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How do you feel?

Alright guys/gals, how confident do you feel? I wanted to post my thoughts on the experience as a first time L1 candidate.

For some background, I have a BBA in Finance and MS in Finance, as well as some industry experience and personal experience trading etc. I used Schweser primarily and I prepped by reading the entire Schweser curriculum and doing EOCs for each chapter. Then I went back and read the chapter reviews and did the CFAI EOCs on my second run through. Lastly I did all 6 Schweser mocks, but not the CFAI mock. I scored between a 74.25% & 77.1% on all the mocks.

My main concern was not knowing the relative difficultly of the test compared to the Schweser mocks. Several people on here said the mocks were harder but Schweser specifically says the test will be harder than the mocks.

Overall, I found the test to be very similar in difficulty as the mocks. I thought FRA was a little harder but that FI and Econ were a little easier. I feel pretty confident overall, but would love to hear what others are saying about comparisons, their experience, plan to sit L2 in June or wait, etc.

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

Given the amount of time and prep I put into it, I was really hoping to leave the exam feeling a bit more confident than I did. I wrote 4 Kaplan mocks and all 3 CFA mocks, redoing the the CFA mocks to make sure I understood how to get each answer (and not just remember what the answer was). I made notes after every EOC CFA quiz and had over 200 cue cards of relevent formulas and important notes. Yet still, I didn’t feel super confident. I think one of my problems was redoing the CFA mocks and forgetting what it felt like to see a completely new question. Not saying I didn’t know the answers, just maybe would have been more confident if I had done one last mock clean sheet.

I found the Ethics to be easy, so easy that I’m a little little concerned that I was missing something but I always did well in that category heading in and took it very seriously. I also found the Alternative investments to be very easy too. 

The problem for me is I am extremely strong in the back end of the exam (10 years in finance, finance degree) but I usually base my assumption on how difficult the exam is based on Quant, Eco and FRA (wish I could say that I found FRA easier than it was) so my mind is already made up and when I go back and score my exams. I always pick up major points in the back which is what I’m hoping for. I was always scoring around 70 on my mocks and nothing lower than a 65 on the first mock I did. I usually think I bomb and then find out that I do quite well (I tend to remember every answer I couldn’t figure out and forget the answers I go through with ease).

It wouldnt be the CFA if everyone left thinking they aced it, I’m just hoping the foundation of studying I did was enough to get those answers I couldnt remember ever seeing. I am studying for the level 2 but starting with Equities, Ethics and Alternative Investments, categories that it wouldnt hurt to keep building a stronger base.

I honestly feel like it’s a complete 50/50 for me. I genuinely don’t even have a gut feeling. I left school at 18, but have been in the finance industry for 17 years now, spending most of my career at a large global macro hedge fund, so a lot of the questions and concepts related to FI,Equity, and derivs were not new to me, and I felt fairly confident on quant and ethics, but FRA really sucked. I thought I was making good progress, and I think I definitely understand the concepts a lot better than I did, but I don’t think I did enough work on just memorizing all those IFRS vs GAAP differences. My mocks started off pretty poorly, but I managed to get the last few up to low 70’s, although the last one was skewed by a freak 100% in ethics. On the whole, I’d agree with everyone who said that the real thing is roughly equivalent to the Schweser mocks. I used Schweser more or less exclusively, with a lot of help from Mark Meldrum, and I think if I fail and write again in June, II’ll do the same, but ‘ll probably use the CFAI texts for FRA.

I spoke to a charter holder who I work with, and he made the good point that it’s very common to vividly remember and focus on the questions you couldnt get but thought you should, and to forget the 9-10 prior to each one of those where you just breezed through. 

I just hope I do better than the guy at my testing location who showed up a pen and some random calculator claiming he didn’t know you could only use an approved model.

I have no accounting experience when I started the CFA program in July so that was my biggest challenge to overcome. However, I have familiarity with the fixed income, equity, portfolio, time value of money, and derivatives from my job and taking tests for it (Series 7, 66 and CFP).

My study regime was basically lots of practice questions. I did a total of 16 mocks. The 6 from CFAI, re-did the same 6 again, and then 3 from Schewser online, 1 live mock sponsored by Schewser from my county’s CFA society. The first three mocks I averaged around 72%, but the last 6 were around 78-80% in narrow range which I thought was pretty crazy. So coming into the exam morning, I felt pretty good. I also did all of the Schewser qBank questions and did some of them 3 times (mostly FRA).

