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Dealing with failure in level 1

Hello all,

I am a level 1 candidate (took it in December 2013). All was fine until the AF started showing the no of days remaining for the level 1 result and when I started talking to my friends about the result. Since then I started having nightmares about the level 1 result. Believe it or not I started taking some pills so that I could sleep peacefully. I hardly ever took pills for sleeping. I cannot even concentrate when I am awake as I usually start thinking about the typical “we regret to inform you…” type of email. I had panicked before about stuff but never to this extent. 

So I would like to ask, fellow cfa level 1 candidates who are awaiting their results and those who have been through this painful experience that, how would you tell your family and friends that you failed the exam? and how would/did you find the motivation to study the same sh** all over again?

Thanks

P.s Please don’t say to take it like a man. I would not have the courage to do it.

Serious, why so?

"Using Wiley for my CFA journey was by far the best option… I was able to pass on my first attempt.”– Moe E., Canada

Not trying to be a jerk. Sorry in advance if it comes across that way. 

You might want to quit while you’re ahead. It will get five times as bad at level 2 and another three times as bad at level 3. Harder material. More pressure to pass. And this time, you have to wait a year to retest instead of six months. 

Plus, your job will probably get harder. You might get married and have kids. This adds to the already high stress of the exam. 

If you fail, you might consider that a blessing in disguise. And if you decide to continue–suck it up and be a man. 

Do, or do not. There is no “try”. 

82 > 87
Simple math.

Whether pass or not, I will not take the second level until June 2015 because finding a job is my first priority now. There was a short period of time after the test that I wished I would fail the exam so I wont spend more time with the CFA. Now, honestly, I dont care that much to be honest. I believe I should pass with high confidence but I hear ya man, I have thought about it day to day but working out, job, and hw keep my mind off the test. Just find something you enjoy and not think about it.

by the time you read this, and even so when you originally wrote the first post here, your results are already done. better yet, by the time they called you to close your test booklets at the end of the afternoon section, you were already done. nothing you could do now. just sitting there and worrying about it isn’t going to change your mark. i can guarantee you that. because if it did, i’d probably be taking more than just pills to help me sleep at night haha. 

so calm down, have some fun, take a break, and relax. you got two more weeks or so before the results come out. and pass or fail, you NEED to decide whether this exam is for you. I know it’s hard, hell, we all do. But is the juice worth the squeeze? for some it is, for some, not so much. 

Big Dreams Require Big Sacrifices - VWJETTY

Greenman72 wrote:

Not trying to be a jerk. Sorry in advance if it comes across that way. 

You might want to quit while you’re ahead. It will get five times as bad at level 2 and another three times as bad at level 3. Harder material. More pressure to pass. 

No need to sorry man, every constructive advice is valuable. 

The problem with me is that it is not the “Material” that is giving me nightmares but the rest (intangible) of the stuff. I did bachelors in business last May, so I had already seen a lot of stuff in my curriculum. I will have done Level 2 Accounting by the time result comes out, which in some people’s opinion the hardest section. I have not seen the level 3 curriculum but how hard it could be. 

Greenman72 wrote:

And this time, you have to wait a year to retest instead of six months. Plus, your job will probably get harder. You might get married and have kids. This adds to the already high stress of the exam. 

THIS is the stuff which terrifies me. I have read several posters’ experiences including your’s and how hard it was for them to balance the work, family and Cfa and probably some other things as well. 

Right now, I do not have the added pressure of a family so I am somewhat lucky in this regard but I don’t know how the things will be in level 2 or 3. 

And you are absolutely right, fail level 2 or level 3 even once and it’s a WHOLE year wasted doing nothing. Even 6 months is a very long time for me and a whole year (in case of l2 or l3), damn.

I sometimes imagine how big of a toll, does a cfa exam failure, takes on one’s life?

Greenman72 wrote:

If you fail, you might consider that a blessing in disguise. And if you decide to continue–suck it up and be a man.

