WTF? - I'm not going to remember any of this

I’m going through Schweser notes and thinking to myself… half of this, if not more, is not even sinking in to my head. It’s a real hit on motivation to keep going when you can’t even recall in detail what you read the day before. I took notes for Level 1 and that helped some for retention, but that was pretty time consuming and I never referred to them.

My plan for level 2 was to plow through Schweser notes and leave 3 months for deep review/practice problems from CFAI books… but I have no idea what that’s even going to look like. If I end up having to relearn everything was it even worth spending a month to go through the material the first time around? Should I just jump straight to problems and learn from there? No that can’t be a good idea, can it? Dang… I feel confused.

It’s so hard to keep going for hours reading through all this stuff…

Don’t memorize, understand the concepts. And solve questions after review.

If you manage to do well in questions, then you understood the material. On second revision, it will sink faster.

In the end, it’s practice, practice, practice.

80% of the progress is done in the last month solving exams.

I totally agree with that, but when I start practicing after I finish the Schweser books… especially at the pace I’m going (fast)…I will most probably do VERY poorly initially. That will likely stress me out come March when I start doing problem sets and I’m failing a ton of them! Trying to find the right balance/strategy and have no idea what will work best for me! I’ll wonder if I just wasted the previous month reading for no reason!

So what do you think? When I get to a formula as I’m reading… just try to understand it and then move on? No use in trying to commit it to memory now, right? I’m just going to forget it later.

I suspect that if you start working problems, a lot more will sink in and stick.

Mr. Campbell, I know everyone is different, but what do you think about the timing of reading vs practice problems. If I follow my readings with practice problems and reviewing my answers, it will inevitably take much more time to get through all the material. Would you ever recommend jumping straight to practice problems, backing into readings? Does my current plan sound reasonable to you (get through Schweser, no practice problems, as fast as I can and leave 3 months for practice problems/review)?

How did you do it? Although you’re probably the worst person to ask because you’re a freak of nature.


The fact that you’re contemplating allocating a specific time frame for reading, forces me to believe that you are not really studying, but merely going through the material as an obligation.

Try to actually understand the material. The best example I can give (as S2k does as well) is the topic on derivatives. The whole 200+ pages can be summed up in a double sided piece of paper. Once you actually understand the underlying concept, then it is applicable to any exercise you might face.

By far, the most memorizable material up to this point in my view is FRA. But it has always been the case I reckon.

I am treating the reading as an obligation to get out of the way. My current thinking is that practice problems illustrate to me whether I understand a concept or not. Even if I read the books at a pace of 2 pages per hour and try to fully understand the material to the best of my ability I still would not score a 100% on the practice problems because I may have misunderstood something in the reading. That’s why every ounce of me wants to just jump straight to doing problems. I’m pretty sure it would be a blood bath though if I did that right now, because I know almost nothing. I’m aiming for a 10 miles in the sky understanding of everything before I go to the problems and have plenty of time to review. I can’t tell yet whether that’s a good idea or not.

That completely depends on your style and purpose.

Do you want to train on solving problems, or prepare before solving problems.

I honestly enjoy reading the material, so understanding them is my priority, luckily it helps me a lot in solving problems later on. But I’ve taken the other route of practice till I perfect problem solving in L1, and it worked quite well. I’m not sure if the same could be said in L2, given the more complicated problem formats.

Maybe a L3 candidate or charterholder can chime in.

See, I did the opposite for L1 - I read the CFAI books through and through… but I was still in school, so I had A LOT of time and then after I graduated, I had a full month off before the exam to review. It was heaven. I don’t have that luxury any more. Honestly, there are some sections that I enjoy reading… but I’ve always been a learn by doing kind of guy.

I agree, getting the perspective from people who have been through it would be helpful.

you just have to remember enough to pass the exam. Afterwards feel free to forget as much as you want lol

and yes i agree the last 2 weeks will make or break the exam

here’s my take from level 1…

your first read-through and EOC questions (after each reading) is NOT designed to be retained. I suppose that if you were to take the exam right after your last reading, you would completely bomb, as you may have a 20% retention rate of all the material (at most).

i believe this is normal, and human. but it’s foolish to think those 2 months or whatever were a waste of time, because you understood all the concepts very well (and likely scored 70%+ after each chapter on EOC questions) so that when you go through a SECOND time, it may take half the time to go through everything.

After your 2nd revision, your retention rate may jump to 40% or so (you would still fail the exam).

And then it’s time to HAMMER questions and review review retain retain. Personally I took notes the 2nd time through so I reviewed those notes and worked questions etc. This last portion (ie. after 2nd revision) should be a solid MONTH at least, and it’s really the time to retain and review and memorize and questions/questions/questions and finally mocks in last 2 weeks etc.

Just my 0.02

^^^ Also if I were to divy (sp?) up the time remaining for these phases I would like spend about 1 month for last phase (eg. start May 1). That leaves about 3 months for the two revisions…you can slice it however but I’d personally aim for almost 2 months for 1st read, so you’re finished by end of March, then ideally 1.2 months for 2nd revision (eg. start last week of March, ideally, and have 5 weeks or so until May 1st to go through 2nd read).

Level 2?

But yea, I like that. I get nervous about 1 month to review because I had one month completely off after graduating school and I felt like it was just enough time for level 1. I would equate that to being at least a month and a half or 2 month while working full time for review.

sorry, no I was just giving my experience from Level 1. I know you’re asking about 2, but I don’t really plan on changing anything. It’s the same concept where you won’t retain 80% of the stuff after 1st read, etc. Basically I was just reassuring you not to worry simply because you’re not retaining much yet since it seems that’s how it was for level 1 with me too and all the retention didn’t start until the last couple months to exam.

Ask anyone who’s passed there is no such thing as too much practice, but there is such a thing as too much studying (Reading).

The goal of study is not to get 100% in your first practice exam, not ven necessarily 50%. I would say that the point is that when you do your first practice you don’t spend 3 hours wondering what the hell they’re talking about.

I didn’t start taking notes until I was in my practice exams, it’s at this point that you start to realise what you don’t know that you need to know. If you at least recognise what a question is asking you can go back to the books and find the information you need to answer correctly the next time, without practice, you’ll never be able to do this.

It’s not a just question of how much time you study, but how effective that time is. I could have read the books over and over and over and I would never had made it. By doing practice exams I was able to restrict my notes to about 8 pages of things I needed to learn. This type of notes are very like presentation notes they may well only highlight one part, but it is that part which enables you to recall the remainder.

I like this answer a lot. That’s reassuring because that’s what I was thinking starting this whole process. Here’s a question for you then. Let’s assume you finish all the readings and you’re about 2 months out from the exam and you’re going to CFA EOC questions and your bombing them hardcore… basically you don’t remember anything in detail anymore, but as you said nothing is foreign. How do you spend the rest of your time bridging the the huge gap in details?

I did the same thing as you. Started off w/ Schweser and nothing was sinking in. I ditched the Schweser about halfway through and switched to skimming the CFAI and then doing EOC questions. Worked much better and I learned alot more. I did use the Schweser secret sauce which was helpful but I find it much easier to learn the material from CFAI.