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CFA...one of the most difficult exams in the world?

I happened to google “top 10 most difficult exams in the world”. In most rankings, CFA is in top-6 and WSJ even goes as far as saying it’s the most difficult exam in the world. 

Can this be really true? I’d say anyone with a normal IQ and time to study will clear all three CFA exams. The level of math required is very low. There are few, if any, topics which would require a highly functioning brain in order to understand the concept. 

Just really surprised by the ranking, that’s all. 

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.

No chance. There are many STEM certifications that far surpass the technical difficulty in the CFA program. 

Top 20, maybe, if you combine all three levels. Level one by itself wouldn’t be in the top 100. 

Keep in mind there are many tests that aren’t necessarily academic in nature that probably don’t get considered for that sort of list. For example, the testing military pilots go through before they can perform aircraft carrier landings.

RIP bchad

The survivorship bias of those that have successfully passed all three and made it to the other side doesn’t take away from all of the elements of the exam which, in combination, are clearly daunting for most people before they go through that gauntlet. 

Of course, most competitive people simply move on after success and look for the next challenge, massively discounting the difficulty of what came before. 

"When what I'm doing isn't working, that's when I'll take your criticisms." -- Me, some time ago

MCAT is much harder, I’d rather study for and take all 3 CFA levels back to back in the same day than to take the MCAT. Even the undergrad courses leading up to the MCAT… CFA level 2 didn’t come close to the difficulty of finals week at the end of each semester.

Ive also seen study material for the first few actuary exams, much harder as well. 

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Destroyer of Worlds wrote:

The survivorship bias of those that have successfully passed all three and made it to the other side doesn’t take away from all of the elements of the exam which, in combination, are clearly daunting for most people before they go through that gauntlet. 

Of course, most competitive people simply move on after success and look for the next challenge, massively discounting the difficulty of what came before. 

couldnt agree more with this. Gee, a bunch of alpha BSD CFA charter holders are trying to act cool and non Chalant about how “easy” it was for them and therefore it’s not a hard exam.

slap yourselves for saying this program is easy.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

This ain’t no tall order, this is nothin to me
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep,
I sold Kilos of coke, (so?) I’m guessin’ I can sell CD’s
I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man
Let me handle my business, damn!

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

its hard. too many things to learn that i dont need. low pass rate. very uncertain. cant brag about it cuz no one knows it. would not do again.

I love my cheese. I got to have my cheddar.

There’s a big step between difficult and most difficult in the world though. It’s like saying Kansas bbq is sort of ok, but in the US, top 15 at best.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

I don’t think so, although the population of tests that large is admittedly small.  Maybe top 6 professional certifications.  Obviously you have the MCATS and the BAR, but then you have any and all STEM PhD qualifying exams.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

I think Krn Bbq and Mongolian bbq are better than Kansas bbq. Southern bbq sucks dick. Although I have a gift card for Lucille’s. Only cuz Costco gives me 20 percent off

I love my cheese. I got to have my cheddar.

HIV exam is the hardest

"You want a quote? Haven’t I written enough already???"

RIP

Nerdyblop wrote:

 Southern bbq sucks dick.

Fight me.

RIP bchad

Nerdyblop wrote:

I think Krn Bbq and Mongolian bbq are better than Kansas bbq. Southern bbq sucks dick. Although I have a gift card for Lucille’s. Only cuz Costco gives me 20 percent off

hot pot > bbq

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It be like that sometimes.

Haha I’m not a fan. But I do know a lot of people prefer it. I always look at soups with a negative look.

I love my cheese. I got to have my cheddar.

You don’t like soup?!

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Nerdyblop wrote:

Haha I’m not a fan. But I do know a lot of people prefer it. I always look at soups with a negative look.

You don’t like southern BBQ, soup, or Mexican food????? broken heart

“Mmmmmm, something…” - H. Simpson

People with the charter have spent on average 900 hours studying for the exam. I probably did around 1000 hours. Yea it’s hard. If I study anything for 1000 hours and test on it i’m going to pass. Any person with an average IQ can pass most exams if they put in that amount of time. It does not mean the program was easy.

Also here is stat on the MCAT

“Nearly 50% of all MCAT test takers sit for the MCAT a second time due to inadequate preparation the first time, and many of those people are doing just fine in their science courses. Believe it or not, most students who do well on the MCAT spend between 200 and 300 hours preparing for the exam. Control the things you can control, namely your test prep for this exam. Trust us, you don’t want to have to take it a second time.”

200-300 hours or 1000 hours? I dont need a PHD in math to figure that out.

lol haha this forum has so many people bending over so easily. our **** is the hardest. we are the smartest. and those who have done it that say otherwise are retarded.

I love my cheese. I got to have my cheddar.

It’s definitely the hardest I’ve taken, and I’;ve taken several.  

The difficulty of the CFA is not the complexity of the subject material.  Actually, I think that the CPA exam has more technically complex material.  But there’s only one test, and it is broken down into four bite-size pieces, so it’s easier to study for and pass.  The material in the CFA exam is so voluminous that by the time you’re done studying, you’ve forgotten most of what you learned at the first. 

(Kinda like the horse in Animal Farm that could learn ABCD, then learned EFGH, but by learning EFGH, they forgot ABCD, so they had to start over.  And when they learned ABCD again they forgot EFGH.  And so go the days of our lives.)  

82 > 87
Simple math.

prostate exam?

"You want a quote? Haven’t I written enough already???"

