CAIA Level 1 March 2020 - how did your exam go?

As per the title - share your experiences please

TL;DR: If there’s no curve and I didn’t guess well, there is a verrryyy slim chance I passed.

Full response: I feel pretty dejected over the exam. The morning session crushed me. Felt like I was guessing on almost half of them (narrowing it down to 2 responses and just picking one). I had been studying for the exam since late November using UM. Used the test bank and flash cards extensively, and read the books thoroughly. I felt there were multiple curveballs on the actual exam and that the actual test cared more about details “two-levels” deep. By contrast, UM has lots of questions that are “three-levels” deep (or more) and the CAIA Mock is completely superficial. It therefore made it, to me, difficult to piece random pieces together in a live-test environment.

I think both CAIA and some of these service providers became lax in their prep for this cycle on account of the curriculum re-write occurring after this period. Therefore, I don’t feel the materials were as reflective of the actual exam as they should’ve been (especially the official mock!).The whole experience has made me a bit jaded and a bit skeptic of both the CAIA designation and the organization itself.

FWIW - I scored a 75% on UM’s mock, scored an overall 78% on their test bank (1800 questions I went through twice with long periods in between repeating questions). Also scored an 88% on the Official CAIA Mock. In other words, I did everything right - I put in the hours, drilled concepts, and had the practice Mock and cumulative exam scores to execute on test day.

Thought the exam was fair. Was able to pace it similarly to the Uppermark Mocks and official CAIA Mock (had ~30 mins remaining to review flagged questions after each section).

Overall, felt as though UM prepared me pretty well so fingers crossed!

Considering mock scores are reasonably predictive (or at least highly correlated) of actual outcomes, i would be quite surprised if you failed. I scored in the low 70’s for UM and CAIA mock and passed comfortably.

With your level of prep - you must pass! Most likely you will. More often then not, our mental counter overestimates the number of the ‘guesses’ and underestimates the questions we got right.

Having said that, I share your feeling. I had a pretty smooth first session. Reasonably sure of my answers. I had 10 minutes to spare. My second session was the complete opposite. Questions were long and answers were hard to come by. For about 70 questions - I had to narrow down to 2 choices and take a guess, even the ethics ones. So I don’t know. I was scoring around 60s-70s in Schweser Practice and CAIA mock. I don’t think I will make it. It sucks because I had invested 150-200 hours on this and was feeling pretty confident after doing the CAIA mock. I did the whole Schweser Qbank once. I don’t know what I will do different when I will re-try.

Completely agree with you on 3rd party study material. Schweser dropped the ball on this. They need to revise. But may be they are not seeing enough demand for this material - which may be in an indication that not enough new people are applying for CAIA? CAIA mock needs to be revised. Data sets need to be revised to show correlations, studies, etc. across asset types till 2019 not 2014 (I find this really odd). I also used Wiley videos - though, they were excruciating to watch - and in the end didn’t help me that much.

Thanks eddyble. I have to say that your guides were instrumental in my prep and same with your candid feedback about the service providers and exam/day experiences. I even read your Reddit posts!

I know it’s “best guess” methodology, but is the common belief that a mid-60 score is more akin to a true passing grade than a hard-70? Part of me wonders if the main drop in the exam’s passing rate has been due to the organization steadily dropping curves. I see people who claim to have scored low 60s on prep exams up through the day before testing only to come out later saying they passed. I can’t imagine people upping the avg score from various mocks by nearly 10%…until I see those posts were from 2017 and 2018.

Yeah I can understand third-party providers missing on their prep’s accuracy cycle-to-cycle but I felt the type of details asked were often presented in different formats. I too had a session where I was seemingly flipping a coin and at least 10-15 problems where I just had no real idea. I actually called UM after my exam today to relay my dispirited feeling and went over my prep. To paraphrase, they said I would be the first person to score over a 70 on their mock and avg just under 80 in their test bank and failed the live exam. I’ll be sure to follow up on here.

What I find most unforgivable is just how different the official mock was from the actual exam. Again, I got an 88 on the official mock and finished each section 15 minutes early (without sweating). A potential drop in >36 questions to take me from “you got this” to “not close” would be incredibly disheartening.

