Secret of Your Success

For those of you who just received your passing results for L1, could you please share what study strategies (and study materials) you used to properly prepare for the exam?

No secret really. Read, then practice until comprehension. Schweser/Stalla have study kits that include notes, flashcards, practice exams, and a question bank. SchweserPro Qbank is the best utility in my opinion. If nothing else, buy that. If you have the cash, buy a Schweser/Stalla premium package that runs ~$1,000.

I’ll be posting my own personal Secret Sauce sometime by end of this coming weekend. It’ll have a review of Schweser/Stalla since I used both as well as some tips I gleamed from my experience.

I’d highly recommend taking a week off work before you take the test. Don’t do anything more than lightly revise the day before. I, personally, think that ploughing through the cfa-i books is the best way to prepare. At the end of a section, do the questions at the end of the chapter and make sure you understand what the answer should have been if you got a question wrong. I found the schweser qbank to be a useful supplement, but the style of the questions was quite different. Give yourself as much time as possible to review, and make sure you know everything. You can’t just skate by knowing ‘everything except that one section’. good luck!

hey Jlive been following your blog, congrats on passing man, job well done, not only on this but all your other achievements that you’ve mentioned on your site. Def a motivation 2 me 2 go back to school and do what I have to do. Thanks man.

a. Do all the Qbank/Passmaster questions after every reading. b. Take mock exams before the test until you get 70-80%. a + b = pass

Based on my experience of the evening session exam, I would recommend to focus on the text as much as you can, not at the cost of practice though. Simply, I am no more a big fan of exams practice viz a viz text readings since practice strengthen your concepts but does not introduce you to new concepts and that is the area where text readings out perform practice. Text readings did play a crucial role in the PM session and I was happy that I had spent a fair amount of time on the text material. AND I passed the exam

Thanks chief. Appreciate the kind words JP_RL_CFA Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > hey Jlive been following your blog, congrats on > passing man, job well done, not only on this but > all your other achievements that you’ve mentioned > on your site. Def a motivation 2 me 2 go back to > school and do what I have to do. Thanks man.

the below is what worked for me. 1. read shcweser notes. at the end of each study session, do the schweser concept checkers for all chapters within the SS (sometime - if this was a particularly tough chapter or too much to take in id do them after each chapter). do a few qbank quizzes as you go through an SS. make notes on your weak areas in the secret sauce or in a notebook. 2. read the schweser notes for a second time and do further qbank quizzes. You will find you have retained probly about 20% more this time, on top of the 50-60% you retained on the first read. redo the concept checkers - these take no time at all. DO THE CFAI BACK OF BOOK QUESTIONS. this will start to get your mind into the institutes question types. Some you may choose to skip - i know i skipped alot of the big FSA questions within the CFAi text as they took too long. This comes with a disclaimer though only do that if your scoring well on schweser notes questions, qbank and past exams etc. 3. by now you should be about a month out, and just doing as many questions as possible and also reading your notes or secret sauce (i used that and made notes all the way through it instead of taking notes). do 120 question qbank quizes on weak areas, mock exams, more CFAi back of book questions, CFA mocks + samples. when doing mocks DONT get dishearthened when you are scoring < 70% . I didnt get above 70% in any of the 6 schweser mocks (started at about mid 50s and ended up at 67 % on my final one). same goes for the 3 CFAi samples and 2 CFAi mocks. I still ended up passing 8/10 >70%. 4. a study timetable may help you or may not. my advice though - spend the time studying based upon the weightings. therefore dont stress if your really struggling with derivs. its only 5%. On the other hand - know FSA (20%), Ethics (15%) etc cold. Dont neglect ethics - id recommend reading the CFAi text at least for this topic plus doing the ethics self study exam and knowing the questions/answers from that back the front. Dont neglect GIPS. other points to note: * some will of course disagree with this, but i mostly avoided the CFAi texts as i found them too verbose and time consuming. however, if an area was too tough or i struggled with it (like quant) i also read the CFAi notes on top of schweser. in my opinion - the CFAi is all alot to do with time management. you could read the CFAi books once or potentially get though the schweser notes twice. having read something more concise twice is far better for your retention. not sure if these strategy will work on lvl 2, as ive heard its a little more difficult and the topics go into more depth. Further, I also found that there was only about 3 or 4 questions max on the exam that i had no clue how to answer from my schweer knowledge - not sure if that meant they were in the CFAi notes or i just didnt understand the questions. either way 4 out 240 is hardly worth stressing over. * understand what the LOS is asking. If it states for you to ‘calculate’ or ‘explain’, you should aim to be able to do that. If it is asking for you to ‘define’, thats a 1 or two line definition. easy. If it says ‘calculate’ then youll most likely need to know the formula behind what your doing. Schweser answers the LOSs very well in that regard. * dont try and memorise a formula without understanding the calculation behind it or what it is trying to do or practising it. This may not work for you, but if you are still trying to memorise a formula, in my opinion you havent done enough questions to practise the concept. * towards the end, use your notes/secret sauce. read it on the bus to drill those concepts in to your head. most of us dont have photographic memories so repition is the only way to learn. Thats all i can think of for now and im happy to stand corrected on any of the above.

