The hardest test you'll ever take, really?

I don’t know how to describe this bullshit - sucking your own D?

i can see registratons rising even more as it get mainstream attention. at the end of the day, it’s just a business

I wonder if the CFA trend will decline with the overall decline of people pursuing degrees

Decline of people pursuing degrees?

Looked at the comments… I liked the plumbing reference!

They are right though, medical exams, professional engineering license, actuary exams… All much harder.

Question - who here has taken an exam that is harder than the CFA exam? If so, what was it?

I will freely admit that the CFA exam is the most difficult exam I have ever taken.

Same for me

Wait, are you serious? Pretty much every single exam I took in college is harder than CFA. I’m almost certain I scored 95% or higher for L1 and L2. Maybe you could say it’s almost impossible to “fail” a normal exam (you could get a D- and still pass). However, in terms of content depth, how are these even comparable?

I had a prostate exam that was pretty tough.

While I definitely didn’t do as well as you, I don’t disagree. The scope makes it challenging though and the fact most of us studied to a point that gave us a very high pass probability adds to the stress. There was a chance I could have failed any of the levels. I would say your confidence with the exams is rare. For whatever reason, I was usually not in doubt when it came to my university exams even though they required higher level thinking.

Did you major in finance or a related field? I had no real background in stats, finance or accounting which meant a bit of a learning curve.

Someone on AF PMed me saying the MCAT was harder than L2.

I have a business background but not science really at all so it has been a steep learning curve for me thus far with the MCAT. Part of the challenge is that you have to get a 90th percentile score to be competitive in applying to schools where many are 5% or lower acceptance rates.

I literally had no idea it was this competitive when I started as I mainly just knew the stats for GMAT and H/S/W B-school admissions.

what makes this exam difficult is the amount of concepts you have to remember. while in university you would have a course on derivatives, and then a midterm on a specific thing, you would know that you have to study that one thing. here, you have to know everything well. That’s the only reason why it’s tough. More of a marathon than a sprint study-wise.

Do you think it had something to do with you studying in the ballpark of 300 hours for each exam (at least for level 2)? Every test in college was a night before cram session for me and I went to a pretty tough school.

I thought ohai’s post was sarcastic… I hope it is.

Hmm. I did not expect this sort of response, but I will try my best to reconcile my experience with these opinions.

  1. Some knowledge of finance probably helps. However, I still don’t see this making a huge difference. For instance, I had zero knowledge of financial statements, but reading L2 material once or twice is enough to understand the accounting part. Anyway, is this material harder than partial differential equations? Is it harder than fluid mechanics? What about pre college topics, like A Levels organic chemistry? CFA is objectively easier than any of these.

  2. Ok, I agree that CFA is broader than many exams. However, the fact that the material is not deep should cancel some of this…

  3. Also true that for CFA you have to “only” score 70%. In MCAT, for instance, you want to score 99.99999%, which is quite hard.

  4. You have a lot of time to study for CFA - but doesn’t this make the test easier, since you have no effective time limit? Maybe keeping the commitment to study is the hard part? But I don’t see the problem here. If you do the work, you will pass. It’s not like quantum physics or something where you might still fail no matter what you do.

  5. Prostate exam - depends if you believe on mixing business with pleasure.

I did a decent amount of math in undergrad (was originally comp sci) and I would say the CFA was harder due to the breadth and limited experience with the subject. I really don’t think you can ignore the breadth, it’s a lot of different topics to keep in your mind. Yes, Calc 4 may be somewhat more challenging but once you gain the intuition I honestly didn’t find it that hard, whereas CFA requires a lot of memorization.

The qualifying exams I took for my Master’s degree at university (complex analysis, abstract algebra, topology) were probably the hardest exams I ever faced.

My first reaction to greenies question was “yes definitely have taken harder exams” including a cumulative final in graduate econometrics that also required knowing some programming and the grad school qualifying exam in which everything I learned in every class was fair game and the outcome determined whether or not I earned a degree. Compared to the stress of that, the CFA was very easy.

I think most PhDs would say the qualifying exams were more difficult/stressful.

i call bs. no way you you understand L2 accounting reading it once or twice.

half of it is root memorization