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One-year plan to pass this exam

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written CFA. I’m very excited about writing level 2 exam next year. I work full time for a bank in a very busy job so I can’t prepare like a student. 

If you could start today for the exam how would you design your plan? Would you read curriculum book for few topics?  

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First search all the existing threads. There is plenty of useful information that you need, in existing threads.

IFT prep.

I would say stick with whatever prep provider you are using (Bloomberg for you?) and keep watching those videos, read textbooks, and do the end of chapter/test bank questions.

Even if you have 1 hour a day in total, always incorporate some time doing problems - I basically studied 3 hours a day for 4 months, biggest regret is that I should have done actual problems at a much earlier time and put more weight in it.

I was working full time plus taking one graduate course when I was preparing for L2. I started in mid January, my routine is as follow,

Wake up at 4AM, study for 2 hours, then go to work.

After work, I try to study for at least an hour.

Take Saturdays off, and study full-time on Sundays.

I got the cheapest package from Schweser (still around $600), I think they call it Essential? I never touched the books provided by CFAI. At around late May, I was running out of questions to practice, so I got IFT mocks and Konvexity mocks. I did not know about Mark Meldrum when I was taking L2, but MM’s L3 mocks are amazing. So, maybe try it for L2?

I think the most important part is never try to cramp a bunch of difficult topics into one day of studying. Also, plan your time wisely. I ran into a problem last year which I finished studying the material early, and I began to forget stuff as I ran through mocks. 

Good luck!

I just wrote level 2 and it was brutal.   I will have to re write and will be switching to ift world.   They trick is to get through all the material and do alot of problems.  Bloomberg prep is crap.   Used it and that is one of the reasons I probably failed.  I also purchased Mark Meldrum too.   I have his 2019 package.   I am going to use IFT.

Focus on the heavier topics and get them out of the way early. For level 2 they are Equity and FRA, followed by FI and Derivatives. If you’re solid on these topics, you’re in good shape. This obviously doesn’t mean you should skip the others (specially Ethics), but you should have a very strong base in those four topics and I’d start there. Read the CFAI books, make your notes, do all the BB and EOCs, then the TTs. Update your notes every time you make a mistake. Review the notes from time to time to keep them fresh in your memory.

sig wrote:

I got the cheapest package from Schweser (still around $600), I think they call it Essential?

I’m sorry but my experience with Schweser for level 2 was extremely negative. The notes aren’t much shorter than the CFAI books, and if you’re going to spend that much time reading Schwesernotes, you might as well read from the source material.

I would recommend video lectures. I used IFT for level 2 and Arif’s explanations were not only very clear and helpful, he also threw in his opinion on what’s important and critical versus what’s “only if you want to be super diligent”.

I’m in a similar position. This is my first post in over 5 years.

I passed Level I on my first attempt in 2013, but then failed Level II the following year due to a poor effort. At the time, I was putting in long hours at the office on a special project and proving capable of managing that project for 3 years really helped solidify my career. My job demands have since subsided greatly (but I’ve also added a kid). Realistically,   I know I can only study about 1.5 hours per day by getting up early. I’ll take a few vacation days for mocks as the exam approaches. My study plan is pretty simple:

1)  Start Early

2)  Put in the Hours

3)  Emphasize Problem Work

ofthedivision17 wrote:

I’m in a similar position. This is my first post in over 5 years.

I passed Level I on my first attempt in 2013, but then failed Level II the following year due to a poor effort. At the time, I was putting in long hours at the office on a special project and proving capable of managing that project for 3 years really helped solidify my career. My job demands have since subsided greatly (but I’ve also added a kid). Realistically,   I know I can only study about 1.5 hours per day by getting up early. I’ll take a few vacation days for mocks as the exam approaches. My study plan is pretty simple:

1)  Start Early

2)  Put in the Hours

3)  Emphasize Problem Work

+1

Tactics wrote:

Focus on the heavier topics and get them out of the way early. For level 2 they are Equity and FRA, followed by FI and Derivatives. If you’re solid on these topics, you’re in good shape. This obviously doesn’t mean you should skip the others (specially Ethics), but you should have a very strong base in those four topics and I’d start there. Read the CFAI books, make your notes, do all the BB and EOCs, then the TTs. Update your notes every time you make a mistake. Review the notes from time to time to keep them fresh in your memory.

Thank you for the suggestion!

For derivatives, go with Mark Meldrum.Forget the curriculum. The author should be burned at a stake. 

If you're the first out the door, that's not called panicking

why did you settle for IFT

Codtrawler87 wrote:

For derivatives, go with Mark Meldrum.Forget the curriculum. The author should be burned at a stake. 

