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How I passed all 3 levels of CFA within 2 years

I started Level I Dec 2016, wrote Level II Jun 2017 and just passed Level III Jun 2018. Lots of people find it extremely tough to pass three levels all at first try, let alone writing three exams in a raw. What’s the secret? COMMITMENT. I don’t think there’s anything else than that. Never think you are smarter than others. Never think others must be studying less than you do. From level I to level III, make sure you devote a good amount of time (I personally do average of 1.5-2 hour a day. I found it more efficient to have a consistent study style than not studying during work days and study two full days for the weekends.) Buy study packages, whichever one works for you, do enough practice questions / mock exams. Always have a good attitude, nothing is more important than that. 

Here’s some experience for each level:

Level I: I started study in Aug 2016; used 2 months to go through all 7 books. I probably studied the books a bit more than I should’ve (didn’t have any experience at that time); Then I bought Schweser early October and started my practice journey. I found Schweser Q bank really useful for level I. There were thousands of questions there. I started doing practice questions topic by topic (generating 50 or 100 questions a time), figure out what my weakness is. At that time it was financial reporting, which freaked me out because it has the heaviest weight. I did lots of extra practices on that topic before I started consolidated practice. Turned out that it really helped. I probably did about 5 consolidated practice questions (meaning I went into Q bank, select all 10 topics, generate 120 questions, and set 3 hours for practice). Then I did all 6 Schweser mock exams plus the sit down mock exam. I came out of the exam feeling pretty confident. And surely I passed. 

Level II: I started early Feb 2017. I didn’t spend much time on going through actual books (probably just 1 month). I bought Schweser again and used a good 1.5 months or so to go through all the notes (which I found was the most importance part for Level II preparation). Q bank questions aren’t as useful as Level I just because Level II has a different exam format. But Q bank is still a good tool to make sure you understand the basic concepts. I did all 6 mock exams and the sit-down mock. I also spent two days going through Youtube videos about Level II preparation a few days before exam. I really appreciated those videos, they gave me a good memory boost last minute. (I don’t remember the name of the videos exactly, but it was an Indian professor). 

Level III: I started Jan 2018. Honestly, I felt most nervous for this level. I knew that the passing rate is the highest, but knowing this was the last exam ahead of me, it made me feel scared of failing more than anything else. I basically didn’t read the actual books (I very briefly went through in 3 weeks). I spent a good two months going through Schweser notes. Last two months before the exam was all practicing. I personally like printing out the essay mocks and do it on paper (it feels more real). After a few mocks, I kinda grabbed the tricks for essay part - bullet points, short answers, no BS, just get to the points; this will save you lots of time (turned out the real exam was pretty tight for time, lots of people didn’t even finish); the afternoon part is basically the same with Level II, if you passed previous level, you should already know the tricks. Again, I watched some videos last minute. I didn’t find it as useful as level II. But still, better than nothing. 

A lot of CFA preparation part is to understand HOW TO DO the exam. You can get this by practicing, practicing and practicing. However, knowing exam tricks is not everything. You need to understand materials as well, and this is the most important. I’m glad that I did my CFA exams. It’s not only for getting a prestigious title, I did also expand my knowledge a lot by preparing my exams.

Hope you guys get some values out of my posting. All the best to your CFA journey! laugh

" Wiley's prep material was a huge part of my success." - Lindsey G., USA

jiaqian.he wrote:

A lot of CFA preparation part is to understand HOW TO DO the exam. You can get this by practicing, practicing and practicing. However, knowing exam tricks is not everything. You need to understand materials as well, and this is the most important. I’m glad that I did my CFA exams. It’s not only for getting a prestigious title, I did also expand my knowledge a lot by preparing my exams.

Hope you guys get some values out of my posting. 

After re-reading all 5 of your posts here at AF, this one is by far the best.  Tanks.

#genius

jiaqian.he wrote:

I started Level I Dec 2016, wrote Level II Jun 2017 and just passed Level III Jun 2018. Lots of people find it extremely tough to pass three levels all at first try, let alone writing three exams in a raw. What’s the secret? COMMITMENT. I don’t think there’s anything else than that. Never think you are smarter than others. Never think others must be studying less than you do. From level I to level III, make sure you devote a good amount of time (I personally do average of 1.5-2 hour a day. I found it more efficient to have a consistent study style than not studying during work days and study two full days for the weekends.) Buy study packages, whichever one works for you, do enough practice questions / mock exams. Always have a good attitude, nothing is more important than that. 

