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CFA Level 3 - Review of Prep Providers, Post 2019 Exam

Equityhacker wrote:

You tried almost every thing.. what about your scores in CFA past AMs and CFA mocks have you noticed improvement in comparison with 17 & 18

I didn’t dive into the past CFA AMs until mid-April/early May, which I thought was probably a touch late. I was planning to use them more casually as study guides, but after taking Nathan / Chalk and Board’s essay writing workshop I realized how behind I was (the class was a huge wake up call for me), and after that I started timing myself on essays and using them more seriously, at which point I started noticing a meaningful improvement.

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ARSC13 wrote:

Since I prepared for Level 3 using three providers in an effort to cover all of my bases, I thought I might share my thoughts on which providers I felt helped me prepare best for the test while it’s all still fresh in my mind: 1) Chalk and Board online courses and essay writing workshop with Nathan Ronen, 2) Kaplan (books and qbanks), 3) LevelUp 4 day boot camp and supplemental videos with Marc LeFebvre.

Exam overview: I thought the exam was tough, but largely fair. A lot of the questions were asked in a way I felt was unfamiliar relative to previous years (based on the published historical morning essays). I didn’t feel that either session was out of left field, both were challenging but not impossible. If I passed I probably barely passed and if I failed I probably barely failed.

Prep provider review: I felt the best provider by a long shot was Chalk and Board with Nathan Ronen. His lectures were completely spot on 100%. Every question I would think through the curriculum and hear his lectures play back in my head all day throughout the test both morning and afternoon sessions. He hit all of the main points, didn’t miss a single one, even the nichey ones! Even if I ultimately failed, I would take his classes again to prepare next year, and would highly highly highly recommend both his lectures and his essay writing workshop to anyone. The lectures are engaging and surprisingly not dry given the content can be dense at times (I highlight this because I’m someone who is easily distracted if a topic is overly dense and I find my mind starts to wander). His essay writing workshops really help to highlight how important time management is on L3 and gets some of those anxiety jitters out of your system before it’s really game time. Worth every penny I spent, also very competitively priced for the value you get out of his materials.

I also took Marc LeFebvre’s bootcamp after a colleague recommended it as a way to beef up ahead of the exam after I got a late start to studying, and honestly didn’t get much out of it. Lot of talking about how grueling studying was going to be, sprinkled with a ton of self promotion, and followed with how we needed to be focused, but not a lot of pen-to-paper work outside of his 2 hour IPS writing workshop one night which was the only highlight - 2 good hours out of 40 total hours = probably not the most efficient use of my time or $.

Comparatively, I thought Nathan’s approach to digesting the curriculum was significantly more succinct and manageable, which was ultimately more helpful to me in my prep.

It is amazing how much people are spending to prep for this exam.  At some point CFAI will need to consider how un-level the playing field can get before they provide better test prep materials or just rein in test prep providers.

Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later.

CFAI has always emphasized the idea to put the curriculum as first priority when studying for the exams. i dont think the playing field is uneven. we all receive the curriculum materials. thats my thought though

It was a long shot, glad i made it.

Epsilon wrote:

CFAI has always emphasized the idea to put the curriculum as first priority when studying for the exams. i dont think the playing field is uneven. we all receive the curriculum materials. thats my thought though

agreed. prep provider only help make learning experience more “user friendly”, if spend $50 can got access for colourful quiz all study session & 3 mock exams like what fitch learning have, why not ? think about some hours we can save to stay focus on our current job while prep this exam.

"Let's kill him properly this time" (Thor - Endgame)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5I6235vlok

FRM Holder - 2012
Passed CFA Level III - 2019

125mph wrote:

Voyager3 wrote:

LOL he certainly did. Failed to mention though that he has a PhD in finance.

Curious, was there any bashing of Daren Miller or s2000?

Level Up has a bit of the hedge funds problem…when you charge a lot, people don’t have patience when things don’t go right.

Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later.

jounin83 wrote:

Epsilon wrote:

CFAI has always emphasized the idea to put the curriculum as first priority when studying for the exams. i dont think the playing field is uneven. we all receive the curriculum materials. thats my thought though

agreed. prep provider only help make learning experience more “user friendly”, if spend $50 can got access for colourful quiz all study session & 3 mock exams like what fitch learning have, why not ? think about some hours we can save to stay focus on our current job while prep this exam.

You sound conflicted.  This is a global exam, having an employer who will pay for 1 test prep is a luxury most don’t have.  So signing up for multiple sounds like an unfair advantage or as you call it, user friendly…

Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later.

Malee wrote:

125mph wrote:

Voyager3 wrote:

LOL he certainly did. Failed to mention though that he has a PhD in finance.

Curious, was there any bashing of Daren Miller or s2000?

Level Up has a bit of the hedge funds problem…when you charge a lot, people don’t have patience when things don’t go right.

