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Answer this after level III results

All the best to all Level III candidates. May you never have to appear for any CFAI exam ever again

I am thinking of registering for the 2020 exam. Passed Level II in 2013 and then  life intervened. The curriculum has been revamped for 2020 except Fixed income, equity, BF. . I will have limited time so have to depend on prep provider. My choice will be between mark meldrum and IFT . I require mainly videos.

I want to know your feedback from those who have used both or either one.

 study notes and videos from prep providers will be late given the revamp. Another option is CFAI text, in chapter examples and EOC. I will be working the in chapter examples and EOC s anyway but given the time constraint would ideally like to move to the problem solving and practicing past AM and mocks as soon as I can. Hence the prep provider. i have read this

I should have posted this after results but next couple of weeks will be busy at work , so may not find time to post hence posting now.

You’ve made it this far, and you know what it takes to pass. Don’t be fooled by false promises and unrealistic claims. Schweser’s CFA® study packages give you the proven study tools and expert instruction you need to finish the job.

Agree with This

“Solely used MM and CFAI for Level II and III. I didn’t find out about MM until the night before Level I exam. I could/willing to afford only one prep and chose him. 

Very satisfying, especially Level II materials. I never learned about derivatives before and by the end of it, it’s one my favorite topics. Passed Level II almost solely with his videos, didn’t read most of CFAI textbooks. 

With Level III, MM was 100% supplementary. I need to read the CFAI materials on top of his videos to ensure I covered everything. I watched his videos first and then read the materials. Videos helped me to get through the textbooks. I spent a lot of time doing blue boxes, EoC, TTs, and mock exams. S2000 graded one of my mocks, it helped a ton. After the exam, I came to a hard realization that nobody can predict the questions on the exam. Past exams do not/cannot predict future exams.  I read a lot about LevelUp bootcamp, was enticed for a second until I saw the price tag. Honestly did not want to spend that kind of $$. I also read that Marc spoke trash of other prep providers & I didn’t want to spend money on commentary.”

I used IFT for level 3 and found its videos really good. IFT discusses BB and white text examples in detail in videos which other providers do not normally. Since level 3 curriculum is not as straightforward as other levels so explaining BB and white text examples matters a lot.

I did not use MM so cannot comment his way of teaching. However since Bill has made mocks for him, I would recommend buying MM mocks along with grading services.

If I were you, i would use CFAI curriculum to make my own notes (absolutely no third party notes) plus IFT videos plus MMs mocks and grading services.

mskhan91 wrote:
However since Bill has made mocks for him, I would recommend buying MM mocks along with grading services.

I believe that Dr. Meldrum will not be offering mock exams in 2020; I read that on reddit.

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

Financial Exam Help 123: The place to get help for the CFA® exams


I passed quite comfortably and used both MM and IFT so I can compare between the 2 quite well… obviously both have their pros and cons..

MM explains stuff extremely well, so the focus is on understanding the material. But certain chapters IFT (in particular the equity section) I found to be much better and detailed (good few hours more of video)

MM expects you to read the curriculum (as one should, but I didnt) so would skip over some of the BB egs. The onus is on you to do them. IFT on the other hand would go thru all of the BB egs, and it’s not assumed that you already understand some of the stuff/would do the egs. on your own later.

MM holds seminars for difficult topics, I believe he is introducing seminars on all topics scheduled through out the next year

MM makes separate videos for tough questions (and believe me that this really helped in the actual paper)

MM goes thru pretty much all of the eoc questions, saves  a ton of time. And frankly I find it better when  someone explains these questions.. Ift doesn’t have this..!

MM does solve few of the last years AM papers (which is good) but I found IFTs essay solving videos to be outstanding (really helped me get thru) he solves all the relevant questions from 2014 onwards..

