If you just received your second L3 fail email, it's probably time to give up

I’ve been reading a lot of posts on AF today about those who failed, and talking to others at work who have taken L3 more than once, and failed miserably every time.

It made me wonder how people smart enough to get through both level 1 and level 2 could consistently perform so poorly at level 3.

Then the answer hit me – level 3 is not just about crunching numbers and memorizing ratios. It’s primarily about communication…you need to be able to take the geek speak and truly understand it in a way where you help a lay person make sense extremely complex topics.

From the 12 years I’ve spent in the industry, I can tell you that most analysts I’ve come across are horrible communicators. Most of them sit in cubicles all day behind closed doors and pound away at excel spreadsheets. If you ask for a simple answer to a quesiton, you get a dissertation with a bunch of fancy words instead of a direct answer.

If that sounds like you, that may be why you keep failing level 3. Strong communication skills are a must at this level, but were not needed for level 1 or level 2 (clearly). It’s somewhat unfortunate that CFAI waits until level 3 to test this skill, since it’s obviously integral to obtaining the charter.

Take solace that you passed Level 2, which is a massive achievement in and of itself. At this point though, if you’ve failed level 3 multiple times it may be time to give up your pursuit of the Charter. There is much more to life than passing a test.

There is no shame in coming this far and then deciding that your family and friends are more important than than the Charter.

I dont think giving up is the answer. It’s adapting to how the responses need to be constructed. I dont blame anyone for wanting to devote their time to other areas of their life. But it’s possible to pass after failing multiple times and it’s possible to learn how to take the exam to their grading eye


I disagree.

This is the dumbest post I have ever seen on AF, and I don’t take posts personally usually.

the argument is weak. I think if you gave it a real good effort 2x and you’re really not sure what else to do, they it could be time to move on.

Maybe should take a break for a year or so and come back. why give up?!!!

This post is meaningless. What about those individuals whose first language is not English and still manage to pass this exam?

do not give up.

I agree that some people who continually fail the AM morning session should think of ways to pass outside of just knowing the material. However, I don’t think anybody should tell anybody to give up. If you can pass level 2, you are smart enough to pass level 3. You just need to adjust your studying and work on not just solving a problem but communicating the solution.

Plus, all in all, if you ace the afternoon session, you probably only need to get low to mid 50’s in the morning session. Just hold your own in the IPS but you don’t have to be a master at it… You don’t need to become a communication expert to pass level 3.

This would be my advice – aim to just get by in the AM (the AM is such a crap-shoot anyways)… but know the material well enough to kill the PM. At least that’s what worked for me.

OP = Douche

Totally agree, if you can’t do it in four years or less, it’s not worth it

I disagree! From my point of view, the reason why people fail more than once in one level (and especially l3) is that they don’t get feedback what they did wrong. This is one of the things I have to criticise about the CFA program. If you don’t know what you did wrong, how can you make sure you learn from your mistakes and make it better the next time?

Will you get that feedback from Mr Market when your investments didn’t turn out as you had anticipated?

Learn from people who passed, take their advice, examin your results, evaluate your performance in mock exams… …it’s not rocket science how you should study this.

I totally agree, this exam is not for everyone… I failed with band 9 and there is nothing else I can do better next time,Done all the pass exams and got around 70-75% average…

It is not about getting dissapointed, It is about TRADE OFF. Is the CFA only way to get you succesful in your career?

Popchampagne your post is stupid and disrespectful for all who failed more than once.

You passed, you’re on the right side. Would you’ve appreciated to read this kind of post should you’ve failed.

I feel sorry for all who failed while studying hard. But don’t give up.

I failed twice at L3 (band 9 then 8) and passed this year.

First take the time to accept the defeat and enjoy life as much as possible. You need to compensate for all this time courageously spent on studying :slight_smile: as well as generate the energy you’ll need again next year.

All L3 material you grabed until now will help you next year (especially against 1st attemptors). But the most important for you will be to focus on your weak areas. High proba it comes from AM session (as me). Review the whole process of how you study, try to get a different perspective in studying to manage to be good on the essay portion. Finally read religiously all guidelines from the CFA institute on essay and try to understand exactly the kind of response they want. I moved from a “descriptive” to a bullet-keyword oriented approach and it worked.

First two shots I got screwed by the essay with almost all sections below 50%. (I’m not english native and would not define myself a great communicator). Below my 2014 results :


Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% 1 Portfolio Management - Individual 20 * - - 2 Portfolio Management - Individual 19 - - * 3 Equity Investments 17 - - * 4 Economics 15 - - * 5 Portfolio Management - Institutional 16 - * - 6 Portfolio Management - Institutional 16 - - * 7 Fixed Income Investments 11 * - - 8 Portfolio Management - Asset Allocation 15 * - - 9 Portfolio Management - Risk Management 15 - - * 10 Portfolio Management - Monitor&Rebalance 19 * - - 11 Portfolio Management - Individual 17 - - *

Item Set

Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% - Alternative Investments 18 - * - - Economics 18 - - * - Equity Investments 18 - - * - Ethical & Professional Standards 36 - - * - Fixed Income Investments 36 - * - - Portfolio Management - Individual 18 - * - - Portfolio Management - Performance Eval. 18 * - - - Portfolio Management - Risk Management 18 - - *




this made me laugh