Schweser vs Stalla live classes in Toronto

Has any one attended the Schweser live classes in Toronto recently. I used them in 2005 when Brian Gordon was running the program and they were pretty good. Now there is a lot of changes, how does the new team compare to the old. I am coming back to the CFA program after a two year break and not decided between Stalla or Schweser live programs. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

I have passed all 3 levels and the best success I had was not using the weekly live classes. I’m not some genius so it took me 3 cracks at level 2 and I needed a year off too. Luckily I passed levels 1 and 3 on the first try. Maybe it is just me but the weekly live classes were almost a waste of time because after a long day at work the last thing my brain wanted was to sit in a lecture hall for 3 hours. Maybe others will disagree but I wish I had started using the video CD’s a year or two earlier. The CD’s don’t allow you to ask questions of the lecturer but what helped me the most is that there is a rewind button and I could watch them on my schedule. In a lecture hall everyone can’t ask the prof a question every 5 minutes or you’d be there for 6 hours. If you start dozing off or are a bit confused with the CD’s you can always grab a coffee, hit rewind and listen to it 3 or 4 times. You can’t personalize the CD’s but the content is usually very solid and concise so, for me, the cost was more than worth it. When I passed 2 and 3 I also was able to re-listen to the 45 hours or so of the CD’s throughout May just to refresh my memory of stuff that I had listened to back in January and February. As far as live classes go my recommendation would be after doing the CD’s/textbook/study guides to take an intensive 2/3/4 day course in early may from either Stalla or Schweser. Despite what I said earlier about live courses when crunch time comes in May I easily found myself able to take a couple of vacation days and to focus for the length of the weekend. For level 3 in 2007 I took a 2 day mock-exam weekend with Stalla at UofT (sorry, but I forget the guys name but very good) and for level 2 in 2006 I took a 3 day course with Brian (when he was independant) also at UofT. Even for level one way back in 2002 (I think) what helped me get over the hump was a 2 or 3 day course that the Toronto Society put on before they linked up with Stalla. Everybody’s study habits are unique, and this is just my 2 cents, but the CD’s + other study stuff + crash course in May were the combo that worked for me at all 3 levels.

that sounds fantastic i think i will adopt your study plan…how early do they start running these intensive refreshers…end of April?/

End of April and early May. Try to leave at least 3 weeks after the intensive study course. This is obvious, but you can’t show up to the intensive course without having studied. You still need to put in a total of 300 hours (or whatever CFAI is suggesting this year) of study guide/text book studying too, but the CD’s helped me keep much better pace than the weekly live study classes. The intensive weekends really helped me distill all of that crap that I took in over the previous 6 months. The material that they provide during the intensive course provided some new and solid study material for the last month too. This may not matter for you but the level III intensive helped immensely because it was the only trusted guidance I got on how to answer the short-answer questions. And, of course, do lots and lots of questions in May. The online databank from Schweser (Qbank?) was good for me. It doesn’t take that much time to answer 1,000 questions on there and printing out the answers was good for subway studying. And pay the extra $$$ for the CFA online exams. For level II I found them useful. But, like I kind of said, there are no shortcuts despite all of the money that you or your company can spend on this and that but hopefully this helps. I’m sure that someone with a teaching background can explain this more eloquently but this reminds me of something I heard once…There are 3 basic ways that we learn. 1) Seeing/Reading 2) Hearing/Listening 3) Doing. If you put in the full 5/6/7 months you can do a decent amount of all 3 of these things. Seeing/Reading = Textbooks/Study Guides Hearing/Listening = Video CD’s Writing/Doing = Taking notes while studying/questions throughout the period especially in May. The intensive weekends covered a bit of all 3. I’ll just stop now before I talk too much about stuff I really don’t know about. Good luck.

Cocfa, Thanks for you insights. Which Video CDs did you use? Schweser’s or Stella’s? another thing, do you have anything to say about the completeness of Schweser study guides? I took Level 1 in Dec, 2007. If I pass, I would take Level 2 in June, 2008. So, I do not have a lot of time with family and work in the mix. I would like to focus on Schweser’s materials and read CFAI books only for things I do not fully understand in the notes. Thanks, Buddham

I used Schweser for both level II but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Both years there were lecturers who were great and no so great. I found one of the lecturers for level III last year really hard to understand and it seemed like I had to hit rewind a few times during every half hour segment just to undertand what he was saying. It would have been hard to find this out beforehand because he covered the subject in the last few CD’s. I started my CFA journey before they had the December L1 exam so I may not be the best advisor here, but my advice for a random person in your position would be that if you passed level I in December 2007, and if you want to increase your chances of going 3 for 3 and not wasting time studying just to fail, would be to not write in June 2008. With a pass rate of, let’s say, 40% the odds of you passing only using Schweser books/CD/seminar, starting in mid-January, with a lot of other committments such as family, and a hint of uncertainty about L1, your chances of passing are likely going to be even lower. L2, for me, was tough enough that I would suggest taking a break from Jan/07 to Oct/07 before giving a true 100% from Oct/Nov '08 to June/09. Taking a year off was the best thing I did to pass level II. You, I imagine, would be studying straight through from June '07 to June '08. If you find out in July '08 that you failed L2 you failed you aren’t likely to be in a great mood to re-study for L2 in ‘09. But, if you truly love this stuff, and are a faster learner than most, then why not give it the ol’ college try and go 3 for 3 in 20 months (or whatever it is). Just remember that by passing in Dec/07 you can get a nice 9 month (instead of only 3 or 4) break and still pass all 3 in less than 3 years. To each their own. That’s a lot of guessing there, but hopefully you’ve got my point.