2016 CFA L3 Advice and Consolidated Resouce Toolkit

With so many posts and resources available, like many others, I thought I’d tmake an attempt to add my two pennies as well as aggregate some of the most helpful resoureces I’ve come across. I hope both are helpful and serve you well as you progress through the final stage of this LONG journey - best of luck!!

ADVICE/THOUGHTS (Feel free to add some more)

  1. Start a little earlier than you’re thinking now and ease into your routine - Make a PLAN! Monitor and revise plan as necessary, fiinding a balance as best you can - consistency is key!

  2. Know thyself - Only you know if videos or reading or whatever mode of learning works best for you, trust yourself and lean on your strenghts.

  3. Quality over quantity - No matter what, number of hours are only a yardstick. Focus on quality of the your studying and, more importantly, your UNDERSTANDING.

  4. Practice writing answers from the very beginning - Writing out responses will allow you to kill two birds with one stone. By focusing on writing you will gain adequate proficiency for the much talked about AM session as well as solidify understanding.

  5. Be an analyst and do your due diligence - No time like the present to start. It’s like I tell my staff, I’m happy to answer/entertain/debate any question, but be sure you’ve Googled it, have done some research and tried to get an understanding first. At Level III, there’s zero room for mental laziness.

  6. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF - Perhaps this should have been first. At this stage, you know your stuff. Study hard, trust your instincts and believe in yourself. Confidence will add many points on exam day.

TOOLKIT (again, feel free to add)

CFAI Topic Weights:


CFA Level III Exam Details:


LOS Command Words: http://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/Documents/cfa_and_cipm_los_command_words.pdf

Changes in 2016 Level III Curriculum: http://www.analystforum.com/forums/cfa-forums/cfa-level-iii-forum/91344573

Level III Topics by CFAI Study Session (dated but helpful, not much has changed period-over-period):


Señor S2000magicians website: http://financialexamhelp123.com/cfa-level-iii/

LOTS of past CFAI L3 AM practice exams:

CFAI Page: http://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/candidate/Pages/essay_exams.aspx

1999 - 2013: http://www.justlevel3.com/downloads/

Printable Flashcards (based on 2014 curriculum - again, not much has changed, very valuable):


NOTE on flashcards: printing may take some experimenting. I simply did double sided on card stock, but play with a couple pages first to see what works. Here is how another AFer (onlysimon) made it work:

GIPS (focus on required): http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/ccb.v2010.n5.1

CFA Glossary: http://www.cfainstitute.org/learning/tools/glossary/Pages/index.aspx

Note: The AM session and guidline answers typically are made available in late December early January.

Thanks for this…bookmarked :slight_smile:

Happy to help in anyway I can. This forum has been an invaluable resouce to me throughout the process. Best of luck!

Great post…thank you! Good to have all this valuable info in one spot.

^ You’re welcome, thanks. Only thing thing I would add to the above would be to get an earlier start than you initially plan. Say you are planning on beginning on starting Jan1, I would start Dec 1 instead and let yourself build momentum into your “go hard” Jan 1 date. Best of luck!

Adding another helpful link:

you da man Gotham

I’ll reemphasize point #1, and specifically: finding a balance

I finished the 3rd level this year and learned that if you start at a good time, it shouldn’t take up your entire weekend. You should be able to knock out maybe 3 hours Sat/Sun morning, and then get 2 hours per day for 4 days a week, and be okay if you do it for 6 months. That comes to 14 hours per week, 56 hours per month, or just over 300 hours in 6 months. This still leaves you with most of the weekend to go and spend time with friends without missing out. I got better about that, but should have done it sooner.

If you plan it out well, and use your time efficiently (study a little before work, during lunch at work, and an hour after work, and you have your 2 hours x 4 days per week), this is a very reasonable test. I still worried a lot, I wasted more time than needed, but it’s doable, and if you’re efficient, it won’t totally interfere with everything else in life.

