First Time Fail,Reflection and strategical re-routing plan. Sincerely searching for your advises

Hey everybody, first big congratulations to those who have passed this year! that must feel fantastic kissing goodbye to the long hours of study!

But for the unfortunate ones who did not manage to pass, like me, there is a lot of thinking to do. And we desperately need your advises on passing.

Personally before the exam I was very confident thinking I mastered the materials more than ever;I did at leat 7 AM mocks and 6 PM mocks. also all the EOC exercices but I studied soley wih Schewer’s notes.

On the exam day, I felt great when walking out of the AM session thinking a pass was guarateed. But in the PM, I was completedly blown by the blocks and blocks of blind points… panic kicked in, i was sweating like hell and even thought about giving up. the guys who turned in early next to me didnt help…

It turned out i was right about my feelings. I got bombarded in the PM : 7C3B and a band 5 fail. Devastating to a one time passer of L1 an L2.

I am pretty sure I am not moron so there must be something strategically wrong in my approaching L3

I think the blindpoints are the things I missed by not studying CFAI textbooks. Hence the question to you who passed this year : did you study solely with Schewer’s Notes or both or soley with CFAI textbooks? what other preps did you use? when did you start? did you find the PM questions fair or tracable in Schewers’ Notes?

Also to you who did not pass like me, what do you think you did wrong that resulted the failure? what are you going to do to prevent it from happening again?

I plan to start studying in late january ( this year I started in March 15). Study with CFAI textbooks ( last time I did not even purchase the books just downloaded the ECO questions) and do as many mocks as possible. I consider myself bouncing back pretty quick. Nothing is hurt expect for my ego; so if i can get over with that, I shall just enjoy the ride. So god wants me to learn the materials again and savor every bit of them for another 4 or 5 months in my life, ok I will do it. Now nothing can stop me from enjoying my life : yes i am still going to santorini, buying an appartment , changing a new job, family reunion/ski in January and plenty of new designer bags. (ok maybe just a few; but they help heeling to an extent guys can never get)

Your advise would be invaluable to me and my fellow 2015 retakers.

Like you, last year I studied mostly with Scheweser referring CFAI for EOC questions… failed band 8… this year studied only from CFAI books, did lots of practice from CFA books/ schweser/ qbank/ past mocks… managed to pass this time

CFAI books only. Did watch a few Schweser videos late some nights when I could not physically read another line - but most times just fell asleep on the couch whilst trying to watch these.

As usual took as many CFA past exams and mocks as I could find (there is about 10-years worth of these to be found online if you look hard enough). Spent the last 6-weeks almost primarily doing these practice exams and maybe tried to learn some areas I consistently got wrong.

I passed all 3 levels on first attempts primarily using only this method - with some small use of Schweser material at each level.

Good luck next time - I am sure you will manage.

thank you so much ! I hope I can pass next year like you! and congratualations :slight_smile:

thank you a lot missinglink!

and big congratulations on passing all of the exams at the first attemps! :slight_smile:

now i am determined to start early and study hard with CFAI textbooks.

band 3. failed miserably. plan to start early for personal reasons. use more CFAI. past exams.EOC.

Last year band 10. Studied on CFA text.

This year strategy:

Studied from Scheweser (referred to internet, CFA text etc on complicated topics only). Do blue box questions (this year it was black box) from CFA text and end of chapter questions. This way you learn the matrial in quick time and understand the way how CFA asks actual questions. Understanding the flow of question from CFA text is very very improtant. I completely avoided Schweser questions. I felt they were asked in very simple language, making you less prepared for the actual test.

I only gave practice tests provided by CFA institute. I gave around 3 full tests. After every test, I would revise the modules that I performed poor. This way I started improving my score and became more confident for the exam (though from my experience, one should be confident while writing the CFA exam, and not about passing). There are always tricks in the exam, in which most of us would fall without even realising, until we see the result email.

All the best for your preparation. :slight_smile:

Oh and I passed this year with this strategy.

thank you for your advise! invaluable. :slight_smile:

and big congratulations on your pass!!

and I studied almost all the behavioral biases from the internet. Much better explained on some sites with examples, which were easy to remember. I found learning them from CFA text a lot complicated.

In short, every mark is important on the test. Try to grab every mark to gain competitive advantage. :slight_smile:

Schweser only for me, didn’t even download the CFAI books.

Worked great, but :

  • I’ve started earlier (january), in order not to have to read 5h/day and to take my time when i needed it

  • I took 2 weeks off from work before the exam, sent my wife and kid on vacation and did about 1-2 mock exams a day, during 14 days

Not sure if it’s the best way to succeed, but it worked fine for me every single year.

Best of luck for your next year exam !