Again, I’m thinking rashly right now, but I may scrap the whole CAIA pursuit if this plays out like I see. Failing after putting in 200+ hours of studying and passing all sorts of mocks and practice problem sets all while the organization itself couldn’t be bothered to provide an accurate mock (even though they only provide one!) would be a major turnoff.

30 minutes to spare? That’s amazing. If you score more than 70%, you are guaranteed a pass. So,congratulations on a great exam.

Glad someone found it useful!

For reference, here is how i scored for LI with high 60’s to low 70’s mocks (scored in the 60’s when i started, ended on 70’s before game day) - Considering the exam methodology is identical to CFA Institute, there are no ‘hard’ passing marks. The estimated minimum passing score hovers around low - mid 60’s depending on the cohort - given a large enough sample cohort, the average scores should be around the same year in year out.

I suspect that the broad decline in pass rates is due to increased candidates writing the exam (better representation of the population, i suspect only more motivated candidates would’ve bothered writing the exam in the past). If this weren’t true then either a) They’ve lowered the raw pass mark over time or b) Candidates in the past were far more intelligent than candidates now or c) the exam is much harder now than it was before. All options seem reasonably implausible - note that this is just conjecture, i have no idea how it works.

That’s some helpful insight! I guess if the “true passing“ score is closer to a 63-65, then leaving a test with potentially scoring ~70 questions wrong and still passing would feel like an atypical passing sensation.

I’ve been scrambling in my mind about some questions and easily have looked up ~10 I got wrong when I had down to 50-50. It’s a fruitless exercise, I know, but c’est la vie. That said, those -10 questions I thought about clearly don’t account for pure guesses as well as questions I got wrong when I thought I was on the money. Using the curve of ~65 as the benchmark scoring area… if one gets 10 pure guesses wrong, 10 “50-50s“ wrong, and 10 “confident but incorrect” questions, per section, that would still be a guaranteed pass with a potential bogey of 5 additional incorrect answers (curve dependent).

Assuming one completely guesses on 20 (~75% fail rate on these) questions, narrowed 20 other questions down to two options before guessing (~50% fail rate) and then just plain messed up on 15 questions (100% fail rate), then that would yield a ~60% score per section. That breakdown seems plausible to me for my early section, TBH. The late section felt closer to a 75% kind of score, which I’ll bring down to a 70% for conservative purposes. Avg. of those two gets me to a 65 overall. So I definitely hope the curve is fairly generous. All that said, if my guessing game was laden with bad luck then I could’ve easily scored worse in both sections and frankly don’t deserve to pass, even with a curve.

As for the point on the fluctuating difficulty, I was actually told by UM that the tests have increased in difficulty over the past few years AND they believe CAIA has been less gracious with the curve. They also explained how, at first CAIA was happy to pass lower scores and provide easier exams so they could create a following/network of charter holders. They aren’t quite there yet; however, since the exam is now stackable with a CFA, CAIA wants the level 1 exam (and eventually level 2 exam) to be considered the equivalent of a CFA exam so as to give more credit to the designation and the dedication provided. Grand claims but that’s been the feedback I’ve heard from supposed SMEs.

hey guys, glad to see an active discussion here. I can help but totally empathise has with how you guys are feeling. I did the hours, did the Schweser mock exams and comfortably scored in the 70s. Come exam day, I felt reasonably confident going in, and completely opposite on the out. So much so, i sent a text to my boss telling him not to expect me to deliver a pass grade!

But sure enough, i did pass. With the scores, i scored pass grades across most topics, with 2 of them slightly above average. So it was a good outcome for me. I did my L1 in Sept last year.

So whilst i do agree with you the exam is certainly not well represented by the mock or the Schweser content (shame on you guys Schweser!) , if you look at the exam as “just” a means to qualify people that are good enough or fit the bell, without the actual content being the absolute determinant, then i guess it serves a function.

So don’t lose heart. I do fundamentally believe that for the average person that puts in the hours and effort, it should pay off.

I’ve got me L2 next week. Hopefully my next experience will be similar or better!

Good luck to all!