Or people realize that your HF (LevelUp) provides the same performance as index fund (MM, IFT…), but has substantially higher fees… 

I used Level Up videos and boot camp to focus on the curriculum and I thought it was a great program.  The materials provided were excellent, as was the boot camp itself. Everyone learns differently and there are a variety of reasonable ways to study for Level 3.  At its core, you have to gain a broad understanding of the topics, as well as master the details, and Level Up did a great job with both. This exam isn’t plug and chug, so a broad understanding and background are critical.  

I also used KS practice exams, which I thought were a decent supplement to the CFAI Topic Tests, Mocks, prior essay questions and EOC questions.

I’ve seen some support for Nathan Ronin   I watched a few of his sample videos for Level 2 and he made a sexist joke in one of them, so that was it for me   So inappropriate.  So unnecessary.  So classless.  And, he knew he did it because he defended it as a joke in his video.  That ******* will never get my money.  

For candidates wondering what method is best, I wouldn’t take any advice until results are out.

Editing for results - I passed near 90th percentile and fully recommend Marc and Level Up.   

Used IFT, thought it was fair in lecture and quality wise. Especially going over the blue box questions was helpful.

Nonetheless these online lectures are just a boost up to help you understand the curriculum better but the most important thing is how many times you go over the EOC and CFAI questions to understand the concept when the actual questions have many traps. I think those are key.

For me passed all three first time using IFT materials……spent the most effort on level 3…used IFT, darren miller online live sessions for essay portion and level up live bootcamp (not videos) also really liked Go to Study info (inexpensive materials).   After passing level 1 and 2 first time……I decided to really prepared extra for level 3 because at age 67 , i didn’t want to retake that test!! 

I am a big IFT fan….dry but cost effective and pretty thorough…I thought level up materials are very good detailed books and I was amazed at Marks teaching energy level and attention to detail…. however I agree that instructor LeFevre approach of criticizing other competitors is something he should remove from his repotoir!!!

Darren Miller had a very pleasant demeanor and a altruistic wanting to see people succeed…good overall advice on essay approach….

just a few thoughts…

I used only Schweser for level II and III with the exception of skimming through the mock exam provided by CFAI. I would 100% recommend these books to anyone doing the CFA and would estimate that perhaps 98% of the exam was covered. Passed Level II with 90%+ in all topics and expect the same on level III. 

Well, I’m a re-taker, so I’ll give my opinion from that perspective. I have used both  IFT and Wiley. This year, I went with LevelUp. I’ll let you guys know if it paid off in August. Lol.

I bought Marc’s videos and also went to the BC in Frankfurt. I think most candidates should realise that the BC is a compliment to the videos. It should not be seen/used as a stand-alone product. Maybe Marc needs to emphasise that. Nobody on the face of the earth will teach you the L3 curriculum in 4 days. It’s not possible. So if you watched the videos before going to the BC, then you are in a better place to derive as much utility as possible from the BC.

Regarding the style and knowledge of the tutor, I would say that I do not think anyone knows the L3 curriculum as much as Marc. He seems to have mastered the stuff inside-out and helps connect the dots across the different readings. I think Marc’s attempt to connect all the dots makes him very thorough, going through every page/table/ and even sometimes the footnotes (arghhhhhhh).

Judging from the way the exams were constructed this year, (mainly the PM), I consider it a deviation from the usual pattern and candidates will need to be very thorough with the curriculum to be very confident of passing. Also, for his IPS workshop, it’s the best I’ve seen. I also think his on-time responses to my questions via email or ******** was nice, particularly as I needed to understand the new equity readings in-depth.

I know Marc likes to blow his trumpet, but as a re-taker, I couldn’t care less if a donkey was praising himself. I just wanted to get past this phase and move on to other things. 

So yes, I agree it’s pricey, but you see, I do not want to do this again, so I went with someone that perhaps would increase my chances of passing by helping me master the curriculum. We’ll find out sometime in August.

Remember, the BC should be seen as a compliment, not a stand-alone.

My review based on the products I chose:

Level 1: Kaplan Schweser. Concise, cost effective basic package. Got it done.

Level 2 (first attempt): Kaplan Schweser. The Schwesernotes were just as wordy as the CFAI material, which defeats the purpose of reading a summary. The mocks were good though.

Level 2 (second attempt): IFT. Arif’s lectures were one of the reasons I gave level 2 a second shot. The video lectures made sense out of concepts I couldn’t understand after multiple readings. His guidance on what’s important and what’s not was also spot on and helpful in focusing my energy on the most testable topics. This was really valuable because there’s so much to cover in level 2…

Level 3: IFT- I went with IFT for level 3, but the value added here felt less than in level 2. A lot of the videos felt recycled from prior years with in-class background noise which was a nuisance. IFT provides an exam relevance sheet which was very useful (and quite widely used). IFT also has a high-yield summary section for every topic which was very useful during the final weeks. But at the end of the day, I felt like IFT really shines for level 2 in explaining some of the more difficult concepts like pension accounting and triangular arbitrage. In level 3, there isn’t much that a third-party provider can do because the concepts are easier but they are very spread thin and you just need to retain, remember, and integrate more concepts for the exam. In hindsight, I should have relied solely on the curriculum for level 3.