Here’s some experience for each level:

Level I: I started study in Aug 2016; used 2 months to go through all 7 books. I probably studied the books a bit more than I should’ve (didn’t have any experience at that time); Then I bought Schweser early October and started my practice journey. I found Schweser Q bank really useful for level I. There were thousands of questions there. I started doing practice questions topic by topic (generating 50 or 100 questions a time), figure out what my weakness is. At that time it was financial reporting, which freaked me out because it has the heaviest weight. I did lots of extra practices on that topic before I started consolidated practice. Turned out that it really helped. I probably did about 5 consolidated practice questions (meaning I went into Q bank, select all 10 topics, generate 120 questions, and set 3 hours for practice). Then I did all 6 Schweser mock exams plus the sit down mock exam. I came out of the exam feeling pretty confident. And surely I passed. 

Level II: I started early Feb 2017. I didn’t spend much time on going through actual books (probably just 1 month). I bought Schweser again and used a good 1.5 months or so to go through all the notes (which I found was the most importance part for Level II preparation). Q bank questions aren’t as useful as Level I just because Level II has a different exam format. But Q bank is still a good tool to make sure you understand the basic concepts. I did all 6 mock exams and the sit-down mock. I also spent two days going through Youtube videos about Level II preparation a few days before exam. I really appreciated those videos, they gave me a good memory boost last minute. (I don’t remember the name of the videos exactly, but it was an Indian professor). 

Level III: I started Jan 2018. Honestly, I felt most nervous for this level. I knew that the passing rate is the highest, but knowing this was the last exam ahead of me, it made me feel scared of failing more than anything else. I basically didn’t read the actual books (I very briefly went through in 3 weeks). I spent a good two months going through Schweser notes. Last two months before the exam was all practicing. I personally like printing out the essay mocks and do it on paper (it feels more real). After a few mocks, I kinda grabbed the tricks for essay part - bullet points, short answers, no BS, just get to the points; this will save you lots of time (turned out the real exam was pretty tight for time, lots of people didn’t even finish); the afternoon part is basically the same with Level II, if you passed previous level, you should already know the tricks. Again, I watched some videos last minute. I didn’t find it as useful as level II. But still, better than nothing. 

A lot of CFA preparation part is to understand HOW TO DO the exam. You can get this by practicing, practicing and practicing. However, knowing exam tricks is not everything. You need to understand materials as well, and this is the most important. I’m glad that I did my CFA exams. It’s not only for getting a prestigious title, I did also expand my knowledge a lot by preparing my exams.

Hope you guys get some values out of my posting. All the best to your CFA journey! laugh

you were raw (nude) when you gave exams?

"You want a quote? Haven’t I written enough already???"

RIP

I didn’t read the post (too long).  When you say 2 years, do you mean 24 month or 18month?

It’s 18 month. I added the preparation time. Dec 2016 + Jun 2017 + Jun 2018

Thank you for the detailed response. I totally remember asking you how you did it.

Message me about the number 1 best wine club in NYC.

That’s great…on the new 3 for 3.  Again, my yardstick of CFA success was how torn up and how much food stain (a stale fry, a taco shell, few grain of rice…) were left in my Schweser books. 

Wow what a great and interesting read.

Can you please write post on how to get job? 

plumber > stripper > experience > CFA > MBA

Haha that shows the commitment!

Thanks for the post.  Did you consider using anything other than Schweser for L3? LevelUp or Wiley?  Thanks again. 

I actually did. I didn’t go crazy for Schweser’s level II Q bank. But I guess I was too hesitant to change since I’ve already used it twice and know the style of Schweser… 

Malee wrote:

Thanks for the post.  Did you consider using anything other than Schweser for L3? LevelUp or Wiley?  Thanks again. 

I showed up at the exam nude except for a horse mask. Immediately, 40% of the candidates left, therefore lowering the minimum passing score and ensuring my success.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

ohai wrote:

I showed up at the exam nude except for a horse mask. Immediately, 40% of the candidates left, therefore lowering the minimum passing score and ensuring my success.

amazing. 

plumber > stripper > experience > CFA > MBA

ooo baby i like it raw

i didn’t really like schweser for level 3, ended up mostly using the books.  level 1 and 2 was all schweser, although in hindsight i shoulda used the books for accounting lvl 2

That was an amazing story. In my opinion, the intuition and the logic you harnessed to achieve such a result is commendable. Great job and hope you have a wonderful journey ahead in life.

Thank you very much! Same to youyes

avmachado wrote:

That was an amazing story. In my opinion, the intuition and the logic you harnessed to achieve such a result is commendable. Great job and hope you have a wonderful journey ahead in life.

Thank you very much! Same to you yes

Thanks for a sharing. To go 3/3 in 18 months is one heck of an accomplishment yes

I tried it (with the exact same test dates too) but failed lvl2 band 9 in 2017. Let’s see if I can make it 3/4 in June ‘19.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

TrackSuitInvestor wrote:

Thanks for a sharing. To go 3/3 in 18 months is one heck of an accomplishment yes

I tried it (with the exact same test dates too) but failed lvl2 band 9 in 2017. Let’s see if I can make it 3/4 in June ‘19.

