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My Dec '18 Level I Experience

For what is worth, could be useful to new candidates. I am 40, work in private equity and last year decided to do the CFA for fun (and to check if my brain still works after so many years post Uni).

What I did wrong: I studied on the official CFA materials. It took forever to read it (maybe also because English is not my mother tongue). I think I took 2 months  to read book 1 alone (and 5-6 months to read all of them, 300-400 hrs). It is tedious, poorly organized and wordy (studied in the evenings and fell asleep most of the times after a  few pages). Never again. I started studying for level II three weeks ago using the Schweser notes as the time until the June Level 2 exam is very little if you have a full time job and I have already gone through book 1 and 2, I like them, hope they are good enough to pass the exam. I finished the first read of the CFA L1 materials one month before the exam. In the following 15 days I read again only the parts that I had highlighted in the textbooks and summarized everything in about 10 pages of handwritten notes. From that point I only used my handwritten notes as reference. I used the remaining 10 days or so to practice with a few hundred questions on the CFA website + the 2 (or they were 3?) mock exams on the website.  

The exam went better tha expected, got the results yesterday, of the 9 topic areas I got 90th percentile in 3 of them and higher than 90th percentile in the remaining 6. The overall score seems to be 95th to 99th percentile from the chart.

Level I vs Level II so far: I know everyone says Level II is much harder but actually I am finding it easier so far. The Level 1 curriculum is very wide while Level 2 is much narrower so far, but deeper. E.g. the quantitative method part of Level 2 has only one topic: regressions. Same for Economics: the only topic is fx rates. Maybe it is just me but I find it easier to focus on one topic and go deep vs studying multiple topics at a more shallow level. But since everyone says Level II is harder I am sure the hardest part has still to come, like i said I did only 2 books so far.

So far it was a fun experience. I took the exam in London and 80% of people were young Chinese. I looked like a dinosaur there, when I took out my 20 years old HP12C they laughed at me lol.

So bottom line my advice is: don’t use the CFA materials, using the Schweser Notes will cut the preparation time in half. 

Hope this will help someone

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Thanks for this insight. But you are advising against what made you get 95th percentile and for what you are yet to test if it works or not.

Maybe level 2 is easy for you because you studied level 1 from CFA material. Thought of that?

@od320 Good point. That worked, but I really feel i could have got there in half of the time. The CFA materials were a really difficult (ie. boring) read for me. I feel they could have written the same things in 500 pages instead of 3000. it is a collection of articles rather than a structured textbook.

@thumbliner I don’t think so, it is new stuff. Level II so far seems to be more focused on a few topics which makes it easier for me, but could be personal preference. Plus, I only read 2 books out of 5 and have not done any exercise….so I should hold my judgment….

PS In my case I don’t think I have a choice, I don’t think i can take Level II in June starting now and using the CFA materials (not with a  full time job), so I am giving the Schweser notes a a try

Is regression difficult to tame? 

dasstienn wrote:

Is regression difficult to tame? 

Depends. Likely “yes” if quant methods isn’t a strong topic for you. 

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