Starting L3 prep tomorrow..need help please!


Owing to some unforseen circumstances, I couldn’t even start my preparations for the L3 exam. I finish my exams for my masters tomorrow and I have my exam on June 1st…that’s just less than two weeks. During the next two weeks, I’ll need to still attend a few hours at business school in the morning, but I have the remaining day to study. I know I’m not in the best position right now and I didn’t really opt for this, but I have no option and I need to give it my best. I don’t want to postpone L3 to the next year, since I really want to graduate this year with an L3, especially given the current economic situation. Last year, I spent 28 days studying CFA L2 (10 hours a days on average) and I cleared the test. However, I wasn’t super confident and I’m not sure if I remember everything from L2 now. Given the above, I have a few questions and I would appreciate if someone who has studied the syllabus or some L3 passout could answer:

  1. Which are the difficult/dry parts of the syllabus?

  2. How do you compare L3 to L2. I heard L2 is the toughest. How easier is L3 compared to L2?

  3. Any advice on strategy of studying?

  4. What do I refer to for mocks? I read somewhere that the Institute has mocks available online. Is this the case? 5. I have just the 5 books of Schweser (no mock books) and I plan to use them, since I don’t have the Institute books. I moved countries a few months back and the weight of the books deterred me from carrying them along, as the cost of paying the airlines was much more than the program cost. It just didn’t make any sense.

  5. Does Schweser have mock exam (volume 1 and 2) like they had for level 1 and 2? I’m asking this because I don’t have these books currently and I got the 5 study material books from a friend.

I really look forward to your reply and would appreciate any help in any possible way. I need to clear L3 this year and I seek your sincere help!

  1. Ethics, GIPS, Behavioral finance.

  2. Why does that even matter?

  3. Perhaps stop sleeping? Just do a ton of practice questions. Written and multiple choice ones.

  4. Yes, there are mocks online from CFAI.

  5. OK.

  6. Yes. Find as many mocks as you can and hammer them.

Wow, ballsy dude.

I’d recommend digging through an abridged study material (like Schweser, Stalla, etc.). If you’re feeling up for it, I’d start cranking 12+ hours a day and focus 100% of Portfolio Management. Pretty much every other concept centers around that.

Personally, I have found the material a lot less dry for Level III (compared to Level II). For me, it’s been more enjoyable. However, that does not mean it’s easier! I have plenty of friends that breezed through II only to be stumped on III (one of them failed III twice). Level III is all about how you can bring the material together and apply it to situations that call for judgment. It’s much less process oriented than II.

Similar to you, I passed Level II with about 5 weeks of cramming. However, the style of Level III makes it much less susceptible to that type of approach. This year, I started 6 weeks ago (at +10 hours/day) and am just beginning to finally feel comfortable with the material.

I’d recommend fixating on Private Wealth Management and Institutional, doing lots of questions in the Schweser books (although the EOC in the curriculum are better). Yes, Schweser does have volumes 1 and 2 of practice exams for Level III. They are helpful!

Long story short, …you’re screwed! But there is really no downside to going in and taking it. If nothing else, it would give you some good experience for next year. Good luck!

One last thing. Since time is tight, don’t bother spending any time reviewing Level II! While there are overlapping concepts, it’s all new material.

Unlike LII, not many difficult parts - some parts where staying awake is difficult - GIPS. Most of ethics is a repeat from LI and LII, except Asset Manager Code.

AM exam is going to be brutal due to its format. No way around it. Get hold of CFAI exams - search for “essay”, get guideline answers as well as questions off of the website.)

I hope you pass and post here if you do, though I will then secretly hate you :slight_smile:

Thanks for your reply.

  1. I asked for relative difficulty to Level 2 in order to get a fair idea of what’s coming up. I’ve been to level 2 and did it within 4 weeks, so just to get an idea before I start. 2. How do I grade my written test?

  2. There’s just one mock from CFA institute right? This is the one that was available for L1 and 2 as well. Any mocks from past years officially available? When I asked about CFAI mocks, I was talking about past mocks/exams. Sorry about that since I wasn’t clear.

thanks a lot bro! :slight_smile: Since it’s less dry, that’s good news! Reading will be faster. I spent hours trying to understand the drier subjects last year at L2. No next year bro. I’m giving this the best I can.

Thanks for your reply, mate.

