How many re-takers? No Shame

I talked to a couple people that have either failed and retaking or have the charter. The pass rate may seem high but there are a lot of retakers.

I have read some progress posts from people who have already read the material twice or completely done with the readings and just working problems.

I am starting to think these are retakers. Just curious if anybody wants to share experiences from maybe the 1st go around.

Retaker here.

Felt like I gave it my all in 2018 and felt okay leaving the test centre, but ended up just a hair below the MPS. That sucked…but ya I am past that now.

I suppose I am on the right track so I am pretty much just repeating what I did last year, but try to focus more on practicing questions. I do feel like I am understanding the material better the 2nd time around, but I go blank when I don’t know how to answer a question too.

I just want to get this over with…this is my 5th year of studying for CFA…holy smokes.

I just moved to a new city this past April for work. Hate studying for this one as I feel like I should be trying to establish a life here, but I am inside studying for this test and saving money.

But, by this time I am sure we all feel ready to get behind us.

Can you share any tips on how to prepare for the short answer questions? I talked with a friend who has the charter he said don’t focus so much on re-reading but just work a crapload of problems and know all the definitions. Did you make flashcards and any take aways from last year maybe things to avoid or emphasize more for myself? Any advice greatly appreciated!

This read through is so lengthy and dry though makes me want to just say F it. But pushing through it will be worth it in the end.

I would like to just do a crapload of questions, but I do need to read over the material first otherwise I wouldn’t know what the answer is. Well even if I read the material I may not know what the answer is…but without reading then for sure I dunno the answer.

This is what I am doing now:

-reading schweser and doing their MC (great move scheweser for placing the MC in between the readings this year), taking notes along the way

-read CFAI text on any concepts I don’t understand from the above/topics that I know will be heavily tested upon

-after i finish the study session, do CFAI text problems

-mix in some schweser AM practice exam problems here and there (I do that on days where I can’t concentrate on reading or when I am falling asleep…). I am planning to use the entire Book 1 of the Schweser practice exam for this purpose. I did the IPS workshop from Kaplan last year and they provided some past exam questions that they considered to be good so I will practice those too. Ironically though, I flunked that part last year, much to my surprise since I felt spent a lot of time on it.

There is a common misconception that because L3 is more qualitative it requires more reading and re-reading.

This level is no different to the others in terms of preparation. The only way to pass is through repetition of questions.

You should be starting mocks as soon as possible. Also doing Topic tests, EOCs, Q banks etc. I was so keen to immediately start seeing questions that once I covered the curriculum once I immediately started doing mocks open book. There was no shame in doing it that way - I just needed to get my muscle memory into action early on so that come the final month when I moved onto some more serious mocks I was fully ready for anything.

Come game day, I was on auto-pilot for most of it. It was a hard paper but through the hundreds of questions I had seen there was always a way to connect dots on some subconscious level.

Good luck!

Yup I started doing the essay questions open book too. I think that’s a good tip. I am doing them as I cover the relevant topic.

My game plan is as follows

Read Schweser and take good notes (book 2, 3, 4, 5, 1) in that order and do EOCs/Blue boxes of course Quick Re-Read Schweser and take minimal notes (book 2, 3, ,4, 5, 1) and do EOCs/Blue Boxes and make Flash Cards CFA Text blue boxes and EOCs A lot of working problems in between all of this 6-8 practice exams. This worked out with Level 2 I’m hoping pumping 350+ hours will be good as I am targeting initially a much higher hour requirement to pass. I might hit 400 hours for this test I am taking 3-3.5 weeks off work before the test and my work lets me study during lunch+1 hour Monday-Friday which is awesome

Re-taker here. I knew Schweser cover to cover but failed. I think CFAI text is the way to go on level 3 (also using Mark Meldrum, can’t wait for S2000magician’s mocks). Practice practice practice!

Re-taker here as well. I’ve never been a great test taker and it takes all my energy, focus, and then some to get through any test, let alone these tests. Took me 3x for Level I and II unfortunately. This will be by 2x on Level III. Let my nerves and the represenation of what Level III meant get the best of me and just walked out last year feeling defeated from my performance. I just didn’t show up to win the game…barely showed up to play to be honest.

Plan for this year: Started in October with Kaplan Scheweser this as my plan:

Book 1: Ethics, AMC, Behav. Fin (October)

Book 2: PWM/II (November)

Book 3: Econ, AA, Fixed Income (December)

Book 4: Equity, AI, Risk, Derivs (January)

Book 5: Trading and Performance Eval (February)

Review Month (March)

Practice Test Monthy 1 (April)

Marc Lefebvre’s LevelUp Bootcamp in San Francisco (1st weekend in May)

Practice Test Month 2 (May)

TIGHTEN Week: First week of June

HELL Week (take off work): Second week of June

you guys have some crazy dedication to be at this so many years.

Only speaking for myself here, but…Dedication, yes. Annoyance, yes.

