If I fail in August, should I retake?

I originally come from South Korea and came to London for studying. I took my level 1 when I was doing my masters in London about 10 years ago (not even sure when, it was such a long time ago). After I passed the level 1, I got married and looked for a job in London. As a foreigner in London, it wasn’t easy to get a job in investment banking, even though I was an analyst in Seoul. I had more experience as an accountant in Korea than as an analyst. Whenever I got an interview, I got an accountant role. I should have waited… but I didn’t. I took the accountant role as my first job.

My accountant license was not able to use in London, I had to retake all the exams to have an ACCA (accountancy exam in UK). Since then I got back into financial market somehow, worked in private equity for 7 years and now working in equity management firm (global and japanese strategy) as CFO. I didn’t take the level 3 exam as it would enhance my career. I took it because I passed level 2 and only one more level to complete, so I wanted to finish it.

English is not my first language. Since I studied/married/worked in London, my speaking English is pretty good, but my writing is terrible (my English husband always jokes with me). So, I studied over 300 hours for level 3 exam. As I am getting older, I do not have much of memory retention and the sheer amount of material to cover almost killed me.

During the exam, I ran out of time in AM session and left 2 sub questions unanswered (I think both were 5 marks each) (I didn’t know how to answer them anyway) and the afternoon session was ok but cannot even estimate what mark I would get.

Not sure if I fail this, what to do…

Dont worry about things that havent happended.

Unless CFO means something else at your equity research firm, it seems like you definitely do not need the CFA.

enjoy life. Studying for L3 next year will be another 300hr wasted…another summer/spring of not doing your hobbies and not seeing people you want to see. Life is too short to study for something that will not enhance your career.

I agree with pokhim. I am only doing this for my own personal challenge (it will help with my job, but definitely not a requirement). I don’t think it would be worth giving up another spring of life activities for me if I did not pass.

And I definitely agree that getting older is hampering my retention ability which will only be worse next year.

I am Korean as well and English is not my first language. I am currently working as a Business Support Manager for US Big Oil in UAE but also started as an Accountant. Completed Level 2 in 2010, this year after 450 hrs of study, finished AM 25 min earlier and PM 30 min.

My point being since you already crossed level 2 the most work is done so my advice to go for L3 and finish it !

Pain is temporary, pride is forever ! The last would boost you for the rest of your career !

Yes, you should.

If you fail, you did not prepare well enough.

There is no such thing as getting old, unless you are hit with some disease you can’t control. What impairs healthy people is the amount of other crap in their head, and their physical shape. You can get in a very good shape by exercising and clearing your mind. Don’t play on your phone while studying, and don’t multitask too much in general, this is detrimental to human’s ability to accomplish things.

Be fresh during test day, and if you study enough BEFORE the last moment, you will feel good and be able to sleep enough without much anxiety.

I wish you to not have to retake the test, but if you do, don’t give up!

I also did n’t quite get the defn. of old. At 40, I am not sure what incremental opportunities will present me especially my exposure being limited as regards Financial Mkt. True, I had different motivation for taking the exams and must I say that there were fair bit (a lot in fact) of sacrifice as well along the way, I bite my fingers that I could have done much better in the morning half and I am confident that I did not make it… this time. However, I don’t see a point of giving up unless there’s a pressing reason for that. I started this journey, I will not stop, cannot be stopped from passing the level III paper.

Yes, frustration has its own toll… even to the point of mulling to give up. Happens with all at one point or another. I am a searcher for knowledge and wisdom and passing the exam puts an authority to that. At times, I do also feel that memory retention may not be at best, but I doubt that has got to do with my being ‘old’.

I would feel good if the ‘oldies’ can share their views.

I earned my charter at age 40; that was 16 years ago.

If I come across an oldie I’ll ask him or her to chime in on this thread.

I’ll have to disagree here. If you are retaking the exam, you are not starting from scratch, far from it. Even though you will have forgotten some things, they will come back quite fast. I’m a retaker, and this year I pretty much jumped straight into the general review phase. My time usage was far more efficient since all the concepts were already familiar to me, and even though the total amount hours I spent this time around was less, I feel like I have a much better chance of finally passing this time (crossing fingers).

I would agree 40 is not old in terms of memory retention. I am 51 and just starting to feel some issues with my memory not being as sharp. It is frustrating - which is why if I didn’t pass this year, I feel like it will just be harder each year as expect my memory will get a little worse each year. But I also don’t like to quit things, so maybe I will find myself having to take on the challenge - even though logically I am saying I will be done regardless of whether I passed.

Thank you everyone for your honest opinion.

For the few people commented that they are also over 40, why do you pursue to earn a CFA charterholder? I am curious…

I am 40 now and I don’t feel that earning CFA would not much change my career much, as I am already in the deep path in this way. I thought personally that earning the CFA would increase my knowledge of areas where I currently cover risk management, compliance, performance, etc.

I too did it to increase my knowledge. Which is also why I would not take it again. I feel like getting to learn the level 3 info was my goal so if I only learned it well enough to fail band 10, I don’t feel like the incremental knowledge to get a pass is very significant and not worth another year of missing out on trips, etc.

Yes, take it. Never Say Die!!

You couldn’t answer 2 questions worth 5 marks each… so it’s roughly equivalent to getting 3 multiple choice wrong. And pass cut off is usually much lower for level 3 compared to other levels so you have a good chance of passing, at least in my opinion. I have buddies who didn’t even touch the entire questions sets (yes multiple question sets left in balnk) in the morning and still passed.

But nontheless never give up. 시련은 있어도 실패는 없는거니까…

I would say wait for your result before you make a decision one way or another. First off you may very well have passed. Second, if you failed look at the result. if it’s a band 10 than you are almost there, it’s probably worth it to finish it off. If it’s band 1 I would say it’s not worth the time and effort, especially if your not using it to advance.


Thank you very much everyone.

I will wait until the result comes and decide what to do!

Pretty much what you had in mind at the beginning, just stipulating the obvious… ))))