RIP

DPBass88 wrote:

People with the charter have spent on average 900 hours studying for the exam. I probably did around 1000 hours. Yea it’s hard. If I study anything for 1000 hours and test on it i’m going to pass. Any person with an average IQ can pass most exams if they put in that amount of time. It does not mean the program was easy.

Also here is stat on the MCAT

“Nearly 50% of all MCAT test takers sit for the MCAT a second time due to inadequate preparation the first time, and many of those people are doing just fine in their science courses. Believe it or not, most students who do well on the MCAT spend between 200 and 300 hours preparing for the exam. Control the things you can control, namely your test prep for this exam. Trust us, you don’t want to have to take it a second time.”

200-300 hours or 1000 hours? I dont need a PHD in math to figure that out.

The MCAT’s 200-300 hours of study are review hours, it’s a 3 year build up of 60+ class/semester  hours of prerequisite that have very high attrition rates per class. Before that, you had thousands of study hours. No one ever had walks into an mcat just reading the review materials and takes the test because even if you did well, you need the prerequisites for med school admissions.

Unlike the CFA where someone with a bachelors, couple grand, calculator and pencils, can knock it out in like 18 months, 12 if you only count the study time.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Ok, I’m not going to argue if the MCAT is harder than the CFA program.

My point is that the CFA is a hard program. 12-18 months of studying with a completion rate of 20%. I’m not saying if you complete it that you’re smart but I would say you went through some ****.

Yeah, it was a grind. 

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

hpracing007 wrote:

DPBass88 wrote:

People with the charter have spent on average 900 hours studying for the exam. I probably did around 1000 hours. Yea it’s hard. If I study anything for 1000 hours and test on it i’m going to pass. Any person with an average IQ can pass most exams if they put in that amount of time. It does not mean the program was easy.

Also here is stat on the MCAT

“Nearly 50% of all MCAT test takers sit for the MCAT a second time due to inadequate preparation the first time, and many of those people are doing just fine in their science courses. Believe it or not, most students who do well on the MCAT spend between 200 and 300 hours preparing for the exam. Control the things you can control, namely your test prep for this exam. Trust us, you don’t want to have to take it a second time.”

200-300 hours or 1000 hours? I dont need a PHD in math to figure that out.

The MCAT’s 200-300 hours of study are review hours, it’s a 3 year build up of 60+ class/semester  hours of prerequisite that have very high attrition rates per class. Before that, you had thousands of study hours. No one ever had walks into an mcat just reading the review materials and takes the test because even if you did well, you need the prerequisites for med school admissions.

Unlike the CFA where someone with a bachelors, couple grand, calculator and pencils, can knock it out in like 18 months, 12 if you only count the study time.

I think that you’re confusing “test” with “everything involved in getting the certificate”.  

EG - the CPA “curriculum” is fairly easy.  150 college credit hours, 30 of which have to be in accounting.  Not a very high bar.  But the CPA exam is fairly hard, even if you’ve seen all the information before in undergrad.  

The “curriculum” for attorneys (at least in Texas) is extremely difficult.  Three years of law school.  (hat’s AFTER you get your Bachelor’s.)  But the Bar exam is much easier than the CPA exam (maybe because they studied for so long for it).  

So the CPA exam is harder than the Bar exam, but it’s much more difficult to become a lawyer than a CPA.  

82 > 87
Simple math.

Plus, with a lot of standardized tests (such as SAT and GRE), there is no “passing” score.  There is no “pass”.  There’s only a score that measures your aptitude.  So to compare a test like that to a true pass/fail test is not a good comparison.  (I have no idea if the MCAT is a “score” test or a “pass-fail” test.)  

82 > 87
Simple math.

I know this isn’t a CFA vs MCAT thread, but I have first-hand knowledge of the studying that goes into both.  My daughter spent last summer in my office studying for the MCAT.  One summer, no job, college student, no responsibilties other than school/MCAT.  What she went through vs what I went through to complete the CFA exams is not even close.  Is that how you would judge difficutlty?  Maybe not, But I am still tired from the CFA curriculum.  In addition, unlike the MCAT, the CFA exam is binary and only offered once a year.  You are all in, which makes the pressure of each exam amplified. 

That said, you can still be in field of finance without the CFA.  If you don’t do well on the MCAT, med school ain’t happening.

Greenman72 wrote:

Plus, with a lot of standardized tests (such as SAT and GRE), there is no “passing” score.  There is no “pass”.  There’s only a score that measures your aptitude.  So to compare a test like that to a true pass/fail test is not a good comparison.  (I have no idea if the MCAT is a “score” test or a “pass-fail” test.)  

One is so much more difficult than the other that format of the test, pass/fail vs Score doesn’t even matter.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

I took MCAT once.  I basically just danced a lot, enjoyed music more and stayed up all night.  surprised to hear it’s so difficult.

Nerdyblop wrote:

I think Krn Bbq and Mongolian bbq are better than Kansas bbq. Southern bbq sucks dick. Although I have a gift card for Lucille’s. Only cuz Costco gives me 20 percent off

Those three have nothing in common. Sometimes I really do wonder how you’re able to dress yourself in the morning. 

Nerdyblop wrote:

Haha I’m not a fan. But I do know a lot of people prefer it. I always look at soups with a negative look.

How about pho?

“Mmmmmm, something…” - H. Simpson

Any STEM junior/senior level courses would give CFA level 1 a run for its money in terms of difficulty. 

If the hardest course someone took in college was calc 1,intermediate accounting or something simillar then maybe CFA would be the “hardest” .