Congratulations! You passed Level 3 2012! Now what did you use to study...

Congratulations! It’s over!

You passed Level 3 2012! And will never have to look at another CFA Level textbook or CFA prep course material again!

Now what did you use to study, how did you study:

  • Did you use only CFAI books?
  • Schweser or another prep course?
  • Mixture of CFAI books and a prep course?
  • What prep material did you find _ useless? _
  • Did you use past mock exams?
  • Did you study the books in the order the material was presented?
  • Was this your first time passing Level 3?
  • Even though you passed if you could do it again, _ what would you have changed? _

Only CFAI books, no courses, used past mock exams of several years and did them each twice and reviewed all answers (this took about a month), first time, would have given myself month and a half to start mock exams and would have focused more on how to answer morning questions. Figuring out how to answer AM questions is like an exam in-and-of itself. The week before the exam I did about 3 or 4 mock exams and it was brutal (had the week off of work), but really wired my brain to CFA-speak.

I used the Schweser Premium Plus study package and utilized basically almost everything included (books, videos, Qbank, mock exams, 3 day workshop archive, secret sauce, quick sheet, etc.). For CFAI materials, didn’t touch any of the core readings or blue box examples - all I used were the EOC questions. I used I think 3 prior mock exams from 2009-2011 as well

First time writing level 3 and passed. Nothing was particularly usless I don’t think… everything helped in a way. If I could do it again, I’d do everything the same except I would also utilize the blue box examples from the CFAI books

Schweser exclusively, like the previous levels. However, this time around I focused more on practice exams. I did about 8 full practice exams.

I used CFA books. I also took a class with CFA society in San Francisco. Complete waste of time and money, would not recommend at all. Stick to the books and you will be fine.

I used only the CFAI text including the EOC questions and blue box, and as many paractice exams as I could find - back to '07 I think, but I found that the '07 exam was so easy it didn’t help me much. That’s it, all CFAI material.

I studied in order and saved time to reread ethics and behav finance because I thought they were a little more challenging because they are a “soft” science and more open to interpretation. I think my total study time was roughly 250 hrs and another 25-30 hrs of mock exam practice the final week before the exam (took the week off from work).

Last year I used Stalla and failed band 8. I don’t think stalls helped at all which is why I didn’t use them again this year.

I passed, so i wouldn’t change much, except maybe study formulas and equations a little more. There was one on the exam that I had written on my study sheet but couldn’t remember in the exam, I’m just glad it didn’t cost me a passing score.

  • 2011 Schweser videos - Mark LeFebvre topic areas were the only really useful ones
  • 2012 Schweser books - Q-Bank was a complete waste
  • Creighton University bootcamp
  • All CFAI blue boxes, EOC Questions
  • 2007 - 2011 past exams (essay sections only obviously)
  • free CFIA mock exam
  • 1 pay CFAI mock exam
  • Schweser video and texts.
  • CFAI with special attention paid to blue box and EOC’s
  • BSAS practice exam
  • The last 4 CFAI morning exams
  • Every Schweser practice exam
  • Schweser videos, secret sauce, quicksheet, 3 day late season video workshop (worth it’s weight in gold, comes with mind maps and problems too, great for last minute ninjas like me who have to cram a lot into a little bit of time)
  • Relied most heavily on CFAI curriculum, mainly electronic version, bought an iPad specifically for this purpose as if I could get extra studying opportunities from having a portable curriculum, it was well worth it. I didn’t do too many problems. I don’t recommend this strategy though, I got away with it because I had lots of study hours already banked from the year before.
  • CFAI morning exams
  • Every Schweser practice exam (this helped the most!)

I went over the practice exams from Schweser at least three times for each one. I studied ethics and GIPS at the end, and relied on secret sauce and video workshop workbooks for these concepts.

Passed first time on L3 after failing once at each level prior.

  • Used only CFAI curriculum - found this was the best way, for me, to prepare. Takes more time, but really helps you get in the mind of those creating the exam.
  • Did all blue boxes and EOCs multiple times until I felt comfortable enough to move on to other sections I didn’t know as well.
  • I created tons of notes, mostly making sure they lined up with the reading’s LOS. Made multiple passes through them saving off more condensed versions as I committed more to memory. Each pass through became quicker.
  • Ran out of time at the end, only looked at 2011’s essay exam which was cake compared to this year. As a result, I was unprepared for the essay portion but did well enough in multiple choice to get a pass.
  • Used the free CFAI mock

Really focus on learning how to do essays and manage your time. This is the biggest challenge to overcome on L3.

I used:

  • Schweser notes and videos. Videos I just played in my iphone and listen to it while driving. This was helpful for GIPS and Ethics. Not much of help for any other topics.

  • CFAI text. Did all Blue Box Example and EOCs

  • Previous CFA tests. DId all of them once.

  • Scheweser Exams: did all of them once. They were different from real exam but it helped refresh my memory.

  • CFA Boot camp. Dont want to hype this up too much but it helped me getting overview of all the materials and learning short cuts and tricks. Marc is pretty good instructor in person.

total hours spent: 350 - 400 hrs.


Used Schweser books and did the blue box and EOC problems in the CFAI curriculum. Did a few Schweser practice tests and looked over a couple of the previous CFA exam AM sessions. My score wasn’t too pretty, but it was a pass. If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably do the CFA mock exams too.

I did a big thread on this

No matter which material you use, a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Do as many Blue Box examples in the text books as possible and as often.
  • Do all past CFA morning session exams - more than once if you can. Try to get your hands on as many practise exams as you can (Schweser, BSAS, etc).
  • If you run out of time and have to choose between doing practise exams and reviewing the material, pick the former.

Obviously, doing loads of questions has never been this important on any other levels.

Good luck!

-schweser notes (EOC and blue box), practice exams (all), and live mock (online version)

-EOC and blue boxes from CFAI

-past exams since 2000

-CFAI mocks from 2008 i believe (didn’t use their sample exams)

if you read the schweser notes thoroughly and remember a good chunk of it, I think you’ll pass. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have gone so far back with the real papers (i.e., morning session). -what i found most helpful? schweser notes, CFAI EOC, and blue box examples. you’ll notice some EOC and blue boxes are open-ended questions so you won’t have to worry about them. mocks are a good way to review, and you probably don’t need to go back more than four years for the morning exams.

CFAI material mostly

Some Schweser from 2011 (capital markets expectations + economics)

2nd time taking the test. What made the difference? I felt confident about what I knew and enter the test feeling this was my time to pass.

I passed on first attempt and I did the following:

  • I read throught the CFAI text but just tried to understand the concepts of each section. I did not do any EOC questions or memorize formulas. Took about one week for each text book.
  • i read through the Schweser notes and at the end of each chapter I did the CFAi EOC questions. I also created note cards for formulas to memorize. Once again took about 6 weeks total.
  • in the last 4 weeks of studying I did the morning exams from 2008 to 2011 and 3 of the afternoon sessions from schweser. I also went through the CFAI books and took notes on important concept and lists of information that I thought could be on the test. I spent the first two weeks memorizing my note cards and then I started doing the practice exams.

Take a look at one of the morning CFAI exams and notice how the questions are asked. For the most part the CFAI gives you prompts but you still have to memorize a lot more information to answer the essay questions.

Hi Bill,

I think that your “Crucial Items” would be very helpful for me to prepare for the exam next June. Could you share it for me?

Many thanks!