics principles should get you largely home). I think I studied 150 hours over the course of the latter 3-4 months in advance of the exam. I felt good about passing when hitting supra 70% on all sections of the mock exams. In terms of funny stories, a friend of mine passed by cramming 150 hours in 4 weeks and miraculously passing :P. When I sat for the exam, someone was throwing a tirade because their cell phone went off (you have to hand it in or risk getting caught), and wouldn't leave the premises. Interesting stuff.

Level II was entirely different beast altogether, and was significantly more challenging. I found that the vignette structure of the questions made it difficult at first blush because you really had to parse out the relevant details from the readings and integrate multiple concepts to form the response. I spent a cumulative 300 hours in total I believe, though I think I stopped counting towards the end. I passed comfortably on my mock exams (I took 6 in total) and passed the exam, but it required doing multiple iterations rehashing the concepts and completing each end of chapter question.

It's not necessarily rocket science, nor is it impossible, but it definitely requires discipline and keeping up with the materials. It's quite easy to shirk off a weekend of 3-4 hours study each day to hang out with your friends, sleep in, or otherwise. It's further exacerbated when you work longer than normal hours. I do think that it's opened doors for me with respect to getting interviews I might not otherwise have, and it lends credibility and credence to your CV in that you are someone who is willing to put a significant amount of time independently to learn a comprehensive finance curriculum. As part of a consortium of tools, it helps you be a well rounded finance professional

There's a closer meaning to my user name. Try reading it quickly. Perhaps you will then understand ;P

12/1/17

Oh man the new June date really sucks for being on LIII then. I guess it's still a beautiful home stretch though. Are you hoping to lateral from IB to AM or what's the motivation for pursuing the Charter?

11/30/17

Where does the pass mark usually sit?

I've been scoring 78-80 on the last couple of practice exams I've done, but not feeling confident at all. Have no formal background in finance or accounting academically, and only started properly studying a month and a half ago due to some personal reasons. It feels like a chaotic mad rush, and I definitely haven't gone through as many practice questions as I would like.

11/30/17

Pass is at 70%, you should feel confident.

11/30/17

There's actually not a set pass rate for the exam. You aren't given an exact score on the exam only subset scores showing whether you got <50, 50-70 or >70. People have estimated it's between 65-75 but no one knows for sure.

12/1/17

I believe that people have anecdotally said that it is "72% of the average score of the top X% (low single digits) of candidates to complete the test"

But yes, if you hit 70% consistently you are almost certain to pass, 75% is a virtual lock.

One item to note, is that I, and others, have seen stylistic differences between CFAi exams and ones from test prep providers. Schwesser, for example loves to throw in trick questions, while real CFAi tests do so rarely, although they will make the most common mistakes the alternate answers.

I break things internally before we roll them out so people don't break them externally, and find data problems. I also know the story behind every one of our ETF's performance quirks back to inception. Our PMs come to me when they need help.

12/1/17

Passing score is usually low-to-mid 60s, if you're getting above a 70 in every section on your practice exams you'll be fine.

12/1/17

Adding to what's said above. 65% is generally okay for a pass esp. with a strong ethics result. 70%+ on your mocks is a good indicator. Good luck!

11/30/17

Not crazy or anything but I was very sick when I was taking it. I didn't go back and double check my work or anything - I just went through all the questions and then slept at my desk until the second section started. Happily passed.

12/1/17

I've got a story about taking level I in December while a senior in college. Had to drive 4 hours from my university to Chicago to sit for the exam and left the night before and was going to stay at a friends house overnight and wake up at 7am to take the exam.

End up leaving at 8pm and my car breaks down on a country road in the middle of Indiana. Also at the time I had no phone so I ended up having to flag down cars until someone towed me off the road and drove me into the nearest town to find a phone and get someone from school to come pick me up. Ended up going back to school (1 hour away) and then borrowing my friends car and staying up all night and driving to the exam.

I was in panic for most of the night thinking it would ruin everything, but ended up taking the exam and found it really easy compared to the rest of the days events. Passed it and used the pass to get my first break!

12/1/17

I passed on first attempt studying 1, 4, and 3 weeks for L1, L2, L3. I can't remember exactly but I concentrated on 3 or 4 sections that make up 70% of exam and just settled for a 33% chance at rest - the math works. For L3 I obv made sure my written responses were on point. Also, I didn't dwell on "studying" too much. I finished reading as fast as possible then took as many practice tests as humanly possible...even taking the same test multiple times until I had (the logic to!) answers memorized. Combine pareto's principle with Parkinson's law. Look it up. Also helps to be finance savvy....some people will just never pass it. If L1 seems really hard and you fail, then just quit.

12/1/17

Best of luck to those taking the "background check" tomorrow. The victory beer and Jack D will be delicious.

12/5/17

Surprised by the number of MS I got thrown at. If you are in a finance or accounting major, take your CFA in your last year of college, study for 300 hours and still fail, there's something deeply wrong with what you're doing.

12/6/17

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