I will take it one more time try before quitting. Only God knows how will I find the motivation to do this stuff all over again if I fail.

chris14122507 wrote:

 I believe I should pass with high confidence

Yes, I have the same expectation and that’s where the problem lies. I am expecting positive news and if that is not the case, I will be crushed. 

Had my exam been poor, I would not have been thinking about it for a second. 

chris14122507 wrote:

Just find something you enjoy and not think about it.

Yes, my friends also suggested this. Playing Football (not american) in day and light drugs at night are helping for now and hope they continue to work for the next two weeks. 

Serious, why so?

VWJETTY wrote:

by the time you read this, and even so when you originally wrote the first post here, your results are already done. better yet, by the time they called you to close your test booklets at the end of the afternoon section, you were already done. nothing you could do now. just sitting there and worrying about it isn’t going to change your mark. i can guarantee you that. because if it did, i’d probably be taking more than just pills to help me sleep at night haha. 

so calm down, have some fun, take a break, and relax. you got two more weeks or so before the results come out. and pass or fail, you NEED to decide whether this exam is for you. I know it’s hard, hell, we all do. But is the juice worth the squeeze? for some it is, for some, not so much. 

Yes, I realize about it and the funny or not so funny thing is I was teaching the same stuff to other people until last week. I like your lighter perspective and how are you approaching this. I will try to do the same but the damn negative thoughts keep coming back unconsciously. 

Serious, why so?

Drugs?  I think you’re taking your anxiety it to the next level.  Failure sucks, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something you really want to accomplish.  Worst case, you’ll have a second bite at the apple.  If you want it bad enough, you’ll hunker down and do it again.  When you registered and paid CFAI, you knew this would not be a walk in the park.  Most people fail at least once.  I studied like a maniac; I gave up cocktails after work for months and weekends two months before the exam to review and practice.  I don’t believe I passed, but will wait until results day to make a decision.  In the meantime, play and watch some good futbol - the Champions League is starting to heat up!        

Greenman:

Did you not read where he asked you not to say ‘take it like a man’?  

Topperharley wrote:

Greenman:

Did you not read where he asked you not to say ‘take it like a man’?  

Lol. Cut him some slack, man. He has been very helpful. 

Serious, why so?

Off-topic, but what kind of opportunities are there for charterholders in Pakistan?

Topperharley wrote:

Greenman:

Did you not read where he asked you not to say ‘take it like a man’?  

Yes, I did.  And I apologized for it in advance, if you didn’t notice. 

But there’s no way around it.  You will wait 6-8 weeks for every exam result.  And the wait gets more agonizing at Levels 2 and 3. 

CFA program is not for the undisciplined cowards of the world.  If you don’t like it, don’t sign up.  There’s no way around that, either.  So I guess the only solution is to drop out now or “take it like a man”. 

You can get mad at me if you want, but these are your only two options.  I didn’t make it this way.  Don’t blame me. 

And if you don’t like my opinions, then don’t read them. 

82 > 87
Simple math.

I think Greenman’s a pr*ck on good days but he says it like it is.

Look, this program isn’t for the faint of heart or the sissy who’s gonna cry when he fails. Most of us have been on both sides of the coin - I’ve seen a lot of friends drop off from this program because they couldn’t take it mentally. What matters most is that regardless of what email you get in January or July or August, you believe in yourself that you will finish the program.

If that belief in yourself is compromised, just find something else to do with your time. You’ll be a much happier person.

"Verdict: TRUE" - Fact Check

semantics wrote:

Off-topic, but what kind of opportunities are there for charterholders in Pakistan?

*Research Analysts, usually employed by Asset Management Companies (AMC’s), Brokerage Houses, Insurance co’s and Non-banking financial institutions (NBFI’s)

*Portfolio Managers, usually employed by AMC’s

*Dealers/Market Makers, usually work in a Bank’s Treasury department

*Work in public sector like for Central bank, SECP or a public bank 

We don’t have any mortgage or derivatives markets here. Bond market is generally limited to government paper only although corporate debt market is developing. Real Estate and commodities markets are quite good here but not formalized. Equity market is the only place where foreigners are interested in because they can talk to educated people on the other end of the phone. 

