Going Backwards..

2012 - Band 9 Fail

2011 - Band 10 Fail

Am I the only one going backwards? All along I was quite confident that I would clear comfortably - good AM session (didnt miss a single question, reasonably sure of at least 50-60% answers correct, timed quite comfortably finishing 5 minutes before the end), even better PM session (methodically rechecked all answers, confident of at least 70% correct plus some guess work), yet I got a fail and that too Band 9 from Band 10 earlier.

Really cant figure out what I am doing wrong. Gone through the curriculum in detail, getting around 70 in mocks and practise exams (not grading myself). Friends with band 4 and 6 in 2011 cleared this year and I am perhaps the only one I know who has moved backwards. Totally disappointed. Cleared L1 and L2 in single attempt and have been a topper all through. Plus I double checked on templates/ lined answers in AM session so 100% sure I didnt do anything wrong in that respect at least.

Some one please help and guide me. Totally demotivated right now and thinking of taking a break. Perhaps I am unable to think like a US client or something - Im at my wits end. Am I just plain unlucky or am I having unreasonable expectations - would really appreciate a devils advocate or someone to give me a reality check that I am not cut out for this for some reason. As far as I know, I shouldnt have got below 50 in more than a couple of topics in both 2011 and 2012. Maybe I am just not a good judge of myself or my abilities or my paper.

I know retabulation is a waste and so is approaching CFA for redressal so not even considering those options.

Anyone else like me? Would appreciate the company in misery.

Detailed score for 2011 and 2012 below if anyone can help me make sense out of it.

2012-Band 9 Fail

Essay Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% 1 Portfolio Management - Individual 27 - * - 2 Portfolio Management - Individual 9 * - - 3 Portfolio Management - Execution 21 - * - 4 Portfolio Management - Individual 17 - - * 5 Economics 24 - * - 6 Portfolio Management - Institutional 34 * - - 7 Fixed Income Investments 23 * - - 8 Derivatives 13 - - * 9 Derivatives 12 * - - Item Set Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% - Alternative Investments 18 * - - - Equity Investments 18 - - * - Ethical & Professional Standards 36 - * - - Fixed Income Investments 18 * - - - Portfolio Management 18 - * - - Portfolio Management - Asset Allocation 18 * - - - Portfolio Management - Individual 18 - * - - Portfolio Management - Performance Eval. 18 - * - - Portfolio Management - Risk Management 18 * - - 2011-Band 10 Fail Essay Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% 1 Portfolio Management - Individual 16 - * - 2 Portfolio Management - Individual 22 - * - 3 Portfolio Management - Institutional 26 - * - 4 Economics 23 - * - 5 Portfolio Management - Asset Allocation 20 * - - 6 Fixed Income Investments 19 - - * 7 Equity Investments 22 - * - 8 Portfolio Management - Risk Management 16 * - - 9 Portfolio Management – Performance Eval. 16 * - - Item Set Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% - Alternative Investments 18 * - - - Economics 18 - - * - Equity Investments 18 - * - - Ethical & Professional Standards 36 - - * - Fixed Income Investments 36 * - - - Portfolio Management - Execution 18 * - - - Portfolio Management - Individual 18 - * - - Portfolio Management - Risk Management 18 - - *

band 5 2010

didnt appear in 2011

band 4 2012

? 2013

cant help you make sense of it, just help with your misery by showing there are ppl out there worse then you!

i went backwards, think i was band 9 or 10 the first time then moved to band 4 last year, pass this year. I didn’t study much last year but was still shocked. This year I took the exam much more seriously. Don’t stress over it, just get it done next year.

comparing your results to mine, i think question 7 in the AM hurt you and in the PM, you needed more >70% as it looks like most of the passers had this. Don’t feel too badly, I think there’s a pretty thin margin between the bands, could have just been a few questions that you could have done a bit better on that separated a pass from a fail. In the afternoon based on a quick scan of the results of others I don’t think you can afford more than one or maybe two questions <50% if you want to salvage morning results.

akhan - Dont know whether its worse to be standing at the edge with a foot in the door and then having it shoved in your face or knowing that theres still some distance to make up.

DoubleDip - I took the exam as seriously as possible for me. It was seriously the highest effort I have put this year for CFA L3 by far than for any exam I have appeared in the past. Hence the wondering whether I have it in me. Genuinely believe the scores do not do any justice to my efforts.

It looks like you didn’t work enough problems to get that low of marks for the PM section.

Hang in there, it is worth it in the end. It’s normal to feel like this, I did too… for a few days. Then I picked myself up and got on with it, this time determined to do whatever it took to pass. That schweser late season 3 day workshop helped me a lot (video version). There are exam strategies and tips. Maybe mastery of exam strategy is all you need. I feel that these tips on top of my preparation made all the difference.

I would definitely echo the early statement that you should spend more time on the MC portion. Also, a general sense I get looking at your matrix is that you weren’t proficient enough in your areas of strength to overcome your weak areas. While some people are good at a lot of things and get >70% on a lot of sections, it seems to me that you have to be good at a few areas to get by. Only 3 sections in the >70% range is not going to get it done. So, part of your focus should be on moving up some of those 51%-70% areas to >70%.

