Need Advice (Those who passed Level 3)


This is the first time; I have been studying through the original CFA books. I have covered only three study sessions so far. Behavioural Finance, Institutional Investor and Individual Investor. It has taken me ages to go through this material. I must say the CFA books are not very well written in my opinion. Sometimes too verbose, sometimes they just go of on a tangent you are left wondering “what did he just say”. Then you have to go through the process of figuring out what is it that is required to be known and what is just written to waste your time.

I feel if I continue with using CFA books, I simply would not have enough time for revision or practice. At the same I have not been too impressed by schweser for level 3 at all. (I have sort of read through schweser as well for these 3 sessions, mainly because of being double minded at which is best). Schweser is very poor for at least the study sessions mentioned above, but sometimes it can be helpful as well, where it simplifies something which has simply been made too complicated in the CFA books. In my experience so far, I am kinda confused what would be my best approach moving forward. As time is the main issue here.

Is schweser good for the remaining study sessions and can I choose that option and save time? Do I need to slave away at the CFA books and risk running out of time for revision or practice? Do I need both! Is there any specific study session or reading that I should go over from CFA books.

Any people who have passed this exam please help me, I really wana nail this thing but I am finding myself somehow I am getting more confused and double minded.

I havent passed Level 3 yet and I am in the same boat as yours :frowning:

The strategy I am planning is to give a high level reading to these topics and then do as many questions as possible from CFAI book, Schweser and Finquiz. I did that for behaviour finance and am already feeling slightly better. Well, but I dont know whether thats a good strategy nevertheless one which is making me feel better right now!

My opinion is (however controversial it may seem…) that those who have passed L3 with Schweser are _generally_ smarter students than those who have passed with CFAI materials. Having said so, I must admit I was in the latter group… :wink: I’ve got an impression that Schweser requires some more intelectual effort and input from candidates, while the Institute’s books are more like explaining something to a child - longer, more descriptive rather than condensed knowledge, with more repetitions etc.

Nonsense, first, I know many people had failed any by solely relying on Schweser.

Second, the CFAI does not want to imply superior performance among CFA Charterholders.

Get your facts right.

Those were cirkon’s opinions not facts. Neither has opinion been masked as fact nor fact been disguised as opinion.Distinguishing between facts and opinions is critical. Amen to the Code and Standards. God is great.

oh i have not passed level 3 so don’t listen to me


Hate to break it to you, but you ask the most often discussed question on this board: Source or Schweser. Like behavioral finance, you will not find a straightforward answer. People pass and fail using both approaches. The Schweser notes are written using the source materials and the LOSs. I think they do a good job. Some people don’t. They are certainly easier to get through. But are you willing to try and trim time in reading the notes versus additional time doing practice exams?

There is no right answer. You will be better off decdiding what works best for you and move on.

I would recommend going through the studyguides.

Then supplementing this by using the blue boxes and end of chapter questions in the actual text.

Last month do as many questions as you can.

I know exactly how you feel… I had no problem reading CFAI for level 1 and 2, but when it comes to level 3… I just find it too verbose as well.

What I’m doing differently this year, is that I’m taking Schweser class… And since I’m taking this class, I’m more instructed to read the Schweser notes. What I’ve found is that Schweser notes does a pretty good job summarizing many of the LOSs and makes it easier to understand.

I do want to add that there are some sections that they summarize TOO MUCH, but even in those sections, if you take the time to read it over, it should be able to sink in.

I know the general consensus here is to read CFAI, and supplement with Schweser… I may very well do that. But I think what we should realize is we NEED to first get through the material, and THEN figure out if we need to do more reading etc… And the only way to do that is get through it, then do some questions from EOC to see where you stand.

I really think it’s not so much the material… but how you absorb the material. So do what you feel more comfortable with. Good luck!

I woud recommend do Schweser, but go over End-of-CHapter questions in the CFAI books

Thanks iteracom, thats exactly what I am doing… Reading finquiz instead of schweser and then going straight to qbank and CFAI books. Reassuring to know I am not doing anything totally different from what people did to pass the same :slight_smile:

where is everyone at roughly? and where should we be at this stage? i am about to start institutional clients, but need to go over IPS again in detail and work thru the EOC problems there.

I’ve covered the entire curriculum once. I started working through it again, and now I’m on fixed income. (I skipped Ethics and GIPS.) I would highly recommend doing it twice–a lot of things make a lot more sense once you’ve seen the entire curriculum.

Iteracom–did you use any other materials other than Schweser and CFAI EOC questions? If so, what did you think about them? (I’m afraid I might run out of questions–I plan on exhausting the Qbank and the EOC questions.)

we’ve got a badass over here.

I was in a dilemma over this too. used schweser exclusively for the past 2 levels. went through the original CFAI books for level 3. added up to 2300 pages compared to schweser 1400 pgs. thats it. officially screwed i thought

then i went back to see CFAI text for my level 1 & 2 yrs. CFAI is almost double for both years as well, but still i passed.

decided not to think about it anymore. same study plan. if have the time then read CFAI text. its a pain though, because i ordered in soft copy form and still needed to print it out if i decided to go through with it.

Buck up guys. 128 days to go…

Not when you’re a CPA in a tax practice. If I get to study more than about 5 hours per week between March 1 and April 15, I’ll be surprised. Then from April 16 to April 30, I’ve got quarterly payroll tax reports that I’ve got to do. Then from May 1 to May 15, I have to work on Texas Franchise Tax returns.

Want Advice from a passer? here you Go.

Im also goign to bump my prior post

So, first off, I am not the person with all the answers, but inevitably the L2/L3 repeaters want comments on this subject. The guys like CPK and Iteracom will outsmart me 10 to one, so I don’t think I’m that smart either, but I figured I could share my experience - everyone is different, and Im sure people will conflict with my opinions. I read a thread last year like this and found it valuable, so this is my humble attmpt at paying it forward.

