Studying tips...CFA Level I: June 2008

I am sitting in for the CFA Level I exam in June. I was wondering if anyone had some good study tips. How did you guys manage to study all the material and actually retain it? Currently, I am reading the cirruculum that were sent as part of the CFA Regisration. Taking notes as I read takes way too long, so I am just highlighting as I read. I am planning to make index cards as well at the end of each reading. Will I be able to pass if I just read the books first, then review like crazy? Any tips/pointers and to hear what worked for different people is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Ok, so here goes: First, have a healthy respect for the difficulty of the exam and the stress you will face in the final weeks by starting early and hitting it hard during your first couple months. I made notecards of key formulas and concepts as I went, I think having notes or notecards of key principles is important, however, you will wind up with like 200 notecards at the end if you do this. Highlighting is definitely important, buy a family pack of highlighters because you will be surprised how fast you go through them. Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of material, the first two books are the hardest to get through, after that you’ll find that the material progresses and builds on itself, so its not as bad as it seems, I found towards the tend that many concepts were repeated 2-3 times, particularly regarding valuations. Get your calculator early and read the entire manual, it might take an hour or so, but it will pay off in dividends, there’s alot of useful stuff in there. For level 1 (using TI) don’t use the “bond” function, instead when you need to value a bond just use the “PV” function, learning the “amort” function is also VERY helpful. Decide what your availability of time is, and then create a schedule for yourself up until the actual test date and STICK TO IT. Do all the practice problems as you go, and try to leave 4-6 weeks to review at the end. If you are a full time employee, plan on taking off for the final week before the test, believe me, its a stressful time and even if you end up not needing it, it’ll be good just for lowering the stress and making sure your rested. Use AF alot, and the more CFA Institute practice tests you take, the better. They are a HUGE help. As the tests approach, people will post difficult questions they encounter on practice tests or reviews. Spending 30 minutes to 1 hour a day browsing the forums and solving these brain teasers keeps you sharp and is a great firedrill. Just don’t get depressed if the questions seem overly hard that are posted, remember, in most cases people only post them because they are unusually difficult, they are not indicative of normal questions. As far as ethics, during the review period I took several days and memorized notecards with all the ethics sections on them (just the concepts, not word for word). Then once I had memorized the notecards to the point where I can tell you what section III.A) covers, I reread the ethics section and did all the practice questions and examples. If you do this, ethics is an automatic in, and therefore, so is approximately 15% of the test. My email is if you have any questions, just reference CFA in the title so I don’t delete it as spam.

thank you for the study tipss and advice

oofoodoo, I feel your pain - I am also working my way throught the CFA supplied books. Two things I have tried to do: Pay attention the general theme of the LOS covered by the reading - sometimes the text jumps around and separates topics that are covered in a single LOS. In that case I write in margin to cross-reference the other area. After reading the text, go back a day later or so and do the review questions. I can often do the questions easily just after I have read, but after a couple days and reading other stuff, I need a good refresher. This helps me retain stuff better and connect my current reading with previous topics.

los- how far have you gotten into your books? are you planning to use any other material to study other than the curriculm sent by the CFA institute? i know a friend who just read the curriculum for Level 1 and Level 2 and took the cfa practice exams and review intensively and passed both levels on the first try. he is going for his level 3 this june and did not use any other material…crazy huh?

I am just about done with volume 1. I previewed/skimmed the books to see what lies ahead. I am trying to use the CFA stuff as primary source. It seems pretty good, but I am planning to get the Q’bank as the exam gets closer. Before the CFA created these expensive textbooks, I would have prefered a third party source, but the CFA stuff is okay for now. I’ll see how I feel as the day gets closer.