Question for parents who took Level 3

I hate to be that guy and hop on the L3 forum the day after I passed L2 asking questions but I wanted to get the perspective of some people who have already sat for L3 before they disappear when they pass. My wife is expecting our first baby any week now, and I’m wondering if there was anyone else on here who has juggled being a parent to a newborn and trying to prepare for L3. Did you alter your schedule at all to what you did at L1 and 2? Start studying earlier in the year, maybe more hours during the week so you could spend more time on the weekends with you family? I generally started studying the first Monday in January and would finish new material about 6 weeks prior to the exam. I’m thinking of maybe starting even earlier, maybe early December or mid November, but am worried about both retention and burn out. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

I don’t have a child but I was only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night during the weeks, and about 6 on weekends, so probably comparable.

The key is starting early, period. Start late October/Early November, and ensure that you refresh on topics you reviewed as you go along. Expect to need 350-400 hours of studying. If you set a reasonable schedule you won’t burn out.

I was not or parent during L1, L2, or first L3 attempt. Definitely alters your schedule. For me, it meant studying less. However, the fact that I’d already taken L3 once made this round feel like review…and hopefully it will turn out well.

Point being, if you’re a parent and studying for any level, it’s a must to alter your schedule or you’ll inevitably find yourself putting in less hours. All about prioritizing and will-power.

Congrats on the pass!

Speaking from experience, (my wife and I had our first baby last November) I did make some efforts to study before (got the books as soon as they were available) but with post L2 hangover and the NFL season, I didn’t get anything done and I also doubt very much doubt that I would have retained much of it. So all in all, I seriously got down to studying sometime in February, which I felt was sufficient amount of time (I did take approximately 10 days off of work from Nov to Exam date to support the wife post birth, study / refresh from the fatigue)

My advice is… first few months are likely the toughest for the wife and she will need your support the most then because its feeding and changing every 1 to 2 hours and not to mention potential medical issues (our baby had jaundice and weight gain problems), but after the first 4 to 6 months, it generally gets easier as they are sleeping through the night. So, if i were in your position, I wouldn’t start studying until January or so.

Personally, I studied primarily on weekend because between work and helping out after work, it was hard to find time on the weekdays. Plus, I always liked spending the weekend because I find that I can make more progress going 6 hours than 1 hour in chunks. Also, since the baby is mostly eating, pooping and repeating, I found that there is no real need to “spend more time on weekends with family”, just the same level of help I provide on weekdays.

With all the said, I will let you know if I pass so you know whether to take my advice seriously.

My child was born in late March and it will be a convenient excuse if I fail but I was still able to studying consistently 3-4 hours a day between 9pm and midnight/1am while working a full time job…The first ~6 weeks are tough so in your case you should be passed the hardest stage. By four months, my child sleeps through the night.

My kid was 3 months old when I signed up for L2 last year in February of ‘15. I was disciplined with the hours but had to do a lot every week so sacrificed brutally on family support. My wife stays home so it helps, and she’s been understanding and supportive throughout. I wanted to have a more balanced schedule for L3 so I started in November, with 10-12 hours per week until New Year, then I increased to about 20, and 25 in the last 2 months. I did take 2 separate weeks completely off studying during the whole course, but also studied full-time in the week prior to the exam.

I went CFAI and wrote notes so it was longer to get thru the material but I managed to finish the readings in late March. Then I went thru my notes for the review and that helped with the retention issue. I feel retention will be an issue no matter when you start, just given the quantity of information you need to absorb so I believe it’s best to leave enough time for review, repetition and practice than to worry about starting too early. But that’s just me.

Overall I’m not going to lie, it sucks when you do this and you have a young kid you can’t get fully involved with. But starting early and being disciplined can afford you a bit of quality time and get you adequately prepared. I studied every weeknight (including Friday), and on Saturday mornings. Then I kept the rest of weekends free…at least initially It served also as a buffer for situations where I was overwhelmed with work during the week. We’ll see whether my whole strategy was effective. I sure hope so because it was premised on not having to repeat this (wife expecting our second in Nov.). Stakes are higher when there are kids involved because the opportunity cost of your time goes up dramatically.

