Don’t’s possible to pass with significantly less than 300 hours

Hi all - this is my first post. While I was stressing for Level III I told myself if I passed I would write this post for others who are pulling their hair out. To preface it, I am not posting to brag but rather to share my story and let you know it is POSSIBLE to pass with a lot less than 300 hours.

For background, I graduated in 2017 with an undergrad degree in business from a very non-target state school (let’s just say high school/early college was more about fun than anything else). In my sophomore year I joined the student managed investment fund and quickly realized I wanted to get a job in the markets. I spent the next two years doing anything that got me closer to that goal (i.e. tons of things outside of class). Summer before senior year I was lucky enough to get an internship at a boutique AM firm in credit research. I converted to a FT offer and lucky for all of us the firm has more than doubled in size and I have been given increased responsibility over the last couple years. So to sum it all up, I have spent the last four years of my life learning anything and everything I could about finance/the markets.

Now to the exams…

I passed Level I my senior year of college (December 2016) with what I’ll estimate to be ~25 hours of studying (almost all of it the week before). I found this test to be very similar to business undergraduate with additional/more in depth subject matter.

I passed the June 2018 Level II exam with an estimated 75 hours of studying (almost all of it the week before). I thought this exam was much more difficult that Level I with a fair amount of new subject matter and A LOT of formulas. To me, this one was about doing a ton of practice questions and using the formulas over and over again to make sure you have them down.

I just passed the June 2019 Level III exam with about 100 hours of studying (most of it the week before). This exam was definitely the most difficult to me given the written portion (I think Level II had more difficult subject matter). I will also admit I probably got somewhat lucky on the PM portion because the subject matter seemed like a walk in the park.

Obviously I think you should be more focused on learning the material than just passing, but unfortunately most people probably have FT jobs and other obligations so they just need to pass. I am not saying you should study less but it is possible to pass the exams with significantly less than 300 hours. At the end of the day it all depends on the person, their background, and luck. I hope I can make at least one person feel better about the tests and maybe spend one less night stressing.

Lastly, I apologize ahead of time for any spelling and/or grammatical errors as I did this from my phone.

I’ve never counted the number of hours I study, don’ t know how people arrive at this calculation! I only spend time as required, I don’t understand why do I have to spend 300/400/or 100 what is the basis? Everyone has different capabilities and background, doesn’t make the slightest sense that we all have to spend the same number of hours. Considering that I work full time, I believe the number of hours spent must’ve been less than 300, at the end of the day, we have to get ourselves prepared any way possible.

I got my finance degree in 1998 and MBA on 2011 so I need more time because I forgot so much. I stopped tracking time after a few week but if I guess it was way more than 300 hours. More like 500+ hours. Part of the reasoning is risk management. Why take the chance never having seen/experienced the exam before? Part of it is business development. I really want to learn this stuff for my business. Finally, part of it is intellectual curiosity. I love business and finance; so, the hours I spend studying in aren’t important to me. I can tell you right now I would have failed miserably with only 1 week of study. It is worth taking the time you need because failing just delays your ability to get the better job, take on better clients, etc. Also, failing because you didn’t take the time when you had it is costly in time and testing fees. Can it be don with 100 hours of study? Perhaps. Should it be done that way? Probably not. Look at it this way: Almost 60% of takers failed in June '19. The average successful candidate spends 300 hours. That means almost half of the the successful candidates spent more than 300 hours. I suspect that a good portion of the failed candidates spend 300 hours as well. What does that tell you about your chances if you only spend 25 hours? Also, what does that tell you will probably happen if you wait until the last week to study?

I did have other pressures. I have a baby and a 5 year old who own my evenings. I also run a business. I insist on taking vacation and spending time with my wife and family. so, I had to start early and spend more time to make up for those things. The pace I took for L1 was brutal and I don’t think I could study like that again. The material was probably easier than it appeared but I had minimal sleep and minimal time to process it. I already started L2 and for me, this is best. I’d rather review the material several times over than cram like L1 again. I don’t fear burn out because this is what I do finance is my thing. I’m not worried about forgetting because that is what review is for. Probably most candidates should start in the middle December or January. Most probably need more than 300 hours to truly learn the material. L2 quant is kicking my butt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 90% of this material. I’m thankful that I started now so I have no pressure. I’m pacing with Mark Meldrum’s review schedule so I’ll step it up I September.

So, it’s not worth it being cocky. You only prove yourself to us (the analyst community) by completing the program not by the time it takes to study, or even the number of times it takes to pass. Your future boss or clients only care if you can help them achieve their goals and/or make more money. So you only prove yourself to them by doing a good job. They won’t ask about your L1 learning curve as proof of your ability to produce “superior returns”. lol!

I only spent five hours mainly the week before the exam for each test and passed in approximately 97th percentile (closer to 99th for level 3). See guys? It’s not so hard. Don’t get down on yourselves.

I was drunk practically the whole time I studied too.

Did you solve mock exams, revise the materials of the six books, or revise the formulas in these 5 hours?

None cares…

heh, somebody doesn’t understand sarcasm, no wit.

Well, I didn’t want to brag but actually…

well, im sure this thread is very insightful and encouraging, for the record i walked into the exam room unprepared all three times and passed all of them on first attempt.

I took the exam because I thought it was a management exam for Chik-Fil-A. The only study material I had was all this stuff about the proper temp of cooking oil and employee conflict resolution. I passed the exam by going 3/3 in 18 months, all in the 99th percentile. And in fact, I finished most of the sessions in less than half of the alloted time. But that’s probably due to doing “The Terminator” right before every exam.

What prep provider did you use? I heard KFC’ notes has good pass rate.