Mock Exam - honest opinion

Why is it that it is so hard to find a mock that will simulate the ACTUAL difficulty of the exam?

Did Mark Meldrum - His PHD self makes you go to a level of depth you barely need for this test

Bill Campbell - Definitely better and more realistic than above but the time allocation is certainly unrealistic and there are some repetitive calculations. Time management is certainly a problem.

CFAI past papers - representative of the real exam for obvious reasons and level of difficulty is fair I would say.

However, after doing MM and BC mocks, I wanted to do 1 mock that didnt annoy the life of me during the test due to poor/unclear/vague wording as well as more realistic time allocations. Decided to go for Kaplan. Holy Sh***t this took the cake in terms of level of disappointment. Biggest waste of $100. Why are there 92 Qs on the AM??? why is it not numbered like 1 A,B,C etc bc when Im on Q32 I actually have no idea if im on the 4’th question or 5th question. Why are there multiple choice questions on Kaplan’s AM? And there is no way in HELL u can finish that in 2 hours 15 mins. Someone please tell me the real test isnt going to be like this. Compared to this Schweser AM, BC and MM mocks are a thousand times better.

Can any prep provider out there create a mock thats not too easy or too hard and will simply just replicate the difficulty of the past mocks that have been released? Why is that so damn hard to do?


Interestingly, I have all of my exams reviewed and evaluated by a number of Level III candidates before they’re published (generally candidates who have taken a Level III exam, so that they know how the real thing looks and feels). Out of 9 exams this year with about 6 reviewers each, I had only two evaluations that said that the exam was too hard. I try to approximate the difficulty of the real thing, so it’s certainly not for want of effort.

Duly noted. I’ll work on that problem.

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Please note that I never mentioned anything about the level of difficulty with your exams, mainly the time management part and occasional vague wording was my issue. Comparing it to past CFAI morning AMs, I felt that the time allocated to the Qs were not realistic. I didnt mind the obscure topics because thats a good way for me to cover material and be prepared to answer any questions from left field on test day.

Compared to Kaplan and MM your exams are definitely relatively solid for sure, but unfortunately your competition is weak. Don’t get me wrong, I found your mocks to be helpful in the sense that they took my learning to another level of depth. However, I am simply looking for questions that will more closely simulate the real test. When Im spending x amount of minutes trying to just figure out what the Q is asking, im not spending that time exercising my memory and knowledge of the material.

I did take L3 once in December 2020 so I do have an idea of what the real test is like (although not the CBT) and i am simply looking for exams through which I will be able to exercise my memory and understanding/knowledge of the material and simply not be sitting there trying to do some reading comprehension exercises.

Anyhow if anyone can confirm that the actual CFA AM doesnt break down the questions in the above format, that would be helpful. Thanks

I’m truly sorry that you feel this way.

Again, I try to duplicate the real exams in that sense. When I have candidates review and evaluate my exams I’ve never asked them specifically to comment on the time for each question (or the exam as a whole). I’ll add that to my evaluation form.

I definitely try to make my questions clear, and that’s one of the points on which I ask my reviewers’ opinions. After the exam, if you have the time and are so inclined, I would appreciate you sending me a PM with the questions you found unclear; that would be a great help to me, and to future candidates.

Oh how I do not miss that final sprint to the finish. Emotional rollercoaster.

The CBT exam does list out the questions like the Kaplan CBT mock, there is also not an overview summary of the topics at the begining of the test like you’re probably use to but, (pause for dramatic effect) they group the questions which is definitely a little more useful.

You’ve tackled a lot of past papers which is great so just repeat your favourite one for repetition, confidence and fun. Know that you’re probably a peg above the average candidate having used these resources and that what you get tested on comes down to having lady luck on your side.
I was very surprised at what I was both tested and not tested on in the real exam.

Wishing you the very best of luck! You got this :sunglasses:

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Thank you for the encouragement as always! :slightly_smiling_face: Yes I do not think I should be attempting anything that’s remotely confidence-killing at this point.

Glad I’m not the only one in this boat. I too have just made my way through the Boston CFA society mock and the first few MM mocks. Very disappointing and confidence killing. But I felt great after going through the past level 3 AM exams. Those seemed fair and I knew the material. At this point I’m not sure its benefiting me to do any more mocks (unfortunately) that aren’t representative of the actual exam and are just making me doubt everything. So I’ve turned my attention over to the CFAI Q bank and my notes…let’s hope I don’t regret this change in study plan later.
Good luck to you and good luck to me!


Right now, you won’t find any mock exam that will perfectly simulate the actual exam (low tracking error).
There is no past exam mock that have the new format yet. However, 3rd party mock providers are doing their best to put the bar too high, so the actual exam will be felt easier.

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I think that’s a good strategy. I’m going to attempt the Boston society mock (already prepared to be disappointed haha) and after that I’m going to focus on memorization + go over all the other mocks/Qs I’ve done so far and perhaps redo some of the questions to exercise my memory. Good luck, hopefully we got this.

I’m not sure if they’re actually putting the bar “too high” if the quality of the questions, mix of topics, time allocation etc. will kill our confidence more than benefit our learning. (especially MM and schweser) MM focuses too much on depth (not helpful if that level of depth is not needed for the exam) whereas Kaplan focuses too much on breadth, to the point where you forget this is a Level 3 exam. The Kaplan AMs aren’t necessarily more difficult but I felt like I was doing Qbank questions for the AM which is absolutely ridic. Also its broken down by 92 questions, which is even more ridic.

I just wish there was some sort of in between. It may explain the historically low and declining pass rates. I dont think the material is rocket science by any means. Its just a lack of resources people have access to when it comes to L3.


Yes unfortunately this has been one of my biggest frustrations too for the Level 3 exams
Generally there is a lack of good practice material in this level ( in my opinion even the official LES is quite poor)
I have attempted several of the mocks from different prep providers and none are great, though Bill’s mock exams are much better than many others and MM has a great UI
I think the issue is also to do with the qualitative nature as well as constantly changing materials. I notice this dynamic when i attempted the past official papers. Several questions , become irrelevant , even though the LOS dont really change , but the material changes
I am also in a similar flux - whether to do more mocks at this stage or just stick to revision of notes etc.

All the best to all

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