Morning Session Help

Is there an online class that helps with how to handle the morning essay section? I want to join a class that goes over how to approach these questions and how to structure answers. Please let me know if you know of any


Don’t sweat the actual format too much. You will become familiar with the answer format with a really simple practice method: work the actual AM exams from prior years. Review the guideline answers and work to condense the answers down to bullet points. That is literally the only thing I did for the AM and it worked out fine.

If you’re into the prep provider thing, I used LevelUp and Schweser’s online review. I got my money’s worth from the LevelUp guy (even though I was reluctant to spend the $$) because he gives a notebook with all AM exam questions dating back to the '90’s, divided up into study session, and irrelevant questions excluded. He also teaches a method to condense the IPS calculation down to five minutes instead of 20, which will mean you have a good chance of finishing the AM. For me, I thought those two were worth the money because I observed that hardly anyone around me finished the AM. I think the guy next to me finished, but nobody else around me did. Same thing when I talked to the others I had studied with over the years.

Work the AM questions four or five times apiece. This will help you speed up, and will also solidify concepts for the PM section. Those CFAI AM questions are very, very deep. You can’t get the same level of practice with the prep provider mock questions, IMO.

Let me know if you have any questions, happy to help.


Your post was very informative. I looked up levelup online review, but I came across only bootcamps. Also, I would appreciate if you can share some of the tips for IPS calculation.


derswap07, thanks for the kind words. The LevelUp guy has a bootcamp that I went to. When I was there, I ran into a bunch of folks who were taking the guy’s weekly class, so I suppose you can email him and find out if he does that online or local only. Don’t have any info for you otherwise.

So the bootcamp will come in handy, but it’s in April, and you have to prep beforehand for sure. I think you’ll do well to go with the prep providers you’ve used in the past, but make sure to use the CFAI materials heavily.

It’s been a while since I did the IPS calculation, so I’m afraid my memory is of little use to you at this point! And it’s difficult to elaborate without sketching it out.

In essence, however, keep in mind that you are solving a time-value-of-money problem. You’ve got a PV, i, n, FV, and PMT. You’ll be solving for one in the IPS calculation. If you can simply boil it all down to those variables when reading through the problem, you’ve just saved yourself a lot of time. Go find some of the old exams and try the IPS problems in this simplified form and see what you come up with.

Thanks Mike, your advice is always great.

You’re welcome, and thank you.


Thanks for the advice. Calculation apart, Reading the case itself takes me time and then panic sets in and then I make mistakes. Timing is the main issue for me in the morninge exam. How did you manage your time on the exam?


Time management on the exam wasn’t a strategy that I worked on. I didn’t do a single timed exam at all, because I didn’t think it was necessary. In fact, I didn’t do a single AM mock at all. Instead, I would hit all the previous CFAI AM questions by study session, then remediate. But my remediation was in writing–that is, I’d write down whatever it was I wasn’t strong in. I think that deepened my understanding of a study session better than doing full mocks, where I’d be spreading myself out mentally.

The process of generating the answer will kill you, time-wise: 1) pondering the answer too long; 2) writing down the answer in without writing a book.

In terms of no. 1, learn the material. If you’re pondering too much, you’re screwed.

As far as no. 2 is concerned, I think the best practice method is to write down your answers. In fact, write it down, complete with a full explanation of the concept, logic, and why your answer addresses the question. Then do it again, but truncate the answer. Then again and again until you can answer the question in bullet points. Bullet-pointing answers is something that just came with practice.

You asked me how I managed my time on the exam. It was simple: I wrote down my answers, formulas, and concepts continuously for months. I burned through probably two reams of copy paper, five or six composition books, and maybe 2000 Q-Bank questions in print format, with my answers written. When I hit the AM exam, I went from first to last question. No tips, tricks, or anything like “go to your strength area first”. I would say it was the massive amount of writing that took place before-hand that prepared me to finish on time.

Hope this helps!


Good insight. How do you arrpoach an IPS question? do you have a dtategy like see q first?

I agree with Mike. Nothing can replace knowing the material inside and out. Writing concepts and answers to questions I both knew and didn’t know over and over again worked for me in terms of achieving that goal as well.

derswap07, the IPS question isn’t really that hard, and it doesn’t represent many points. But it takes a lot of time, so it represents more than just the question points. In his bootcamp, Marc Lefebvre taught us a very productive method for handling any IPS question in just a few minutes, but you really have to see it yourself. I hate to disappoint, but I don’t have the ability to explain it in this setting. It took about 2 hours of live instruction for me to grasp, then a few weeks of practice to drive it home. The best I can tell you to do is to look for your financial calculator inputs: n, FV, PV, PMT, etc. You’ll be solving for one of these, so if you can boil it down to a Level 1 TVM question, you’re looking good.