I read all Schweser once, made a summary of each chapter, done all blue-box in the CFA Curiculum, read in the curriculum challenging chapters + all EOC.

I made all mock from Schweser practice exams, mock from CFAI and past exams. All of them made more than once.

I found the PM easier than expected, only 2 <70; I was feared by the AM because I have difficulties in english, but finally I managed well.

I start to open books in March, but I was jobless from March to July, so I studied all day long in May and June and overall I think I past 500 hours to study.

Hope you will finally pass next year. I should advise you to consult this board often, it’s really helpful!

Thank you all very much for your advises…

Seems it is feasible to pass only relying on Schewers… but I am not taking any chances next time so plan to take CFAI textbooks as the main reading sources and review with Schewers.

Taking notes seem to be helpful maybe I should start doing that…

I studied solely from schweser and did all of the EOCs from CFAI text. I think its a better investment of time not wandering into bulky information that will definitely help you in practical matters but probably not so important for the exam. Do atleast 3-5 CFAI mocks in last month and make the text a tool for practice not for regular study. I passed all 3 levels at first go with this strategy.

Do not rely on schweser for their practice material, thats either too easy or way too difficult and strays away from the exam. Grind IPS construction, fixed income and behavioral finance areas and you will have little effort left to do working on other material.

taking atleast 2 weeks off from work in last month is a must!!

best wishes for your 2015 attempt. Im sure you will do great

I studied using Schweser notes in 2012 and bombed band 2 (after passing L1 and 2 from first attempts) … Then I added EOC questions in 2013 and bombed band 6.

Went for CFAI books only in 2014 with EOC, previous am and mocks … no schweser at all … scored level 11.

Schweser might be enough for some people but it’s definitely not for others… including myself.

Good luck and tame the beast next year!

Few words about my experience. I’ve passed this year after 2 fail attempts for Level 3 in 2012 and 2013. By the way Level 1 and 2 i did from first attempts.

So in a first year for Level 3 i’ve felt very confident about exam. Did absolutely the same strategy as before for Level 1 and 2, means Schweser notes and questions after each paragraph in Curriculum. Fail band 8.

Next year i did extensive study with days for watching Schweser videos everywhere in plane, tube, even listening in a car, read Curriculum and Schweser for billion times. Fail band 9.

This year Mock and Practice Exams as much as i could find and purchase. I think It’s better to spend another 100-200USd for Finquiz for example but spend one more year. Also for me it was usefull to create glossary in excel file with things i couldn’t understand and read it every day once again and delete each cell when i finally got it trying to erase everything before exam.

Good luck. Once again practice as many exams as you can find anywhere.

*Smart Summaries from FinQuiz

*Blue Boxes and EOC Questions from CFAI books

*As many mock exams as you can get your hands on

*Be sure to create FLASH CARDS along the way

(I passed Levels I and II on first attempt – but LIII took 3 sittings for me to conquer)

CFAI curriculum includes 6 books.

I skipped Book 1 with ethic and started from Book 2 in early Feb

Then I finished CFAI Book 5 It was May, I realized that I have no time for curriculum reading and switched to Schweser notes

First material reading: CFAI books 2-5 + Schweser book 5

Second material reading: Schweser book 2-5 and Schweser Book 1 in the end (don’t skip ethic at all, it costs 10% of all exam score)

During second reading I made detailed conspectus (formulas and main definitions) to practice my writing English.

Because lack of time I did only:

  • 3 essay from previous CFA real exams.

  • 1 Schweser PM exam

  • 2 CFAI PM mocks

Also I solved some practice problems in CFAI books and reread all Summary sections in curriculum.

My way is risky but I passed in spite of my poor writing English.

So my advice: you may use Schweser for read the material, but CFAIs are much better for practice, summary and mocks.

And make you own conspectus with study material essence. Yes, It takes time, but this time is more productive then watching videos.

For AM section you must have writing skills, not watching skiils.

  • Read all schweser books

  • Completed all CFAI EOC questions (2x)

  • 2 full notebooks filled with notes on questions missed from EOC

  • Watched all Schweser videos (1 a night)

  • Made about 1,000 notecards

  • Did all Schweser practice exams (first one not timed - total of 6 full exams)

  • Did CFAI AM past exams back to 2007 (7 total)

  • Did all CFAI PM mock exams on web site (3 total?)

My advice: focus on getting to know the material well enough to do well on the AM, and the PM will fall into place. Best way to accomplish this - countless practice problems. Also, begin timing yourself on mocks as soon as possible since this seems to be the achilles heel of a lot of candidates. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the full 3 hour session timed right away, but even timing question by question and going over answers right afterward will help.

I initially planned to read the notes only but when I noticed that the notes missed quite a lot of details, I decided to read the books. Some people did pass without touching the books but to me, I felt, reading the books was a good investment.