Also, study early and often. I don’t believe in burnout. I think that is overrated and overused as an excuse not to put in maximum effort. It is always more valuable to have seen something 3 or 4 times than 1 or 2 times.

I always do as many MCQ on ethics as possible 2 weeks before the exam and I think that’s what saved me this year from failing.

You had 8 sections under 50% and only 3 over 70%. To be honest, I think you should be grateful you were in band 9.

By way of comparison, I passed with 3 sections under 50% and 8 over 70%. I’m not bragging, just showing what you might want to aim for. Certain sections like ethics you certainly should have above 70%.

I’d also suggest that your mock scores are too low, a 70 on a mock is borderline, try to get your mocks into the upper 80’s or 90’s so you have some margin of error.

I don’t know how you’re studying but I’d guess that by now you know the material pretty well but are either misunderstanding the question and not answering the question they ask or are falling for some trick in the question - for example using face value of a bond portfolio instead of the market value on the rebalancing questions. Or perhaps you’re unconsciously rushing and making silly mistakes you don’t think you’re making.


I don’t see that this question has been asked: What study sources did you use? Specifically, did you concentrate on the CFAI text, or did you use alternative materials?

I wouldn’t necessarily think it’s going backwards. There’s not many marks between band 10 and band 9. maybe 10 marks separate low band 9 to highest band 10.

You are nearly there… you are probably ahead of every candidate enrolling in 2013.

I just think of the Olympics and that if you screwed up, you’d have to wait another 4 years to redeem yourself. One yr is not that long.

Trust me your in a better position, i should add that i am in band 4 after nearly 400 hour of CFAI studying and atleast 4 years of mock and past exam. Therefore i need a whole shift in strategy, whereas you just need a few tweaks and better night sleep before the exam!

furthermore my am result is as below, which to me looks very suspicious, beacuse its not possible after 400 hour of study that i get <50 in the last 6 questions! or is it overconfidence bias?


Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% 1 Portfolio Management - Individual 27 - * - 2 Portfolio Management - Individual 9 - * - 3 Portfolio Management - Execution 21 - - * 4 Portfolio Management - Individual 17 * - - 5 Economics 24 * - - 6 Portfolio Management - Institutional 34 * - - 7 Fixed Income Investments 23 * - - 8 Derivatives 13 * - - 9 Derivatives 12 * - -

Usually when people fail repeatedly we find out that they are avoiding something crucial, such as drilling questions or mocks and making sure to understand why you got questions wrong rather than trying to just get a score above a 70.

That said, I do believe there is a lot of variance at level 3 and that your guesses can really make you or break you.

Thanks for the replies guys - it is much appreciated!

eaber81 - If you mean enough problems in the PM exam, I attempted all 60 questions - about 10% went way over the top of my head, but the rest (apart from some fence sitters in Ethics) were right up my alley. My point is Im surprised that two years in a row I havent performed as expected - each time I expected 80% or equivalent in PM and I have got around 65%. If you mean practise problems, I did EOC questions from CFA plus Schweser plus 6 practice exams and 4 mocks/ past exams for this year alone. And I did average 70% - maybe I need to average closer to 90% in them.

bigML - Point taken. Clearly my areas of strength arent coming through in the exam and I am only wondering whether this is because I dont have an area of strength or whether I am messing up in some weird way which I am not even realising. Perhaps some bias or way of thinking is ensuring that even if I have the knowledge and ability to synthesize across curriculum I am unable to put it across in the right way. That logic can hold for AM but for PM it really should come through. My areas of strength have traditionally been Equity/ Fixed Income/ Economics/ Asset Allocation/ Indvl and Insti PM/ Performance/ Ethics/ GIPS and weak areas Risk Management/ Derivatives/ Alternative. Yet if I analyse my results, I see that I have actually got 70+ in Risk (2011 PM) and Derivatives (2012 AM) and <50 in the same topics at other times. Anyhow I appreciate that I need to sharpen my areas of strength to take care of my weaker areas.

love2rockclimb - Yes I think I have the material down but I am clearly making some error subconsciously. Also, 2012 results were unexpected from my point of view and I would love to believe that my answers have got mixed up in someway because I really dont think the results fall in line with my expectations. I trust my judgement on expectations and hence the disappointment is even greater. If I knew the exam hadnt gone well and there were many grey areas perhaps I would be ok with a band 9 thinking that I can iron out the grey areas. As of now, I am not sure I had any grey areas hence I am unable to analyse where I have gone wrong, hence my post for someone external to take an objective view and perhaps open my eyes. I dont believe I fell for any of the CFA tricks in fact post exam I think I caught most of them - maybe I was seeing tricks where none existed ?! I am itching to compare my answers with 2012 exam when released. Luckily after the exam session, I jotted down most of my answers in the lunch break. So that will be the most accurate feedback. Im pretty sure thats allowed so long as I dont share the same with anyone since I wrote them out of memory and not by taking any of the materials out of the exam hall.

