Calling all Charterholders

(Well, I guess Level 3 flunkies could answer this as well…)

I wanted to posit this question in a place where I knew a bunch of Charterholders would see it, so I thought, “What about the water cooler?” Any GOOD comments would be appreciated.

What should we expect for the AM session of the exam? I know to “use bullet points, write in the templates, etc.” But I mean, do they give us two booklets? One with data/questions and another with just lined paper and templates? Or do we answer the questions in the margins where the questions are? If we have a separate place to answer, does it say, “Answer Question #1-A here”, or do I have to write “#1-A” and answer the question?

I’ve looked at Schweser exams and the past CFA exams, and I know there are templates, but it doesn’t seem to show a separate place to write the answers.

If we can get a heads up before Saturday, that would be awesome. Thanks for any help.

I honestly don’t remember, but I think they give you two booklets… one with the questions, one for your answers.

As long as you label the questions you are answering and mark clearly what is your final answer, it should be fine. The readers are human beings and aren’t “out to get you.” But they will appreciate any efforts you make to organize your answer in a logical way, while recognizing that you are under stress during the exam. Remember that they do not have as hard a time constraint in reading your answers, though they would of course like to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I think some questions have a suggested template for your answer, like a table format (where relevant) that you can easily redraw into the answer section.

I forget too. The AM is more quantitative than people give it credit for and has some matching or MC looking questions. Don’t get too bent out of shape over it. Definitely track down the old AM exams the CFAi has on their website and take those ASAP.

My valuable feedback:

  1. Check for answer templates. When I took the exam, there were some answer templates (“write answer in these boxes”) on the next page of many of the questions. Many people (including me) missed these templates and wrote the answers right after the questions. This resulted in some frantic rewriting and arrow drawing later on. Read the whole question until you see the next question before writing anything.

  2. Write fast and concise. You will run out of time - guaranteed. I finished all multi choice CFA sections with like an hour to spare, but I was writing until the end of L3 AM.

  3. Don’t bother talking to the cute Asian chicks. They have no time for you on that day.

That’s about it.

1 answer book for AM.

Let’s say Q3 is a template answer format.

You’ll see a few lined pages to write Q1, a few lined pages for Q2. Then a template for Q3.

This is why people miss the templates. people don’t use all the space for Q1 and Q2, (CFAI always gives more than necessary) so when Q3 comes, they flip the lined page and start writing the answer. Then later, they come across the template, and go ‘oh mushrooms’

No there is only ONE booklet. you will be provided a sealed booklet for the AM section just like in all of the other levels. Except you don’t get a scantron to bubble fill.

“Or do we answer the questions in the margins where the questions are?”

“If we have a separate place to answer, does it say, “Answer Question #1-A here”, or do I have to write “#1-A” and answer the question?”

You can see from that pdf that there was no template for questions 8 or 9, for example. In this case, the question was followed by lined blank sheets. The sample exams do NOT reproduce the lined blank sheets, which is why you haven’t seen them. you will notice though that there is a gap between page 76 and page 82, in the sample from the link above. That’s where the blank paper for Question 8 would have been on the actual exam. Label the sheet “Question 8” and just write the answers there, labeling each part. it’s like lined notebook paper.

Similarly for Question 5: parts A and B are to answered on the provide template, but 5C and 5D were to be answered on the lined paper, note the gap between page number 44 and 50 on the pdf.

“I’ve looked at Schweser exams and the past CFA exams, and I know there are templates, but it doesn’t seem to show a separate place to write the answers.”



Look through the entire answer booklet before you begin writing. Sometimes they provide 3 pages to write the answer for part A & B followed by a template for part C on page 4.

Also I believe it states which parts need to be answered on the template in parenthesis after each question.

My suggestion would be make a mark for all parts that need to be filled out in a template by either circling the question or writing down the letter on a designated place on the question/answer paper. So when you are ready to answer it, you know if there is a template or not.

Ah, ok, there was one booklet. The booklet has lots of space to answer questions. And maybe there are some extra pages in the back that you can refer to in the unlikely event you run out of space.

One thing that happened on the exam during my year of L3. All of the practice exams I’d taken had 10 questions for the AM. I plotted my way through it, and then, like 15 minutes before the end, I noticed that there was an ELEVENTH question! WTF??? Every practice exam I’d seen had 10 questions, and I’d budeted my time accordingly. Then I turn the page at the end and see #11???

Freaked me out, but fortunately I passed anyway.

One of the questions I had on L3 covered some aspect of trading methodologies that I didn’t even remember hearing about. I just took a guess at the parts that said “which of these ways would you use,” and hoped for the best.

L3 is no walk in the park, for sure.