Felt the actual tests were slightly easier than the mocks;I also ran into a LOT of questions that were very similar to the questions I already encountered, so those ones were very easy.

I thought the test was hard, although thankfully I felt very well prepared for the ethics section. I think it is the easiest place to be tripped up by the way a question is worded. I relied mostly on the CFA practice questions and mocks which showed me in the 75th percentile after finishing half of them. My gut tells me that my raw score was between 65-70%, so helpfully that will be above the MPS.

The biggest surprise to me was the number of people I talked to or overheard at the test that seemed woefully under prepared. Obviously the test is difficult, but I think the 43% pass rate is skewed from the large number of people who take the test compared to other programs. I was nowhere close to 300 hours of study unless you count previous study towards other designations. I’m confident that if I have to retake the exam, I will pass in the summer.

My “section” had 63 people, of which 13 were no show. That’s 20% no show.. I think i read those count in the 43% pass rate, so already the numbers are skewed and the pass rate is higher for the people that show.

Too bad, they don’t. Pass rate is only for those that appear for the exam.

Does the passing rate apply to a each particular session? So you’re actually competing against candidates who sit at the same testing center instead of all candidates globally?

How were everybody’s test centers?

Ours were a bit chatty before the exam announcements started…not sure if this is allowed, but proctors seemed to be OK with it.

When people say how they were not very confident, it makes me feel a little less confident about the actual test. During the test, however, I felt very confident and feel like I have a very good chance of passing given that most problems felt a whole lot easier than what was tested on CFAI practice test. In the last 10 days, I did all the 952 practice questions and went through every problem explanation.

To me, econ felt the hardest (which is in line with my practice hit rate). Fixed income felt a lot easier and I expected to see considerably more calculations and formulas. All other questions felt a lot easier than both EOCs and practice tests.

It seems that another important consideration regarding your chances is how much time did you put into studying. It is likely your chances are considerably better if you studied say 300 hours vs. 150 hours (even though many people passed L1 with 150 hours of studying). So I would say your confidence should also include an honest estimation of effective time spent studying (browsing facebook while studying does not count as studying).

The proctors in my location were pretty cool. Chatting to people before and after, and didn’t give off the ‘authoritarian’ vibe that I was fearing. It actually calmed me down a lot. 

I think overall it was quite ok for me. gone through TT and CFAI mocks that made me little comfortable on exam day.

125mph wrote:

My “section” had 63 people, of which 13 were no show. That’s 20% no show.. I think i read those count in the 43% pass rate, so already the numbers are skewed and the pass rate is higher for the people that show.

Unfortunately not, exam grading only takes into account candidates that sit for BOTH the morning and afternoon papers.

dudewheresmycharter wrote:

125mph wrote:

My “section” had 63 people, of which 13 were no show. That’s 20% no show.. I think i read those count in the 43% pass rate, so already the numbers are skewed and the pass rate is higher for the people that show.

Unfortunately not, exam grading only takes into account candidates that sit for BOTH the morning and afternoon papers.

+1

Be true

I read a lot of conflicting reports on this.

Some say the no-shows count on the pass rate, and thats why its so low.. Some say they don’t count at all.. Some say the no shows for the PM session (having taken the AM and quitting after lunch) count, and some say it doesnt count.

Is there anything on CFAI that officially spells it out?

TeeKay wrote:

Given the amount of time and prep I put into it, I was really hoping to leave the exam feeling a bit more confident than I did. I wrote 4 Kaplan mocks and all 3 CFA mocks, redoing the the CFA mocks to make sure I understood how to get each answer (and not just remember what the answer was). I made notes after every EOC CFA quiz and had over 200 cue cards of relevent formulas and important notes. Yet still, I didn’t feel super confident. I think one of my problems was redoing the CFA mocks and forgetting what it felt like to see a completely new question. Not saying I didn’t know the answers, just maybe would have been more confident if I had done one last mock clean sheet.

I found the Ethics to be easy, so easy that I’m a little little concerned that I was missing something but I always did well in that category heading in and took it very seriously. I also found the Alternative investments to be very easy too. 

