Time to throw in the towel?

Not sure if I’m being defeatist or a realist, but I’m seriously considering giving up on the CFA path and in need of some words of wisdom. I’ve taken three full-length mocks after putting in about 165 hours of studying already, and my highest score is a 54%. The material is miserable and I really have no interest in any of it(I’m currently a trader, but don’t do much fundamental analysis), but have never quit anything in my life and feel like a loser if I were to give up on this.

I realize that the learning starts with the mocks, but there has been zero improvement so far. On L1, I was scoring low 60’s on the beginning mocks and passed by the skin of my teeth. Am I wasitng my time, or should I quit feeling sorry for myself and suck it up? To complicate things, it’s beautiful outside after a long Winter and I worry that I’m wasting my life away with this stuff.


Honestly there are too many factors in your life for any of us to give you a truly helpful answer. What’s going to transpire over the next few posts (probably) is a bunch of people putting their own feelings and experience into your situation, and then telling you what to do off of what they feel. So in that light, here’s what I’d say.

If you quit you won’t be a loser. The work you’ve put into it is a sunk cost. If the benefit you’ll get from continuing on isn’t worth the work you’ll have to put in from here on out, then don’t do it. If getting the CFA is worth the amount of work from here on out you’ll have to do, then go for it. Don’t consider the work you’ve already done, or things like “feeling like a loser”. Those are just emotional attachments that shouldn’t factor into your decision.

Also, 54% on mocks with 2 months to go certainly doesn’t seem like the end of the world to me. When I did my first mock for level 1 it was 55%. I did a bunch of review and got my mocks up to 70-78%, and I scored at least that well on the actual exam. 165 hours is only about half of what you should spend studying for this test, so to me that says you can definitely pass this thing if you put in the appropriate amount of work.

To me, this sounds like a question not so much of “Can I do it” but moreso, “Am I willing to do as much as I need to in order to do it?” Nobody else can answer that second question for you.

Valid points. However, I think this is more of the “Can I do it?” vs. “Am I willing to put in the time?” My third full mock that I just finished was my worst score yet - 48%. I theoretically could get a 33% by randomly guessing. Not too encouraging…

^For once, I’m actually going to agree with SpareTime. (I agreed with TopperHarley the other day too. The sky must be falling.)

You’ve got seven weeks until May 30. If you study 15 hrs/week, that’s 100 hours. Then you can get another 50 or so in during the last week (if you take the week off). And you’ll be surprised at how much you gain once you start doing practice questions. It engages your brain in a way that passively reading the material doesn’t.

Don’t take this the wrong way, because I only intend for it to be helpful. We know something is wrong, either your understanding or your test-taking approach. I would review all of your completed mock exams very thoroughly. Every question, irrespective of whether you answered correctly, should be investigated. If these are CFAI exams, this is even better, because their reasoning is the one that matters and the one you need to adopt. Take detailed notes on your completed mocks and review them. Is there a pattern to your incorrect answers (Derivatives questions, maybe the questions later in a section when you’re not fresh, maybe it’s the calculation questions, etc…)? If it is a content-based pattern, revisit that material and drill it with new questions as well as the CFAI (used or unused) questions. If it is a test-progression pattern, that is– you nail the first 30 questions and bomb the last 30 (out of 60), then try to build stamina or determine how to keep your mind fresh. If it is a question type that gets you, become more neat in your calculations (scratch work, calculator), submerge yourself with the strict definitions and relationships (for explain/describe/concept type questions). I would do all of this before using another mock exam. This should really help reinforce a lot of material, especially if you can rework questions. If this takes you a week, and you can come back and start nailing some new practice material, then take a new mock. I would be very surprised if you didn’t see an improvement. I really think things will start to click if you can dive into the material like this (and I really think the true measuring stick is CFAI-provided practice material, but a 3rd party (probably) can’t hurt to build up a foundation). I absolutely think you can do it. Most people don’t put in the work, either because of other commitments or because of a lack of understanding what it means to work for something.

Hopefully, something here helps you out. If not, check this out, and try to tell me you “can’t do it”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgmVOuLgFB0

or this: http://www.wimp.com/rulessuccess/

This is why I’m so defeatist right now. I’ve done three full mocks, so 360 questions, graded them, reworked the problems that I missed, and my scores are actually getting worse.

^Just keep plugging & chugging. Do it 15 hours a week until May 15. I guarantee that you’ll start to see improvement.

Well at least you have taken 3 mocks already. I am sure that there are many candidates who arent even through the whole curriculum once. I, for one, haven’t even taken a mock yet…

If you put enough time and effort into the exam, I guess you would be able to increase your score.

That’s the group I’m in right now. I started about 2 months ago, and I’m reading the CFAI books. I only have ethics left, though. (I think) I’ve been moving pretty quickly. Work does put a damper on the studying, so I’m hoping I’ve retained a decent amount when I start doing mocks and revisiting EOCs.

