Studying Mistakes from Level 1, any suggestions on becoming more efficient

Hey everyone,

First time posting here but I used the forums to get through level 1 this past June, so thank you. One of the things i’m looking to address for the level 2 exam is to make better use of my study time. For level 1 I made around 500 flash cards, and took a massive amount of notes. Just making the flash cards and notes took at least 100 hours. I did all of the EOC questions from CFAI, I read the Elan study notes and did their questions as well. I also completed multiple mock exams and re-did as many questions as possible.

When it came to actually preparing for the exam I found the flash cards to be a complete waste (I couldn’t find a strategy to effectively memorize 500 flash cards in 6 weeks). I also never ended up reading my notes after writing them; I found using Elan’s 11’th hour guide to be far more effective (I came to the conclusion that Elan would have a better understanding of what the key concepts were than I would have when I prioritized what to write down as notes.) Do any of you feel that writing down the concepts, either on flash cards or notes, is worth the effort if your not going to re-read any of it? I had every intention of doing so but I found mock exams, practice questions and formula retention to be far more important. At the end of the day i’m looking to be more efficient in my studying. This is probably something I should have developed during university but in all honesty university was very easy for me; attend class, study 2 days before exam, get good grades. I feel like I never learned how to study properly and I feel like I wasted at least 1/3 of my time learning this while preparing for level 1. I’d rather not make that mistake this time even though I comfortably passed level 1.

Thank you,


I guess it depends on how you learn. For me, writing things out is a way of drilling it into my head as well as “actively” reading as opposed to just plowing through the very dense material only to forget it instantly after you close the book. Also I find that if I’m writing it out and I don’t understand something, I’ll take a minute to think it through before moving on, which helps with absorbtion as well.

I’ll put it this way. I tried to take shortcuts in 2013 for L2 and failed band 5. I outlined every chapter in every book for 2014 and passed with 6 subjects above 70%.

Don’t take shortcuts. You will regret it.


Thanks for the reply. I hear what your saying about trying to take shortcuts, and appreciate the advice. I still plan on doing just as many hours of study (if not more) but I would prefer those hours were used in more effective ways.

Your right that it entirely depends on how I personally learn and I guess this might be something I have to grapple with myself. Though it is good to hear you feel that writing down the concepts really drills it in. I certainly agree with you that after I read something I instantly forget it if I don’t think about it critically and write it down. Perhaps I will try that again this year.



I personally think flashcards and all that is a waste of time. I read CFAI and highlight. Then go thru CFAI a second time reading only your highlights (doing all EOCs through each pass). Then take mocks. And I did use the schweser secret sauce for review. Everybody has their own formula though, there’s many ways to pass L2.

I passed level 1 1st time in December 2011, made a load of flash cards but ended up not really using them to revise, did a shitload of mocks in the last month and passed ok.

I then did level 2 in June 2012, decided not to make flash cards as I only had 3 months to prepare. failed band 9.

came back in 2013, read the material again, made a huge pile of flashcards and passed with >70% in all sections. then in 2014, made an even bigger pile of flashcards and passed level 3 with another high score.

For me, flash cards for levels 2 and 3 were essential, i found I retained a lot lot more from the read through and I found them useful to flick through although I never read through them as much as I should have

When I did level one I made two-sided single space pages for each study session as a kind of executive summary. I thought it really helped a) learn the information because it was necessary to distill the essence of each reading into a few bullet points and b) serve as a study guide when I cam back to review. I imagine I’ll do the same for level 2.

My fiance (who also passed) had a similiar experience to OP and created flash cards for each LOS. It turned out to be a massive waste of time because that is just too many damn flash cards to actually use. The time would have been much better spent creating a more efficient study guide.

From the above opinions it looks like most of you concur that writing down the important concepts helps drive it into your memory. This time around I may do the same, except I wont expect to be able to memorize my stack of flash cards. I actually got extremely frustrated when trying to memorize all the flash cards; attempting to memorize 500+ in a few weeks is impossible for me. My strategy this time is going to be printing out the LOSs and writing down the notes and formulas relevant to them. I feel like trying to memorize everything was my biggest mistake last time around, i’ve accepted I wont be able to memorize everything and instead I will try to gain a solid understanding of each LOS.

haven’t read your post but I thought I’d share something important…DO NOT guess while practicing, leave the question unfilled and come back to it later…read the answer religiously

Read Schweser notes, know everything in there. Their entire job is to make studying for this exam efficient. Unless you’re a super studying machine, go on eBay and buy used Schweser notes from the year before (not much difference in curriculum), they can be purchased for like 50-100$ and it’ll save you 50-100 hours.

Practice exams and mock exams and answers to those questions are invaluable.

I made flashcards only while reviewing mocks, whenever I got something wrong because I didn’t know something. I doubt I ended up with more than 100 cards but they were key, and I knew them all cold by exam day. 500 sounds over the top.

To add to this thread, I would like to know if third party study material are worth it.

For L1, I read from the curriculum a little bit past FRA and used Elan as supplement but I realized it was taking too long to read so I started using Elan as my primary source and curriculum as supplement.

I did pass because I did all EOC questions and Elan question bank, plus mocks. But I’m wondering if I can get by just skimming the textbooks for L2.

EDIT: To add to my comment above, I was kind of disappointed with Elan’s preparation to get the material ready. On the website, they said they were going to have everything ready by January but didn’t get here until 1-2 months later. They threw in the 11th hour study guide but I barely used that since it was late anyways. In regards to Schweser I have a mac, which means their qbank won’t work.

Writing my own flashcards for every concept with examples was essential to me passing all three levels. I suggest that every candidate do the same.