All the best!

If you want an additional challenge have your first baby after L1. Nothing like trying to study for L2 derivatives while trying to settle a screaming baby! 

By the time you are doing level 3 they can walk and talk, makes for an equally stressful study environment when your toddler is throwing bread rolls at your head. 

On the plus side, 3/3 is still possible! 

I feel your pain. I have a 4 year old and a 4 month old now. They’re going to help me study for lvl1 next year. The 4 year old was 1 when I started my designation journey. I complete the CLU next month. 

Financial Planner
RIA/Agency Business Owner

gwoods wrote:

I feel your pain. I have a 4 year old and a 4 month old now. They’re going to help me study for lvl1 next year. The 4 year old was 1 when I started my designation journey. I complete the CLU next month. 

I remember holding my baby in one arm and the FRA level II book in the other, after a long day at work. Good times.

Hi,

I wanted to which package of from Schweser will be sufficient? There are three packages that they offer, which are, Premium Plus, Premium and Essentials.  Which one would you recommend?

Thanks buddy for sharing your awesome experience

I want to ask something from you

As i read your experience, it seems you did actual books more seriously in lvl 1 but did focused more on schweser in lvl 2 and 3.

Isn’t schweser apart from its q banks a bit lacking as compared to the actual books? 

i found some topics less covered or not properly explained when i compared some corresponding areas from actual book to schweser. i know about level 1 only though.

Can you share your experience in this regards?

Thank you in advance

AyrshireAnalyst wrote:

If you want an additional challenge have your first baby after L1. Nothing like trying to study for L2 derivatives while trying to settle a screaming baby! 

By the time you are doing level 3 they can walk and talk, makes for an equally stressful study environment when your toddler is throwing bread rolls at your head. 

On the plus side, 3/3 is still possible! 

Haha I can’t imagine that. Good for you though! Superb for getting all the exams done! 

Ss7 wrote:

Thanks buddy for sharing your awesome experience

I want to ask something from you

As i read your experience, it seems you did actual books more seriously in lvl 1 but did focused more on schweser in lvl 2 and 3.

Isn’t schweser apart from its q banks a bit lacking as compared to the actual books? 

i found some topics less covered or not properly explained when i compared some corresponding areas from actual book to schweser. i know about level 1 only though.

Can you share your experience in this regards?

Thank you in advance

I think I was more serious on actual books for Lvl 1 because I was a total newbee that time. Didn’t know what else was out there. I actually didn’t buy Schweser until one month before my exam. I figured there wasn’t much time left so I just did Q bank and mocks. Now in hindsight, I would still probably recommend going though the book fairly well before jumping into notes and questions, not as much time as I spent though.. Lvl 1 covers a very WIDE range of topics, so it’s kind of nice to read though everything first. 

Regarding Schweser being a bit lacking, I’d say yes and no. I actually really like the notes part, it’s a great summary to go through around 1-2 weeks before your exam. And honestly, at that time, you really won’t have much time trying to figure out little nuances and try to understand every single details. I just made sure whatever you understood, you don’t forget them in the exam. The fact is nobody will know everything of all six CFA books. I’d just pick the important ones and leave the rest. Of course, if there’s a big topic that you are totally confused with, read the book and spend good time on it. Other than that, I wouldn’t read every single page. Because most likely you won’t remember, that’s the unfortunate truth.. 

All the best! Let me know if you want to discuss more! 

sohabran.pundir wrote:

Hi,

I wanted to which package of from Schweser will be sufficient? There are three packages that they offer, which are, Premium Plus, Premium and Essentials.  Which one would you recommend?

I bought esential self study ones for all three levels. In my opinion, the most valuable ones are Q bank and Mocks. If you like reveiw workshop, just Youtube it, there’s lots of good lessons. No need to spend more $ for that. Good luck! 

Do you think the Schweser qbank/mocks for L2 are useful/worth doing? Some say that its not as useful in L2 than in L1.

Imagineer wrote:

Do you think the Schweser qbank/mocks for L2 are useful/worth doing? Some say that its not as useful in L2 than in L1.

I agree. It’s not as useful as level 1 for the Q banks. The mocks are absolutely useful across three levels. I used Q bank more for testing whether I got the concept correct, not really for exam experience. As you know Lvl 2 has a totally different format than lvl 1. Unfortunately Q bank doesn’t provide the case style. But it wouldn’t be a bad thing to do some questions (but don’t waste too much time on it).

Hey, thanks for sharing your experience.

Can you provide more detail regarding your study schedule through Level 2? You said you spent 1 month in the actual CFAI textbooks and 1.5 months on Schweser. How many hours were you spending each day to study? Did you take notes? Did you do EOC questions after every reading? How could you finish reading all the material in so little time?

Thank you in advance!

Congrats champyes