The following link might help further

http://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/charter/professions/page...

Serious, why so?

CFALOBO wrote:

Drugs?  I think you’re taking your anxiety it to the next level. 

As the husband of a wife who suffers from anxiety, I can assure you he is not “taking” his anxiety to any level. Nobody chooses to be anxious. If anyone is anxious it’s because that person is having difficult suppressing those negative feelings, not because they are just choosing to get worked up.

Fin…I have some of the same thoughts as you… ie “It’s a whole year wasted!” But really it’s not. In terms of the charter itself, yes it’s a 6 month or 1 year setback. But the CFA is meaningless compared to the knowledge. Three letters next to your name don’t make you a good analyst…the things that make you a good analyst are completely unrelated to your exam results. Regardless of what you get on the test, what you know is what really matters, and nothing will change that.

The other thing that helps me with the wait is the fact that I have prepared myself for failure. I studied like a dog to pass, but I am anticipating that over the course of my journey towards the charter that I will fail once or twice. If I don’t, that’s great! As an analyst, I’d love to pick only stocks that earn 100% in their first year, but I will of course be prepared for bad picks along with the good.

Try to look at analytically. Don’t think about time wasted or any of that other garbage, because it’s not going to help you get where you want to go. What WILL help you is being proud of what you’ve done and being prepared to soldier on regardless of the results.

If it helps, think of the CFA program as 4 years long with an option to complete it early in 1.5 years if you’re one of the very rare few who never fails on their way. Most degrees are 4 years and I’d argue the CFA is more difficult than most bachelor’s degrees.

mk17 wrote:

I think Greenman’s a pr*ck on good days but he says it like it is.

Look, this program isn’t for the faint of heart or the sissy who’s gonna cry when he fails.

Thanks…I think. 

If you want sympathy look in the dictionary between sh*t and syphillis.  That’s where you’ll find sympathy. 

If you want somebody who’s been through it and realizes all that you have to give up and how hard you have to work to make it past Level 3, then ask me.  If you can’t handle what I tell you, then you probably can’t handle the CFA program.  It might be harsh, but it’s true. 

82 > 87
Simple math.

mk17 wrote:

Look, this program isn’t for the faint of heart or the sissy who’s gonna cry when he fails. 

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want. 


SpareTime wrote:

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want. 

MK17 and I have completed the program. 

You have yet to pass Level 1. 

Come back in three years (if you’re one of the 12% who make it) and tell us what you think. 

82 > 87
Simple math.

SpareTime wrote:

mk17 wrote:

Look, this program isn’t for the faint of heart or the sissy who’s gonna cry when he fails. 

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want. 

Why would it be better left unsaid? It’s advice that will keep people from wasting years of their lives in something they might not be cut out for. So you can retake it, but it doesn’t get easier with subsequent retakings, the pressure piles on and you see your peers move ahead of you. Some people can retake it over and over again and never pass. I lament the use of the term sissy because it’s associated with macho people, but you have to be mentally tough to get to the end. That’s probably the greatest lesson I learned from the CFA program.

And greenman, it’s a compliment. I respect how you always tell it like it is.

"Verdict: TRUE" - Fact Check

Until it’s the night before exam results no need to get nervous enjoy the time where it’s out of scope and you can continue on with life not dealing with cfa

A.Stewart wrote:

Finkid, I heard you mentioning that you wouldn’t worry too much if the test you wrote was bad, so it’s obvious that you have significant chances of passing. As people from TimePrep say, Instead of spending your time worrying about the results, why not start preparing L2 exam immediately? I mean, it’s better to start as soon as possible, and it will make you more sure of yourself and take away the free time that you might spend for worrying.

I am studying L2 Accounting these days. I started studying for L2 about a week after December exam and hoped to finish L2 Accounting and Equity by the result day but negative thoughts started creeping in and with time and it has turned in to a super-lazy half hearted effort. I still hope to finish Accounting by result day. 

