LEVEL 3 studying strategies

Guys, I thought that we need to put our studying strategies down that helped us pass (if it was not all luck…). When I started studying in March I hoped that more people with successful outcome in 2007 would post their comments. I am glad I followed my strategy, but it was stressful all along, as the stakes were now much higher, but also because of those books that CFA send us and a lot of other moving pieces. Here is my contribution. GOOD LUCK TO ALL!!! IT WAS SO HARD!!! I always studied with Schweser books. This year I tried to start out with the Intstitute books, but my retention was close to zero so I went to the familiar format. Started in March - because I want to have a fresh memory of all I learn - and read the books twice (Second time was a quicker brush up). Took notes of only very big things (as the ones we discussed here so many times), but not too many. Read some of IPS material in Institute’s books. But actually looking back would not even touch Institute’s - Schweser did good job. I only did CFA (not Schweser) paid tests (which were this year not very helpful or relevant either for what the exam actually ended up to be), but still I did all. I did first exam after I read books once, then re-read everything and did exam 2, then all the topics where I was consistently weak I brushed up on in Institute books (mind, these topics never came up on the actual exam, but this strategy worked better for my second-attempt in level 2). I did all 2000-2007 essay tests over and over. But I never timed anything, just made sure I can work through the problems. But unlike many discussed, I didnt feel morning was too limited for time, I finished on time morning essay session and left early the evening session (in part, I explain it by stress, all I wanted is to walk out of the exam room and be done). So I didnt time myself and it didnt hurt my performance. Judgind by the scores I may have overstudied, but it certainly didn’t feel that way on or after the exam day. So if I had I probably would do it the same. I may have studied 300hrs + and never took a day off. Just 1-3 hrs every day I was at home early and 5 + on weekends. Looking back on Lvl 2 which I failed once, these were my errors - I started out later and only did Schweser exams, which I found to be a waste of time, because their structure/focus/high level of difficulty was so different from the actual exam.

I would add that you really need to focus on the questions in the text, not just the assigned ones at the end of the readings but the example questions throughout the readings. Cannot empahsize enough how important it is to practice the written portion, you need to be able to clearly and concisely answer the questions. Also, even if whatever note provider you use says not to worry about a formula, know it. In a nutshell: Read CFAI text - do all problems Read notes - do all problems Take CFAI old exams Take practice exams Good luck

true JJB! i forgot, i also did all end-of-chapter questions in the Institute’s books. and addition… enough sleep, rest and the right attititude before the exam (i walked in saying that “i did all i could by now, exam will just let me get this out of my brain and be over with” which may be helped a bit)

In a nutshell: Read CFAI text - do all problems Read notes - do all problems Take CFAI old exams Take practice exams That is exactly what i did

Thanks for sharing guys …now if only I can bookmark this thread to refer back to in a few months …

Like people said, do all the problems in the CFA text and go through the examples in the text as well. Do all the practice exams you can get. This includes Schweser or Stalla and the online ones from CFAI. Don’t assume something won’t be on the exam. Make sure to really study Ethics and GIPS since you know these will be on the exam. The Schweser Q-Bank is pretty good for this. Also, and this is very important: Know how to structure your answers in the morning, especially the IPS questions. The best way to do this is to look at the guideline answers in the past exams. You don’t have to write as much as they did but there are certain things that should be there. Make sure you cover all the bases that are brought up in the cases. For example, if someone wants to save money for their kids’ college, you better mention it in the return objective. Describe what the portfolio will be used for (living expenses, saving for retirement, etc). Say whether the return requirement is pre-tax or post-tax. Say if it is real or nominal. Make sure to use the term “total return” since you are including interest earned as well as cap gains. Some of these things may seem so obvious but the graders don’t know what you are thinking. They can’t grade something that isn’t there. Never assume they know what you are talking about. Don’t be afraid to repeat something from question to question since the grader who did question #1 is probably not doing question #2.

I was able to pass first time using only Schweser. Based on my experience, I suggest the following to ensure your time invested in study is effective: 1. Use Schweser to learn the body of knowledge 2. Do the questions in the CFA text to test your knowledge and make sure you understand the answers. CFAI likes to reward people who went through the problem sets 3. Read the CFA text for the ethics section since CFAI. I suggest this for ethics since going through the CFAI text for just ethics is not that painful and you will definitely be rewarded in exam for this endeavor 4. Ensure you know how to answer questions for Portfolio Management both Individual and Institutional cold since this ends up being 40% of the morning paper or 20% of the total exam. 5. Practise as many questions as possible on Portfolio Management both Individual and Institutional and understand the answers. Furthermore, ensure you can answer questions on this topic in a swift manner since these questions tend to eat up time. Being able to nail these questions in the allocated time will give you reasonable time for the rest of the morning section

ok, here are some links as well 1) essay questions from past exams 2000-2007 http://cfasuccess.com/cs/files/ (also will probably be on the cfa website ) 2) ethics standards http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/ccb.v2005.n3.4000 3) ethics self exam http://www.cfainstitute.org/centre/codes/ethics/self_exam.html 4) asset manager code http://www.cfainstitute.org/centre/codes/asset/

busted my a$$ last 3 weeks, did anything I could possibly do. but never mess with long CFAI text.

