Have done no work, can I still pass CFA Level 1?

Hey guys so heres the situation (I’m asking here because there are L2 AND L3 people in this section too) -

Ok so I have 47 days until CFA Level 1, and I have only done Ethics & Professional standards to a degree of around 50-70% in Qbank.

I was wondering if I could still pass CFA Level 1 given the following information regarding myself:

1 ) Unemployed - Willing to work all god given hours, but I will probably only manage a max of 12, so probably 10 hours most days.

  1. IQ : 101 - I’m not too bright, but im not stupid either, just average in intellectual capacity ( Therefore is it even possible to absorb 10 hours of information per day)

  2. Degree in Accounting with Finance– However I got the minimum pass score and crammed most of degree material, I only really know the bare basics. I got such a bad grade due to laziness and leaving my studying till the last week before exams.

As I have previously said, I have all the materials needed to study CFA and I have the motivation to work hard.

Do I still have a chance to pass CFA Level 1? If so how high of a chance?

I have a work schedule planned out for at least 8 hours per day and I am highly motivated– BUT will I burn out?

Will I be able to absorb information at such an intense rate given my new found motivation and intellectual capacity?

Any feedback is appreciated,


Before I clicked, I found myself thinking: If they’re unemployed and have had a finance undergrad, then it’s possible, provided you put yourself in high gear, unless you’re one of those guys like kartelite, who can do it in a week (I don’t recommend trying that, though).

Most likely, it won’t be fun from here to June, but you can probably do it if you’re motivated.

I have 47 days until CFA Level 1 …I will probably only manage a max of 12, so probably 10 hours most days.

So, what is your real problem? 45 days with even 10 hours per day amounts to 450 hours. But , according to CFAI normally candidates require only around 300 hours to clear a level of CFA. So question is not whether you CAN do it or not the real issue is whether YOU ARE DETERMINED to do it or not! If you are as motivated as you say, then probably your focus should what to do next and how?

Few points to note when you plan for the next 45 days:

  • Being employed or unemployed is immaterial now as it is more of a fait accompli for you. You are lucky to have more than 8 hours at your disposal to reach your immediate goal of ‘clearing Level 1’. So being ‘Unemployed’at this instant is a blessing in disguise, exploit it.
  • IQ 101 –i.e. average intellectual capacity is the order of the day as far as doing a professional course like CFA is concerned that is why having the relevant experience and exposure counts more than just having the high intelligence level for being a ‘successful’ Charterholder. Of course being of higher intelligence is an asset for achieving more with lesser input in terms of study, time and effort but converse is not necessarily true . You have work schedule planned out and are highly motivated proves you had fair idea what and why you want to do till next June 1st . What ultimately counts (and, therefore more crucial for long term success) is how deep and systematic you are after doing the Level 1 somehow , frankly speaking many aspirants are not even sure of why they enrolled for Level 1 and with average effort they do clear this level (that is why many on this forum claim emphatically that level 1 is the easiest one).
  • No one can absorb 10 hours of information every day for 45 days but anyone with reasonable confidence and determination to do a specific course can easily absorb new information for about 4 hours per day, recapitulate the previous learnt topics for another 2-3 hours per day and finally practice questions based on what he/she has already learnt (may EOCs or QBank questions or even practice papers) from a specific topic /section for about 4 hours per day, thereby spending about 10-11 hours per day (out of 16 hours of a 24 hour day) – leaving 5 – 6 hours for rest and other routines every day- for the next 45 days ONLY. Many may not be conscious but most students (especially those who leave the study for last days only or are working in long-hour / stressful jobs) do so and successfully complete many of professional programmes in finance which are taken or require to be done while being employed /working in specific field. So, focussed preparation and average intelligence with hard work is the key not essentially a high IQ.
  • Your cramming capability with a good amount of practice of past questions and EOCs will prove useful and may see you through, provided you are sincere in following up your plans till the last hour on the pre-exam day.
  • You can burn out only if (a) you do not take enough rest in between; (b) spend too much time on net or forums where you will be hearing from others how tough it is and how much still remains to be done – and get disheartened ; © decide your priorities and time allocation in advance according to weightage of and exploiting your strengths in specific topics (some require understanding, some just memorisation and some application of the knowledge and formulas).
  • Your aim is to score around 75% right answers – not a big task if you have enough practice.

