Exam prep - what went well and what went not so well

For me practising mocks on various sites like analystninja.com really really helped. I saw a couple familar questions from past papers which was a big confidence booster! My time management was a little off but im confident i passed.

Taking LevelUp Bootcamp really helped me with strategy, timing and bringing it all home. Fairly confident walking in and out of the exam center.

Ok this topic is blatant spam, right?

I found that sleeping with prior AMs under my pillow helped tremendously.

Practising “Timed” mocks is a must. If ever the is a reason i passed - its becoz of this.

i slept with 4 unapproved calculators under my pillow each night for 4 months.

Past mocks helped enourmously, as it’s been said in the forum for 1000 times

Finquiz did not help this level as it did in L1 and L2

I also recommend you do Marc’s LevelUp bootcamp. BUT, I highly recommend that as soon as you get his initial packet in advance of the bootcamp that you start going through it IMMEDIATELY so that after the 4 day review you can dive into essays, etc.

Doing every single past exam you can get your hands on, under a 3 hour timer (or adjusted downwards where a question has gone out of the curriculum and should be skipped) is the single most important thing, ever.

this x100. i did every am morning mock dating back to 2007 (except 2) and gave myself a 2.5 hour timer for the last few mocks. I wrote a summary of the guideline answer in red for each test and looked over each test all the time. it payed off tremendously as i had a half hour to revisit and revise answer on the real test, and also in noticeing the obvious overlap in questions the CFAI likes to ask


oh, and blue boxes. all of them.

did anyone found PM more challenging this time as compared to last year ?

I wish I did some blue box questions.

I wish I had the PM mocks from 2000 to date … Wiley pratice questions helped me learn the concepts faster but they offered only 1 mock. Schwesers mocks were helpful too.

Preparing is easy there’s no secret to it. Obviously the exam is tough but you guys over complicate the study aspect.

Do the readings, do the blue box, do the EOCs. When you finish the entire cirriculum, refresh the topics by just skimming through the material again, and do every CFA topic test multiple times, and 5-6 mocks. Getting bogged down in details is how they try and demotivate you. The percentage of truly random questions on any mock is low. It’s mostly the well covered material.

In my 3 levels of the CFA Program I have never even opened CFAI, Schweser, or other books. I did the classes every Saturday from end-February onwards and just read the very brief slides that accompanied those classes. Review didn’t take long at all… I was able to read through the entire curriculum for L3 in 1 day (the slides). I spent a fair amount of time on past papers - I did 2013-onwards past AM sections as well as the multi-choice mock and online question bank.

If I pass (which I think I am more likely to than not) this will be testament to the fact that you really do NOT have to spend 500 hours reading every page of the CFAI curriculum in order to pass. That would be an incredible waste of time. The value of my time saved by doing the classes and getting the slides FAR outweighed the cost of lessons. I would recommend to all (Kaplan in my case)

What has worked well:

  • I came to the AF only to set out my game plan and did not spend any time here in the 3-4 months leading up to the exam;
  • I worked out every 2-3 days to keep fit and healthy – despite spending quite some time in overcrowded libraries with tons of sniffing and coughing folks around me I managed to get ;
  • I was done with the reading and EOC before May and focussed the last month to hammer away questions.
  • I knew all formulae and wrote them down before any calculation. I had determined this to be low hanging fruit and followed through – this might have saved a few points and helped me in keeping a positive attitude during the exam.

What hasn’t worked well:

  • I didn’t do enough AM mocks. I worked my way back to 2010 for all topics and a bit further for some of the key topics, doing some 70 questions in total (some of them more than once). But I should have gone further back in time and learn more systematically from them (one guy here called himself the mock whore and he did 13 AM mocks – this is my benchmark for next year). Irfannulah has been laying out here on the forum which past AM Q’s are still relevant and its surprisingly vast. I was surprised by a good amount of questions on the AM exam and if I failed, then this is the primary reason why.
  • I will definitely not purchase Schwesers Secret Sauce again. I came to hate it and this is purely an emotional bias. Next year I will try to look into what Elan has produced and take it from there (add my hand written notes on some topics to it and essentially create my one summary).

I wrap it up on a more philosophical note from one of my previous teaches, Krsyz Ostaszewski who teaches some basic math classes for some quantitative exams. I believe he is nevertheless spot on:

  1. You should greet every problem you see when you are taking the exam with these words: “Been there, done that.” I will refer to this Fundamental Rule as the BTDT Rule. If you are surprised by any problem on the exam, you are likely to miss that problem. This “surprise” problem has great marginal value. There is simply not enough time to think on the exam. Thinking is always the last resort on an exam. You may not have seen this very problem before, but you must have seen a problem like it before. If you have not, you are not prepared.
  2. If you have not thoroughly studied all topics covered on the exam you are taking, you must have subconsciously wished to spend more time studying … clearly, the biggest reward for passing the exam is not having to take it again. By spending extra hours, days, or even weeks, studying and memorizing all topics covered on the exam, you are saving yourself possibly as much as a year’s worth of your life. Getting a return of one year on an investment of one day is better than anything you will ever make on Wall Street, or even lotteries (unearned wealth is destructive, thus objects called “lottery winnings” are smaller than they appear). Please study thoroughly, without skipping any topic or any kind of a problem. To paraphrase my favorite quote from Ayn Rand: for zat, you will be very grateful to yourself.
  3. I had once seen Harrison Ford being asked what he answers to people who tell him: “May the Force be with you!”? He said: “Force Yourself!” That’s what you need to do.

I really like this, and I will use it going forward.

I’d say so. The original poster appears to be an Analyst Ninja plant. If you track his answers, it seems he’s mostly here to discuss providers (read: hype Analyst Ninja) versus help people.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m less likely to choose a study outlet when they are blatantly trying to trick AF users.

Studying one month before the exam, like what i did, may not be good. Lol. I ended up glued to the study table for a good 18 hours/day during the last 14 days. I did not do any mock or practice exam, just pure curriculum–blue boxes, eocs, and all. Jeesh, there was no point in answering past exams since time immemorial and tons of practice questions from independent providers. CFAI wont recycle questions anyways, and practice exams tend to obscure my basic understanding of concepts. I was constantly quizzing myself though on random topics that come to mind and taking note of important concepts in almost every nook and cranny of the curriculum (key differences, nuances, similarities, etc.).

If you are employed full-time, you dont have a choice but to study efficiently. We have different learning processes; hence, one should devise a strategy tailored fit to his/her learning style. That’s exactly what i did. I’ll let the institute be the judge if my knowledge was enough for a charter.

Oh, i had an access to the finquiz smart summaries. God those were some shabby piece of s*t! Dont buy those. Make your own notes instead. I wasted time cross referencing to the curriculum texts some glaring errors and unclear phrases.

What type of Saturday classes did you take?

The only way to pass these tests, without opening any books(CFAI, Schweser, etc) means to me that you have a solid background in this material from undergrad, or graduate classes. Or you work in an area that gave you a broad background in the knowledge already. Or you’ve been into these topics recreationally for a long time. Or you’re unemployed and have a ton of time to passively think about these issues.

This stuff isn’t intuitive, it’s learned…right?

For most people I think it’s closer to reading 500 hours, than it is to not opening a single book. I think giving the impression that for most people they don’t have to open a single book is misleading. It’s also dependent on the person and how easily they grasp the topics and the LOS.

Or you’re just a finance genius… :slight_smile: I hope you nailed it !!!