CFA level 1 Candidate in need of Advice from level 2,3 and Charter holders


My kaplan schweser books just arrived for the 2015 exams and I was wondering if there are any strategies/plan anyone can help me with. for instance, Formaulas to memorize, do’s and don’t etc.

I sort of have free time till about mid december before I start working. what will be a very good strategy for now.

Thank You.

Just start going through the material. At this point, I would worry about memorizing too much, just understand the material the first time reading through.

Personally, I take notes in the margins of the pages, but do what works best for you. Maybe what you have done in your udnergrad…

do lots of practice problems.

Read the material and know it cold.

  1. Create formulae sheets. Be very comfortable with using the calculator.

  2. Read and re-read material.

  3. Understand the weightage allocated to each subject and distribute time accordingly.

  4. Ethics is important - read it when you get bored of other subjects. Solve 3-5 (or whatever you are comfortable) problems daily. Ethics is a practise, more you practise the easier it gets.

  5. Single biggest advice - what itera said above. Do tons of problems!

Good luck!

DO -

  • Remember Andy Holmes’s “ugly rule” - if a formula is extremely long and ugly, then it probably won’t be tested on the exam. (EG - how to calculate correlation. You won’t be given thirty data points and asked to calculate the correlation between A and B.)
  • Understand the underlying concepts. (EG - correlation. You WILL be asked to interpret, analyze, and apply the correlation coefficient that has been given to you.)
  • Practice, man. Practice. Do as many practice problems as you can. CFAI end-of-chapter questions, Schweser end-of-chapter, Schweser Q-Bank, practice exams, etc.
  • Review your practice problems and learn from your mistakes. Taking a practice exam and grading it does you absolutely no good if you don’t go back and find out where you went wrong.
  • Start early. Study often. If you’re not studying at least 3 times per week, you’re probably not studying enough. This isn’t your Business 101 final. You can’t cram for three hours the night before and pass.


  • Think so much about HOW you’re going to study. Just start studying. Yes, you need to plan, but at some point, you spend too much time planning and too little time studying. (I know this from firsthand experience.)
  • Spend a lot of time on things that aren’t heavily tested. Don’t spend 30% of your time (and brainpower) on a subject that is only 5% of the exam.
  • Assume that you can just “pick the most conservative answer” for ethics. This is a great way to ensure a “fail” on the CFA exam.
  • Ignore instructions from the proctors, especially when they say, “Stop. Put your pencils down.”


Solid advice, as per usual. One question: When do you recommend using the Schweser Q-Bank?

Thanks again,

^ At least for level 1, I found it invaluable.

For L1, I’d say you need to put the books down and start Q-Banking no later than May 1. You should definitely go through the books at least once before you crack it. If you’re using Q-Bank to learn the material for the first time, you’re not doing it right.

My .02 - There’s a setting where you can answer the question and it will immediately show you the answer. I’d figure out how to turn that feature on, so you can review questions as you go. It might be under the “create a quiz” section.

When I was studying, I would do a 30-question quiz over a single topic and review every answer as I went. If I didn’t completely understand the question, I would read Schweser’s answer, and if it still didn’t make sense, I’d look it up in the book. I never timed myself. (And I mean NEVER–in all three levels.) I found that if I focused on learning the material–even if it took me all day–the speed would take care of itself.


Thanks again for the advice, it’s greatly appreciated.

Others have suggested using the Q-Bank periodically to keep the material fresh, but I like your approach. This is probably what I will do once I complete all the necessary readings.

January 1st - here we come :expressionless:

The best advice is not to ask for advice. Thousands of people have passed using their own way. This isn’t rocket science. You have a brain to absorb the material. Be disciplined enough to put in a lot of time and you will be fine.

Greenman you are the best

Thanks a lot.

Here’s how I went about passing level 1, which was quiet a task while working 40 plus hours a week. But its possible.

FIRST OFF, I used on the Schwesher books and question bank, other than the CFAI practice exam they released. Only thing I am doing differently for 2 is using the curriculum questions as well to leave no stone unturned. My frist pass through was quick to just get the jist of the material, I would do the reading & concept checkers at the end of every reading, then at the end of every session do a cummulatvie session quiz and then a cummalitive quiz over all the topics I had covered thus far. I took notes cause I commit things to memory better that way but its not neccessary. I tabbed concepts in the book that were way over my head, that way I could be sure to focus on them the next time around. Don’t get hung up if you don’t get a concept the first time through. It wasn’t till my second pass through that concepts that seemed impossible started to click. I went through each of the books 3 times total, the third time being more of a skim over the concepts I was clearly struggling with. I used flashcard for the topics that I was really struggling with and consistently missing. It really was all about the repitioion and retaining as much of the material as possible, NOT being a wiz kid genius.

I was told the test favors the prepared before going into it. I was so terrified and overwhelmed but I put in my time from Dec-June. I never got about a 67% on the practice exams but I kept studying and it paid off. The more questions and problems and practice exams the better. If you put in the work youll do just fine. I personally made sure that I kept a social life during the process whihc I think helped my nerves and mental state. If you wanna go out on a Friday with friends, or have big plans on Saturday give yourself a break, dont feel guilty. I went on vacation 3 weekends before to relax. I came back with a clear mind ready to buckle down the last couple weeks. GOOD luck!

I would disagree. Using the question bank the first time through before I really grasped everything helped me alot. Seeing there explainations of the question, the whole trial and error thing, helped me better understand the material.

To each their own of course!

I would dispute this one. Maybe I was just unlucky with the papers I sat…

From now, just keep on doing mock exams. As many questions as you can, and rest on the day before the exam. Let everything to God on the day of the exam. You guys can do it!