Start early and only start when you’re ready to get going, in my opinion. Don’t start and go really slow. Either hit the books hard or don’t. And if you’re like me, don’t even bother starting with Ethics. It’s too early, it’s really boring, and you should really just be doing that closer to the end so it’s fresh in your mind for the test.

this link is to a new Bible by Saint Adam.Runk64


Understand it, and you shall pass

I somehow missed that Adam Runk post last spring. You all should bookmark that and use it as a reference. Good stuff from Gotham, too. Here are some other things I think will be helpful…

(i) This is a great, famous post from some guy “Trimonious” on Level III http://www.analystforum.com/forums/cfa-forums/cfa-level-iii-forum/91314226

(ii) You are likely inclined to believe the 2004-2010 AM exams aren’t relevant to the 2016 exam…NOT TRUE. There are some differences but largely the curriculum and main topics they test have stayed the same. Old exams are excellent practice, and the CFA guideline answers are golden studying material.

(iii) Some may not agree with me, but the Schweser AM mocks aren’t good. They are very simplistic and not at all like the real CFA exam questions. I felt I wasted time doing them. FOCUS ON THE OLD CFA AM EXAMS, even the ones a decade old. The Schweser PM mocks are OK. Schweser Notes are good and I think covered practically everything on the 2015 exam, but their AM mocks aren’t worth the time.

(iv) On exam day, you’re highly likely to score lower in the AM than you thought. In May you’ll see people posting that they scored 75 or higher on the 2014 or 2015 CFA AM exam. The results matrices posted on this site say otherwise. Its very rare to see people post AM matrices in the 75% range. I thought I graded my mock exams conservatively, but my AM 40/60/80 score was 10 percentage points lower than where I was on mock exams. I don’t think I’m alone. The good news is you don’t need 70% in the AM – you can get away with 60% or even (slightly) lower.

(v) The AM is the differentiator for most on pass vs fail. You need to be ready for it. You’ve got 6 hours to do the entire exam; I bet most candidates wish they could borrow 1 hour from the PM and use it for the AM (4 hours to do AM, and 2 hours for the PM). The 3 hours will fly by in the AM. If you spend an extra 10-15 minutes on one question, you’re very possibly going to have to leave another question entirely blank. Don’t write BS in the AM b/c you definitely won’t get credit for it and you’re wasting VALUABLE time.

Good luck.

Epic. Thanks for sharing this here.

@ Tommy83 - thanks for sharing , the Trimonious link is great - and so is your advice. I personally didn’t go back so far on CFAI AM exams (I went back through 2011), but have it to do over I would. Your point that the old CFAI AM exams are not worthless and the secret sauce is in practicing the AM and leveraging off the model answers is SPOT on. If I were sitting this year knowing what I know now from experience, I would definitely have practiced and reviewed CFAI AM releases much further back than I did.

As far as grading, I was overly harsh, and of the 10 mock exams I completed before exam day, I only exceeded 70% on two of them - and they were in fact Schweser. My exam 40/60/80 AM score came out at 61.82% which was very close to my trailing mean in practice of 60.19%. I’m sure this accuracy is an anomaly, but being overly critical definitely helped motivate me to focus on practicing more constructed response which was my saving grace when I squeaked by on exam day.

Great post by Weiver. He assembled some pretty amazing notes. I glanced through them (https://sites.google.com/site/cfalevel3examprep/ ) and found them to be extremely comprehensive, funny and sarcastic, and, most importantly, what appear to be an EXTREMELY valualbe tool current candidates can leverate.


I found this paper valuable when getting my head around the theory behind different rebalancing strategies.


Some Sortino links:

Great supplementary paper: https://www.sunrisecapital.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Futures_Mag_Sortino_0213.pdf

Bonus BBG video: http://altanswer.com/video/sortino-ratio/

Thank you GothamSenator for your generosity.

“zero room for mental laziness” I need to cultivate that relative to this Exam.

Absolutely - I hope some or all of it helps out on game day! If you come across any exceptional threads, please do add as well. I can’t tell you how many old threads really came through for me (and many many others) throughout this, what can be a, grueling process.

Probably the toughest aspect of the entire program, at least for me. I think that’s why I’m such a fan of this curriculum/program. It does do its very best to train us to be disciplined thinkers.

2016 CFAI erratta link. Thanks, Simon.

daharmattan1 put some good stuff out there on the AM session (see link in quote below).