Nathan Ronen is king - seriously a bright individual. 

Pay a thousand bucks and you can have access to the best mind in the business via text message. So many times when I was studying I would need help, text Nathan, and usually called me (under reasonable time circumstances).

It’s like having a personal concierge for all things CFA prep. Whereas at Kaplan you’re just a number.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

It is interesting to read when people (like Ginola comment above) say very similar things about Marc. 

1)  [I do not think anyone knows the L3 curriculum as much as Marc] - That is a very bold comment because having used two or three prep providers, how can anyone conclude that no one out there in the entire world who does not know Level 3 as much as Marc does. No wonder it may be a part of his communication when he trumpets for himself in boot camps and people take it as part of Level 3 LOS. Irrespective whether anyone knows the curriculum inside out, the question is whether he is able to deliver adequately. 

2) [He connects the dots across the different readings] - Well ‘connecting the dots’ sentence is in Marc’s sales pitch video for sure.

I don’t get all the hating on Marc BS on this forum. Ginola’s comments are an opinion just like anyone else’s on here.  I used Marc’s videos and went to his boot camp and thought both, in addition to the other materials he provided, were fantastic.  There’s obviously more than one way to pass using various prep providers and, at the end of the day, it’s the amount of work you put in, how quickly you are capable of coming up to speed on the concepts and mastering the problem solving, your accuracy level, your background coming into the exam, your general intelligence level, your test taking skills (MC and essay) and your ability to think on your feet on exam day that makes the difference.  

Marc also has an incredible ability to keep the boot camp interesting and knows the curriculum inside and out.  He clearly puts a lot to time into his slides and spends time rethinking the best way to explain concepts for his students. The long days were in no way boring and he was able to keep our attention, stay focused to not run late, keep questions under control, and make it a surprisingly pleasant experience as opposed to the grueling four days it could have been.

I highly recommend both the videos and boot camp and that people listen to Marc’s advice as to how to focus studying.  

So, before you or anyone else jumps in to criticize my or anyone else’s comments about Marc, how about we wait to see who passes and then give credence to the passers’ views on best prep providers, rather than having to endure seeing endless posts from a bunch of people who have never taken Marc’s boot camp or used his materials and who may not have passed using other methods.     

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

ARSC13 wrote:

Prep provider review: I felt the best provider by a long shot was Chalk and Board with Nathan Ronen.

Been saying that since I was 15 years old. 

So you’ve been in this program for like 10-15 years now? Maybe you should switch providers :)

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

CEO10K-DAY wrote:

Nathan Ronen is king - seriously a bright individual. 

Pay a thousand bucks and you can have access to the best mind in the business via text message. So many times when I was studying I would need help, text Nathan, and usually called me (under reasonable time circumstances).

It’s like having a personal concierge for all things CFA prep. Whereas at Kaplan you’re just a number.

Hmm.. so all those times you were texting me asking about pensions, required returns, and fed model… I should have taken a flat fee up front?

I used LevelUp and thought the quality of the program is good.  The instructor is knowledgeable and the materials are high quality — both videos and books. The exam binder edited for relevance is very good.  Overall I felt prepared for the exam…and hopefully passed.  Have no regrets using LU.  There are some areas of improvement that Marc can work on.

1.  Videos and written materials need an index — when you want to find his review of a single topic, it is virtually impossible because there are so many pages and videos…and some videos are 3-4 hours long.  An index would have been very useful.

2. Typos — got to fix typos in the materials.

3. Boot camp — is kind of useless in my opinion.  The videos do the job, and the IPS workshop could easily be a video as others have noted.  Asking questions is discouraged, because there is a tight timeline and that’s too bad as I learned a lot from the questions.  There is a fair amount of selling and self-promotion at the boot camp which seemed unnecessary to me, but wasn’t a big deal.  

Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later.

Malee wrote:

I used LevelUp and thought the quality of the program is good.  The instructor is knowledgeable and the materials are high quality — both videos and books. The exam binder edited for relevance is very good.  Overall I felt prepared for the exam…and hopefully passed.  Have no regrets using LU.  There are some areas of improvement that Marc can work on.

1.  Videos and written materials need an index — when you want to find his review of a single topic, it is virtually impossible because there are so many pages and videos…and some videos are 3-4 hours long.  An index would have been very useful.