I had a kid last september and after much thought I did sign up for the exam. I am a retaker this time and thought it is now or never. I started with casual reading and realized that most of the concepts i was able to recall when i started reading. That was a big positvie and i thought I would slowly complete the first pass and immediately jump to practise exams. I was able to complete the reading in March and literally gave 2 months for mocks. Trust me, sooner you start doing mock, the better. And DO practise AM mocks by keeping a watch. Material may be easy by time management is the main issue. in my first attempt, I skimmed AM mocks thinking that all are easy and doable and I was caught in exam for time management. I left 2 questions complete blank which is suicide. I am fairly confident this time but time will tell.

All in all, go for it this time because responsibilities will keep on increasing with time now and you will find more and more difficult to complete your charter if you skip a year now.

All the best.

I wonder how many multi generational CFAs are roaming around.

I know one father/son CFA combo but that’s it. Surprising that CFI requires no continuing education. The father portion of the combo I speak of was in one of the first batches ever when the pass rate was like 90% or something.

Interesting that an ‘old school’ charter holds the same weight as a newer one. Of course, only a few peeps were in those first few batches and they were probably some of the best of the best finance minds.

Myth: Level 3 is easier

Spouse: When I started my MBA many years ago, the first talk they had on opening night was asking spouse/significant others for forgiveness and understanding. That definitely applies in your situation. I too studied from 9-1am most nights and it was hell. You will have half the time as your competition(younger/single ppl).

1.) Your wife will want/expect you to get up and help with the kid." 2.) Your can’t control when they need you…diapers/crying etc. 3.) Your schedule…is no longer your schedule. 4.) Quiet study time…GONE. Get used to it. I bought Bose QuietComfort 25…best $300 I spent in a while. 5.) Try to talk to your wife about a study area…that can be quiet and free of distractions(kid/wife distractions).

Think of it…wife making dinner, screaming kid…you’re on deck.

Advice: Try to finish the curriculum by Jan/Feb…start now. From that point just questions, memorization, and practice tests. You should do all the Blue box examples in CFAI, all the End of Chapter questions in CFAI, at least 5 full practice exams, 3 years of old CFA exams from AM.

It’s not the curriculm that’s important, but it’s the base that it provides for you in understanding the information. You need to get to the questions, and practice tests. The sooner you get to those, the better off you’ll be.

Exective Summary: You studied for 5 months over the last test. Double that time to 10 months…trust me.

Caveat: Unless you’ve got a special wife who can do it all and not hold it against you…that’s your call. And I think regardless of what most women say…she’s gonna hold it against you.

OH YAH!!! Since the birth is imminent, enjoy the time and be there for your wife. This is just a lame test after all. (But study every moment you can while still being a doting husband. Just maybe hold off on the discussion of “What you need her to do to help you pass the CFA” (she may burst out crying). That discussion can be done later…LOL)

Good Luck!!!

take a look at the actual AM exam from 2000-2003… a joke compared to the current level of difficulty

I had a 9 month old when I took level 2. I just had an honest conversation with my wife letting her know that this is going to take time away from the family. On weekends I studied at work. I studied every day during the work week for a couple of hours. There is no way around it…it sucks.

I took level 3 last year (failed band 8), and it was devastating knowing I would have to go through this shit again (after passing L1 + L2 on the first attempt).

I gritted my teeth and did it again. I would head to starbucks every weeknight around 9pm after he went to bed…and would study until midnight (luckily this starbucks was 24hrs). Hopefully I hear good news in a couple of weeks.

Bottom line is that it is going to suck for you and your wife (your wife more). But have that honest and open conversation with her and hopefully she will be understanding and supportive.

I have 2 kids (son 4 years and daughter 2 years)… My son was born in April 2012 as I prepared for the L2 exam; it was a hectic time as my wife (and most-not most, all women do) tried to weigh my husband and fatherly qualities. It’s very difficult when it’s your first child… she expects you to learn how to change diapers… change the baby almost all times since she is recuperating… soothe the baby to stop crying… it’s a time when your love for her and the baby is put on a weighing machine. Needless to say, I failed the L2 exam (at borderline) in 2012.