How much is marky  mark paying you to say these things?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

ur salary 50k

I passed L1 in Dec 2014 and attempted June 2015 Level 2 and failed miserably. Now im back after 5 years to finish what I started. Im thinking of starting early and leaving no stones unturned to tame the L2 beast.

Should I revise the L1 material first before jumping into L2 ? I passed out of MBA in finance this year only so I’m relatively fresh on finance concepts. My background and work experience has been in finance so I have good hold on the fundamentals but L1 was a pretty broad in terms of topics so I have definitely forgotten most of it.

so should I give L1 a read through once? or that’s not required?

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

Codtrawler87 wrote:

For derivatives, go with Mark Meldrum.Forget the curriculum. The author should be burned at a stake. 

How much is marky  mark paying you to say these things?

Butthurt because not everyone is a fan of your boy Ronan?

If you're the first out the door, that's not called panicking

lot of talk. by the looks of things he does not seem very liked here.

ericks0n wrote:

lot of talk. by the looks of things he does not seem very liked here.

Hahaa I like CEO10K. He brings color and energy into this sometimes sleepy forum. 

If you're the first out the door, that's not called panicking

FreakAnalytical wrote:

I passed L1 in Dec 2014 and attempted June 2015 Level 2 and failed miserably. Now im back after 5 years to finish what I started. Im thinking of starting early and leaving no stones unturned to tame the L2 beast.

Should I revise the L1 material first before jumping into L2 ? I passed out of MBA in finance this year only so I’m relatively fresh on finance concepts. My background and work experience has been in finance so I have good hold on the fundamentals but L1 was a pretty broad in terms of topics so I have definitely forgotten most of it.

so should I give L1 a read through once? or that’s not required?

I would think not required however others may have different thoughts on this….

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

Codtrawler87 wrote:

For derivatives, go with Mark Meldrum.Forget the curriculum. The author should be burned at a stake. 

How much is marky  mark paying you to say these things?

I’m with Cod on this one. Derivatives readings by CFAI are atrocious. But I’d go with the curriculum on FRA stuff, I don’t think MarkyMark went deep enough on those topics. 

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.

After I get my official confirmation that I passed the Level II exam, I will post a separate threat how to do it correctly.

gishena wrote:

After I get my official confirmation that I passed the Level II exam, I will post a separate threat how to do it correctly.

Please do not threaten us. It’s not nice.

Start early (January as this seems to be your first time taking it ) / 2-3 hours per weekday and 6/8 Saturday and Sunday each!!

As mentioned above, you have to be on top of things in Equity and FRA in priority!! 

That being said, do not miss any topics, you have to know and understand it all. Derivatives will make you feel like you are stupid in the beginning, don’t worry this is shared among the vast majority of Level 2 candidates, once you practice and understand the formulas among other things, you can actually crush that topic. 

Practice is key for level 2, remember, the format is very different from Level 1. For level 2, you have item sets of 6 questions usually!!

Last suggestion, if you can take a week or even two weeks off prior the exam, do it, this will help you get some rest and only focus on the CFA and not your job. 

Oh and I forgot, don’t hesitate to go on this forum and ask any questions you have related to the studying, you have many very wise people who answer, does S2000magician sound familiar? this guy is the king of the CFA!! 

Might be overkill but this was my strategy for L1 and L2. I passed both exams above the 90th percentile 2018 & 2019. Not saying this is the best way or the most efficient but it worked for me. I don’t consider myself “smart” as in having a very high IQ. Before starting the program I had terrible memorization skills (use flashcards!) but I have a high work ethic and discipline. I also work fulltime at an investment brokerage in Portfolio Management and do not want to re-take any of the exams so I’m throwing the kitchen sink at them. I agree with the above posts about starting early especially because of fulltime work. Time is your best asset so use it to your advantage, IMO it’s one advantage that every candidate has but few make full use of it. I tracked my activity daily on a google spreadsheet so I had access to it everywhere I went so if I stayed late at the office to study I could plug in the record. It had a column for date, activity, topic and number of hours and totals. I used it to stay on track and stay motivated throughout the year. Filling it out each day gave me sense of accomplishment. Skipping a day made me feel guilty. My process is to keep condensing material over multiple cycles and get to questions as soon as possible to internalize concepts.

Some people at work made fun of me for starting so early saying things like I would forget the material, I’m such a keener or that I don’t need so much time. That might be true but in the end I never felt crunched for time. I still had a life and could go out on the weekend  and I actually tried to learn the material not rush through it. I never understood how going through the curriculum a second time could hurt you. In the end I think my results speak for themselves. I’m a firm believer that the amount of quality time that you put into this thing has a direct correlation with results. I spent about 500 hours on L1 and 700 hours on L2 spread from Sept - June.