cgeorgan - I used CFAI text for a quick skim in the beginning, then a proper read of Schweser followed by EOC problems in CFAI text and Schweser followed by Blue boxes and summaries for reviews. The material is no problem and if anything I would get bored reading the same thing over and over. Maybe that has been my problem. Which is why I thought of taking a break and attacking it with a fresh mind a year later. My problem has really been expected results being too different from actual results. I am like the portfolio manager who has a good portfolio and statistically should deliver but somehow doesnt perform upto expectation - overdiversification/ over hedging whatever.

spaiydz - Thanks! thats a timely reminder

akhan - You’re right. After 400 hours your result does seem a little suspicious. Which brings me to a conspiracy theory I have heard of about gaming CFA - you think its likely that pass rates are higher in US/ Europe than Asia - from what I have gathered, perhaps with a too small sample size, is that 80% of those in US/ Europe pass while maybe 20% of those from Asia pass. I guess it boils down to whether we believe CFA is ethical and is truly marking answers or that it is all a plan of making the course more exclusive in areas where there are a number of applicants in any case. A result like yours (and mine for that matter) which dont make sense from our expectations point of view do make it seem likely that perhaps random fake scores are generated for a % of applicants. Would be difficult to manage something like this on such a large scale though. So maybe its just a case of sour grapes for us. For my part I am not sure which I believe truly at this point. On the one hand I have my entire life experience which tells me I am not so dumb to not be able to clear the exams despite 2 attempts and 500 hours of study and despite being in the industry and pretty much doing the same thing we are studying day in and out and despite having come out quite positive after both exams and on the other hand I have an institute which for me is a virtual entity which vague standards of pass/ fail with no redress for checking answers or understanding where I went wrong - just a blank wall with a sign saying - CFA-This is who we are. You desire entry here and hence you by default you accept the fact that all decision/information lies with us alone. You will never know why you failed. If we deem you pass, you pass. Thats it.

ChickenTikka - Odd if guesses can make or break you at this level.

It sounds like there is/was a little overconfidence bias with you as well. Who was grading your practice exams, you or a CFA study partner? Perhaps you were being overly generous in your grading? Without being there to grade one of your practice exams, I’m not sure what more feedback I can give you other than to keep trying. It’s a hard exam but one that can be passed with hard work. And yes, dealing with the CFAI’s pass/fail no feedback on exam results policy is annoying, but those are the same rules of the game for everyone. Deal with it and move on, don’t whine about it.

I think a serious consideration for other education such MBA is warranted. CFA is nice if you KNOW for fact that you’ll stay in the buyside. But if you are in early part of your career you have to consider other areas of education as well. Coupled with the fact that buyside fees continue to go down every year, one has to consider the the fact that our “smarts” can be used elsewhere in our economy.

You can always go back to CFA. I know people who has taken over 3 years of haitus to finish up later. In between he picked up MS in Biostatistics. Now he works for a healthcare firm. And it just so happens that they have a treasury dept manaing billions of dollars :slight_smile: The end result is that he got into healthcare with the time he took off and still got to work with investments.

just saying…

loves2rockclimb - I had my wife grade the exams with just the guideline answers for reference. Shes a marketing major so i think the marking would be quite fair. Anyhow was just making a statement of facts regarding CFA pass/fail - dont think that deserves to be called whining about it. I know about it and I have 2 options - accept it or move on to something more agreeable. As of now Im undecided.

MellonC00 - thats a really smart suggestion and possibly something I should seriously consider. Im already an MBA from Tier 1 university so need to think of something else. Would be nice to be in a treasury dept managing billions of dollars :slight_smile:

No one else for company in going backwards looks like! Just akhan and myself till now.

I went backwards as well from band 10 in 2011 to Band 6 in 2012 and am in worse off postion that most. The problem is that this is my sixth attempt at L3 after getting through L1 and L2 with no major hiccups. I thought I did 2012 exam better tha 2011 but apparently I was wrong. I would admit that I am surprised with some of the marking but there is nothing I can do. In my view there is no way I could score below 50 in the Portfolio Management Instutitional but that was the case. I am debating whether I should see this through. Any thoughts on what I should do?

For those of you who are saying t things like, “I can’t see how it is possible for me to fail xyz” then I would say that you do not know the material as well as you think you do.

if you know the material well then you should be able to imagine lots of ways that they could screw you on this exam.

This reminds me a bit of Qqqbee who kept insisting that he was certain that he got all the questions right and couldn’t figure out why he failed.

Forgive me, if this isn’t you, but I’m imaging the type of person that always thinks they are right no matter what. If you don’t have some healthy uncertainty then you really haven’t thought through the questions. This goes double for qualitative stuff like ethics. This type of guy says, “I’m certain that xyz is the answer” without bothering to think how nuanced these answers can be and then makes a type 2 error over and over again. It would make sense that at level three you would encounter the most difficulty with this in the AM where your black and white thinkin.

i failed level 1 twice

i failed level 2 twice

i failed level 3 twice

failing sucks, but when youre finally done the feeling is unbelievable