The problem for me is I am extremely strong in the back end of the exam (10 years in finance, finance degree) but I usually base my assumption on how difficult the exam is based on Quant, Eco and FRA (wish I could say that I found FRA easier than it was) so my mind is already made up and when I go back and score my exams. I always pick up major points in the back which is what I’m hoping for. I was always scoring around 70 on my mocks and nothing lower than a 65 on the first mock I did. I usually think I bomb and then find out that I do quite well (I tend to remember every answer I couldn’t figure out and forget the answers I go through with ease).

It wouldnt be the CFA if everyone left thinking they aced it, I’m just hoping the foundation of studying I did was enough to get those answers I couldnt remember ever seeing. I am studying for the level 2 but starting with Equities, Ethics and Alternative Investments, categories that it wouldnt hurt to keep building a stronger base.

I could not agree more with you. I am in the same situation. I also thought the morning session was overall easier than the afternoon but that might be because of how tired I was…

No show do not count towards the passing rate. The proctor marks off people that are a no-show.

Happy to see all the chatter picking up on this thread! Sounds like there’s a little variation in feelings after the test which is expected I guess. A couple comments and my thoughts:

People being incredibly unprepared- 100% agree. Saw 1 guy who forgot his calculator. I chatted with another before the exam who was frantically reviewing the Schweser quick reference guide, and when I asked him which topics he was finding most difficult told me he didn’t know because he only started studying 5 days earlier hahaha. Seriously, 5 days. I was talking with a colleague who just passed L3 in June who said a bunch of young kids in entry level roles get sponsored by their firms to take the exam and they underestimate the difficulty until it’s too late. I think he was on to something with that particularly for L1.

FI section was easier- agree, was pleased by that fact.

FRA was harder- agree as well. More tables of data to be break down compared to a general question.

Afternoon session was harder- yep, thought the morning was significantly easier actually.

No shows included in pass rate- Pretty sure this is false. Thought I saw this on the CFA website somewhere but can’t find it now. Maybe it was somewhere else I saw it, but still fairly certain that you have to sit to be counted towards the pass rate. That would be kind of deceitful imho if it was otherwise.

Agree here, the best way to study that I found was simply to do as many questions as possible. The platform the CFAI introduced this year with all the question banks was great. The more questions you do overall, the more familiar you are with each type they could throw at you. I also thought the actual exam on the 2nd was a bit easier than the mocks. Good luck to all. 

Chiming in here. Funny thing about relativity - I thought the evening session was significantly easier than the morning session - thank God! haha. Then again, after doing Ethics, I skip to do FRA (while i’m fresh since this is most weighted), continue the rest of the exam in order, and come back to Quant and Econ last. I personally like this method since Econ especially can be hit or miss and I wouldn’t want to chance it blowing my confidence as the 3rd section. For the PM section I thought it was (too) going great, then i come back to Quant and i’m like…FML. Then again this could have also been brain fatigue, because I remember staring at a fairly simple quant question for almost 10 minutes at the end before just flat out guessing lol.

Speaking of guessing, had to guess more often that I expected. 33% please be on my side…! lol

As for the sections:

FRA - (wtf? had to have been harder than the EOCs and CFAI Mocks. It’s usually one of my strongest areas too so this was a very unpleasant surprise.)

Ethics - (wtf? This section seemed like a cakewalk, like a purposeful offset of FRA’s difficulty.)

FI - Definitely easier thankfully, as I was probably nervous most about this section in the days/hours before.

Everything else - Either on par or felt easier than mocks etc.

Overall: Definitely felt easier than practice questions and mocks. However, when you throw in test anxiety, lack of endurance (I didn’t practice doing both an AM and PM mock on the same day- will def do this going forward) and brain fatigue, it gets murky.

I’m definitely pretty confident I passed though and have started prepping for L2.

Just out of curiosity - for how long did you people feel anxious? To me, anxiety peaked when they told us we can start doing the exam but within 20-30 questions in it completely subsided. In the PM session there was no anxiety although admittedly fatigue slowly started to kick in as I moved on closer to the end (I have not taken mock at all). When I finished PM session and started checking the session all over again, it felt like PM session started many days ago. Good thing was that I had ample amount of time to check the answers and was able to find tricks and errors in my work that I previously missed.