Effort required to pass Level 1 given my background?

I will complete my MBA in Corporate Finance/Investments/Accounting this Spring (first week of May) from NYU Stern. I am going part-time, and currently work in asset management risk.

I am on the fence about possibly taking the exam in June. I really don’t want to have to deal with my last semester of classes and the CFA at the same time, so I am more leaning towards taking it next December. I figure I graduate in May, will take off the rest of May, June, and July (since I haven’t had a summer the last 2 summers), and then begin studying between August/September.

I just wanted to see if anyone on here followed a similar path to mine, and if so, how hard level 1 was for you after doing a (strong) MBA in Finance/Accounting? I know Levels 2 and 3 are insanely difficult, and after doing almost 3 years of night school (come May), I’m trying to ration out my energy/sanity as best as possible, since I know I will need to basically devote my life to Levels 2 and 3.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated - thank you!

I passed level 1 and have an MBA with experience in IB and PE.

the issue is that “knowing the concepts” and passing the exams are two different things. with your background i would guess that you are familiar with everything and would need maybe a solid 50-70 hours total to just review everything.

just doing 3 practice exams will take you 18 hours, in my experience it takes as long to review the answers afterwards. ethics will take you at least 20 hours to master.

Thanks dvictr. I’m to figure out when to take level 1 (June 2013 or December 2013), and around how long I’ll need to study (given that most of my MBA studies will be pretty fresh in my mind). If I do take it next December (more realistic for me), I’d like to at least let myself enjoy most of the summer, since I’ve given up the last 2 summers to school.

June 2013 the exam is June 1st so you will have all summer off… passing in dec makes taking level 2 in june “impossible”… my advice is to get the schweser Qbank and just start hammering at it… you can pass level 1 just by using the qbank, browse the question and answers and start taking practice exams…

Hmmm…maybe I will do that. January will be very hard for me, as I will be taking an intensive Financial Modeling class…but perhaps in February I can just do a quick review of the material, start memorizing formulas, and then just drill questions like you said. And then at least if I fail, at least I have the following December as a backup.

Given that from February - early May, I will have class 2 nights a week, and have a fair amount of homework (but not too crazy), how should would you recommend I go about studying? Just do Schweser Qbank as you said?

Even my girlfriend has recommended that I try to do Level 1 in June 2013. It will be hard, but I think you guys are right - then I get pretty much the rest of the year off before I need to start studying for Level 2, which will be soooooo nice…I didn’t want to be doing both at the same time, but at least for Level 1, I think it may be doable.

Hard to say…someone i know with an msc finance studied for 3 days and got band 8 or 9 (forgot which) for L1…so you never know…I would look at the past exam papers for L1 and see how much you can get

Probably 100 hours. Maybe less if you are willing to accept some fail risk.

Hmmm…100 hours over 4-ish months isn’t bad at all.

Do you guys even think it would be worth it to me to buy the complete level 1 Schweser books? Ethics will be entirely new to me, and FRA is huge, so I’ll want to study that in detail as well. I also will need to brush up on Economics and Quant methods, since those were earlier in my MBA.

I’m wondering if I could do it just by doing 6 hours per month for each weekend until June 1. Since I’ll finish classes on May 10, I’ll at least have 3 weeks at the very end to devote to studying/drilling practice problems.

I think you just need to practice (buy practice exams or Qbank). Just refer to CFAI textbook when you need help. Then you probably will be fine in next June. Level 1 is not a hard exam if you are willing to study.

I’d still recommend buying the Schweser notes. It’ll focus you attention much better than CFAI material. As someone mentioned before, just because you know the material doesn’t mean you’ll pass, you need to learn to pass the exam. Schweser does a very good job of doing that. Since you have a good level of understanding you should hopefully be able to get through the notes fairly quickly (yup I know that, skip, I know that, skip, don’t know that, study, etc)

When do they usually release the next year’s Schweser notes? I will probably buy them, as I will need to at least review everything.

I wouldn’t be able to start studying until early February, but the class i’m taking in January is a hard core accounting/financial statement analysis class, so that should at least add some value as far as FRA is concerned.

Does anyone have a recommended order in which I should review the study sessions (i.e. should I do Ethics early or late in the game)?

You should take it in June. It will not be too hard with your background.

How comfortable are you with these?


Although there are only 20 questions, they are fairly representative of the exam material.

Thank you guys for your feedback.

Wianek, I took a crack at those 20 sample questions. I didn’t do any of the Ethics questions, since I will obviously be starting from scratch there, but was able to get around 75% of the other questions right without looking at formulas/notes or anything.

I am really strongly considering committing to pass the exam in June. It will make Feb-May pretty painful (because I’ll still be in school), but I think it will be better in the long run, as I’ll have more time for Level 2, and will get almost half of 2013 off from any kind of studying (which I desperately need at this point).

You shouldn’t have a problem passing L1 in June. Read the Schweser notes, write down and memorize formulas, and do Qbank / practice tests and you will be good to go. I’m guessing you will need to put in 100 to 150 hours.