CFAI Survey of Most Difficult Topics

Here’s an interesting June 2015 candidate survey of the most difficult topics by level.

For level 3:



Portfolio Management

I agree with derivatives and PM, but am surprised that ethics made the list. Who are those gluttons for punishment that make up the 1.05% who took the exam and are either retired or unemployed and not looking for work??

I’m surprised that Derivatives made the list.

Well . . . that’s not quite true.

I’m not surprised that it did make the list. I simply think that it _ shouldn’t have _ made the list. Derivatives, taught properly, is an easy topic.

I definitely agree with you on this one.

That’s a first.


I agree. Derivatives are just simple math.

Surprised that GIPS didnt make the cut. Perhaps most ppl just ignored it entirely.

Half the derivative material can be solved by drawing pictures and diagrams.

@cgy: GIPS is part of Ethics.

No. It is part of portfolio management.

What’s part of portfolio management?


The section they can potentially be brutal with is Taxes in PM, I found some of those formulas to be a bit challenging to remember.

CFA Institute seems to think that it’s part of Ethics.

You’d better phone them and set them straight.

Their exam scoring matrix says otherwise.


Level I has it listed under Ethics.

Agreed, derivative is easy and this year’s ethic is ridiculously hard.


Sir ,

What,if taught properly, do YOU find difficult to understand,with the exclusion of Ethics,assuming GIPS within its fold?

As for GIPS,given it’s part of “ethical issues on performance presentation”, ethics would require it to be in Book I,while performance ,in book VI.No wonder CFAI settled for Book VI :slight_smile:


S2000 magician : GIPS for level 3, according to scoring matrix, is part of portfolio management.

Couldn’t agree. Derivatives is one of the most interesting topics @ L3 yet very easy… Ethics again (Not that hard, but i think we don’t devote much time to it, there are some tricks and grey areas.

GIPS is challenging for L3 but with practice - (notes, and taking as much as practice Q) you will be fine

If we’re being technical, GIPS is not broken out/identified in the scoring matrix (at least not mine).

GIPS is, however, listed in Ethics on Level I’s study session outline and portfolio management in Level III’s. All semantics to me, there’s a case for either bucketing. I tend to lean toward ethics because it’s all about how you present performance in a fair and balanced way.

They are not as bad as they look. If you take the time and try to understand them (use the CFAI books here!), then it should work to remember them for several weeks. Especially, look for the differences of the forumulas. It exists kind of a “basic version” and all others formulas add something to it.

Skipped the whole book on estate planning and taxes lol.