Failed Level 1. Tips or advice?

Morning all,

i failed level one June 2019 exam. I used Kaplan Schweser and to be frank, I was not really impressed with their overall package. I am most likely going To use either Wiley or Mark Meldrum material for this second go around in December 2019.

Any tips or advice would be appreciated on:

  • thought of using different material?

  • study habit and study schedule?

  • is 300+ hours really needed for this time around?

Thank you.

You haven’t provided enough info on your background for anyone to comment on this. Do you have a basic background in accounting, finance, econ, and stats? Can you do basic algebra and are comfortable with NPV math (and running the calculator)? For level 1 the study prep provider doesn’t really matter that much (it didn’t for me- I majored in Econ and a lot of the material was already known to me, which is why I think your background matters a lot for level 1). 300+ hours is bs. It depends on your background and personal circumstances. You’ll need to spend as much time as needed for you to study the curriculum and know everything well. This could mean 100 hours, 300 hours, or 1,000 hours. You can measure your grasp of the material based on your mock scores. Are you consistently scoring 70%+? If not, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Study habit and study schedule again depends on your personal circumstances. Do you have a full-time job, or are currently enrolled in a rigorous program, or have a family to tend to? You’ll need to cut out all the time-sinks (video games, social networking, going out to drink) and put it into studying.

True story: the first time I wrote LI (passed the next time!), I was unfamiliar with the intricacies of the calculator. I wasted a good 4 minutes trying to do a simple solve for I for a level annuity: I had the same sign on PMT and PV!!! I cursed and cursed the error message without realizing my mistake. So, RTFM and practice, practice, practice!!! :blush:

Thank you both for your response. I have a Bachelor’s in Finance. I can do the basic algebra and pretty savvy on the calculator. I am married with kids and work a full time job. I have no issue putting in the hours or the work that’s needed.

During the test, there were a few questions that I just had no clue what the answer was and it was my first time actually seeing those type of questions. I understand the concepts pretty well but had a hard time remembering minor things here and there that were necessary to get the question right.

I struggled in Financial reporting mostly as well Corporate Finance and Economics.

Breadmaker - On your second go around, did you study the same amount of hours or was it a complete different approach?

I would recommend just using the curriculum next time around. If you do use any third-party prep I’d only use it strictly as a supplement and not as the primary study resource. You definitely should go for 300 hours and not lessen that just because you studied once before. Reading the curriculum word for word will give you a nice chunk of the 300 hours right there.

Good luck!

  • thought of using different material? do yourself the favor, go here and sign up immediately. Unless you’re scared of someone giving you a no-bullshit dose of reality on what this entire program takes

  • study habit and study schedule? Every damn day.

  • is 300+ hours really needed for this time around? No, all that’s required is going over the material until you honestly understand it. The exam questions are not hard. If you’ve truly grasped and mastered the material you should fly through the exam.

If you haven’t seen that style of question before, it seems that you didn’t use the CFAI curriculum. It says in the begining of the book (Page X paragraph 6 of every volume) that the exam questions are based on the blue box, EOCs, and the entire corriculum.

I recommend using Mark Meldrum and reading the curriculum. Focus on the topics where you had the most difficulty. Forget about the 300 hours mumbo jumbo (Page xii Paragraph 3) it’s just a guideline. That’s for the average candidate and the average candidate fails (Unknown funny guy). Use the time necessary to master the materials. I estimate that I spent over 500 hours for level 1. I didn’t read most of the curriculum and I regret that. Review would have been easier if I did. I used Schweser notes and Mark Meldrum videos, Blue Box Qs, EOCs; Schweser, Wiley, and CFAI q-banks and mocks; Schweser Secret sauce and quick sheet.

Don’t be cocky. Don’t believe the hype. It seems like 99% of the candidates who passed say they were 90%+ and only studied 100 hours. lol!

For my 2nd attempt, I got a good 6-7 hours sleep vs 2 the first time. :blush: :bulb:

I don’t think i put in more than 150 sub par hours the first time, but definitely put in 100-150 quality hours the second time making my own notes and doing EoC problems along with Blue Boxes, etc. And I sat with the calculator manual, read the whole English section, followed all keystroke examples AAAAAAAND solved the examples by hand !!! :sob: I’m tellin youze, that calculator will be your only friend in that exam room!!!

Thank you all! I appreciate your candid answers. Seeing everyone’s perspective is very helpful.

If anyone is looking for a study buddy or someone to greive about level 1, feel free to contact me. :slight_smile:

Brush up on those weaker areas.

I found that for Level one, each time I took a practice test and even on the actual test, my weaker and stronger topics were very inconsistent. If you have those obvious touch up subjects, definitely focus in on those.

I personally think Kaplan is great for level one. I probably went through the entire Q bank and I think that’s very useful for Level one. I also believe Mark Meldrum has free FRA Youtube videos for level one.

Practice schweser qbank questions. Master calculations on the calculator, find the short cuts for std deviation related math. The more exams you practice the better you would be. Bond questions are easy, if you practice well, you can score 100 percent. Mindful on word jargon like least likely, most likely. Big secret to level 1 practice is the mocks as many as you can than perfecting every piece of the subject. Good luck.

Let me start by saying that I don’t intend that the comment I’m about to make be hurtful or insulting. If it strikes you that way, then I am sorry, truly sorry.

I speak as a CFA charterholder, former CFO, MBA, and self-employed valuation professional for more than 25 years.

You wrote, “I struggled in Financial reporting mostly as well [as] Corporate Finance and Economics.”

In my opinion, anyone who “struggles” in those mainstream areas of study shouldn’t be working in finance at all. Find an area of study that you really enjoy and do NOT have to ‘struggle’ in. Work satisfaction will enable you to do better career-wise, make more money, and have more fun over the course of your career.

You can make a career in finance without ever needing the knowledge the cfa program provides you on financial reporting and economics. No need to be a jack of all trades. Find something you like and deep dive into it. Yeah, you’ll need to have basic understanding of many areas but even if you struggle on some of them, if you’re determined enough, you’ll end up understanding what’s going on.

Hello, I am looking for someone to study with for the June 2020 exam. You in?


You might want to check the CFA Institute website on the appropriate use of the letters “CFA”. Under their guidelines, you are not allowed to include that as a part of your handle. You might want to consider that buddy.

Hey I’m studying for June 2020, too.

I used Mark Meldrum. Really loved it.

The Kaplan mocks are overly complicated and can result in your over-thinking the actual exam questions.

I believe that Mark Meldrum has his L1 videos on youtube for free so I would watch those.

Also on youtube are the following college courses (Just listen to them in the background while you’re doing other things):

Financial Markets:

Financial Theory:

Finance Theory (MIT):

“Let me start by saying that I don’t intend that the comment I’m about to make be hurtful or insulting. If it strikes you that way, then I am sorry, truly sorry.”

Then why post the comment?