The studying and other things have reduced the worrying but it’s still there. But I guess I can cope with that. 

Off topic: Which topics are you finding hard on L2? 

SpareTime: Very sound advice.
1.5 years?  Argh

Serious, why so?

A.Stewart wrote:

OT: like with L1, I don’t find some topics hard, only time-consuming. In general I think that with CFA it’s not about how “hard” it is, because everyone can comprehend it eventually. It’s all about how much time it takes you. 

I second you. I also could not find a single “hard” topic on L2 Accounting. I read here in past posts on L2 forum that pension accounting and foreign currency translation is like hell but I did not find them so “hard”. I never did pension accounting and foreign currency translations before so it took some time to sink in but now they are making perfect sense. 

Now, retaining all the material is a whole different story. 

Serious, why so?

SpareTime wrote:

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want.

Kind of agree with this in the sense that you can take your time with the program and fail/retake as much as you want. It’s not necessarily “for sissies,” but you also don’t need to be made of steel or anything.

I used to think that if you failed Level 1 then there was no point continuing but I know a few senior guys at work who failed level 1 once and then passed 2 and 3 on the 1st attempt.

RIP Bchad

L1 might seem easier because it contains a lot of material from undergrad business. If you were, say, a comp sci major, it might be just as difficult as L2/L3. 

JSYNTAX wrote:

SpareTime wrote:

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want.

Kind of agree with this in the sense that you can take your time with the program and fail/retake as much as you want. It’s not necessarily “for sissies,” but you also don’t need to be made of steel or anything.

I agree with your sentiments. I already lamented my phrasing above as well. However I think it becomes exponentially tougher year after year if you’re not progressing along with your peers. This is just my experience seeing some of my friends in the program. My point is that you will need to confidence and mental toughness, and not be sweating the small stuff.

"Verdict: TRUE" - Fact Check

gringo_bob wrote:

I used to think that if you failed Level 1 then there was no point contuing but I know a few senior guys at work who failed level 1 once and then passed 2 and 3 on the 1st attempt.

I, for one, failed Level 1.  That was because I didn’t take it serious enough, and because I was still in school as well.  Later, I took it again and aced it, because I showed it the respect it deserves.  So I agree that a person can fail Level 1 and still continue to slay the dragon. 

However, if you fail Level 1 twice, you really ought to rethink the CFA exams.  In that case, you probably either lack the ability or the discipline to get through the exams.  

82 > 87
Simple math.

mk17 wrote:

I agree with your sentiments. I already lamented my phrasing above as well. However I think it becomes exponentially tougher year after year if you’re not progressing along with your peers. This is just my experience seeing some of my friends in the program. My point is that you will need to confidence and mental toughness, and not be sweating the small stuff.

Agreed. Also, I would agree with what someone said above about the knowledge attained being valuable. I know it’s common to just approach the exam as a test to pass, but try to use it as an opportunity to learn too. At the end of the day, I’m more impressed by someone’s knowledge/ability than by their CFA designation. 

JSYNTAX wrote:

mk17 wrote:

I agree with your sentiments. I already lamented my phrasing above as well. However I think it becomes exponentially tougher year after year if you’re not progressing along with your peers. This is just my experience seeing some of my friends in the program. My point is that you will need to confidence and mental toughness, and not be sweating the small stuff.

Agreed. Also, I would agree with what someone said above about the knowledge attained being valuable. I know it’s common to just approach the exam as a test to pass, but try to use it as an opportunity to learn too. At the end of the day, I’m more impressed by someone’s knowledge/ability than by their CFA designation. 

I more or less disagree with JSYNTAX. 

First, I believe that the only reason to take the CFA exams is to pass the CFA exams.  If you seek knowledge and ability, then take a class or get work experience.  The CFA curriculum will teach you a whole lot of stuff that you will never need to know. 