What’s in the AM sections? Sorry for sounding lame here, but I’ll have no clue until I open my books 1.5 days later. For now, I know that the test has one part MCQ (50%?) and the remaining subjective essay type questions. Even if you tell me which one of these two types is brutal, I’ll get your point and will keep this in mind while I study. When you say get hold of CFAI exams, do you mean the one mock on the website or something additional. And I didn’t get your part ‘search for essay’. Also, where can I find guideline answers?

Yes, I’ll keep you posted in any case on how it goes. One thing is certain. I’m taking it - Pass or fail. I’m giving it my sweat and blood. I hope I pass eventually. If I do, I’ll buy you a few beers if you come this side. I’m not sure if that will be enough to erase the hatred, but I’ll try. :wink:

To a couple of your questions, there are very specific answer keys on how to grade your own exams. It can be a tedious, but informative process.

To your question on the essay vs. problem sets. The morning will be 3 hours of essay questions. Based on historical data on, 96% of candidates do worse in the morning than afternoon (not sure how valid that is). If you think about it, (assuming you need a 70% to pass) you could technically get a 40% in the morning, and still pass the exam (with a perfect afternoon). The morning session is likely to cover everything (maybe with the exception of ethics). I could be wrong, but in the past couple years I don’t think they have covered ethics in the morning. One can imagine how tricky it would be to devise and grade ethics related essays.

Some valuable insights…thanks a ton! I’ll get down to studying after a day and I’ll be in a better position to understand the test structure and requirements to pass. I’ll post here if I have any further questions…but really, thanks a lot.

HOW did you pass L2 in less than a month? Seriously, HOW?

Bro, it was tough…I wouldn’t suggest that…but it took a lot of effort…I’m starting my CFA level III this evening (5 hours from now) and I know its going to be even difficult that last year’s level II.

If you still haven’t started it, or just started it two week back and hence asking me that question, I would suggest you read one of my past posts here…a post I made last year on the forum.

If you have started much earlier and are just curious, I would say you are on the right track and you’re better off giiving CFA L2 more time than 4 weeks…

Hi man, you are not alone

I am also having the same issue as you as I just read it in a very super slow speed. I just take leave for these two weeks and want to kill the L3 exam.

May be we can then work together

Cool bro, we can do it together…How much have you read so far? I’m starting off my studies now in 12 hours…currently just spending time looking at the subjects this year, the passing rate, developing a strategy and so on.

Man wish I could take off 4-6 weeks of work to just cram. Unfortunately have to drag out the study process over six long months. Good luck

I would say don’t do it to yourself. Even if you work 15 hours a day between now and the exam I think you still fail unless you get both a) lucky on the morning section and b) are a super genius.

Right now it sounds like you dont have the faintest clue about the curriculum, so I would say just write it off and take a vacation instead or do something fun. I dont think this is your year.

For what its worth, I don’t think its mine either. I’ve already put in 200 hours or more into this and I still get plenty of stuff really wrong on the practice exams. Things like GIPS are still very vague in my mind. You dont even have practice exams. You don’t even know what GIPS is about. You’ll get clobbered in the morning section. You can’t just be smart and guess your way to victory. You’ll need to show all sorts of shit that you do not have time to learn.


The CFAI essay questions you refer to on the CFA website - are these past essay mock tests from previous years?

I hadnt seen these mentioned at all before until I saw your post. Do you know of any more resources like that, I am currently trying to get through as many mocks as possible (completed Schweiser 2013).



I finish the book 4 and the fixed income part, now working on the individual IPS

My stretagy is that read the session 4, session 5 and the fixed income part, and then come back for the other parts.

How is your strategy?

I attempted L2 in 2011 having only studied 3 weeks. I failed Band 8. I might have managed to pass if I had taken more practice exams. One more week and six additional mocks would have done the trick.

That being said, I’m a candidate who has attempted the ultra condensed study strategy. You’re not going to like my opinion, but there’s almost no chance at passing L3 with only two weeks of study. L3 simply requires more prep owed entirely to the essay section. You need to complete at least 4 or 5 practice exams to get a feel for the format, timing, grading, etc… Everyone I’ve talked to that failed L3 who put in a quality effort, aka study hours, said that they failed as a result of taking to few or no practice exams.

So instead of studying material and we shoudl do the practice exam directly?