10 Months ahead - Study strategy?


I would like to get the advice of charterholders (and L3 passers) about a CFA L3 Study Strategy starting 10 months ahead (beginning of September 2017). I am aware this may be early but I want to be sure to pass the exam first time. I am currently evaluating two options:

Approach 1 (Read curriculum twice):

-Skim through entire Schweser curriculum until end of year (without EOCs/Videos) to get a first understanding of material

-Start proper second review of CFAI curriculum including BB/EOC/Videos/own Flashcards in January until the exam

Approach 2 (Study high-weight Topics twice):

-Study High-Weight Topics (to be defined) in Detail until end of year from CFAI curriculum (incl. BB/EOC/Videos)

-Start review of CFAI curriculum including BB/EOC/Videos in January until the exam

If you suggest an alternative approach for 10 months please also feel free to suggest it here.

Background: I passed CFA 1 and 2 on first try, almost always with >70% each topic (using only Schweser and CFAI BB/EOC/Videos). However, would consider myself as a rather slow reader and grasp new topics with average speed.

thank you all for your support/answers!

In 10 month you can literally review the entire Schweser material five times and still have plenty time for the mocks.

I started as early as you, and passed first attempt. What worked for me in general for all 3 levels was to read the CFAI material twice. The first time, I would read through somewhat quickly, not trying to focus on committing every little detail to memory, but more getting some understanding of the concepts and taking notes along the way. I think writing things down and putting in your own words really helps to solidify understanding. I got through 1st pass by late December / January, then I went back a second time and read in more detail along with reviewing my notes and fine tuned my notes and tried to get deeper understanding.

I realize this might be a bit of a lengthy process maybe more than what most would want to do, but it worked for me.

Same as you Passed L1&2 on first try… And just passed Level III. Stict strictly to Schweser Note Cards. Dont waste your time with reading.

Started October of last year and was glad I did. Take your time, start early and study consistently and often. For LIII you need to know the material cold for AM.

I started 18 months early, took a mock exam about 6 months in – found out I failed so I took 6 months off. Then studied 6 more months and passed. Whatever you do I highly recommend doing as many ACTUAL tests as possible the last 6 weeks before the test.

Thank you all for the valuable advice so far - looks like starting early and taking as many mocks as possible cristallizes out. Any further views?

Since you have so much time:

Read schweser notes, and as soon as you are done with an LOS, summarize all potentially testable concepts/formulas in your own words (even if it has a 1% possibility of being tested) from that LOS. In this manner, you will end up with a 6-8 page personal notes for each reading.

Once you are done with a reading, start solving the EOC questions from curriculum

Then solve blue box questions from curriculum

From what I noticed, most, if not all EOC questions are LOS related, however not all blue boxes are LOS related. So you get to skip a few such BB questions.

Target solving EOC and BB questions at least 5 times before exam time

Revise your personal notes at least 5 times before exam time.

Practice past AM questions (last 7 years minimum) - don’t expect repetition of questions/concepts from past AM question practice, but use these only to devise a good time management strategy. Time management is very important for AM, regardless of preparation levels.

Solve Topic Tests, CFAI Mocks, Schweser Mocks - as many as you can and as many times as you can.

You should then be in a fairly better position by exam time. Will update this post if anything else comes to my mind.

One more thing - if you are going to start this early, make sure you allow yourself to have a life, go out etc. to avoid getting burned out. You have plenty of time just stick to your plan and youll be good.

10 months is plenty of time, just be careful not to burn out

Everyone has different study habits so find what works best for you but the two elements you absolutely cannot ignore are the following:

  • do as many past AM exams under real exam conditions as possible (particularly the individual and institutional AMs and understanding how to effectively answer the Qs). I would actually give yourself less than 3 hours per AM exam b/c on exam day, you will obviously not be under optimal writing conditions given nerves etc.

  • do all the EOC and blue box Qs in the curriculum as well as all the CFAI online MC quizzes

Personally, I only referred to the actual curriculum when I came across a concept that wasn’t fleshed out well by Schweser (which wasn’t that often).

I probably read through all the Schweser books 3 times (didn’t take notes as I’m not a note taker but I do highlight), made a formula sheet and then focused on getting through as many Qs and exams as possible.

I would stick with what worked for you so far but make sure to do some CFAI AM mock exams (timed)

Study strategy: don’t start 10 months out.

In all seriousness, take a look at previous exams (AM). Look at actual real questions, and real (recommended) answers. Take a look on the CFAI website and the topic tests. Pick a couple from each topic. Answer them to the best of your ability, even though you haven’t started studying yet.

Get a feel for how difficult the exam actually is. I realize everyone learns at a different rate, but studying 10 months out (or for 600 hours, for example) is absurd in my opinion. I know people do it, and many are successful, but it’s just a huge waste of time unless you’ve got constraints that will limit your ability to study closer to the exam. Some of the concepts are exceedingly easy. Some are things you’ve already learned (e.g. H-model for equities).

If you are committed to starting 10 months early, don’t burn out. And in my opinion, and this is backed by quite a bit of research on how to efficiently study, realize that reading the CFAI texts is probably the poorest way to study for the exam-- even if you read through the whole thing multiple times (which would probably take 10 months). Reading is not a good way to retain knowledge, and reading does very little to help you recall knowledge. Practice is better for both, whether it’s blue boxes, topic tests online, q-bank questions, etc.

+1 to this

There is no need to read the curriculum (or schweser) in its entirety more than once.

Some readings start from BF to Private Wealth need to work on EOC to consolidate the knowledge, have ordered IFT video in addtion reading Curriculum.

Some readings start from BF to Private Wealth need to work on EOC to consolidate the knowledge, have ordered IFT video in addtion reading Curriculum.

I managed to pass all three levels first try and in 20 some odd months of study. First thing I would do if I were doing this again would be to read every bit of the cfa material. I would read a section then listen two or three times to a video provider ( I preferred to listen on my iphone while running or lifting and try to actively remember and visualize what they were talking about). l3 is all about details. understand the material. take your time to understand and don’t focus on trying to “get through” cfa books.