This is a dangerous precedent.

I’m also in the same boat. The fact that you got through the whole curriculum in 165 hours makes your low mock scores unsurprising…you simply haven’t given yourself enough time!

I’m sure I’m close to passing the 165 hour mark and I’m only on fixed income. My plan is to finish the curriculum by May 5th, then write a quick mock to gauge where I’m at…then go over the 11th hour guide and write flash cards on every concept and formula from the guide that I know I’ll need help remembering, then go over those suckers like crazy while doing as many mocks as I can before the exam. Maybe re-read a couple readings that give me trouble on the exams.

So I don’t do much fundamental analysis either (actually, none). Plus, I don’t expect earning the CFA designation to impact my career trajectory. But, I’m constantly surprised by how much the content surfaces when I read the Financial Times. I enjoy having a deeper understanding of current financial matters. Hardly enough to want to poke needles in my eyes though!

I was going to bag the exam myself but I figure that buckling down for 2 months is hardly “my life.” And, I’m competitive so I want to keep up w/ everyone on this site who seems to have the curriculum nailed.

If you’re taking practice exams, you’re likely well ahead of most candidates.

Is this about the Level 2 or the whole designation?

If its about this June, it does not matter how bad you think you are going to fail. If you intend to finish, you need to learn the material. If you walk away now, you are giving up two months for this year’s attempt - and two months for next year’s. Just keep pushing through. Worst case scenario, you have a better starting point for next June than you would otherwise.

Your response about reviewing mocks is a problem. You said you reviewed every question you got wrong. If youre getting 60 questions wrong, that implies youre guessing on ~90 (i know this isnt precise but its a guideline). You need to hit every single question. The schweser mocks ask questions on LOSes they feel are above avg odds of getting asked. There are more than 3000 pages of curriculum, if Schweser uses one of the 120 questions in a mock to ask about a certain page, you need to know everything about that page.

Well passing L2 will certainly do little for your career path now. Especially as a trader .

In terms of passing, you can most certainyl pass if you tried. the material isn’t rocket science, it’s all plain english, and all it comes down to is determination and willingness to study hard.

The real questions are simply 1) how much do you want it? either to prove to yourself you can or if you think it’ll take you places later in life. and 2) are you wiling to keep working on it? because the material just takes time and effort

What the heck is wrong with you mate?

If you really are a trader, I don’t understand how you can throw in the towel like this! CFA L2 will DEFINITELY help your career, maybe not now but definitely a few years down the line.

Would you resign your position immediately if you show up one morning and your o/n P&L was down 200k? No right, you’d get a few cups of coffee and prepare to fight till the closing bell. That’s what you gotta here too mate.

I just don’t get traders who sign up for CFA and quit - if you give your best and fail, then that’s another thing and it doesn’t make you a looser. But atleast give it your best shot.

Don’t trust me? Listen to Churchill - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L90BCEVH41U

Conclusion: Never give in, never give in, never never never.

Thanks to everyone for the advice.

I think I’ve reached the point where it’s not “Can I?,” but rather “Why bother?” I may be able to pass if I make this test my every waking moment of every day, but it’s a matter of desire. The subject matter really doesn’t interest me, the charter likely won’t further my career given that I live in a small job market and don’t want to move, and at this point I likely wouldn’t take level 3 if I passed.

This could all be reactionary as I’ve never really dealt with failure like this before. Planning on taking a day off and clearing my head, and then either being all in or out. I appreciate the help

I personally believe that eveyone must have a decent level of confort when crossing the CFA path, if not, you must just save your level 1 knowledge and start learning other tools that can be even more effective for your career and personal projection.

Level 1 is a nice base anywhere, you won’t get promoted surely but at least you achieved a standard that is respected. Unfortunately it won’t last too much longer so start learning another martial arts :smiley:

Good luck in everything you get into !

Not sure why you’re already taking full-length mocks with still 2 months before the exam. And only after studying a little more than 150 hours… Seriously, what were you expecting?

This shouldn’t come to you as news, but passing all 3 levels is no walk in the park. In fact I failed Level III twice – but vowed to continue pushing on and cross that finish line. And that’s with two toddlers < 5 years old at home. Hard work, self-belief and determination helped me get there because “I wanted it”. And so I got it.

But it doesn’t really sound like you do. If that’s the case, then do yourself a favor and forgo the stress/anguish/troubles related to prepping for each level and just give up now. (Not being harsh, just direct.)

If these three points are really true and not a result of transitory bad mood then do yourself a favour and stop bothering. CFA curriculum is not so hard (at least level I and II, I’m not familiar with level III) but it’s pointless to put efforts in something which won’t bring you futher benefits or at least joy. Just accept the sunk costs and move on.