Advice for those who did NOT pass today...

If you didn’t pass today, I’m sorry. I’ve gotten two of those “We regret to inform you” e-mails, and I know that they suck.

My intent with this thread is not to be a “hater” or a “Negative Nelly”, but I really want to save some of you from even more heartache in the future. I’m not trying to discourage anybody. But I think most people (including myself) underestimate how long and lonely a road is the CFA exam. This ain’t the SAT or the Series 7.

If you have a Bachelor’s degree in Finance or Accounting, then you should be able to pass Level 1 with only a couple months of study. (Of course, if your Bachelor’s is in Art Appreciation, it will take longer, because you’re having to learn all the stuff that we learned in undergad. I’m assuming 90% of the people taking the test have an undergrad in finance/accounting.)

If you _ legitimately _ study for 6 months or more and still don’t pass, then I seriously doubt that you will ever pass Levels 2 or 3. Level 1 is cake. Level 1 is the application for admission. The real “meat and potatoes” start at Level 2. The time commitment and the difficulty levels shoot through the roof at the higher levels.

And if you didn’t really put in the time and effort to pass Level 1–what do you plan to change in June? Do you think you can do it all over again (plus another 100 or so hours) for Level 2? Do you think you can do it a third time for Level 3? Maybe you can, but you really need to take a hard look at yourself and how committed you are to the exam.

Before you jump right in and re-register for Level 1, read some of the posts from those who are studying for Level 3 and see how much it has consumed their life. You start fighting with your spouses all the time, because you spend so much time studying. You don’t get to see your kids. You get stressed out easily. You stop working out and start eating a bunch of unhealthy crap. You can’t enjoy any time off–if you’re lucky enough to get any time off. You start drinking waaay too much to try and relax. You can’t focus on anything but the test, and you start wondering if you’re getting enough study time in. You focus too much on the test and not enough on your job, so your job performance suffers. You take vacation days off–then spend the whole time studying.

All in all–there are worse things in the world than failing the CFA Level 1. What could be worse? Well, passing Level 1, then taking Level 2 three times and failing three times is worse. Or passing on the third time, then failing Level 3 three times. Or passing the exam at the expense of your job and your family.

Anyhow, if you do decide to keep pursuing the CFA Charter, good luck to you. And if you think it’s just not for you, that’s okay too. Giving up 1000 hours of your free time is not a decision to take lightly.

Well said!

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed Nothin’ seems to fit Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’

This is a massive overestimation, and I think your post is too negative for people who don’t have this background. Yes, an accounting or finance major should pass L1 with relative ease, but most people who take this don’t have that degree and have to work hard for L1. 63% of people failed L1, and entry criteria and cost would have put off most chancers. I’ve heard plenty of stories of charter holders having failed L1. Sure, if you put in the hard work and got band 5 have a rethink, but if you haven’t studied finance before and got band 8+ it’s got to be worth a retake.

Sobering post, especially for someone like myself who is older than the avg CFA candidate and has no formal financial education.

Greenman72 : I wish you didn’t write this post.

It’s too negative, given that the rides are differentiarted by the riders.

Alladin: yes, rain drops keep falling on my head too :confused:

GreenMan, you sound like you have a lot of issues by letting the CFA get in the way of your family, health and job performance. If I were you, I would seriously reconsider your life decision on pursuing the CFA because if you are resorting to malice behaviour this early in the game, due to a test, you are in for a dose of reality once you get your career going while balancing life’s responsibilities.

This is only a test. The CFA doesn’t love you back, pay the bills or even ask you how your day was. I failed the test and my family was very supportive of me trying again in June because I wasn’t a complete asshat in this process. Get your priorities in order, GreenMan because noone likes a crybaby.

GM doesn’t need to reconsider anything. He’s sharing his experience so that others with his family background/experiences can put things in perspective. Based on my personal acquaintances, I can guarantee he’s not alone. A lot of people keep pushing L1, without realizing how much additional work L2 and L3 require.

As far as GM goes, he has already made the sacrifices, so all this is ex-post for him. He clearly preluded his post by saying he’s not trying to be a hater or trying to put you down. By posting his experience, he’s not registering a 200% return on his investment.

Having said all that, I do recognize how a lot of L1 folks will take his post negatively. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have felt negatively about it, too, but as you move up the chain, you start looking for people like GM to provide their input. Take it for what it’s worth.

I failed due to extremely bad time management but I know that this exam is Secondary to everything else. If you already have a job in finance this is not going to be the golden ticket to advance your career I know that (and others should know this as well if you don’t already). The information learned though has already helped me analyze situations within my current job role alot differently and helped me formulate new ideas to help my current organization. Hard work in your current job role is the ultimate career booster.