Figure 400 hours Reading: Stalla + CFAI Practice: Passmaster Review: Schwer Secret Sauce As many practice tests as possible. LEARN FROM YOUR WRONG ANSWERS For me this was: - Three Stalla Practice Tests - 6 Schweser Practice Trsts - Two CFAI Mocks - Stalla Mocks

  1. Read 2) Take notes 3) Practice problems Repeat as often as possible

Started studying 1 month prior about 5-6 hours a day on weekdays 12 hours a day on weekends. Used only Schweser… never opened CFA institute books. Definitely get the week off beforehand if you can. Study approx. 10-11 hours per day in the final week (including practice test time). Try to read through each of the Schweser books at least once, several times for trickier topics and fill up a notebook writing things that are difficult over and over again until they make sense. If you can’t get through all of the books skip derivatives and alternative investments and just use secret sauce for them - they are a very low percentage of the test. I personally found Quant methods difficult to grasp as some of it seems vague without applications so I did it after studying FSA, Port Management, Equity investments / Corp fin and seeing it in a broad sense jogged my memory of concrete examples from the other topics. Don’t start ethics until about a week before the test… its pretty much pure memorization with applied logic, so if you study it first you’ll probably end up forgetting it. Also, Secret Sauce is crucial, carry it with you wherever you go and read it during any free time if even only for a few minutes. Most importantly: Get in the habit of doing the practice tests (Schweser; the CFA ones are too easy) – you need to get a feel for the test and the time constraints. Don’t Fret about how you do on the practice exams, I failed everyone I took ending with a 67% rating as my best score - the ones on the exam seemed (for the most part) easier than the Schweser questions. I took my first practice test a week and a half before, then two in the final week. Day before the exam I reviewed in the morning and took half a practice test and relaxed the rest of the day. Total Study Time: About 180-200 hrs. Not saying this is the best way to do it but it worked for me and I got >70% on everything but Derivatives and Alt investments.

Things I learned: Things that worked: 1) Keep a study schedule with a certain # of pages to read per day and stick to it. 2) Leave yourself at least a month to review before the exam 3) Take as much time off as possible right before the exam. I would never have expected this, but the three days of studying immediately prior to the exam was where most of the material came together for me. 4) Take the number of hours the CFA recommends and double it. The reason people fail the exam is because they don’t put in enough time. It may sound like overkill but I think it’s better to put the time in initially and pass than having to take the test twice. 5) Writing notes and formulas in the columns of the texts. 6) Q-Bank. Invaluable for two reasons. First of all, it’s very important to get the timing down for the questions and get used to tests again. I’ve been out of college for 6 years and could not believe how rusty I was on taking tests. I had no concentration or stamina and found myself taking WAY too long on questions. This improved dramatically after a few hundred questions. The second reason is because I found that the Qbank questions were much harder than the exam questions. This helped me figure out which areas I needed to focus on before the exam. 7) Spend a lot of time on Ethics and GIPS. It’s short. Re-read it five or six times to make sure you nail it. Also, know your GIPS inside and out. 8) Focus more on the qualitative than the quantitative. LI is much more about showing your knowledge than applying to it problems. If an equation has more than 3-4 sets of parentheses, it’s probably not showing up on the exam. 9) Popping two Excedrin prior to each exam period. Holy shit, I was “in the zone” for both of the three-hour periods. Scarcely noticed anything else around me. Also, no aches and pains from being hunched over for that long. I would totally recommend this. Things that didn’t work for me: 1) Notecards–threw away about 1,000 notecards that I made but never used. 2) Notes–same deal. Found myself wanting to review by re-reading the texts and looking at my underlined passages rather than looking at my notes. 3) Study group. While it’s nice to have other people keep you motivated, I didn’t get as much out of my study group as I expected. Maybe it’s because I found that the biggest challenge was remembering the material not understanding it. 4) Trying to master the material on the first read-through. I felt like a stud getting 80% to 90% on the quizzes at the end of the chapters. This made reading very slow and, to my utter dismay, I would find that I had totally forgotten concepts I had “mastered” a couple of months ago when I went back to review them. I would say that it takes two-three full readings for the concepts to sink in, depending on your background. If I had to do it again, I would read the material once through quickly. Then read through more carefully and do quizzes. 5) Not reviewing concepts until the end. Wanted to finish with all of the texts before going back and review turned out to be a major disaster. I totally flipped out when I realized I had one month left to review and could hardly remember anything from the quant reading. I would purchase Qbank from the beginning and incorporate review into studying at all times. 6) Not giving myself more time to do CFA quizzes and practice. I would have felt more confident going into the test having done the full range of practice exams. Good luck to everyone taking future LI exams! Hope this provided some insight.

