Failed Level 1 three times, help / destroyed

Hi all,

I got my results yesterday and am completely shattered into 1000 pieces. Upfront as information: I had no experience or anything to do with finance before I started the CFA journey. No Masters degree what so ever. I am a simple IT-Engineer.

The first time i went to the exam i had no idea what I was dealing with. Learned not really that hard. Knew quickly that I would fail. Got a band 5.

The secound time I put more effort into it and was learning hard but with weak spots. (I do not like FRA at all). I got a band 8.

Now the last time I took 2.5 weeks off and studied really hard, took 2 weeks vacation to learn 8 to 10 houres a day. Went out of the exam with a good feeling. Got my results with a band 10. (The only weak spot was FRA)

I know Lvl II and III are harder, is it time to throw the towel and say “I did my best” ? Spent so much time and money. I feel like the biggest failure at the moment. I guess retab will not help.


  • Alternative Investments 10 - - * - Corporate Finance 17 - - * - Derivatives 12 - - * - Economics 24 - * - - Equity Investments 24 - * - - Ethical & Professional Standards 36 - - * - Financial Reporting & Analysis 48 * - - - Fixed Income Investments 24 - - * - Portfolio Management 17 * - - - Quantitative Methods 28 - * -

We have divided the group of candidates who did not pass into 10 approximately equal score bands. Your score band below shows how your overall score on the exam compares with the overall scores of candidates who did not pass this exam.

Your score band: 10

Bearing in mind that u r an engineer, what are your reason/motivation for enrolling in the CFA program? You said you do not like FRA - as a matter of fact FRA is key to CFA program and career in investment management, perhaps, the program may not fit to your career goal?

Should you try one more time, focus particularly on your FRA. If you dont have accounting background, and still confused by FRA topics, try and find some third-party books on basic accounting. FRA in L2 is significantly more challenging than L1. Good luck!

I would definitely say keep going. At some point it almost becomes about more than just a certification and more about proving to yourself you can do it. If you walk away now you will walk away feeling defeated. Obviously its a strange reason to continue pursuing the cfa but personally I think its important to fight against that state of feeling crushed and defeated and overcome.

In a somewhat similar situation here. As a burned-out Charterholder, I would like to start exploring the field of mechanical engineering – but don’t have a real desire to learn about thermodynamics, electricity or structural analysis. Should I continue?


Follow your passion, given that you provide for your family. Don’t you need another B.S. for this?

How you could say you did your best when actually you only worked for 150h ??

Average hours spent are 300h, some will need less (ones that already have Analyst position or something strongly related to CFA) some more. You, you definitely need more than 300h (due to your background) you did 150h, honnestly what did you expect ? I’m Pretty sure you have all the skills so don’t give up but you need to re-think your schedules and your planning.

No offense dude but for those so-called engineers, CFA lv 1 is a joke. I graduated with tourism/hospitality and marketing background and still passed lv 1 in the 1st attempt. In the exam day, I met lots of people like him who studied or are studying Math, Physics, IT, engineering majors and most of them consider CFA as relatively easy. I still remember one Indian dude (I dont remember exactly what he studied or are studying but he’s one of those Math, physics, etc. that I talked to before the exam) coming out from the exam room saying “Piece of cake”. I doubt cfa_swiss really put enough effort in the exam or his method of studying is suitable for the exam.

Unfortunately, I don’t think your reply helps the OP at all. I’m normally one to be realistic about the difficulty (and gross overstatement of difficulty) for these exams, but I don’t see this as the time or place. The OP is just asking for help. The only part of your post that might be useful is that the OP try changing up something in the study method or approach.

For the OP: If you have time and resources to attempt L1 again, and you really want to, I would give it one last good shot. You’ve clearly showed improvement on each attempt. If you didn’t improve on each attempt, I would suggest that you reconsider your options. Coming without a finance background and improving on each attempt shows you’re learning.

What I tried to tell him is having irrelevant background will not stop him from passing the exam. He’s from engineering background so there is no question about his intelligence but the problem with his multiple failures is maybe because of his lack of time to prepare for the exam or inappropriate methods of studying CFA or maybe other reasons which I don’t really know.

The bold was clearly left out of your original post. The italics indicate you probably should ask the OP how he’s been preparing… Your original post included more information that the exam is easy according to people with a similar background as the OP (including being easy for you). The tone and content of your second post seems more helpful and informative for the OP.

More over CFA Isn’t a matter of intelligence, more dedication, organization, memory and methodology

Well said.


Well said