I think i am the only one who found the CFAI end-of-chapter problems completely useless. Except for IPS ques, the problems really didn’t contribute to my knowledge of the subject and didn’t turn up on the exam either… somehow they used to eat away my confidence. schweser/stalla - you should know them inside out and rather than just randomly reading the entire CFAI text (as a result retaining nothing) , I found it was useful to refer to them for imp topics/my weak areas or for areas not covered well in schweser.

If anyone is interested. I just finished 3 exams in 18 months. Level III was the most challenging which is not like it has always been. For Level III, I did everything Schweser and all of the practice problems in the CFAI texts as well as their practice exams… For all 3 levels I felt reasonably well prepared with Schweser. Nothing is perfect and I was scratching my head on a few questions here or there, but that is to be expected on a sequence this tough. If I were to recommend study for level III: 1) 10 hours per week for 18 weeks. 20 hours for last 2 weeks. 2) The day before the exam ONLY read the ethics book. 3) Use Schweser, do every exam and question, use online features. 4) Peruse the CFAI books, focus only on areas of weakness, but do all the practice problems. 5) Use additional online questions in areas of weakness and Ethics. Good Luck

I felt reading the newspaper and finance sources everyday and trying to see how a manager or analyst might use this information helped me a lot. you get to practice your skills without actually “studying”. all those study sources are good. but if you notice in the exam, a handful of questions an experienced practictioner can get correct simply becasue they have the knowledge acquired through normal work or reading.

comp_sci_kid Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > In a nutshell: > Read CFAI text - do all problems > Read notes - do all problems > Take CFAI old exams > Take practice exams > > That is exactly what i did comp_sci - when you say “Read notes” do you mean Schweser?

bips Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I think i am the only one who found the CFAI > end-of-chapter problems completely useless. Except > for IPS ques, the problems really didn’t > contribute to my knowledge of the subject and > didn’t turn up on the exam either… somehow they > used to eat away my confidence. Not the only one. The end of chapter CFAI problems were too long and confusing to be of any benefit to me.

they’re supposed to be confusing and long. the point of the exercises is not for you to practice for the exam questions, but more so to motivate your thinking. in doing so, you’ll be able to do better on the actual exams. i found those questions tough too, but they showed me what i didn’t know and provoked me to think about the issue in greater detail.

About Me: I have strong background in economics. Doing quant work almost everyday. So, please consider my suggestions biased. My Schedule: 1) Started beginning of May (Finished half of the first book before this, but completely forgot by the end) 2) Used only Schweser book. CFA books are still sealed in the box. 3) Started with the most familiar materials, economics, math, investment strategy, etc. Ethics is always the last, right before the exam. 4) Averagely one week/book 5) A typical studying day: do the chapter-end problems that I read yesterday, see what I did wrong, quickly review what I read yesterday, take notes on the most important stuff, read today’s topics. (Not applicable to Ethics) 6) The last week, did 2 afternoon-sessions, 6 morning sessions that Schweser provided. Never timed it. Also, read through Ethics material, pay attention to the examples. Lessons learned: Mostly about the morning session… I spent a lot of time on the first two problem sets, and couldn’t figure out where to write the answers. So my answers were first paragraphs, then sentences, eventually, by the end, words… :slight_smile: Anyway, I think the essay questions are not harder than multiple choices. It’s just a different form that we need to get used to. Good Luck!

Guys Your nuggets are gold standard…I’ve this page printed for strategy reference, lol…Thanks a mille…

Schweser only (dumped brand new CFAI books when I relocated early this month). I did 2005, 2006 and 2007 AM session, sample and mock tests (2007&2008) from CFAI. English is my second language but I managed to pass by big margin.

I think I passed level 3 by a slim margin, so take my advice for what it’s worth. What really helped me was doing all the Stalla Passmaster questions for every topic (and reading the explanations) in the week or so before the exam (this was my second run doing these questions. Definitely start the first attempt of these questions months before the test). I would do one or two days of Passmaster, then I would take a practice test. I made sure I did all topics. I used to be a big believer in the practice exams, and I do think they are helpful, but I think what really helped me pick up points in level 3 (especially in the essay) was being able to recall random details from topics like Performance Evaluation, Execution, etc. and I was only able to that because I had done the Passmaster relatively recently. In the past 2 levels I had actually done the reading in Stalla and found it not that helpful unless I had the context of a question. This year I did not bother doing the reading first. I started with the Passmaster and did the reading as I went along and as it pertained to the Passmaster questions. I think this actually helped me save a lot of time, because even though I had read for levels 1 and 2, I didn’t really retain anything until I started doing problems. Also, when reviewing ethics, I didn’t bother with reading the actual standards (though obviously I had read them before for levels 1 and 2). I concentrated only on the examples, I read through all of them a day or two before the exam. If I had to do it over, I would have practiced the essay portion more under timed circumstances, and made sure I had the right timing and strategy. I was definitely a lot more efficient this year, didn’t spend a lot of time reading. But again, passed by the skin of my teeth.