For the L2 guys, this one is harder, its more detailed, and less concrete. Much, much, worse. Sorry. If someone says its the easiest, they either are talking out their ass or took it in 1991.

For the L3 retakers, last year was a band 8 fail for me, I had a hard time getting back on the horse and being motivated. Was a fairly major blow to me. Keep going, you’ll kill it. Im certainly not arrogant enough to say I murdered it this year, but it was a major, major improvement.

So heres my pass story.:

I started studying in about november lackadaisically, got serious about mid february, got obsessive about April Most of April I stayed late after work and studied till like 9 or later, spent my weekend afternoons at the library studying. In May its all I did - day, night, and weekends.

I went to Boston for the Schweser course, they had Mark Lefebvre. I couldn’t get into the one at Creighton due to waiting too long to register. Was it worth it? I’m on the fence. I’d make sure I knew the material going in, the “tips and tricks” aspect is pretty good, but you run through the material very fast. The fact that you hit the curriculum from start to finish a few weeks before the exam is pretty good. In my opinion the courses are a great review for the last mile, not a primer or an in depth coverage.

Schweser or CFAI?

Well, some people love schweser. Me? I see it as supplemental - very very supplemental.

Schweser practice exams? Pretty good

Qbank, last resort - you got plenty to do without these. - They are good for like “flash card” type review though…fast coverage of material, not very deep.

So here is the plan If I had to do it again.

  1. Start Early and make your own DETAILED LOS by LOS notes. Read the LOS, and fill in point by point, then be done with the curriculum, don’t reread. It was helpful to try to get all the details I could into my notes, and only the CFAI will give you the minutae, not Schweser.

I also watched the Schweser videos in tandem with above.

Questions,Questions, Questions, and I repeat, Questions. Practice trumps reading every time.

  1. Then I did all my EOC’s, every one. Then I did ALL THE BLUE BOXES - critical!

3)I had a couple sets of supplemental notes -

a) lists to memorize / stuff to hit right before exam / major “never can remember these” points

b)weak areas - revealed my LOS and Blue Boxes

c) A second set of notes to supplement main notes with areas that I need to review more frequently - kind of my own secret sauce.

All the while, try to review the big notes over and over to kind of keep all the balls in the air.

I also listened to the schweser audio all the time, whenever commuting, etc.

Try to be “done studying” by May - including all the EOC’s all the blue boxes and at least some practice exams. You should have a great idea of what you dont know by now. If you go to a review course, this is a great place to be by then. If the review is late May, you need to be into the “May Plan” below.

Do as many practice exams as possible from CFA.

May plan - Priorities:

1)Every Single Blue Box again

  1. All AM Exams, hopefully you’ve done some of these in April and listed weak areas and re-covered all ready. I went back to 2008

  2. As many multiple choice CFAI Afternoon practice exams as is available.

4)Re do all EOC’s again.

If you have time after the above (I never got here)

5)Schweser AM Exams

6)Schweser PM Exams

7)Schweser EOC’s


Aaand now for the ugly stepsister. Gips and Ethics.


You’ve already done this. Over and Over. I read every single application and did every single EOC - 4 days before the exam. Thats it - one pass. Broke 70%. Same as last year.


I read through and made notes of rules and timelines - 5 days before the exam - did all the EOC’s

Face it. Gips is something you can read forever andever, never get the minutae - and its what - maybe one problem set? Diminishing returns, my friend.

Priorities in order (pretty well in order)

Individual portfolio managment


Performance Eval

Asset Allocation

Fixed income

Derivatives/Risk Management





The italicized ones are aobut eh same priority to me, interchangeable. I don’t think I am in violation to say that last years exam had a ton of derivatives stuff.

So in closing. Review the material (your notes) over and over to keep all the balls in the air. Dont reread the whole text over and over, do questions as much as possible. Blue boxes and practice exams trump everything else.

Ill leave you with a paraphrase of Mark LeFebvre’s advice.

Water boils at 212 degrees. It is powerful. Drives locomotives, powers cities. At 211 it doesn’t do squat. The difference is 1 degree.

When May comes, sell your soul, forget everything else. You will be 30 days away from what, for many of us, is the most significant endeavour of our lives. Put in the extra effort, the one degree, and pass. You have the rest of your life to do other things.

Good luck guys. This forum has made all the difference for me. I hope each and every one of you have the success you deserve. You, we, are the best and brightest. Kill it.

thanks rollo,

your post really motivated me… thanks for input from everyone else as well. Appreciate it.

Cheers rolo550!

Absolutely motivating and a definite plan already set on how I should go about this… Thank you!


I agree with your statement. Cirkon did not disguise his opinion as a fact. Dal misunderstood Cirkon for sure.

But, your next statement, “God is great” is kind of a non-sequitur to your first sentence.

That is certainly your opinion. Not fact. I hope you agree. :slight_smile:

Hope you don’t come after me. :slight_smile:


As others have said, I think you can get by using the Schweser materials IF you do the EOC and blue box problems in the CFAI text. That’s how I tackled it last year and I was able to pass on my first attempt. I think you’ll get into trouble if you rely solely on Schweser and ignore the CFAI practice problems though since those will often alert you to some of the nuances that Schweser does not emphasize. Overall, I felt better off cranking through the Schweser materials and then sharpening up my skills with CFAI practice problems and exams rather than laboring through the much denser CFAI texts. I think you want to be getting to the practice problems (particularly for the written section) as early as possible. The written section will be a lot easier if you’ve been working through examples and seeing sample questions/answers for a few months leading up to the test.