How to do CFA in 50 days!

I have learnt several things on this forum during the 3 years I studied for CFA. There were 10 of us who started CFA together and 3 of us completed it 3/3; 4 did not complete the course. I thought I would share some ideas that might help others. The key challenge in CFA is huge volume of material. The subject matter is generally not very complex (except one or two areas like Derivatives or Bonds). If some folks find the complexity to be severe, they need to a) allow more time to studies and b) perhaps reconsider their reasons for doing CFA. For most people with a some financial background, volume and not complexity will be the main issue. To master the challenge posed by volume I suggest the following steps with consideration that only 50 days are left. These steps apply to all levels. In the brackets I note some ancedotes: 1. Master the basics - this comprises roughly 50% of the volume. This also represents the easiest marks that you cannot afford to loose. The way to do it is noted in the steps below. 2. Get hold of Schweser VCDs. In 2-4 hr sessions you can cover a SS. The lecturures give a good overview of the most important points. Jot down the main points in on a note pad as you listen to the CD. [I often found learning new concepts easy by listening to something instead of reading a large amount of text. Also it improved my retention. I bought my set second hand from another friend who also did CFA 3/3 and recommended it highly.] 3. Next read the Schweser Secret Sauce. This is a condensed version of all the notes and consists of roughly 200 pages. After listening to the CDs, its quick and easy to do it. On average you could cover SS in 1-2hrs. [Make sure you always have the Secret Sauce notes with you. Read these often. They are the basics and you must master it. I read these during my commute, at breakfast etc and knew it inside out] 4. Go for the kill - attack all the questions you can find on the SS. These must include all the old exam questions. Do not restrict the questions you answer. You must attempt all the questions you can find. Practise, practise, practise. Some questions you will not be able to answer because you dont know enough of the SS. Dont panic. Follow the step 5 below. 5. For the questions you cannot answer, refer to the Schweser notes. Scan through the whole notes, you will already be familiar with most of it by covering the Secret Sauce and VCD, and then focus on the area you find difficult or dont know about. 6. With ~2hrs on VCD + 2hrs on Secret Sauce + 4hrs on questions + 2 hrs on weak areas, you can cover a SS in 8 hours. Depending on the time available, you could comfortably cover a SS in 2 days. That was roughly my average. 18 SS took +/- 36 days and the remaining days were for revision. 7. Volume can only be mastered by revision. Dont try to learn a SS 100% the first time.If you know 70-80% the first time that is good. You will learn an additional 10-20% the next time round and that will be enough to get through the exam. 8. Time management is key. Be very strict on the time spent on one SS. Dont exceed the time on any one SS at the sacrifice of another. Easy marks are available across all SS. [I know its easier said than done. I too spent much longer on Derivatives than I expected to however that is also because I really enjoyed the subject]. 9. Make sure you take a break. Let the mind relax. A tense mind makes many mistakes. That is I noted 50 days above - leave some time to relax and do something else. 10. D-Day is key. In my opinion the exam day stress managment is one of the most important factors in passing or failing. Be relaxed on the exam day. I remember in my L3 exam I made a few silly errors in the morning session. I had many friends in the same exam and we ended up asking how it went during the break. When the mistakes surfaced, I left their company and went to my car and sat with the AC on till the end of the break. This helped me relax and I had a good afternoon session. There is no time left to argue which notes or whether or not to refer to the text books. THis is the time to just do it - imagine you are driving at 120mph and focus fully. Best of luck. bbd

never thought abt the VCD before. thanks