Desirability to be done with this because of how many years it’s taken and the feeling of being sooo pot committed, regardless of whether it will actually do anything for my career when my work experience speaks for itself…yes.


Duuuuude…you have been studying for CFA charter for the better part of a decade? Have you kept count of hours studied in total?

Well, I originally signed up to sit for Level I in June of 2012, but I had some health problems that prevented me from sitting. I got a doctor’s note and pushed it off until December of 2013 --> Failed miserably with a Band Score of 2.

Took Level 1 for 2x in June of 2013–> Failed with Band Score of 10.

Took Level 1 for 3x in December of 2013 --> PASSED :slightly_smiling_face:

TOOK ALL OF 2014 OFF and decided to that the GMAT because I was considering an MBA and I wanted to give myself plenty of time to prep for Level II because of how hard I heard it was. Unfortunately, the GMAT didn’t go very well and I ended up starting to study for Level II in December of 2014 (so much for giving myself time…).

Took Level II in June of 2015–> Failed with a Band Score of 2. :angry: Wildly under prepared and I was in the process of interviewing for new jobs.

Took Level II for 2x in June of 2016–> Failed with a Band Score of 9. :angry:

Took Level II for 3x in June of 2017–> PASSED :slightly_smiling_face:

Interviewed for new job in January of 2018 and started in March of 2018, so when taking Level III in 2018 --> Failed with my band being WELL below the MPR.

Bottom line: Yes. With life getting in the way, work, moving, relationships, taking time to process the material and practice. All in, it’s been a while. Unfortunately, it’s taken me longer than I’d be willing to admit, but even if I eek out a win this time. I’m probably going to find some other professional designation or something else to stress about and keep me occupied. C’est la vie…

I’ve averaged between 250-400 hours each attempt. #sad!

I signed up for level 1 for the first time and studied like 10 hours then said screw it didn’t attempt it (mid 20s moved for work in a new city). Couple years later I signed up for it studied and failed it I probably only studied like 150 hours (thought i had a better baseline knowledge of concepts considering my undergraduate coursework).

Like 4 years later I said ok I am do it for real and study the recommended time and studied 300 hours level 1 passed following year studied about 350 hours passed level 2.

After level 2 as my brain felt permafried. I didn’t want to read newspapers, articles on the internet, or anything for like a solid 4 months after level 2 let alone knock out level 3. I had enrolled in Level 3 bought schweser in august 2016. But come November/December I decided to wait off as I didn’t want to study for Level 3 at all work demands were high and I was stressed out. I ended up skipping June 2017 and waiting for June 2018 but got a great job in a new city. So I held off and additional year and enrolled early for June 2019. I started poking at the material back in October/Nov/Dec but started getting legit hours in in Jan and now I am really ramped up and getting legit hours throughout weekdays and weekends. First time on Level 3, but I am going put in like 400-500 hours and finish this thing. I have all my work experience verified and everything I just need to pass this damn test.

Dedication is right my friend.

There will be no failing this time. You will cross the finish line!

There will be no failing this time. You will cross the finish line!

I’m at Reading 24 of the CFAI official text.

I could be a retaker, I need to decide soon. To be honest, CFA qualification is not of any use to me. It is in my field of work, all right, but it is not being appreciated at all. On the other hand, I sacrificed last year’s exam to work but made a very wrong decision. Not that I had any choice. I just see tmyself in that spiral falling movement where when the job does not consume me physically, it does consume me mentally. I keep thinking about people whom I am not in the least interested in… so CFA might take my mind off them… and, as usually, studying gives me a lot of confidence.

I think this is a very apropos realization for many candidates I’ve talked to, including myself, and even charterholders. Most people I talk to are either in two camps:

  1. I’m intellectually curious and want to stand out from the crowd camp or

  2. I have to make up for lack of job experience, subject knowledge, etc. and I need to get this designation to alleviate any concerns of doing the job that I have/want camp.

CFAI, certainly over the years, says that the charter and the subject matter pertains to several roles within finance (see below) but that may be different for you, your country, or even your specific subset within finance. I always thought that the CFA was mostly for people that want to do some sort of money management/PM work or research. I arrived at this conclusion simply by talking to people and checking out people’s LinkedIn pages. There’s a reason why most investment bankers, PE guys, or traders don’t have their charter, it’s just not leveraged as much.

Bottom Line: Whether you’re intellectually curious, want to stand out, or feel like you need to complete this to get the job/allow you or anyone else to rest easy about you doing the job, you’re a Level III Candidate now. If that’s not pot committed, then I don’t know what is. Let’s finish this…

The CFA Institute provides the following breakdown of the most common professions:

  • 5% Relationship Manager
  • 16% Research Analyst
  • 7% Chief Executive
  • 7% Consultant
  • 5% Corporate Financial Analyst
  • 5% Financial Advisor
  • 23% Portfolio Manager
  • 6% Risk Manager