Both have very good review videos, Ift however had for more topics (book 3 of last year: asset allocation, currency management etc) Also ifts review video for the IPS section was outstanding (essentially it comes down to a couple of type of questions.. once you get a format to work with it gets manageable…)

Lastly I’d suggest the following (keeping in mind if anyone has limited time)

- ideally use both of these providers (to varying extent) - certain chapters MM (especially fixed income) is very good

- print the pdf of the video notes provided by them (for the chapters that you watch the video) and make additions to them as you hear the video ( I didnt read any other notes)

-  ift videos to cover all the remaining BB egs. and certain parts not covered in depth by MM (can judge this by skipping parts of the video)

- MM for eoc questions (absolute must)

- ift for past AM papers (again absolute must)

- take a grading service ( I used MM - ensured that I did atleast 1 AM, and the only one I actually ended up doing, before the actual paper)

- lastly DO NOT make the mistake of assuming something may or may not come in the paper (know all the formulas and make a sheet of your own thru the year)

- use any good qbank (mm or cfai online bank to practice multiple choices questions) if time permits.. ( I used MM only..)

Comes down to understanding the material, doing the BB, EOCs and actual past papers (for the AM) and knowing your formulas. Ethics and Gips leave for the end. But do not skip any part of ethics (focus on asset manager code) and definitely do not skip Gips. Practice atleast 1 AM paper. Anything above this (online qbank or whatever ) if you have the time!

Best of luck and do message in case you need any info/help.

I scored 95th percentile or higher on level II & III using Kaplan Schweser materials almost exclusively. The only CFAI materials I used were the end of chapter ethics questions, which I reviewed for 20 mins. If you can put in 300+ hours with Kaplan Schweser materials you should be just fine. Read the chapters, watch the videos, work the suggested practice problems. Give yourself 3-4 weeks for practice tests and review before the exam. Seems like a lot of folks on this forum don’t like Kaplan Schweser, but I had a great experience with their materials.

Used Kaplan last year and failed , AM ~40%, PM ~ 72%. I attribute my poor am score to not doing enough practice exam. (I did only 1 practice exam last year, not timed)

Used Kaplan again this year and supplemented it with CFAI and passed comfortably, but i did lots of timed practice exams, probably 10-15 of them. I crushed the exam this time AM ~ 62%, PM ~ 85%.

The key is doing enough practice problems/exams

Never give up


CFAI materials only. The test is based on CFAI materials, not Kaplan, MM, IFT, or anyone else. If you learn from the source, you will be best prepared for the test. Studying CFAI materials directly will give you the most accurate body of knowledge and will best prepare you for the way questions are asked on the exam. It also helps for the morning essay section especially when you have to prove your work- the way you solve problems will be the way the CFAI wants them solved.

I studied approximately 350 hours for Level III, using CFAI. I took 4 mocks, supplementing CFAI mocks with 2 I bought from Kaplan. I also used the free IFT guide to past tests and made my own essay exam by combining old ones the CFA gave us. Passed ~98th percentile. 

Never understood the debate over 3rd party test prep providers. Stupidly expensive and the CFAI literally gives you what is going to be on the exam. All a 3rd party can do is repackage it and sell it to you. The problem there is that things get re-weighted, altered, restated, and slightly changed during the repackaging. So you’re not guaranteed to get all the information that will be on the exam. Sure, you’ll get most of it, and if you study hard enough, you have a good chance at passing. But the purest and most effective way to prepare for the exam is to take handwritten notes of every g*ddamn section of the CFAI materials. If it’s hard to understand, then good. The effort you put into understanding it will further sear it into your brain. You won’t realize the benefits until you’re taking the exam and something clicks in your subconscious and you remember some obscure passage because the wording of the question is similar to something you read straight from the source. 

Used Schweser for all 3 levels. All passed with one attempt each (around 90th percentile on the last two only since L1 didnt have that yet when I took it) , so it’s good enough if you also answer CFAI EOCs.

Can’t study using the CFAI material… Too much fluff, I get sleepy after reading a page and can’t even get the gist of the topic. Though I really had to cram most of the studying within 1-2 months full time, being an incurable serial procrastinator…