just starting for dec 2007 exam...any tips to pass?

Hello, folks. I am just beginning to study for December 1 exam and am soliciting any study tips from those who have been there and crammed and passed. For complicated reasons, I *really* need to take this exam on the December date so I have no intention of bowing (chickening) out. On the bright side, I will have lots of time to work for the next few weeks. I am using the Schweser notes now (beginning with the Financial Statements Analysis) and am very pleased with them but have also heard about how important it is to do the CFAI readings and problems. Should I go through the entire curriculum Schweser first and THEN go through it again with the CFAI materials, or should I do this study session by study session?

I would definetly go once over all schweser notes since the cfa books are huge and you have a good chance of not finishing.plus I would go to church every Sunday cause you will need it. Not saying it’s impossible but it will be a big challenge for you I wish you good luck also FSA might take you a while so don’t get discuraged. what I did is study 2 books at a time, when you had enough of one you switch so you don’t get bored

Pray, seriously. Race through the Schweser notes (except for ethics and GIPS) as quickly as you can and skip sections you’re strong at, then read the CFAI ethics and GIPS. Fit in as many practice questions/exams as you can. Unless there’s something about your work experience or acumen we don’t know about, your candidacy is a delusional long shot. Hey, but worst-case scenario, just think of it as a very expensive practice exam.

Unless you’re getting paid $1 mm to pass the exam, no shot, see you June

Don’t let them get to you. Level 1 is not extremely tough, all I wonder is why you put yourself to the test like this because it’s a lot more fun to write the exam well prepared and knowing you know it cold. Then still, there isn’t a single reason why you wouldn’t pass. Many, many, many people study for three or four weeks and pass on their first try. Their main problem is underestimating level 2 the year after… Forget the CFAI books. On such a short time schedule that’ll take too much time. Go for a book 6 exam right away if you already have a background in finance or economics. Schweser tells you exactly where you are lacking. For the readings where you score <50%, read the readings from the study notes and do the end-of-reading questions. Don’t spend time on the ones you got correct, but focus and spend LOTS of time on the ones you got wrong. Do this again with exam 1 pm from book 6 etc etc. A friend of mine had 4 four weeks to go when he started and when finishing book 6 after two week he got scores of 60%. That’s quite close to a pass. He then focussed on the study sessions where he didn’t score good enough. By then you’ll know where you need to focus on. Do this again and again, Q-bank is the holy grail and dive into these areas in-depth for a week. The last week: BSAS if you have the exam and online CFA exams. Friday: Ethics. Get this part and make sure you score 90% on it. You may need the buffer elsewhere. Do this and you’re a lock to pass. It’s not that hard. See you in the L2 forum. We’re waiting for you guys!

Slightly off the subject, but mcpass brought it up: I have heard from a lot of different people that there is no hard and fast pass score, e.g. 70% on all sections. Is this correct, that the exams are graded on a curve with ~40% pass rate, or is there a formula that says something like all sections must be passed at 60% and overall score must be 70%–similar to the CPA exam. Any insight will be much appreciated. On the subject, I agree with whats been said. Power through Ethics and know it, it could be 20% of the exam. And do questions over and over and over. Take a couple or three exams off the CFA website, they are 50 bucks each but I have read in these forums that you can expect to see a few of the questions on test day, and the CFAs practice exams should, in theory, be the closest thing to the real exam of all practice exams offered. And my moms advice: eat right, get plenty of sleep. Best of luck.

based on the last few years, passing scores will be on average from 63% up. But the estimation principe behind that is quite arbitrary which is why 70% should be your target. That’s a guaranteed pass. There is no in-depth knowledge about the minimum passing score, CFA simply doesn’t release it. If you score 70% consistently in book 6, BSAS, CFA Online or wherever; I wouldn’t worry too much.

Your only hope is to take practice exams - and like everyone else is saying, go back and study problem areas. You really don’t have time to read all the material first because, atleast in my case, reading is simply to get a broad understanding, followed by practice exams, then going back and hitting weak areas, followed by a little more testing… You could read all you want about how to hit a MLB fastball - but once you get up to the plate, its a different story unless you’ve had practice. Yea, the analogy sucks…but you get the point.