^ greatest handle ever.

CFAI textbooks + a little bit of Qbank and CFAI tests. I read each book cover to cover, did every single problem and took detailed notes on everything. I filled 3 notebooks. It is fairly time consuming but it made me understand everything and remember it all very clearly. I also quit drinking alcohol for the last month before the exam. Highlight like crazy. It makes it a million times faster when you do your review. The day of the exam I didn’t risk having lunch because it usually tires me out, so instead I had a ridiculously massive breakfast which filled me up all day.

There are no shortcuts, no gaming of the test. You just have to learn the material inside and out. Plenty will tell you that Schweser or Stalla exclusively is enough to pass but I read the CFAI texts for my first run through the material, then relied on Schweser almost exclusively for review. I would strongly encourage anyone to get through the curriculum 4-5 weeks before the exam and then spend that last month reviewing.

Just make sure you understand the concepts really well and do LOTS of questions so you know how to apply the concept well too. Not much a secret, but it will work.

-Use the last month of prep to review & do practice exams -If you don’t understand a concept the first time through, then move on and come back to it. SS9 really didn’t click for me at first, but I came back to it later and it suddenly made sense. -Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t finding motivation to study 7 days a week, but at the same time, try to keep to a schedule. -Use free time to go over formulas. I had the Schweser QuickSheet and Secret Sauce which I took with me when traveling, working out, etc.

$600++ for schweser -use notes, with Q cards to write the main points. If you dont understand read the text book. Q cards are great for review but is not good enough -Q bank after every study session. and refer Q cards before hand. Ensure you determine what questions you got wrong. adjust hardness level accordingly then, -1 month just for exam. schweser has 6 mock exam - way tougher and content is skewed to some topics. Once you finish an exam review question, write down concepts you do not understand or got wrong, and begin the next mock exam. after the 3rd mock, rate the 10 session, and browse the cfa text book for area you are very weak. take the boston mock exam and the cfai free exam. begin your next 3 mock exams and end with the 2 CFAI exams that you can purchase for 100 bucks If you are in vancouver, and need help feel free to email me. I have notes and mock exams. I also have the boston mock exam - but it had 4 choices as oppsed to 3 choices. PO and Gd lUCK :slight_smile: boston CFA test, 1 free from CFAI +

I must have barely passed, but all I did was read every word out of the CFAI texts and did every end of chapter problem. They can be a bit dry but I’ve been known to read text books for fun from time to time so I managed. And on the Thursday and Friday before the exam I went over the level I study guide on, which is a couple years old but still pretty close. I felt quite under-prepared going in test prep-wise thanks in large part to all the AFers talking about the 100,000 mock questions they’d done and 8-10 hour/day study sessions. But for the most part I know the material. I was contemplating buying some of the supplemental materials, but with my having so little time left at the end I decided it wasn’t worth the cost and I’d just take my shot without. I’d also planned to at least take the free mock exam from CFAI since it was like free and all, but I had a lot going on the week of the test and couldn’t do a two hour solid block of time so I did the investopedia review instead. Overall I was on the low end of study time. I’d planned to try and hit around the 250 hour mark by Dec. but I probably ended up more like 150-175 as I could almost never get myself to do anything on the weekends. On the night of I stayed at a Chinatown hotel in Chicago, (as it’s 1/2 the price and 1/4 mile away from the test center) had my favorite Chinese dish, and couple glasses of wine so I knew I’d sleep. Before the morning session I had a granola bar and a 5 hour energy and before the afternoon session I had a fabulously overpriced burger at the test center and another 5 hour energy.