I took L2 again in 2013 as a father of one son…Me being me, I found myself struggling to study as I juggled taking care of the baby late in the evenings and watching NFL games… I watched Monday & Thursday night games and fed the baby when he woke up at night – as such, I couldn’t manage to wake up to study in most days. The pressure at work was also too much. I failed the L2 exam at borderline again.

In Sep 2013, my wife became pregnant with our second child… and that meant that the expected birth date was around the first week of June 2014 – the exam time. I thought I was screwed and doomed to fail again… My son was now walking and trying to talk… it was an exciting time; and I enjoyed spending time with him. I started studying in December; but this time it was easier because everything in the curriculum was familiar. I would get home from work at 7-8pm, spend at least 1hr with my son, chat with my wife and study when they both slept at about 10. I would study for 2hrs, sleep at midnight and would wake up to study at 5am-7am before preparing and going to work at 7.30… it was easier because my wife had taken a sabbatical leave then. By the end of April 2014, I had gone through the entire curriculum. My daughter was born on the night of the exam. I spent the month of May (including 2 weeks’ vacation) doing some revisions and reviewing mocks. I passed the June 2014 L2 exam with all subjects over 70.

Come 2015, I was ready to tackle the Level III curriculum… I enjoyed the 2014 summer with my wife and kids… My son was all-grown – now a strong boy to kick a soccer ball, so we spent time doing it. Surprisingly, with our second baby (a girl), my wife did not demand much time from me as long as I fed our son. I started studying in January 2015. I would take time to feed our son and would study when they all slept at about 10… I would wake at 5pm… I felt very well prepared by June 2015… But like my other Fails, I was hit with a Band 10… My AM score was awful while my PM was a surprise… Ethics failed me!!! see my exam result here >>>

2016, I found it easy to remember the material… I started studying in February after spending the entire last half of 2015 working and enjoying time with my wife and kids. My strategy was to go through the curriculum one time – I did so by end of April. I spent the entire May tackling MOCK questions and real CFA - AM exams. I felt well prepared by June.

I have been feeling like I did better in the 2016 AM than I did in 2015 AM exam… 2016 PM was however tricky; I doubt I can record a score similar to my 2015 PM score – that’s the only thing that has been worrying me.

Back to op; with kids, it’s better to have a firm strategy – do not follow mine – as you can see I have not fared well… I think you should start early and stick to your strategy – you will be okay.

!!!My native language is not English!!! … I am just an American born in Guam

I am new to the forum. I actually just found it a month ago. I wanted to ask the same exact question, but wasn’t sure I would get any responses being a newbie. My wife is due in November and I am really worried about juggling having a newborn and studying for the Level III. Thanks for the responses, now I can try and come up with a plan to explain this to my wife. Might just have her read this thread.

Excellent post. Anyone with a baby while studying should read. My wife had baby last Oct 23rd…the situation you describe is SPOT ON.

First of all, congrats to the new daddies and mummies! :slight_smile:

Just to share my personal experience as well. My baby was 1 year old last December when I signed up for level 2.

During the weekdays after work, I make it a point to interact with the child for at least a short while and would carry her for 10-30mins before she could go to sleep. Then during the night, she would wake up 1-2 times, wanting to be comforted or if she’s hungry, we would wake up to make formula milk for her. Your wife would definitely need help from you at times as she can’t cope alone, especially if she holds a full time job too.

During the weekends in the last 4-5 months, I tried not to go out so as to study intensively as i did not study much during the weekdays as I was just too tired after work (ok i’m not the kind who needs just 5-6 hours of sleep a day) . Meanwhile, your friends will post beautiful pictures of themselves, bringing their toddlers out to fun and educational places while you cooped up at home, feeling guilty that you have not done the best for your child. Your spouse and parents in law would need to be supportive and understanding on this.