Given the amount of work you’ve put into deciphering your marks post exam, if that is at all a representation of the amount of effort you put in pre - exam, i would eat my own shoe if you failed.

Interesting, thanks for the info - i was unaware that this was the direction that CAIA was taking. They really need to pick up their game however, CAIA is miles behind CFA in all aspects - i wouldn’t even say they’re running the same race. Since becoming a charterholder, i’ve gone to a few events and my God have they been awful. I was hoping that a higher educational society facilitated events that were educational, not a thinly veiled product flog disguised as education - i couldn’t fathom other attendees were candidates/charterholders for there is no chance they would’ve learnt anything. And God the amount of e-mail spam you get from these guys…

Personally, my experience with CAIA has in aggregate been a total pain (God awful website directly from the 90’s, no qbank, complete rubbish mock experience, rubbish 3rd party providers etc.) but i note that my expectations are quite high (rightly or wrongly, i would say rightly) considering how expensive it is relative to CFA.

Well, no need to eat any shoes. I PASSED!

For those who haven’t seen, CAIA sent out emails and posted results on their site.

I really can’t believe I scored as well as I did. I had strongest or higher in every category. Admittedly, this is a bit of a crow-eating post compared to the doom and gloom of my earlier contributions. Though I’m happy to take my serving, given the circumstances. For everyone’s edification, this round had a 54% passing rate, by the way. To note, UM’s staff anecdotally told me that there is a high “retake” bias in the passing rate since it’s a more niche designation. The individual I talked to said she usually takes off 5-7% points for first-time passing rate as, I her experience, the retake pass rate is quite good. Caveats to her analysis are that it’s a subjective take and is biased towards people using UM materials, not everyone can afford to throw down for multiple rounds of premium prep materials, even if they are partially reimbursed. Either way, I thought it was interesting and worth throwing out there as it may give those who passed more confidence as they march towards level 2 and may also comfort those who didn’t hit the mark but wish to retake.

For anyone else reading along, let this be a case study in not overthinking your test day performance one way or another. I convinced myself I failed and beat myself up for a while over it. Just follow advice from people on here re: question reviews and put in a respectable amount of hours and try to forget about exam day for the 3 weeks after the test until results are released.

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To be honest, I’ve already accepted failure when I saw your doom and gloom post. Your mocks were much higher than mine (I was getting mid 60s on my mocks). Pleasantly surprised to see my results, mostly higher and 1 borderline.

I’ll probably take level II next spring and hopefully enjoy the summer. Cheers everyone!

Oh man, I apologize for spreading negativity with my earlier posts. There’s enough of that going around as is. That said, I’m delighted to hear that you passed! Well done!

Are you sitting in the spring because of the uncertainty with studying for a fall exam or just because of work and other aspects of life? Congrats again!

No worries. It’s ok. Better to be ready for worst case scenario. Given that it’s likely that i’ll be stuck at home, i might consider sitting level ii late this year (part of me would like to take a break and enjoy the summer though). We’ll see, i’ve got 1 week to decide!

I passed as well! Pleasantly surprised and glad hardwork paid off. I do tend to perform better on exam day than as compared to mocks. I am borderline in five topics and strongest in two big topics - which I think made the difference. The results are humbling though and I need to revisit my strategy for Level II.

Congratulations to all who passed!

I passed. I too was pleasantly surprised, I studied for over 200 hours and did not feel great about my mock exams (around ~66%) using Kaplan. I did not take the CAIA Mock because I did not have enough time. Any suggestions for Level II?

Congrats and well done! Onwards to Level II!

Interesting insight regarding the ‘retake bias’ - I didn’t suspect it’d be that substantial but then again, mid - high 40’s probably sounds about right.

Congrats everyone!!

I passed with 4 borderline - 1 weakest (intro.) - 1 lower and 1 Highest (PE). Not my best exam…

Sincerely I was expecting a big Fail. Didnt plan teh exam correctly (few exam tests taken) and read the long Wiley book which most of the time found repeating and poorly structured. Also working at the same time didnt help.

Anyway I will have to take some UM or similar preps for level 2 and take the exam with higher passing probability!

Guys rest for some weeks and take care!