2. Typos — got to fix typos in the materials.

3. Boot camp — is kind of useless in my opinion.  The videos do the job, and the IPS workshop could easily be a video as others have noted.  Asking questions is discouraged, because there is a tight timeline and that’s too bad as I learned a lot from the questions.  There is a fair amount of selling and self-promotion at the boot camp which seemed unnecessary to me, but wasn’t a big deal.  

Do the Bootcamps really cost 1500-2000USD? 

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

Cod,

The BootCamp and videos purchased separately are around 1,300 each. When you get them together as a package you get a discount so around 2,000 total. You also need to add ~$1,000 in travel expenses if the BootCamp is not in your city.   

I did both LevelUp (full package) and Mark Meldreum (MM). Value wise you can not beat the MM offering. The quality of videos are comparable - so, in my opinion, really hard to justify the premium for LevelUp. Plus MM has more things included. I really benefited from past exam videos - and how to answer AM questions quickly. Also the EOC/review videos were useful. 

The BootCamp in my opinion was a waste of time if you did the videos before. You are better off staying home and doing past exams/review for 40h. Out of my group from BootCamp only 1 passed and 4 failed - so this is not some magical package as some people describe. Plus unless you take Adderall there is no way you can stay focused for 8-10h so after 2-3h the value really diminishes. 

CFA designation is “required” at my firm and most people use Schweser package (incl weekly class) and most people pass. I still believe the key to passing this exam is substantial review time and practice questions. Videos are just a nice (additional) tool, but you need to put in the review time. If you want to read official curriculum you need to start September/October and be done by April. The last 2 months just review questions, past exams and mocks. 

Yup, he bashed S2000 in Omaha saying he was a weird guy that students didn’t like because he showed them magic tricks instead of teaching the curiculum.  I do not undrstand why LevelUp Bootcamp was so hyped up.  It essentially amounted to 50% bragging and self ego-stroking, and 25% teaching of the curriculum. He definitely knows his stuff, I just wish he would have spent the entire time teaching it rather than bragging about himself or bashing competitors

oryan5000 wrote:
Yup, he bashed S2000 in Omaha saying he was a weird guy that students didn’t like because he showed them magic tricks instead of teaching the curiculum.

Hmmm.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

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oryan5000 wrote:

Yup, he bashed S2000 in Omaha saying he was a weird guy that students didn’t like because he showed them

I like to watch magic reveals so i know how tricks are done… wonder id s2000 is pro level, semi-pro, or if he drops his cards all the time.

I used Schweser and IFT and am happy with them, considering I started pretty late. 

Codtrawler87 wrote:

Malee wrote:

I used LevelUp and thought the quality of the program is good.  The instructor is knowledgeable and the materials are high quality — both videos and books. The exam binder edited for relevance is very good.  Overall I felt prepared for the exam…and hopefully passed.  Have no regrets using LU.  There are some areas of improvement that Marc can work on.

1.  Videos and written materials need an index — when you want to find his review of a single topic, it is virtually impossible because there are so many pages and videos…and some videos are 3-4 hours long.  An index would have been very useful.

2. Typos — got to fix typos in the materials.

3. Boot camp — is kind of useless in my opinion.  The videos do the job, and the IPS workshop could easily be a video as others have noted.  Asking questions is discouraged, because there is a tight timeline and that’s too bad as I learned a lot from the questions.  There is a fair amount of selling and self-promotion at the boot camp which seemed unnecessary to me, but wasn’t a big deal.  

Do the Bootcamps really cost 1500-2000USD? 

Yes, sort of.  It was like buying a phone plan, so many bundles that in the end you pay the $2000 just to get on with the task of studying. That includes the videos, bootcamp, books, IPS workshop, and exam binder…some of which is not available unless you buy something else.  If you pass of course it’s all worth it, but if you don’t then you’re pulling you’re hair out and cursing marc on this board and reddit.

Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later.

The Bootcamp reinforces your CFA knowledge and is worth every penny. Obviously you need to do the work by yourself and that starts before the bootcamp.Some people seem to expect they can get around the hard work by simply attending the bootcamp. But that`s not enough. 

You can watch the videos all day long - having an amazing teacher in front of you who runs through the curriculum 

is 100 x more effective. 

Marc is a great teacher and motivator. Marc can most definitely get you the additional 2-3 % that you need to pass. Bashing of competitors? I would call it banter and take it with a pinch of salt. 

Each to his own, but I very much enjoyed studying with levelup

Ill be in a better position to advise on what materials to use three weeks from now

qbafinance wrote:

“Out of my group from BootCamp only 1 passed and 4 failed”

Interesting… Marc mentioned to us his bootcamp pass rates were 80%.

Pho6 wrote:

qbafinance wrote:

“Out of my group from BootCamp only 1 passed and 4 failed”

Interesting… Marc mentioned to us his bootcamp pass rates were 80%.

Sample size neglect right there

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