My Secret Sauce to Passing L-1

Many of you have often wondered if there is any secret to passing the CFA L-1 exam. For me, the only secret that I discovered involved dedication to study and mastery of the concepts and theories presented. The material itself is a mile wide, yet the exam itself is only a foot deep. I found the actual exam to be more qualitative than calculative, so special attention to concepts, theories and all the little nuances are critically important. This isn’t a test to be taken lightly. I recall investing an average of 6 to 7 hours each day in preparation for this exam. Many may ask, “how can you invest so many hours each day?” Well, simple; I just got up real early and split my study sessions in two parts, morning and evenings. My weekends for the most part consisted of studying 10 hours each day and taking careful notes. It was a lot of time invested, but again, there was plenty of material to cover. I also chose a good study provider. It appears that Schweser and Stalla are the two leading study providers. I had the opportunity to evaluating both and ended-up choosing Stalla over Schweser. That choice made a huge difference in my success for this exam. The format of the material, the instructors themselves, and the clarity of how they explain things is far more superior than anything else I had previewed before. To me, Stalla was like driving a Rolls Royce vs. a Mercedes. I did have the chance to use the Schweser study bank and mock-exams (all three). What I found was that they were nothing like the real exam. The questions on the mocks appeared to have been “tricky” at best, with no real use for the real deal. The one thing that Schweser did produce that caught my eye was the “Secret Sauce” book that contains some very key study material in a condensed and easy to read format. The information contained in this booklet should be part of anyone’s study material. I found the part on ethics to be especially helpful. Passing the CFA exam really comes down to nailing those two or three critical questions that make or break the exam. So the critical concepts and exam strategies found in this book were real valuable. I still have and I’m interested to pass it along to anyone who has an interest in reading it. Of course, for a small price. The book is in very good shape with no notes, scribbles or bends, it’s almost brand-new, without the wrapper of course. I would also throw in “free of charge”, the notes I took that helped me nail this exam. These are my personal notes that would be a valuable resource for anyone thinking of taking this exam. One last thing, I know you’ve heard it on other boards, but this is 100% true. The night before exam day, DON’T STUDY! I made the mistake of studying the night before and let me tell you, my mind was racing all night long and the next morning I was exhausted and tired. By the end of my exam I was literally seeing stars in the air. I still don’t know how I drove myself home that day. If I had to sum it up I’d say, "Split your study sessions in two, choose a good quality study provider, takes very specific notes, do as many Q&A questions for the last 60 days prior to the exam, and the free CFA mocks available on their website. Those CFA mocks are the closest thing to the real exam. Last but not least, don’t by into the hype about the exam. There are message boards full of people all freaked out about their experience with the exam. Some good, some bad. Tune out of those boards and focus on the material before you. If you put your mind and heart into the test, you will do much better than the 54% who didn’t pass in June. Best of luck to all those taking the December exam.

Many thanks for your comments! It would be very helpful in the road til december. I was Band 7 last june and I am a really disappointed right now…hope in a few weeks I am able to restart all over again…just one of the topic areas below 50% (Fixed Income).

Nice content Safado…but please oh god please know where the “Return” key is…

You can always look at my “secret sauce”. See my signature.

Excellent post with very useful information. Thank you for taking the time to write it up!

thats great safado thanks for the corage and believe that we can make it too. by GODS mercy we shall be in level ll june 2010. chao

Apparently CFA candidates don’t like paragraphs.