Maybe I did overestimate it. The post wasn’t meant to be a decades-long empirical study, just a casual observation. But the post was geared toward those who DO have a bachelor’s in finance/accounting, which I assume (again) is the vast majority of candidates. (If you have evidence to the contrary, please let me know.)

Obviously, those who don’t have a background in finance/accounting will need to study more. I would agree with you–if you knew nothing about finance/accounting before registering, and got a Score Band 8, then you will probably do well to take the test again.

I know people can fail Level 1, then go on to pass the rest of the test. I am a Level 1 failure myself. I said so in my post. I’m not trying to discourage everybody from taking the test. I’m trying to get people to think before they blindly jump back into re-registering. If most people knew at Level 1 how difficult the rest of the road is, they might take a different path.


I find it odd that the person who failed Level 1 thinks he has earned the right to chastise a person who is studying for Level 3.

Let me get this straight–you failed Level 1, presumably because you didn’t put in enough time away from your family–and your family supported you. Good for you!

My family supported me, too, when I took Level 1. When I took it the second time, they supported me. They supported me a little less for Level 2 the first time, and were not enthusiastic at all that I took Level 2 a second time. Now I’m studying for Level 3, and the support has drastically waned. I can assure you–there will be no support for Level 3 if I should take it a second time.

Will your wife support you if you spend nights and weekends studying for the next three or four years? Not three or four months, Robert–three or four years. When I started Level 1, I was 29. I just turned 33, and I’m still studying.

How will she feel when you choose to study instead of going to the park with your kids on Memorial Day weekend (the weekend before the test). Let me know how it goes.

Maybe you decided to go out and drink and party on Memorial Day weekend. Maybe you decided that the test was less important than your family. I’m happy for you. See you in June for Level 1–again.

What “malice behaviour” have I resorted to? How “early in the game” do you think I am? I’ve already put in 250 hours for Level 3. (That comes AFTER Levels 1 and 2, Robert.) I wouldn’t consider this “early in the game”.

And I like that you called me a crybaby. I’m not crying about anything–just stating the facts about what the majority of CFA candidates go through before the end. You’ll figure it out–if you get that far. You’re not crying because you haven’t sacrificed anything yet. So far, you have proved yourself unable to pass the entrance exam.

And don’t tell me to get my priorities in order. I have an MBA, I am a CPA, and a manager at a tax practice. My workload is about to increase to 70 hours per week. I hope to find 5-10 hours in there to study. I’m struggling to balance work and family life, in addition to studying for my test. I would encourage you to do the same, rookie. Either study for your test (on top of all your other priorities) or quit.

The exams aren’t as hard as you think they are. They shouldn’t take over your life that much.

Oh god, please get off your high horse. You can’t even put CFA behind your name, remember? You still have to put CFA Candidate Level “x” on your tax manager resume, like the rest of us.

fight fight fight fight

You’re right, Robert. But I put “Level 3 Candidate” on mine–because I passed Levels 1 and 2.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share my opinion and my advice. I’ll “get off my high horse” now.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m stressing too much. But I think you’ll probably think differently by the time you get to May of Level 3.

Look, if you fail level 1, hopefully you are smart enough to know why. After putting forth the effort you did, think if you want to do that again (and then some; plus a whole lot more in other levels).

If you only want to pass level 1 to prove that you can, that’s ok too. The knowledge that you acquire throughout the process is valueable, but the process isn’t for everyone.

If you want to do it again, do it. If you don’t, don’t. If you want to wait to take some time to yourself, do that. No one says you have to pass everything within a 3 year window. But don’t decide to not take it just because you read a sobering post from someone who is likely either regretting their decision or is just sick of reading posts from people asking for advice about trying again.

Just do whatever makes you happy.

I can and do put CFA behind my name and GM is more right than wrong. Maybe a lot of people don’t want to hear what he has to say, and maybe his timing could have been better, but I believe his intent was genuine. Although you do not have to let the exams takeover your life, a serious time committment is unavoidable unless you are some kind of super genius and that will cause some significant disruptions in your life for at least a couple of springs.

Maybe one difference between Higgmond and I is the fact that he’s already put the CFA exam behind him. I, on the other hand, am entering tax season, have a pregnant wife, and I know that the test is not long after April 15. So maybe I’m just feeling more pressure than him right now.

Congratulations on the little bundle of joy heading your way!

As someone with an undergrad in finance and economics that is employed as a financial analyst, I can vouch that these exams are not easy despite having the background. I am very good at what I do but still managed to fail my first attempt in December due primarily to underestimating the difficulty of the exam and exam day.

For all of you other level 1’ers, take more than one practice test, TRUST ME. My time management was poor to non-existent causing me to rush through to the end. Also, focus on all areas; don’t skimp on the things you think you’re good at (even if quizzes for that section are going well).

Taxes + Pregnant wife sounds like it isn’t any fun. But look at it this way, at least you’re not the one pregnant. And soon you get to play with a baby!