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
Thank you BBD
I bet I could come up with the “How to do CFA in 49 days!!!” On a more serious note, thanks BBD, your explanation above will definitely bring back hope to quite a lot of us.
- 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. 2+2+4+2 = 8 hours. 8 x 50 = 400 hours. Sounds like it’s 150 more than CFAI indicates so it’s a thorough process you describe there but I wouldn’t call it the best way to study.
mcpass he was talking about 36 days just to give you some time to watch some movies too
mcpass Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > 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. > > > 2+2+4+2 = 8 hours. 8 x 50 = 400 hours. Sounds like > it’s 150 more than CFAI indicates so it’s a > thorough process you describe there but I wouldn’t > call it the best way to study. I agree with that. If you can spend 400 productive hours doing just about any study plan, since you have passed L1 and thus should have the prequisites, you should be able to pass this exam. It’s like BBD hit the problem (it’s the volume, not the complexity) but then the solution is just to find a large volume of time. They key is really just find the time (and motivation)
Hi BBD, Do you of anybody that can e-mail me some materials- ie questions and answears- I am in Zambia and i wish i could have Schwesser but i cant. Would be grateful for any help… e-mail: email@example.com
Solid post - thanks BBD!
I agree with Bodymore - thanks BBD
I’m not a charterholder…yet, but 2+2+4+2 = 10 =/ Thanks for the post though!
As I’ve fallen behind, this method will be officially put to test! I will let you all know how I do and if it’s successful (BTW, I’m still on FSA). BBD Method, starting with FSA. -Will listen to audio CD’s and note important concepts -Then will read Special Sauce -Then will do Concept Checkers and read Schweser notes on question’s missed -During day, will do about 30 Qbanks, and review personal and Schweser notecards -The month of November will be spent doing practice exams and questions, and reviewing areas of weakness (esp FSA) with special sauce and notes.
Good post…mcpass…2+2+4+2 = 10 hours per SS (I beleive thats study session). There are 18 SS, i.e. 180 hours (180/50 = 3.6 hours per day). Thats a good deal
Thats a great post!!! Very helpfull, I know someone with a undergrad in Finance and he had to write level 1 twice…it really is a tremendous amount of retention and comprehension for just one test.
I did CFA L1 in 6 weeks but then tried the same method for level 2 and got burnt…ran out of time and failed on borderline…so if you do the short time studying for L1 don’t expect to repeat it for L2.
Thank you for that informative post. As a June 2008 Level I candidate, I’m trying to take in as much information as I can to better prepare myself from now (my books should be arriving tomorrow and I’m completing my 3rd read of SS 1-4). Schweser had three packages you can sign up for: Questions and Exams, Essential Solution, and Premium solution. Do you recommend one over the other? And how much does the Secret Sauce typically run?
Hi gdiddy I am also LevelI June 2008 candidate, can you give me some details about materials. where you got books? (Means other than Schwester) regards
Hi dakshinabalu, I only have the CFAI books, which arrived yesterday. I don’t have anything from Schweser. g
hi guys, does he mean the the audio cd? http://www.ftckaplan.com.sg/schweser/2007_audio_cd.asp because i dont find the vcd around… can someone advise?
I think he means the VCDs, that’s what I’m doing. I’ve got through 8 study sessions in 8 days just watching the VCDs and taking notes down as I go to help me remember the main points and so i have a quick reference. They also show the relevant LOS statement as the person goes through everything, so you know what your focus should be as you watch the VCDs. The VCDs are part of the premium pack or I think you can also buy them seperate from the packs as well. They cost a bit. The “online” lectures might be slightly different, but I haven’t seen those before.