Equal time per study session?

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Nick82's picture

I am done with study sessions 1 and 2 at this point and feel pretty good so far, except for the fact that it is taking a little longer to get through Quant than I had budgeted on a per study session basis. I planned to budget about 6 days per study session to finish up with everything in early May to have 3 to 4 weeks for review. Ethics wasn’t a problem, but Quant is taking a lot more time to get through, so my question is if it is normal / recommended to spend extra time on certain subjects rather than spending an equal amount of time on each study session? I am trying to get an idea if I just need to put in a lot more hours in studying per day to stay on track or if i can take a couple of extra days on subjects such as Quant and less on others that won’t be quite as complex. Any thoughts on on this appreciated. Thanks!

Reason #2: No Expiration Date. You get free updates until you pass.
Clark_CFA_Candidate's picture

I weight my study time and attention to each section based on the exam weightings. It also depends on your proficiency in each area. You don’t need to spend so much time on a SS if you already know the material well. But, all else equal, I’d suggest focusing on the areas with greatest weight on the exam.

effreyj's picture

Some study sections are harder than others and some are longer than others.

Black Swan's picture

My first advice to candidates is to look at the exam topic weights on the CFA website and allocate your study time accordingly. Don’t very much from it. If an area is hard for you, don’t go and spend a ton of time on it if it’s a 5% weight. Similarly, if you like a topic, don’t spend 20% on it if it’s a 5% weight. Just treat the topic weights as time allocation.

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mohammad.belaal's picture

Agree with Black Swan. Distribute the time with respect to exam topic weights. Best Strategy!

This is a game that rewards patience and balance. Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.

WarrenB1's picture

Totally don’t agree with the recommendation on breaking up your study time based on Exam Weight. You should base it on workload……number of reading pages, number of examples (break it down even further by solution), number of End of Chapter problems and finally the number of LOSs (Mind Mapping Notetaking). If you’re a good analyst, you should be able to develop a workload model based on those inputs. Also, break down the exam into three sections (You should discover the workload weighting is definitely not equal, that’s why the individual who started this thread is late to schedule, major problem for most new to the CFA exam process):

Section 1 Volumes 1 thru 3
Section 2 Volumes 3 thru 6
Section 3 Review

(My background: work for DOW 30 company (Project Management), degree in Industrial Engineering, Wharton Business degree).

W

Black Swan's picture

Here’s why WarrenB here is wrong.

Using his strategy you could easily spend 20% of your time on derivatives which is worth 5% of the exam weight and is tested at a high level on the exam rather than the detail they throw at you in the L1 texts. Many people stray from the topic weights and fail. Any good analyst could tell why his strategy sucks. Spending 20% of your time on something worth barely 5% on the exam is not an efficient use of your time. Also, I didn’t find it necessary to post unrelated backgound info to validate my point. My favorite part of my exam experience was sitting LI in Philly between two Wharton grads talking about how special they were then finding out later they failed. CFA doesn’t recognize pedigree. If I was the sort of guy who felt it necessary to post my background, the relevant data would look like this: 3/3 on exams (6 weeks LI, 4 weeks LIII), and the fact that I’ve racked up 4000+ posts over the past four years helping people pass and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Take it with a grain of salt though, I only have a lowly MSF degree, not a Wharton MBA and years of experience in a non-financial field.

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itera's picture

yea seriously. don’t follow warrens advice. definitely weight your time by exam weighting as a start. then adjust based on your skill and understanding on the topics

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

Nick82's picture

Thanks for all of the comments, I have a better idea of how I need to break of my studying at this point. I was just starting to get a little worried since it has been about 7 years since my last finance class. I am almost done with quant now and about to move on to the next subject, so we’ll see how that goes. After getting through most of quant I did have one other question about the exam. Is it important to know every formula, even for things like skewness and kurtosis? Or is it more important just to know how to interpret their results? Once again, thank you everyone for advice, it is a big help.

Black Swan's picture

If you look at the LOS (learning outcome statements) before each section, if it says calculate, then you need to know how to calculate. Otherwise, just become familiar with the concept. Although, without looking, I feel pretty confident you don’t need to know the formulas for skewness and kurtosis, just how to interpret the results. Other sections of quant you will definitely have to know how to calculate though.

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Black Swan's picture

Also, definitely be familiar with T-Stat, F-stat, etc (or whatever it is, it’s been awhile)

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WarrenB1's picture

Black Swan

20% for Derivatives??? How did you come up with that weight???? I have equal weight for Derivatives @ 5%, in fact for 60% of the exam topics I have equal weight (workload to exam topic weighting), only minor percentage differences at the Study Session level. Where we see differences in weighting is Ethics, Quant, Economics and Fixed Income. The reason I posted on this thread is the author was coming up short for Quant, depending on the amount days one has to study for their initial run through of the material, switching to exam weighting one could still come up short. Also, the 2012 Economics volume has more quantitative work then the Economics of past (workload is more critical than exam topic weighting), the workload is only 1% point behind FSA.

Ethics Workload weight 5% Exam Weight 15%
Quant Workload weight 20% Exam Weight 15%
Econ Workload weight 20% Exam Weight 10%
FI Workload weight 8% Exam Weight 12%

Given enough study time, one could get away with using exam topic weighting for Level 1, however, as one studies for the Level 2 and Level 3 exam workload weighting is ideal as the weighting for those exams are given in topic weighting ranges.

The approach that I’m recommending also allows the candidate to utilize their analyst skills.

From what I have been told, 25 percent of the candidates at level 1 don’t show up for exam, I have to believe “one” of the contributing factors is “coming up short” on their preparation for the exam.

Sorry, I relied on my Industrial Engineering and Project Management experience to come up with workload weightings.

My point in all of this is workload weighting is a more reliable starting point than exam topic weighting, especially at levels 2 and 3. Of course experience, skill level and study approach play a factor, but very hard to quantify per this forum.

W

effreyj's picture

If you guys spent more time studying and less time coming up with formulas about how long to study each topic, then you’d have more time to learn the material.

itera's picture

^ dang. The Level 1 candidate comes in with the backhand!

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

itera's picture

For the uptight people, I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic. Only that he makes a decent point, although warren’s taking it much more overboard.

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

clearlycanadian's picture

Just read the damn books at a good pace leaving you 6 weeks to prep for the exam. Once you’ve gotten through the material once, take a mock, see how you score and where your weaknesses are. After that study those sections and retake a mock to see if you improve.

Rinse repeat

Only thing I’d suggest is making flash cards. Its amazing how effective they are at refreshing your mind on concepts you studied 2 months prior

Black Swan's picture

iteracom wrote:
^ dang. The Level 1 candidate comes in with the backhand!

lol, +1, I got a grin out of it, he was totally right.

Anyhow, warren, I used derivatives to try to make a point (I think the complexity / size of the text is disproportionate to its weight). But I was pretty harsh in my response. My bad. It sounds like we’re essentially on the same page here.

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rafael_ramirez's picture

I agree with Black Swan. Assign study time accordingly to each section bases on its weight in the exam. I believe this is a good benchmark for a “floor” on the most number of hours you should dedicate on a particular section. For example, I had calculated that 68 hours were necessary to prepare for Ethics and Quant. However, I completed both much sooner than I had originally calculated. Overall, it took me 38 hours to complete. Use the weightings as a tool that let you know when you are within the bounds of your allocated study time. Once you breach the allocated hours per study session, you know you are falling behind schedule.

Take into consideration that this method is a great tool when combined with other variables and should not be used as a stand-alone tool.

WarrenB1's picture

No problem Black Swan!!!

W

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