I took a bunch of tests in college where there were maybe 6 essay questions and time was a major constraint. The last question would be super easy. Essentially, it was free points if you made it that far. I always wondered if the test was purposely designed that way to reward the fast people (or to punish the slow people).

Thanks to all, especially to Doubledip. That gives me an idea of what to look for.

One question that still seems unanswered–on the “non-template” questions, do they tell label the lined paper for you? (E.G. "Answer question #3B here:) Or is it incumbent upon us to label the question so that the graders know what they’re looking at?

CFAI really should show the lined pages in the online exam. That way, we know exactly what the test will look like, because I’ve gotten used to writing the answer next to the questions. I guess I have two days to break that habit.

And for 2013, they have changed the way they tell you about the template. The saying, “Answer question #3 in the template provided” used to go AFTER the question. However, beginning in 2013, they are changing it, and putting it BEFORE the question. Don’t know if this will make much difference or not.

Just look at the prior year exams yourself that we linked to, and stop worrying about nitpicky stuff.

I took a test last year on the first saturday in June, not going to say if it was a CFA exam or not, but the last question was very diffcult and the exam was time constrained. Even if I knew how to do the question, I dont think I would’ve had the time.

@OP, the booklet will make sense. I believe there are blank pages after each question. I think the pages even say qiestion 1A or whatever, label your answer w/ the corresponding question number too. It should be very clear on exam day, just thumb through the 1st one when you open the booklet to see for yourself.

"One question that still seems unanswered–on the “non-template” questions, do they tell label the lined paper for you? " No, they don’t. The paper for each question will follow that question though, it’s not all jammed up at the back. It’s completely unmarked, from what I recall. So make sure to label.

I heard that many others had the same experience as bchad, and many mentioned after the exam that they didn’t even see the last question. Don’t let this happen to you. I never expected a certain number of questions, I just worked every exam I could - Schweser book 1 and 2, and the CFAI problems. So don’t go in with any expectations other than: you have worked hard for this and will pass, and you will find some very reasonable questions and some that leave you scratching your head. EVERYONE is in the same boat. Don’t panic. If you find your mind starting to panic, get a grip! Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you have prepared well and get back to a calm and focused state.

You will see on the front of the booklet a list of all questions. Note how many there are, then go through the exam book. They will also list the points. What I did was, skimmed through the entire book first - yes you do have time - then i planned my strategy, which question to answer first. I don’t believe in going through sequentially, because if you do this, suppose that the first few questions are convoluted and long - if you go beyond the optimal time, you may not have time to finish and can leave behind some easy questions that you could have answered, had you had time. As schweser says “a blank answer gets no points.” REMEMBER THIS. Go through the book, pick out any low hanging fruit, answer this first. This builds confidence. Keep track of what you have answered, check off #9 after doing it, for example or make a note such as “still need part c” at the top. I also mapped out the time for each question on the pages. For example, at the start of Question 4, if it was 18 points say, I’d write down “10:00 - 10:18” so I knew what time I had to end, and I enforced this, moving on. I came back later if anything was missing as you will gain time on some questions that you will need on others. This time management beyond anything else was the main reason I passed.

If I recall correctly, the pages are not labelled with the question you are supposed to answer there, but they immediately follow the question. There are also extra pages at the back of the booklet incase you need more space (you won’t unless you really screw up). Time is very much an issue in the AM, so if you are using the extra space, you probably won’t finish all the questions. I finished the PM MC questions in about 90 minutes, but was writing AM until nearly the end.

I made the mistake of using an erasable pen. I thought I was being clever and would be able to erase any mistakes I made while showing my work.

Unfortunately, they make those pens so that you have to press down really hard to get the ink dark enough to be legible. My hand ended up cramping up, and my last two digits were pinned to my palm before I was halfway through the AM section.

Soooo… yeah, just bring a normal pen.

I highly recommend Frixion pens. They are erasable and another level 3 candidate recommended them to me, can get them at Staples. I used the blue ones. Good luck all!

^ Oh no, here comes the erasable pen debate.

use the super cheapo BIC pens. and X out if you mess up. It’s FINE.

Erasing stuff neatly should be the last of your worries. Just draw a big X on the part you don’t like.

I just used pencils. So much easier to write. I didn’t even both erasing anything. Just crossed it out and wrote the correct answer on the bottom.

I feel that people who OCD about this stuff are the ones who end up flunking the test. [I am talking about the dumbasses who bring 50 pencils/3 calc/10 batteries/5 screwdrivers AND just to be safe 3 packs of brand new pens] Don’t fret the little stuff and just focus on answering the question.

The only important advice I would give (as stated on the CFA website/guidelines page) is that answer the question that is asked not the one you wished they had asked.