Sharing: how I passed scoring >70% in all topics in a single attempt

I thought I’ve benefitted from AF to some extent and would like to give back… so I just wanna share my experience on how I prepared for my Level I and passed with flying colors in a single attempt. I took Level I in Jun 2012 and the passing rate was 38%.

for me the key to succeeding level I with all >70% was to deeply understand the concepts and became 100% familiar with the whole materials. Ingredients: I mainly used Kaplan Schweser books and only referred to CFAI textbooks when there were materials I couldn’t understand from the Kaplan books Duration of study: I started in the second week of Feb I think (I registered on 6 Feb 2012), so it was around 4 months. Contrary to popular opinions, I revised up until one night before the exam and I couldn’t actually sleep on that night (due to anxiety) so I only had around 2-3 hours of sleep (no kidding!) Mock exams: I did 3 mocks, one from CFAI and 2 from Kaplan. I scored around 75-80% for each mock (you’ll find out how I could achieve this below) Detailed steps of preparation: 1) read the Kaplan books once (including answering end-of-chapter questions), during reading, I highlighted important points and rewrote important/ difficult-to-understand points using my own wordings (~140 hours or 2.5 months) 2) re-read the Kaplan books for the second time, with more emphasis on the highlighted points and my own wordings. Also reading my own wordings helped me digested the information easier (~56 hours or 1 month) 3) re-read the Kaplan books for the third time and summarized all the important and easily forgotten points on separate papers (~28 hours or 2 weeks) 4) re-read my summary papers from step #3 (~14 hours or 1 week). by this time, I had truly mastered all materials 5) did in total 3 mock exams (1 from CFA and 2 from Kaplan) (18 hours or 2 days) -> the third mock is actually 1 night before the exam. 6) re-read my summary papers again -> still 1 night before the exam 7) went to bed at 10pm but couldn’t really sleep until I guess around 3 am, woke up at 5 am and had breakfast in the taxi (I was way too anxious, so it was my problem) the morning I arrived at the test center everyone was revising their notes, when I opened my notes I really saw nothing that needed to be revised, so I just sat there keeping myself calm… during the exam, I went through all questions once without skipping one number (as I went through the questions I was surprised at how easy the exam was)… I finished half an hour earlier… and the results were not at all surprising… Disclaimer: This is my method, may not work for others… I’m the type of person who will only do mocks after I have at least a good grasp of the materials… So good luck!

how to pass scoring >70% in all topics in a single attempt?

  1. bec L1 is easy

  2. studying well


not all L1 candidates are as smart as you, some of them don’t even have a finance background

In your first run through of the readings, did you just read without stopping? For example if you ran into a concept that you couldn’t fully grasp, did you try to understand the gist of it, move on, and then come back to it later?

Also, any advice on remembering the formulas?

I scored >70 on all L1 topics by reading the curriculum.

And then came Level III…


I passed June 2015 L1 with >70 in all areas. I did a lot of lurking on these forums and they were super helpful, so I thought I would start giving back a little.

Study Materials - I used the CFAI materials and bought the Schweser Essential Self-Study (although I hardly ever used the notes)

I started relatively early and obviouslly overstudied for the test (first attempt - wasn’t sure what to expect) but here was my method.

  1. Did all the CFAI readings (probably could have substituted Schweser Notes for most of this if I was crunched for time. The exception would be some of the Economics and FRA stuff I hear the CFAI did better).

  2. I took detailed notes throughout the readings. I tried to reword the readings in my own words. I never went back and actually read or studied from these notes, but the process of making them helped tremendously.

  3. I worked blue boxes and EOC as I went along. I worked Qbank at the end of study sessions/books to keep things fresh before moving on. I would also spend a lot of time trying to understand confusing concepts. If I couldn’t get something, I would research around (this forum, Khan academy videos, old college textbooks, etc…) until I really got the concept. If I felt like I was really spinning my wheels, I would move on and come back after I finished the reading. Sometimes, some of the concepts that directly follow can help clarify something that is confusing.

  4. The last month was my review. I went back and worked CFAI EOCs. By this point, I had stopped using the Qbank. I started working mocks in May (I took the live Boston Securities mock from the local CFA society, and there were 6 mocks in my Schweser package). I would say knocking out the Schweser mocks were the most beneficial part of my studying. They were comparable to the actual exam (for the most part) and helped me get a feel for what level I had to understand the material at. While I graded each mock, I would look up all the questions I missed in the book and read the section until I completely understood the question. The questions I missed were permanently committed to memory and definitely looked familiar on test day.

TLDR; You can probably use the CFAI (I would recommend) or Schweser Notes or whatever else. Taking notes in your own words helps a lot. Stopping and truly understanding a concept is good, even when it feels like you are wasting time. But don’t be afraid to move on, just make sure you revisit it. Work all EOCs and blue boxes and try to refresh a little bit with a Qbank as you complete major sections. Once you hit May, start crushing mocks and focus in on your weak areas.

I wouldn’t say you overstudied. It seems like you approached it to learn instead of merely passing (and most people seem only to care enough to pass)…good results for a good effort!

How many months did you prepare for all above? This looks like a good method.

This is the plan. Keeping important things in memory, going through practise questions and taking mocks.

Thanks for the heads up!

depends on the depth/ importance of a content… if it’s fundamental to the rest of the topics, i’ll try as hard as i can to understand it, if not, i’ll just put a big mark beside it in which i’d ask others after I have reviewed everything…

depends on the depth/ importance of a content…. if it’s fundamental to the rest of the topics, i’ll try as hard as i can to understand it, if not, i’ll just put a big mark beside it in which i’d ask others after I have reviewed everything…

a lot of formulas have logical reasonings behind them (for example CAPM), so I’ll try to understand the concepts which will make the formulas easier to remember… if not, i’ll go through them over and over again until they stuck in my brain (which of course I would unload the moment the exam was done)

Hey bro, can you please share your summery documents with me? like if you can scan them please!

HOlim, In my humble opinion, it is better to create your own summary. This would help you Muuuch more when it is crunch time. (s)he may have used some language or reminders only known to him. Try it, I am creating one myself. Thanks.

Hi how are you? Congrats!!!

What are blue boxes?

Hi how are you? Congrats!!!

What are blue boxes?

What Smurfette uses to pack her belongings into, as she movess from one mushroom to another.