Sept – Dec (Learn the material): Read and solve chapter questions for Schweser & CFAI EOCs right after each reading. I concurrently watched IFT videos full length to fill in any gaps.

Jan – April (Condense & practice): IFT high yield course for revision, Created flash cards for all topics (Basically the formula sheet & key concepts in card formate) and went through them on my commute between work and home on the train (about 1hr/day), redo all multiple choice CFAI EOCs, attempted some Schweser Q-bank for difficult readings (not that useful).

May – June (Perform): Do CFAI online topic test (Must do, these are tough!). mocked (9 full mocks including the Live Boston held at my exam center location) Review and re-wrote all the questions I got wrong and hammered flash cards until I could recite them backwards. Redo low scoring topic test sections.

Last 2 days before exam. Write out formula sheet multiple times by memory. Shut down by 3:00pm and get a good night sleep.

Exam day: Execute, should feel like just another mock.

Good Luck!

Have to admit that this explains my path for L1 and L2 down to a T. While doing a full time job had to —> wake up early in the mornings (appx 4:30 a.m.) –> go to job and study for 3h —> work for at least 8-9h —> go to gym —> hang out with my wife —> repeat all over again until May). May and June were a total different story, I caught an insane momentum of studying at least 5-6 h a day (up to 10 in the last two weeks) because I feared I was not still in the safe zone and went to the test and passed comfortably. 

One thing I would disagree with Poison, is that it’s not that I ever thought of myself as being less (or more) intelligent than any average candidate, but the thought of “better be safe than sorry” was something that was pushing me forward. Always had time for my wife, family and friends and never felt like i was depriving any part of my usual life.

I have to admit that one of the greatest success factors was my supportive wife, who was pushing me all the time forward, although she knew that it is at least 3 years sacrifice. Out of respect to her support I was “pot commited” and gave everything i could. 

All that being said, military discipline and obsessive focus are the most important factors for anyone going down this road. 

PoisonPut wrote:

Might be overkill but this was my strategy for L1 and L2. I passed both exams above the 90th percentile 2018 & 2019. Not saying this is the best way or the most efficient but it worked for me. I don’t consider myself “smart” as in having a very high IQ. Before starting the program I had terrible memorization skills (use flashcards!) but I have a high work ethic and discipline. I also work fulltime at an investment brokerage in Portfolio Management and do not want to re-take any of the exams so I’m throwing the kitchen sink at them. I agree with the above posts about starting early especially because of fulltime work. Time is your best asset so use it to your advantage, IMO it’s one advantage that every candidate has but few make full use of it. I tracked my activity daily on a google spreadsheet so I had access to it everywhere I went so if I stayed late at the office to study I could plug in the record. It had a column for date, activity, topic and number of hours and totals. I used it to stay on track and stay motivated throughout the year. Filling it out each day gave me sense of accomplishment. Skipping a day made me feel guilty. My process is to keep condensing material over multiple cycles and get to questions as soon as possible to internalize concepts.

Some people at work made fun of me for starting so early saying things like I would forget the material, I’m such a keener or that I don’t need so much time. That might be true but in the end I never felt crunched for time. I still had a life and could go out on the weekend  and I actually tried to learn the material not rush through it. I never understood how going through the curriculum a second time could hurt you. In the end I think my results speak for themselves. I’m a firm believer that the amount of quality time that you put into this thing has a direct correlation with results. I spent about 500 hours on L1 and 700 hours on L2 spread from Sept - June.

Sept – Dec (Learn the material): Read and solve chapter questions for Schweser & CFAI EOCs right after each reading. I concurrently watched IFT videos full length to fill in any gaps.

Jan – April (Condense & practice): IFT high yield course for revision, Created flash cards for all topics (Basically the formula sheet & key concepts in card formate) and went through them on my commute between work and home on the train (about 1hr/day), redo all multiple choice CFAI EOCs, attempted some Schweser Q-bank for difficult readings (not that useful).

May – June (Perform): Do CFAI online topic test (Must do, these are tough!). mocked (9 full mocks including the Live Boston held at my exam center location) Review and re-wrote all the questions I got wrong and hammered flash cards until I could recite them backwards. Redo low scoring topic test sections.

Last 2 days before exam. Write out formula sheet multiple times by memory. Shut down by 3:00pm and get a good night sleep.

Exam day: Execute, should feel like just another mock.

Good Luck!

Your strategy seems very interesting to me. Can I ask at what time you used to sleep or how many hours of sleep you used to get per day when you started studying till May?