Just pray and watch either http://www.justpraythemovie.com/ or ttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389860/

Thanks so much for the comments. Mcpass and Florinpap, those are great suggestions. My only concern is that I am not a finance person by training and looking at the questions for the first time, I would get nothing right!!! I am thinking of focusing just on the Schweser notes till I get those down and then doing the sample exams and question banks as soon as I finish each section (eg FSA 7-10, and THEN race through question banks). Do you think this is a good idea? I will definitely have lots of time to devote to this for the next month (40-50hr/wk) but I am SCARED!!!

relentless, you’re not alone…i’m not done reading, not even close…and i’m taking the same strategy they brought up…practice practice practice. what’s your background anyway? i have an mba in investment finance so i feel comfortable with the finance and valuations, and i’m now working on a CA designation (the canadian equivalent of the CPA) so FSA is becoming easier to understand. the rest is ethics…which really takes time and practice. we can do it!

Dnoyelles, thank you…no I have no background in the field, have taken first year accounting, and am generally a good study, but all this stuff is new, in no condition to take sample exam

Without finance background, skip ethics. Read the rest without focussing on it too much. You want to have ‘seen’ it all as soon as possible because there will be areas where you pick things up quite easily. Do this as quick as you can. Then it’s all about questions, revision of mistakes and more questions. Trust me, you can make it but I would advise you to start L2 a little sooner than you do for L1 ;-).

Relentless, just curious, whats the rush to take the exam in a month. Considering you have very limited exposure to most of the material, what makes you think you can simply show up and pass. Why not shoot for the June exam and make a true, concerted effort in your studies, instead of having to cram? From what I have read and heard, and someone chime in if I am wrong, everything on Level I is foundational for Level II. Simply cramming it in for Dec. 1st only to forget it (which is likely) compounds your problem for Level II.

Yeah, cramming all that material doesn’t really set you up very well for a career in finance. You’ll find that your understanding of most of the concepts is flawed and you’re more than likely going to have to keep going back to the books to go over the same material all over again in the future. Like me, maybe I should have spent more time in class and less time having fun while I was in China and my pronunciation wouldn’t be as bad as it is today. Now if I want to fix up my pronunciation properly I’ll have to go back to an absolute beginner’s class to do all those boring sound drills. Then again if you really need it and are an absolute genius, then it probably doesn’t matter and you’ll pick it up easily. Or if you have a maths/stats background you’ll probably pick it up pretty easily as well.

If you pass the test, CFAI tells you that you know enough to go onto CFA L2. Doesn’t matter if anyone here tells you that it ‘doesn’t set you up very well for a career in finance’. I am in finance for a few years now and there was a lot… A LOT of new material in the CFA books. Still I was doing pretty well without it.

Passing in a test doesn’t necessarily tell you anything. If you simply memorise a few formulas and lists to pass an exam, that is far removed from actually understanding the material and being able to apply the ideas creatively in your day to day work. If you’ve read some of the things that CFAI has said recently you’ll have come across this comment from CFAI “for many candidates, the focus has shifted from mastering a body of knowledge to merely passing an exam”. CFAI does not tell you that you know enough by simply passing their exam, they tell you that you can go and do the next test. So, mcpass, stay away from a career in HR, because I’d rather have my HR department employing people with credibility and real understanding of what it is they’re doing, not just someone that can pass a test. Your situation is different, you already knew finance before you started the CFA exams. It depends on relentless’ background as to how well he will be able to retain and use six books worth of knowledge that was crammed into his head over a 30 day period. But good luck to him if he can do it and I’d buy him a beer if he can really understand at least the basics after the cram fest he has to go through if he really doesn’t have a business related background.

McPass, I am very grateful for your good wishes…yes I think Ethics will be easy for me. It’s the other bits I am concerned about and I am starting with FSA now and trying to cram it all in by end of this week. I certainly will start earlier for Level 2!!! The Corp Fin and Portf Management sections seem very reasonable to me. As does Quant 2. I am going to the library today to chew through FSA 7&8

My goal is to just PASS in December. I feel confident in my work ethic that I can review the stuff as needed afterwards. I am doing it so I can get the credential and go on to Level II asap - ie, June 2008. Am trying to jump-start a finance career without an MBA, and for many complicated reasons, don’t have the time to wait till June…

Sean119, I hope you’ll be buying me a beer for the New Year! :wink: In general I am very skeptical about the relation between book-knowledge and work experience, so I take all exams, credentials, and coursework with a grain of salt. There is a world of difference between theory and practice. And nothing can substitute for the hands-on experience you get when real money is on the table. However, I am pragmatic enough to realize that the finance community does respect certain credentials; therefore I’d prefer to have them rather than not while I apply for jobs. Basically, I am very interested in the subject matter, so I think cramming will just gear me up and get my juices flowing. I do love learning new stuff and immersing myself.