Second, I disagree that you can continue to take the test in perpetuity.  While I guess that’s possible (like the guy who took the test 21 times before he finally passed), in real life, life continues to happen.  We get married.  We have kids.  Our jobs get harder.  We put in more hours.  We gain managerial responsibilities.  Our parents get sick and we have to help take care of them.  All of this happens while you keep plugging away your 300 hours to try and pass the exam. 

I guess you can continue to spin your wheels for ever and ever and ever until you die.  If that’s what you aspire to do, then just keep taking the exam willy-nilly.  You’re bound to pass someday.  Then, after 21 years, you’ll look back and think…”Wow.  21 years for that?  Why didn’t I just focus and study for it once?” 

I guess the guy who took the exam 21 times took Level 1, then went out that night and met his future wife. He got his Level 3 “you passed” e-mail when he was packing his kid up to go to college.  I’m sure his wife was pleased that it took his kid’s entire childhood to pass the exam. 

82 > 87
Simple math.

"Verdict: TRUE" - Fact Check

mk17 wrote:

SpareTime wrote:

mk17 wrote:

Look, this program isn’t for the faint of heart or the sissy who’s gonna cry when he fails. 

Ugh…this kind of ridiculous comment is the sort of machismo self-aggrandizing bullcrap that is better left unsaid. You’re not calling it like it is…this isn’t the army. If there’s a program that’s built for “sissies” or “people who cry when they fail” it’s one where you can retake the exam as many times as you want. 

Why would it be better left unsaid? It’s advice that will keep people from wasting years of their lives in something they might not be cut out for. So you can retake it, but it doesn’t get easier with subsequent retakings, the pressure piles on and you see your peers move ahead of you. Some people can retake it over and over again and never pass. I lament the use of the term sissy because it’s associated with macho people, but you have to be mentally tough to get to the end. That’s probably the greatest lesson I learned from the CFA program.

And greenman, it’s a compliment. I respect how you always tell it like it is.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who love to tell people that they “tell it like it is”, but really they’re just being jerks because they lack the social skills to be honest without being rude.

Here is somebody who’s trying to deal with anxiety regarding exam results, and so he’s reaching out to fellow candidates and charterholders for support. As I find is way too common on this forum, he was greeted with people telling him (to paraphrase) to suck it up. The poster may very well have gotten 100% on the exam, and yet people are telling him to quit the whole program so they can talk about how incredibly resilient they are and how they’re a straight shooter.

Learning to give somebody unpleasant advice in a way that is understanding, yet honest and forthcoming, is a social skill that most people learn in grade school. I’ve found in the college of engineering, and on these forums as well, that people forego this skill so they can lord their own performance over others. Case in point, Greenman belittling my opinion because I’m a Level I Candidate (for the next 6 days, for better or for worse).

Long story short, it’s not the job of anonymous people on the internet to tell FinKid he needs to just quit and pursue something else. If that’s something that he needs to be told, it’s something that needs to be told to him by somebody who actually knows him and is familiar with the type of advice he actually needs. Our job is to provide support vis a vis his anxiety waiting for the results. All this talk about being a sissy or the implications that the CFA is the most difficult program on earth are really just ways to self-aggrandize under the guise of “telling it like it is”.

It reminds me of the thread where a candidate with a very different and unusual (to us) method of surname and name was asking a question about his passport and exam ticket, and many people responded only that he was going to fail the exam because he couldn’t even figure out the rules. This community can be extraordinarily unsupportive, particularly considering it’s only real purpose is to provide support to fellow candidates and charterholders. Oddly enough, it seems like the most supportive people here are often charterholders - probably because they no longer harbor the insecurity that many of the candidates here seem to have.

SpareTime wrote:

Learning to give somebody unpleasant advice in a way that is understanding, yet honest and forthcoming, is a social skill that most people learn in grade school.

You nailed it there.

I can see their intentions are good and they want to show me what is lying ahead but it can be done in a way which is not so “rough”. We candidates, especially those who are taking L1 for the first time are not so accustomed to this whole CFA mentality so may be we newbies can avail the “toned down” version. :)

Serious, why so?