From 1 year old onwards, the child starts to learn to walk and would always come looking for me in the study room. But I either have to guide her away gently or close the door (she learned to turn the door knob subsequently) at times. It is indeed a sacrifice of time with family and your motivation will be questioned through the months.

Finally I took 1 week off before the exam and all in all, I estimated I did around 250-270 hours (my frank assessment), which was below my 300 hours target. I told myself that I gave it my best and would be happy to regain my family life if I fail, but 2 days back I found out that I passed…so here I am again!!

Thank you everyone for your responses, they’ve been very helpful. Luckily my wife is due with our daughter soon (8/18), so by time I start studying she’ll be 3-4 months and hopefully (fingers crossed) not waking up every hour or two during the night. Also, I have an hour train ride to and from work which I do the majority of my daily studying on (thank you quiet car). I’ve been with my wife since before I started my CFA journey so she knows full well the demands of studying. I definitely will be starting sooner than had we not been expecting a baby, but just knowing myself, I will not be starting SUPER early (I will 100% burn out if I’m studying for 8 months, even if it’s only for an hour or so a day). I think giving myself an extra month and starting early December is what may work best for me. I’ve always taken the week off prior to the exam from work to put in a ton of final prep work (40-50 hours) and I plan on doing that again. Thank you everyone for your input and good luck in a few weeks on the L3 results.

Well, let me give you a note of optimism. I passed levels 1 and 2 on the first try, with a newborn and a three year old. I would have taken the June 2015 level 1, but it was too close to the due date for my little one. So, I studied for the December Level 1, and then the June 2016 level 2.

it’s not that hard, even with a full time job. Get plenty of sleep and some exercise. Don’t watch much tv or drink often. Take a hard look at your schedule. I had 1.5 to 3 hours of uninterrupted time to study each weekday, and had a Saturday live class. The classes were good, but they were actually the biggest time problem. Long and could not be moved. I was able to watch recordings for two sessions I missed.

There is an enormous amount of potential study time. Commuting, walking the dog, lunch break, etc. some things are longer like reading or most videos. Others are short like flashcards and end of chapter tests.

I would have to agree with Municipal Bob. as I completed L1 and 2 with an 1-2yo (Dec and the June) and then sat Level 3 this year after having our 2nd in Aug last year. I believe you need more life lessons than CFA pointers

  1. You will become so much better at time management-PERIOD. At the moment you have all this extra time (and money BTW). You will become better at managing your time due to becoming a parent.

  2. Cut out what is not important, for me drinking got cut out (apart from a few blow out nights), TV and Sports.

  3. Talk to your wife about this. An supportive partner that gets that if you do it right once its over. But I am still paying for studying efforts today BTW. Not so accommodating post CFA exam.

  4. Little and often- I (tried) studied every night after my daughters bed time, get in 3 hour a night. Start early- but not too early.

  5. Time Management at work- learn how to get home on time, if you don’t this will compound and you will lose valuable study time. I worked so hard in fall/winter to get a head at work with sale numbers and compliance. So I wasn’t bogged down with tadmin, when I didn’t have time. Plus I didn’t have many networking events in the winter/ spring months.

  6. Starbucks- Who needs to the app, they knew what I wanted as I walked in the door. Coffee is your friend, use it correctly. One in the morning to wake you up, one at 5 to give you the boost for the night. Don’t have too much or hello 3am by the time you fall asleep. NOTE-Bring a coffee home for my wife as well (she is on mat leave)

  7. Parenting isn’t tough till they start walking. Your kind of in a sweet spot in June.

  8. How long is your wife off work for- The real stress is when you both need to out the door at 7.15am. Remember you have to get your daughter ready for daycare as well.

Two sons. 6 and 2. And obviously an extremely supportive wife who took up the huge challenge ofor keeping them away from me for atleast 3 months. It’s really challenging and comes to the point where you have to completely ignore them in the last few weeks…if there is no other support the family gets pretty stressed out. You can try all sorts of early morning and late night study combos but it will really be an either(family)/or (the exam) situation from March to May.