Not sure if this was directed to me but see below for my google sheet. I studied anywhere from 1-3 hours during the week and 6-8 hours on one of Saturday or Sunday. More or less depending if I had stuff to do. I still fit in a one week vacation in November with no studying. The day off was used for buffer or time with family/friends. The last couple of months definitely ramped up but I never changed my sleep pattern but took less Sundays off and the last 2 weeks I took off from work and put in full intense study days.

My typical work hours are 6:00am to 3:00pm. Depending on how busy it is there could be quite a bit of OT. I sleep everyday at 10:00pm, never pulled late nights or all nighters ever, doesn’t work for me and screws up my internal clock. So I slept about 7 hours a night.

Wake up at 5:00am get to train at 5:30am. Watched IFT Videos on my phone or Review flashcards until 6:00am
Get off at 3:00pm catch train at 3:30pm. Watched IFT Videos on my phone or Review flashcards until 4:00pm arrive home

Take a breather & make dinner run errands etc for an hour or so. Study from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. Dinner/Wash up/Shower
Study from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
9:00pm to 10:00 pm Spend time with Wifey
Unfortunately I had to cut out the gym and just focus on eating a good diet and walk during my lunch break to keep somewhat fit.Oh, and Coke Zero…. I’m sure there’s something terrible wrong with 0 Cal soda but I did it for the Caffine!

To Toto, 100% agree that greatest success factor is a supportive significant other. The time commitment definitely puts a strain on the relationship, fortunately she completed a master’s while working full time so now it’s my turn and she understands the sacrifice required.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ye5JxSzy8qK2bnf78mYbuAP02SMNPGw-lI96PP_N0pk/edit?usp=sharing

PoisonPut wrote:

Not sure if this was directed to me but see below for my google sheet. I studied anywhere from 1-3 hours during the week and 6-8 hours on one of Saturday or Sunday. More or less depending if I had stuff to do. I still fit in a one week vacation in November with no studying. The day off was used for buffer or time with family/friends. The last couple of months definitely ramped up but I never changed my sleep pattern but took less Sundays off and the last 2 weeks I took off from work and put in full intense study days.

My typical work hours are 6:00am to 3:00pm. Depending on how busy it is there could be quite a bit of OT. I sleep everyday at 10:00pm, never pulled late nights or all nighters ever, doesn’t work for me and screws up my internal clock. So I slept about 7 hours a night.

Wake up at 5:00am get to train at 5:30am. Watched IFT Videos on my phone or Review flashcards until 6:00am
Get off at 3:00pm catch train at 3:30pm. Watched IFT Videos on my phone or Review flashcards until 4:00pm arrive home

Take a breather & make dinner run errands etc for an hour or so. Study from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. Dinner/Wash up/Shower
Study from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
9:00pm to 10:00 pm Spend time with Wifey
Unfortunately I had to cut out the gym and just focus on eating a good diet and walk during my lunch break to keep somewhat fit.Oh, and Coke Zero…. I’m sure there’s something terrible wrong with 0 Cal soda but I did it for the Caffine!

To Toto, 100% agree that greatest success factor is a supportive significant other. The time commitment definitely puts a strain on the relationship, fortunately she completed a master’s while working full time so now it’s my turn and she understands the sacrifice required.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ye5JxSzy8qK2bnf78mYbuAP02SMNPGw-lI96PP_N0pk/edit?usp=sharing

Good for you bud - nice work! 

I’m amazed at how much work is put in by some people.

This year I started at the beginning of April and maybe did 5 or 6 hours a week. Clearly I have massively underestimated the volume of study needed. 

If the question was for me, here’s the schedule:

4:30 wake up

5:30 - 8:30 studying at my workplace until other colleagues start to come

8:30 - 17:30 appx. working time (sometimes sneaked a bit and studied if there was time)

18:15 - 19:15 gym time

19:30 - 21:30 significant other time

21:30 - 4:30 sleep time

Started as of October 1st - Sunday was a rest day (means Saturday evenings were usually for some booze, friends or family )

October - April –> ((30days * 7months) - 30days of relaxation) * 3h/day of studying =  540 h of studying in total. (i would round it to 470 because i had a vacation of 10 days and some business travels of 20 days in total when i didn’t have any time to study)

May - 26 days * average of 5h of studying= 130 h (needed to catch up vacation and business travels)

June - took 9 days off * 10h of studying (no relaxation) = 90 h (day before the exam i didn’t touch anything)

Total approx. study time = 470+130+90= 690

As you can see my strategy was 3h/day until May. Then i would hit  higher gear until June, and final 10 days rocket sky high studying.

Read curriculum once, did EoCs twice (some even thrice), did all the topic tests thrice i think, done 7 mock exams in total. Used Schweser only for mock exams (curriculum books are still packed and smell like first day i got them)