I am four days away from sitting for the Level 2 CFA exam for the third time. Am I prepared? I have no way of knowing. All I can say is that I'm better prepared than I was last year. (And last year, I was better prepared than I had been the year before that.)
I am humbled by how challenging this exam is. I don't have an MBA and I have relatively little work experience in finance. Still, I never thought that I could prepare for an exam for the better part of two years and not pass it. This is what motivates me--that when I finally do pass, I will have achieved something quite special. And if, perish the thought, I were to fail again, I will sign up for next year's exam, and the one after that, and the one after that--as many times as I need to until I pass.
Each year, I come up with a new strategy to attack the exam. This year's strategy was to focus more of my attention on the CFA Institute readings and questions. The CFAI materials provide a nuance and a flexibility of thought that are not replicated by Stalla, Schweser, etc. Last year, I managed a 70 on the Stalla mock exam morning session. Then I got 23 out of the first 24 questions of their afternoon mock and was feeling good about myself. (This was the same test that I struggled to get a 55 in the previous year.) I was also testing well with Schweser's Q-bank. Yet I failed the exam that really counted, finding myself in the fifth band and having gotten one passing score--Ethics--and six topics in the dreaded 50% and under range.
For a few days, I was discouraged. I knew that if I had given up on Level 2 at that point, I would feel discouraged and frustrated and miserable forever.
Even though I think of myself as being calm under pressure, I've come to realize that I'm not. When I would confront a long vignette that was math intensive, I was always tempted to shrug my shoulders, and if I didn't remember the formulas or was unfamiliar with the material, I would make a half-hearted guess for each question and move on. I would then be affected for the next vignette, even when the subject matter was known to me.
For the next few days, I plan to relax. I'll do some questions, like a pitcher warming up out of the bullpen before he enters the game. I'll review the Schweser QuickSheet (I've noticed that practically every candidate has a Schweser QuickSheet with him/her the morning of the exam) and look at AnalystNotes for a quick summary of the material.
Good luck to everyone in the wallstreetoasis community who will be taking this exam with me. Let us hope we all have good news to report in eight weeks when we find out the results.