Not ready for exam, should I still sit for it?

Hi guys,

Life has gotten in the way of studying for the December 2011 exam and I nowhere near ready for the exam. I haven’t even gone through half the stuff. Would I be gaining anything by still wasting time and sitting for the exam? I’ve already paid for it so feel I should at least go through it and see how I do but I feel I’m just winging.

Curious to know if anyone else is in the same situation. What would you guys do?

If you already paid for it, then I would sit. That way you at least have a concept of the wording of the actual CFA exam, the atmosphere, the difficulty compared to your study materials, etc. And you can also have a gauge of your non-passing score. It’s hard to predicted your emotions and psych the first time you do something. So why not get that out of the way just to sit in, and prepare better next time.

Or you could be the statistical anomaly. Press 2ND and RAND on your Calculator. Each time it’s <= 0.33 mark A, between 0.34 and 0.66 mark B, and >0.66 mark C!

I know a guy on this forum who passed level 3 after 1 week of studying. Best case, you pass. Worst case, you gain valuable experience and help the other candidates to pass.

What? You have more than a month left. That’s a lot of time.

^^ yeah…i’d get on the schweser and at least give it as much as u can. even if u can’t properly study for it u just never know. a month is still quite a bit of time. try to study a couple hours a day and more on weekends. at worst it will help u for the next time having known many of the concepts already.

Depends on your objectives. I would sit the exam in any case: - If you want to get better prepared for June 2012, I would keep on going through the concepts in detail. - If you want to pass in December, I would go on with Qbank with an answer explanation after each question - That way you’ll be able to grasp at least the main concepts pretty fast. Then do all the EOC questions and the mocks. Up to you…

Also, something like 8/10 people who passed L1 that I talked to say that they thought they were under prepared and thought they would fail initially. So maybe the required readiness level for this exam is just exaggerated by what you read on the internet or in CFAI propaganda.

Never run from the exam. Doing CFA is about developing a winning attitude. Life has short stories and long stories. CFA is the first chapter of the longest story, the career, of our lives. The importance is hidden under the fact that it is the first chapter and knowing this chapter is very important! I would say sit in the exam and discover yourself. You have one month left and believe me you can pull this off, if you believe in yourself… Once I heard that if you want to judge yourself that you’d succeed or fail, just relax yourself and observe how many times the idea of success and failure comes to your mind. If success comes more than failure then there is a good chance that you will win. I would rather say this is not the time to think about anything other than completing the preparation of your exam. Though it is difficult but it is possible. All the best

Well said.

Thanks for the advice guy. You’ve convinced me to study what I can and sit for the exam. I’ll get a feel for exam day and network a little. Some questions regarding June 2012 if I don’t pass: When will we know results for December exam and should I wait to register for the June 2012 CFA level 1 exam? Do I risk not getting the test center I want if I wait that long? (I prefer Hartford, CT) I have the Schweser 2011 study notes, should I get 2012 or would 2011 still be good? Appreciate any tips/advice!

Better ask these questions when you ‘don’t pass’. At present you need to focus more on what will make you pass. Let go off all other things which come into your mind precisely the idea of passing or failing the exam. Strive for excellence not for success, it will automatically follow you as it is the byproduct. It isn’t idealism but a realistic approach to not think on anything based upon assumptions. You don’t pass is an assumption with probability roughly 50%. So why think about such ‘non-issues’? Converge your attention and energies on your preparation as this is your last chance! Like Steve Jobs said “Live before you die…”

I am not ready either. Got my CFA books 1.5 month ago and will finish reading the third volume tomorrow, what I’ve retained is other problem. (Before registering for the exam I overestimated my abilities and underestimated the time and energies fulltime job takes from me). Even though I will definitely sit on exam and before then I will do my best to get as prepared as possible and pass the exam. If I won’t, at least I get some experience for June 2012 exam. Reading this discussion really boost my spirit. Good luck to everyone, including myself! p.s. When you mention Qbank, what do you refer? I am studding with CFA program curriculum and think that going through practice questions other than EOC and Mock exams would help me, so could you tell me how I get access on qbank. Thanks!

CFAI text books are quite in detail. For Level I you can use other study materials. For instance I used Shweser. For exam point of view Shweser is fine I mean it can really help you out in passing out the exam apart from Ethics standards section (for safe end it must be done from CFAI Books). Still if you can manage to get Shweser for Level I and use Book 4 and Book 5 to complete your rest of preparation, you can get your efficiency boosted a long with your chances to score well. QBank is the testbank of Shweser and it comes with the package.

I agree with most people here; if you’ve paid for it, sit for it. You will gain valuable experience even if you don’t pass. You’ll see the questions formats and styles; you’ll get the exam-day feel and stress, etc. It’s worth it just for that, and who knows, you may be more ready than you think if you go balls to wall this last month.

Gotta sit for it unless you can get it deferred.

