AuthorTopic: Some Lessons Learned
Bellissimo
@2013-12-10 06:09:19
Well, I'm still in the expansive and generous spirit that passing a CFA exam can engender in someone. So, I'm going to post my experience so far and maybe some people can benefit from it.

First off, June 2013 was my third try at the Level 1. I do have an MBA (where I did very poorly in my finance courses) and I do work as an industry analyst so the CFA is not essential to my current job but will be in the future if I decide to move on to heading research teams.

My preparation for June 2012 entailed purchasing all of the texts recommended by CFAI. I began early in September '11 and took TONS of notes and read everything and did almost all of the end of chapter questions. Someone also let me borrow their Schweser Notes over the course of the months leading up to the exam...well, I did not like their questions and notes at all.

My big mistake here was to think that voluminous amounts of notes = actually LEARNING the material. Wrong wrong wrong!

I wasted a LOT of time reading and copying down points. What I should have done was to practice, practice and more practice. I may have done, perhaps, less than a thousand questions before the exam. If anyone wants a ton of notes for 2012, just email me.

Prep for December 2012 took a different tack. I signed up for the TSFA course.

First, the pros about the TSFA course which used Stalla Notes

A. Helps to keep you on track
B. Pretty good teachers
C. Answered some questions

Now, the cons:

A. Very short time period...course started in early September which only gave you about 3 months' time.
B. Classes were shifted around occasionally
C. Not many questions could be answered during class time.

Lesson learned here...may have been better off not taking the course and spending the time practicing. The Stalla notes also seemed a bit skimpy.

I practiced a lot for the December exam...probably did about 3000 questions from a variety of sources. Analysnotes' mock questions were the greatest I must say.

I was pretty confident leaving the December exam so it was a shocker to find out that I failed. I gritted my teeth and buckled down for June. (This is being written by a guy who does long-distance self-supported bicycle touring...over 10 countries...one principality...two continents and counting.)

Preparations for June 2013 included purchasing AnalystNotes' Pro version ebook.

Analyst Notes' pros include:

A. Well laid out...they take the time and space to explain the LOSes pretty well.
B. Review exam sets were pretty decent...very difficult
C. Mock exams were very good...pretty difficult.

Analyst Notes' cons include:

A. The Notes were definitely written by a team of people. Style and tone could, and did, change dramatically at times.
B. Their mock questions were very difficult...so difficult that you could spend too much time trying to understand them.
D. Their ebook was not intuitive, until they did an upgrade, and was not very user friendly.

I heeded people's advice on here and I wrote out my own flash cards this time around.

I also practiced questions religiously...I must have done over 6000 questions and used AnalystNotes extensively. I worried a bit that I was depending too much on AnalystNotes and not enough on Schweser's testbank. Schweser's questions are, to some extent, pretty simplistic. I made extensive use of the user comment feature where they allowed you to ask specific questions.

Now, to summarize all of this into some general lessons that I would have followed for December 2012 if it came to that eventuality:

A. Learn the LOSes!!! Taking notes is all well and good but if they have no bearing on the LOSes then you're wasting time and ink! (I normally use a Sensa rollerball...refills are C$10...and I was going through 1 every three weeks.)
B. Practice practice and practice questions in order to learn the material.
C. Do your own flash cards.
D. Get a good night's sleep. If the neighbor next door is having a party and talking to them doesn't work...call the cops asap! (Should have done that for the December exam)

And some general opinions:

A. People who study hard can still fail the exam. I know some people who work their butts off and still flunk this. So, I wouldn't characterize failures as lazy layabouts.
B. You can still fail despite using the texts. The key is to practice. You can read all you want but it may not do you any good.
C. I believe that CFAI does fool around with the bell curve and that they do have some sort of quota system for each year. That may seem like a cop-out to some people but I don't believe that CFAI sits around and says that the MPS is 60% (or whatever it is). NO. If it was that simple, it would not take that long to get the results out.

Well, time for me to get some real work done. I may post this weekend an offer to sell off my 2013 texts.

Cheers!
quebecguy
@2016-12-20 12:23:19
Good job. Persistence, in my opinion, says much about a person's character. Good job!
allenlush
@2019-03-19 07:59:17
someone told me that there's no fix pass or fail rate.
If a candidate gets 75% or more, he pass.
If he gets less of 50% he fails.
Between 50% and 75%, CFAI checks ethic part and gives their decision according to this part.

Good luck to everyone.

CFA Discussion Topic: Some Lessons Learned

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I passed! I did not get a chance to tell you before the exam - but your site was excellent. I will definitely take it next year for Level II.
Tamara Schultz

Tamara Schultz