CFA... Can I do it ? Non finance CFA prep tips ? Please reply! Urgent!

Hi! I am a non-finance CFA student aiming to take the exam in Nov 2021

I have looked through the various threads and feeds online and there seem to be very scattered or little info about CFA study prep for a non-finance background preparing for the CFA

was hoping to get advice from those who are or were in my position in this forum:

I holds a master’s degree (MBA) in HR and currently working full-time n the HR field.
we had statistics and financial accounting subjects in my masters. Maybe basics, not core. Other than that, I have no background in finance or experience working in the finance industry. Also being honest I am a little weak in Math and have always been below average when it comes to Math and numbers. Phobia. But I want to challenge myself with CFA and get rid of this fear.

What do you recommend as study tips and where and how to start? what reading do I start first? And can I finish the topics and manage to take the exam in NOV if I start the preparation in the last week of June??

Any opinions and suggestions?

Note- I am studying by referring to the 2017 Kaplan Schweser. I have seen the weightage of each Topic and aware that CFA is not as easy as it looks

#cfa-exam-general-discussion #cfa-exam-level-i #cfa-exam-level-iii #cfa-exam-level-iii

Greetings MV!

For my 2 cents, you absolutely can do it. All of the information you need for the test is contained in the official materials you are given by the CFA Institute. Schweser does a decent job for Level 1 in my opinion.

I used Schweser for all three levels but in my opinion Schweser does an insufficient job on Level 3, so I added Chalk & Board - they are really great in my opinion. There are also Mark Meldrum and Bill Campbell whom you can look at for Level 2 and 3 also, like Chalk & Board.

The key on all 3 CFA exams, in my opinion, is to read completely through all the topic materials or watch the study videos before the last 4-6 weeks to your exam date. This requires discipline and don’t waste extra weeks getting bogged down. It doesn’t mean mastery, just get the readings done while also taking as many CFA multiple choice questions as you can on the CFA website after you finish a topic. Don’t waste extra time trying to master each topic before you move to the next one. Fun fact, you will likely not remember most of prior sections by the time you read the next section. At least for me it was like this. Remember - if in doubt take official CFA learning ecosystem questions over Schweser Qbank questions.

To pass the exam, make sure you dedicate the last 4-6 weeks to taking practice exams. If you take the 4 Schweser practice exams PLUS the 1-2 official mock exams on the CFA website you should be more than fine for Level 1. Do at least 3 mocks for Level 1 at minimum from Schweser, plus at least one official CFA mock on their website. The mocks will prepare you for the test questions sufficiently in my opinion. It is mostly simple formulas and all multiple choice. You just need to remember a bunch of stuff. Also - for Level 1 you will need to get familiar with your financial calculator. YouTube has all the videos you need for that. Most finance folks are in the same boat - people don’t typically use this calculator everything is done on spreadsheets in real life. So everyone needs to learn the calculator just like you are doing, we all start at the same level there.

For Level 2 same thing but I recommend 7-10 mock exams and I also recommend either Chalk & Board or a similar test provider in addition to Schweser. On Level 3 same as Level 2 but do AT LEAST 10 mocks including old CFA ones from prior 1-2 years. I did 12 for Level 3 starting in early April when my exam was May 27th. Without all those mocks I probably would have struggled more on Level 3 - a test I think I passed but am waiting on results for currently.

You can definitely do this. Prepare with the mindset to beat the test, do not approach it with the mindset of a typical college class where you are trying to become a jedi master. There is simply too much material, you just need to get the test generally organized in your mind and peak on game day. Mocks do this for you - particularly studying why you got things wrong when you make the inevitable mistakes.

Many folks do CFA as a career pivot with other backgrounds. And honestly the material is so broad that even finance folks don’t have a super advantage. It’s hard for everyone but totally doable and well worth it. You totally got this if you want it too.

The main challenge to the CFA is do you have the dedication to spend 2 or more years studying your butt off and taking numerous practice tests that take hours apiece, where you will be getting crushed and demoralised by the mock exams. I failed most all my mock exams but easily smoked levels 1 and 2 , and hopefully level 3 which I just took in May this year too. But it’s humbling and challenging to fail (in my case badly) most of the practice tests. The important thing is to plow through them and study why you got questions wrong. Then you will ace your exams. I took all 3 levels in my 40s with a family and work. My mind is likely less sharp than yours. I am no genius and my memory is far from photographic. On my exam results to date, I passed in the top 10%. If I can do it, you definitely can too. Just follow the time proven process I described above and don’t get emotional about it. Trust the process.


wow. Thanks a lot for this @Greybeard_The_Elder. Certainly motivating.
Can you help me with the study process like where to start and where to end,
Should I start with FRA or Quants? A little guidance on this too will be helpful.

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For Level 1 and Level 2, I just read Schweser in the order of their books. I didn’t read strategically. For Level 3, I read in the order of “exam weights.” You can find the annual exam weights on the CFA and Schweser websites (what percentage of questions go to each topic).

For Level 1, I would recommend just crushing through all the Schweser books in their order, taking CFA Institute multiple choice questions after you finish a topic in the CFA learning ecosystem on the CFA Institute website. Do at least 100 per topic.

But honestly get through the readings by mid-September if you can manage it. Spend the last 6 weeks on mock exams and studying the questions, how the CFA Institute writes them in particular, and learning from your mistakes. On test day there will always be some surprises but trust me they will surprise everyone else too. These exams usually have about 1/3 questions that will be surprising. The key is to already be familiar with the typical 2/3 questions that will be similar to all the mock exams you practiced on. If you put in the time, you will be fine my friend. But if you don’t put in the time, this exam can be very difficult. The main challenge and achievement from the CFA process is the time required to study and the humility required to take difficult mocks and face failure on them despite all your studying. People with the charter walked the same road as you are doing, nothing truly prepares for it. But if you put in the time and are prepared to learn from failure then you should pass each level for sure!

For Level 3, I definitely recommend adding Chalk & Board or one of the other providers I wrote about in my prior post. Don’t just do Schweser. It’s insufficient in my view for Level 3 to rely on only Schweser.

Great, Thank you! :crossed_fingers: I pull this through.

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You definitely got this✊

If you’re worried about statistics and regression models, Chalk & Board can probably explain the material in a layman manner. I really leaned hard on them for Level 3. Looking back, I would probably use them for Level 2 also. Nathan Ronen the instructor is very good at explaining things and he is available by phone anytime during NY hours.

You probably don’t need anything more than Schweser for Level 1 though honestly. Also you will notice Analyst Forum has its own resident guru - S2000magician (Bill Campbell). He has his own study program as does Mark Meldrum.

I have a master in Electronics. I just took the CFA level 1 Exam. With your HR background, you may need to take some extra time for Financial Reporting and Corporate Finance, possibly also for Quants. Practice questions will help you to get a grip on the material. I used Schweser Q bank for that. Basically, it is about the effort you put in. Most material is not difficult, it is just a lot, and a lot of formulas…
Good luck!

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Thank you @Eric_Roekens. I shall put my best foot forward and :crossed_fingers: I pull this through. I am aiming at Nov 2021

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I became a CFA charterholder fifteen years ago. The advice appearing here about study is spot-on. When you get to Level III, you will probably want to go beyond Schweser for study help.

Segue and FWIW: I would encourage you to take a basic course in ‘accounting principles’ at a junior college. I think you will find that having a knowledge of the debits-and-credits entries in accounting to be very helpful in buttressing your overall understanding of this field.

Good luck!!

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