Sitting for it will be a helpful learning experience in terms of what to expect if you think you’re going to try again. Some think it also helps the curve benevolently in a miniscule way (not sure). Of course you could always just stay at home and sleep in and enjoy your Saturday :slight_smile:

Here is a recommended study schedule if you use the CFA texts, the time frame is a little over 6 months. This approach is good for all three exams. Also, I recommend supplementing with Schweser Practice Exams, Qbank and Secret Sauce. Really, all you need to know about preparing for the exam is in the beginning of each CFA volume under “How to Use the CFA Program Curriculum” and on the CFA website…the CFA also recommends a six month study duration. I did not develop the approach below; it addresses all of the areas that Candidates have trouble with…Study Schedule and duration, an ongoing review process and a final review study process and it also addresses whether you’re working full time or you’re not employed and can study full time. CFA is really hard to get. What makes me laugh is to read on forum how easy it is to get prepared for it (2 months look like being overtime to many people). Well in the end, people writing these posts might be very smart, but only around 30% manage to pass level I and merely 50% for level II and III (knowing that these people have already successfully passed level I, ie. they do know it’s not a piece of cake at all => population is not the same => 50% pass-rate cannot be compared directly to 35% passrate of level I). These pass rates are already quite low, keep in mind that CFA Institute does not take into account no-show people when computing it. => It’s really 35% of people who did sit down at the exam day (and not 35% of people registered to take the exam, ie. passrate would be lower than that!). More over, on average it requires 5 years for candidates to pass all three exams… What’s the conclusion of all of the above? Passing CFA exams is not a piece of cake, but it’s not unachievable either. You just need to be organized and dedicated. Basis for my schedule My own experience. I’ve successfully passed level I, and right now I am ending 5th book of level II, about to start the 6th (and last book) to hopefully pass the june 2010 level II exam. Basically, content for level II (6 books) is as enormous as content for level I (6 books too) => I expect it to be the same for level III. My schedule is also loosely based on CFA study recommendations: • not less than one week per “study session” (there are currently 18 of them in both level I and II) • keep 4 weeks prior to exam date to be able to assess your weaknesses (using mock exams) and focus on these areas I personnaly agree with above two recommendations (less than one week per session is hard to achieve and makes forget data quicker). Objectivity Keep in mind the following aspects: • slow reader: yes, I am a slow reader (I was born like this) so you might be able to read quicker than me • tendancy to overprepare: I always overprepare exams, in the end rating closer to 90% than the required 70% sthg pass rate. Reasons for this are first that I don’t like being wrong | not knowing an answer, second is that I find it more interesting to study to increase my knowledge than rather pass the exam (=> I don’t target the minimum pass rate) and third (there’s always a third point), I cannot ignore the content of a single page (=> I don’t read only summaries, but almost all pages from all the six books of cbok – except for the index ) • background: my own personal experience is that I needed far much hours of work than recommended by CFA Institute (this might depend on your background – financial in my case – and your profession/experience) • strategy: mine is that it’s better to work very hard and get the exam the same year rather than work less harder and have the possibility to fail => then you will need to work hard one more year (and waiting one year is quite long!) to be able to give it another try. So play safe, try to nail it on your first attempt, it will be more profitable in the end. My recommended schedule These schedules are indicative only, you should adapt them to your own case and not follow the religiously. I identify two different scenarios: [You can study full time] If you’re in this case, ie. you can study CFA full time, then my advice is to : • register as soon as possible (to get the best discount!) • start your study 3 months plus two weeks before exam date • review content at average speed of 1 book every half month (=> 2 books per month * 3 months = 6 books + 2 weeks for reviewing content) it’s true that some books are far bigger than others, but it’s just an average. It might be better to follow your schedule per study session (90 days (= 3 months) / 18 sessions = 5 days per study session) I don’t recommend going lower than 5 days per study session • within last two weeks: 1. review all summaries from all books 2. redo all exercices from all books 3. perform mock-exams 4. review your areas of weaknesses (identified with mock-exams and redone exercices) 5. perform sample exams 6. review all summaries from all books 7. you’re ready! [You’re working and cannot study full time] • first of all, avoid the ‘bully’ strategy (ie. studying a lot, incl. taking holidays, right before the exam, and not long before) instead prefer studying constantly a couple hours every days (wake up one hour earlier and sleep one hour later) and more intensively the week end, during a longer period (learned content will go to long-term memory rather than short-term memory) • register as soon as possible (ie. september) to get the best discount! • start studying 31 weeks prior to exam date • try to learn 2 study sessions every 3 weeks (ie. 1.5 week per study session), ie. 18 * 3 / 2 = 27 weeks. For some sessions, one week will be enough, for others two weeks might be necessary (esp. if you’re under hard time at work) hint: try to go a little bit faster than 1.5 week per study session since you might need the equivalent of 4 standalone weeks to review already finished books each time you finish a new book • use the last 4 weeks to: 1. review all summaries from all books 2. redo all exercices from all books 3. perform mock-exams 4. review your areas of weaknesses (identified with mock-exams and redone exercices) 5. perform sample exams 6. review all summaries from all books 7. you’re ready! Whatever your profile is (full time|part time), you should try your best to avoid ‘learn & forget’ effect. Do the following: • study regularly (every days – even if it’s just to review already learned content) • prior to starting your new readings, review the (summary of) last 3 readings (ie. a moving average) • each time you finish a book, review all readings within all previously finished books (recently finished one included) • redo all the exercises from the entire book finished right before recently finished book Do your best not to be late on your schedule, otherwise it will hard to catch up. Well, that being said, good luck.

Six months for LI is overkill. I did it in 6 weeks while working full time with no formal finance, statistics, or accounting background. That was pushing it, but I think 3-4 months is more reasonable.

Blackswan, Please provide details on your experience at the time you took level 1. It sounds like you just reviewed for the level 1 exam…what is recommended 3-4 months preparation consist of…what’s it based on?