@2015-09-26 18:37:45
Hey, LI-ers
Last year I found it pretty hard to get a sense of the real exam before I actually took it. For that reason, I'd like to share my thoughts on what you guys should concentrate on during your studies.


1) Fin Statements Analysis Yes, it's true that FSA is the most challenging part of the Level I exam. About a half of the questions on Fin Statements Analysis are straightforward, but there are some questions that really knock you down. I personally spent about 20 minutes at the end of the exam working on three FSA questions. These ones canot be answered just by applying concepts learned from the text/analysnotes notes. You have to approach them analytically. As you go through the notes, try to concentrate on the interaction between different fin statements. Many questions on the exam will ask you for the direction of change in some ratio due as a result of change in the entity's policy (LIFO-FIFO, balance sheet- off balance sheet, zeros financing vs coupon-bond financing, capitalization-expense, this or that revenue recognition method, etc.). To prepare for these types of questions, I would recommend writing mini-notes of your own, that would look like this: Transition from LIFO to FIFO leads to 1)... 2)... ... 10)... Do not limit yourself with the contents of the text/notes, try to figure out changes in different ratios on your own. It's better to do this exercise now, than postpone it to May 31.

2) Portfolio Management
Big surprise on the exam. Looks so straightforward in the textbook, but requires memorization of all the tiny details in the book. Bond indexes, PM policies for different types of clients, steps of PM process, all this stuff. The smaler the details - the better the chances that you're going to see them on the exam.

3) Alternative Investments
only 4 q's on the exam, took a guess on essentially all of them, got only 1 or less right. Real estate is a killer, so two options here: if you believe you're luckier than me, just take a guess, otherwise know the topic inside-out, crank through 10-20 full-blown problems and prepare for very complex problems on the exam. It's more than CF discounting, so try to solve really big problems, where it's hard to estimate CF's themselves.

4) Ethics
If you know the code and standards - it's not going to be too problematic to clear ethics in 7-8 minutes on the exam, but beware of PPS standards. Really put as much emphasis on them as on the code and standards.

5) Corporate finance
one piece of advice here: just go through ALL after-chapter questions in Brigham and go to his website ( to evaluate yourself.

Don't kill yourself on quant methods, fixed income, economics and derivatives - these sections of the exam are no-brainers and require only average level of familiarity with the recommended texts. Just practice a lot and you?re going to be fine. Last year I found cfacenter particularly useful in this sense. Shulman was very weak, Schweser was ok, but a bit too simple, and Pass Pro seemed very interesting, but I saw the demo only. So in the order of preference I'd recommend three sources for questions: after-chapter q's in the recommended texts, all the free stuff on the web and of course analystnotes. Any questions or thoughts about the exam and the best way to prepare for it are very welcome. Good luck with your studies!
@2015-10-16 07:15:38
Good job. I would just add that level 1ers, pay special attention to ethics in the last few weeks leading up to the exam. Passing ethics could turn an otherwise failing grade to a passing grade if your results are borderline. Understand the concepts surrounding Material Non Public information, Prudent Man/Investor Rule, Erisa concepts, and Mosaic theory. These seemed to have been tested quite heavily last year. And you DO NOT have to know what number corresponds to what Ethic Rule (like 3a1 is duty to whoever...)

I agree on quant also, don't kill yourself knowing the most complicated formulas, but definitely know some of them well so you can pick up some easy points in quant. It helped me to have a small notebook full of formulas and I just went through this prior to the exam and ended up using a good deal of them.

For derivatives, understand swaps, and different option strategies and their payoffs, obviously. Some easy points can be picked up here. In general just know enough things cold that you can pick up around 70% of the points as easily as possible.....
@2020-01-14 20:29:00
thanks Guys. Keep it up. Much appreciated

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I am using your study notes and I know of at least 5 other friends of mine who used it and passed the exam last Dec. Keep up your great work!