Review your schedule and plan and ensure you finish everything at least 8 days before the exam day. Now focus on areas with higher weightage in the exam and tackle them one by one within pre-planned schedule. Spend 50% of the time during the last 8 days in taking as many practice / mock exams you can do under exam conditions and the review and revision the weaker areas once again for the last time. Start now and don’t look back till the exam is over on 1st June. And, yes, it won’t be a fun…till you are through!

Best of luck

Thankyou very much for your input Mygos.

I will put your advice into practice and will try my best.

No point worrying or having self doubt now, I just have to ACT and forget about the outcome of my actions, knowing I have given it my all…which from the viewpoint of Eternity is all that matters.

Lol I get so philosophical when im feeling insecure.


I personally found L1 very easy. If you have a finance background, you should be fine. Pay more attention to the topics that carry the most weight.

You can do it!! Level 1 is easy if you have your basics right and good at memorizing stuff! I was unemployed and studied 2 months for CFA Level 2 & 1 month for CFA Level 3, went 3/3… But I would never recommend anyone to follow suit, the stress of exam makes you grumpy and screws your family/social life! I also planned on studying like 10 hours a day but couldn’t manage more than 4-6hours including practice sessions!



posts too long

It’s certainly doable and given the fact that you have already paid and are unemployed, why not give it a shot?

I agree with everything that has been said.

I started Level 1 in October and took the test in December and passed. I was working full-time, too.

My advice–Instead of studying 10 hours a day, try to study for 3-4 hours in the morning, then break for 3-4 hours, and put in and another 3-4 hours in the evening. You’ll probably accomplish a lot more than if you just sit and stare at a book for 10 hours straight.

^ +1

iq of 101 is incredibly low for a knowledge worker. avg of 100 includes those with mental handicaps and those with no understanding of mathematics (paris hilton types). avg white collar worker is closer to 110. average master’s graduate and CFA charterholder should be to 115-120. you have a high wall to climb if 101 is an accurate number.

i only needed 30 days and ~90-100 hrs per exam but would consider myself in the top 1% in test taking ability, did slightly above average in my uni studies and iq is closer to 120.

if you put in the 300 hrs you should have a good shot at it.

i’m rootin for ya. gotta love the underdog!

I agree that a higher IQ is better, but I disagree with Matt Likes Anal, for the most part.

101 is plenty enough to pass. You just need common sense and work ethic. 100 is average, and also includes all the Stephen Hawkings and Madonnas (IQ of 160, believe it or not).

Remember–the difficulty of the CFA exam is not in its complexity–it’s the volume. It’s a test of your endurance more than your wits.

Given the nature of the test, I think SAT score is a better predictor of success than IQ. That said, the advice above is good. You will figure out what works for you, but I found that I generally would lose concentration after about 3 hours or so. However, I did not take an PEDs so if you have ADD meds then your attention span could be enhanced.

you were around during the AF conversion? good times

Actually, I recall it being Matt_Likes_Hitler

probably… i found the level 1 exam questions is relatively easier compared to those from the end of chapters… just read d answers from the end of chapters n learn from there, lol…

For people who wanted to know.

I failed CFA, Band 9. Lesson learnt? PREPARE.

I know I was close, I honestly came out of that exam thinking I had done really well.

the fact that you came that close only studying 45 days is impressive. Its tough to pack that much info into your brain in a short amount of time. You will nail it next time I’m sure.

That’s good for so little prep! Get it next time.