My nick here is CFAilure and there is some good reason for it:
L1 2005 - fail
L1 2006 - pass
L2 2007 - fail
L2 2008 - fail
L2 2009 - fail
L2 2010 - fail
L2 2011 - fail
L2 2012 - never happened, studied two years for the next attempt
L3 2013 - fail
L2 2014 - pass
L3 2015 - fail
L3 2016 - never happened, studied two years for the next attempt
L3 2017 - pass
I know what is feels getting bad news several years a row. You are totally alone in the universe. You know that you failed and you saw your matrix. But you also studied your soul off, you put enormous amount of time and effort. What is to be done? Switch prep provider? Put 20% more hours the next year? 50% more? Skip the next year and get a rest? Maybe to drop off the CFA Program?
The problem is aggravated by your emotional state. For most cases you have some kind of selective memory that time: it seems to you that you failed the exam because problems with your self discipline and you really knew you are hitting the wall. Hindsite Bias, you know.
If you come to AF for study advice, you will get one, but people will send you to opposite directions: Curriculum only vs Prep Only, videos vs notes. And… and what if it is your 7th attempt and you have already tried it all and still keep failing?
I have some theory why good candidates fail. Don’t get me wrong! I do not hint that I was that ‘good candidate’ who deserved the Charter years before. No. For me, a good candidate is one who:
- perfectly understands the material
- remembers it
- could apply it in exam and real life
In order to became such a good candidate I used to follow some algorithm, like:
- Read the book
- Made all the EOC questions
- Continue to next reading
- Make some mocks during the last week before the exam
If you follow it as I used to you will come to the exam day filled with all that theoretical knowledge. And after the proctor’s command you break the seal. And you read the question. And you recall something. And you grab your pencil in order to recall how to do it and after working with draft for 4 minutes you succeed! And there is another questions you need to work on a minute more in order to connect the nodes in your memory. And another… You find yourself guessing for, say, 20 questions and you are done.
Some will call it a ‘time management issue’, but it is not. You cannot manage your time more wisely. You just put all your heart in - and failed.
The problem with ‘good candidate’ approach is that is time-consuming: both on the exam day and during your preparation. In order to be able to shot the right answer on the exam as quick as possible you need to revisit the material and practice-practice-prectice. If you could study full time that the ‘good candidate’ path will work for you, but most of us still work during the day, we have relations and some of us have kids - most of us end up in the state when we are half-baked, we understand the material but cannot recall 100% of it right now right here.
The solution I found to myself was to ‘go bad’. It works that way:
- It does not matter if you remember something from your past attempt(s) or previous Level. DO NOT READ the material at all.
- Instead, take a Q-Bank (I mean any Q-Bank, not of specific provider) and make a quiz with all the questions on the Reading you did not read.
- Do not count for time. Grade as you go. Read the right answer immediately you answered.
- Make it in smallest pieces of time: 3 questions on you commute here, a question in the line on lunch break there, I used to make questions while waiting for kids on playground.
- You will see that some questions are testing the same area so before you will hit the book you will learn something from your answers.
- Than look on you result. Mine was about 25-30 on average.
- Than you hit the books. But believe me, that will be another kind of reading. Same text, but anther version of you: you will remember where you failed on quiz so i is not just boring Reading, it’s exactly where you failed and could be failing on the Exam Day.
- Retake the Test. You will typically see you scores comes to 60.
- Wait for two weeks (while you are working on anther Reading) and retake it again.
- And again.
- And again
- And several readings combined.
- And add the time constraints from the 4th quiz on
- And repeat
What is your gain?
- You can put in lots more time. You do not need to sit in a meeting room or in a library. Even 5 minutes in the restroom could advance you for one question from Q-Bank.
- You will not need to read the Curriculum twice or three times in order to memorize it. You basically shift your time from reading to practicing. My notes show that I read all the Reading on average 1.5 times: once you read it and revisit it when you do not understand explanation from quiz (on 2nd attempt on).
Now, there is another issue. Remember the hindsite bias? You need to log your time in a spreadsheet. And records like ‘from 5 pm to 7 pm’ worth nothing. Since you will for most use some smallest pieces of time. I used a time tracker to take all the real activity, even it lasted 3 minutes. All those minutes sum up, as well as all the breaks during study sessions. So when you have a toilet break or your boss called and you had to answer the call - stop the tracker.
AM. I think that the main input here is ‘less is more’. I thought of a grader who reads answers for the same question. I thought that the shortest answers are perfect: it is easier to grade them. But I cannot make some solid ‘tip’ here. Just when you made 3000 questions you will find that 2-3 words for the answer on AM. It really has nothing to do with English and almost nothing to do with handwrting. Two-three-five words. Another strategy was breaking writing immediately I reached the ‘value’ of question, like if a question is for 25 minutes no way you keep writing on minute 27.
That is all I can tell you. Unfortunately, I did not know that in 2005, so at last you could read and try it in 2017.
My journey is not over, btw. I think, it’s been starting now.
Believe in yourself and keep looking for the study routing that will work for you.
If CFAilure could, you can do it too.