Here's where I stand. Thoughts welcome.

I failed Level 3 last year in Band 9 after massively underestimating it. Having prepared much more effectively for this year’s exam and looking back at my knowledge last year, it’s almost laughable how poorly I knew the material last year. However, as we know, hindsight (a belief perseverance, cognitive bias :slight_smile: ) is 20/20.

This year, I have skimmed all of the CFA books, read all of the Kaplan Schweser books, compiled and memorized approximately 75 key formulas/acronyms, completed 30% of all Schweser QBank questions, completed the AM sections for CFAI 2012, 2013 and 2014 past exams, and completed the PM section for CFAI 2013 past exam. In total, I’ve put in about 150 hrs, but still retained a good bit of knowledge from last year so I’m not sure 150 hrs is the best indicator. Here are my scores:

On all of the Schweser QBank questions, I’m averaging 74% (all quizzes covered all material)

2012 CFAI AM: 66%

2013 CFAI AM: 66%

2013 CFAI PM: 73%

2014 CFAI AM: 74%

All AM tests were graded assuming no partial credit unless it was overwhelmingly obvious some partial credit would be awarded (i.e. 8-point question where formulas were written out correctly but wrong inputs were used would result in 1 or 2 points).

I am consistently underperforming in Derivatives and GIPS.

What would you do from now until test day? I will be working every day this week. Thanks.

Work on derivatives.

+1 MrSmart . . work on derivatives, but would also know Dietz & modified Dietz calcs for GIPS (they’re pretty easy once you get them) and know the correct GIPS compliance statement.

Redo questions on mocks/past exams that you previously struggled with.

The one good thing about figuring out the derivatives is that it’s not really subjective; once you master the formulae you got it.

Just curious, do you recall what your mock/exam scores were last year?

Derivatives IMO are pretty easy. I hope they ask the question about changing betas and durations with futures.

But fixed income will be the death of me. I do not understand that topic at all.

Changing beta and duration I find easy, except when you’re also reallocating between equity and fixed income. What you need to do flows pretty logically - it’s simply easy to make a misstep along the way.

When you’re reallocating, just remember that you should do the reallocation first, in separate steps,before changing B or dur. You will often be going to or from current Beta or Dur to 0 (unless they give you a cash/risk-free duration.)

At the end just net your contract buys and sells


I don’t recall ever breaking into the 70s on anything last year. Of course, I didn’t do nearly as many mocks or practice questions as I needed to either. If it makes you feel better, I answered every multiple choice question and wrote something (anything) down for every question, but in terms of mastery of the material I basically punted on Derivatives and GIPS and had only a cursory understanding of much of the rest of the material. Looking back, I’m shocked I was in the ninth band to be honest. That said, I’m also notoriously hard on myself so maybe I’m biased. I can assure you though that I had no idea how to calculate things like implementation shortfall, relative value of gifts vs estate transfers, Singer-Terhaar, swap duration, etc.

Last year, I basically mastered the conceptual material with little to no understanding of the quantitative material.

where did you get 2013 CFAI PM test


Alright nice thanks. Didn’t know this one was out there.

Hey OP, just curious, what did you do the first time? I feel like I spent some time underestimating the exam so I am just curious how you went into and got band 9. Best of luck this time! first time taker so no tips to offer!

I spent entirely too much time reading the concepts and not nearly enough time applying the concepts. This left me with a pretty solid conceptual understanding of the material, but a horrible quantitative understanding of the material. I also never cracked the Q Bank last time, didn’t memorize the formulas because I thought my conceptual understanding would carry me, and didn’t do many constructed response practice questions at all.

Reading the CFAI can be good if done early but horrible if still bogging you down too close to the test. You need to be applying the material as much as you can right now.

Do practice problems/mocks/past exams. Review and retouch areas of weakness. Rinse and repeat.

I wouldn’t spend too much time on GIPS and if you do focus on current GIPS not the old stuff.

Thanks OP