Anyone freaking out about the CFA Level 1 in June? Haven't started!

h945687's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 11

Hey!

First of all, not sure which is the correct forum to post this in, so please do correct me.

I just finished my internship, and now have to set my sights on the CFA level 1 in June. I have a very basic background in finance. I have access to kaplan as well as Mark's videos. What is the best study strategy recommended?

I tried to study the first chapter of FRA via schweser and Mark's videos, but when it came to the practice questions (provided by Mark), I found myself unable to answer a lot of the questions as they have directly been picked out from content in the CFAI curriculum books that haven't been mentioned in the Kaplan books at all.
Is this just a one off case, or would it be beneficial for me to read the entire CFAI curriculum? I could save a lot of time using just Kaplan.

Please do enumerate the best strategy I could follow, it would be of great help! I am free full time, I can devote 7-8 hours a day on average.
Thanks!

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Comments (38)

May 8, 2018

It's definitely not necessary for you to use the CFAI text to study for the exam. I would go through all of the Schweser Notes, and supplement with the Meldrum videos where you need additional clarification. With less than 7 weeks until the exam, you do not have much time. You need to spend at a minimum 2 weeks focusing solely on the CFAI mock exams and question bank (formerly 'Topic Tests'). I would recommned spending the majority of your time doing as many practice questions as possible, as that's where the biggest value is. There's a reason most candidates study 300+ hours and the passing rate consistently hovers between 40-45% -- I would put in a minimum of 40 hours a week until exam day to give yourself the best shot. Just my two cents - I am sitting for L2 in June. Best of luck!

Best Response
May 8, 2018

It's May 8th, where have you been for the past 3 months? You should have taken a trip if you wanted to blow $1500...

If you want to give it a shot with a month and half to study focus on FRA, Equity and Ethics that's half of the exam.

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May 8, 2018

Don't wanna doubt you if you're some sort of super genius but you're in for the worst month and a half of your life if you actually try to pass this, OP. Lots of material to pick up

May 9, 2018

Nah man, my friends and I destroyed level 1 with less than 1.5 months of studying. And we were pretty average in school (at least grade wise). But we did major in finance

May 10, 2018

i destroyed the CFA level 1 with 10 days of studying

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May 9, 2018

Btw we were also working full-time. If you stay committed and focused, this can be done for sure.

May 8, 2018

Don't sweat it little cubbie. I don't know very much about the "Chartered Financial Analyst" program. Generally, I'm the one chartering shit, so the concept doesn't even really make sense. From what I gather, though, it's a set of exams that you take to get certified to be a money manager out in Alabama or something. They ask you trivial finance questions and tease your brain with provocative ethical scenarios like: "Should you steal your clients' money? Answer yes or no."

To be fair, though, there is one redeeming aspect of the CFAs--one characteristic that is actually legit, the calculator. One of the two calculators permitted to be used on the CFAs is the HP 12C, and apart from the fact that its name sounds like some highly involved consulting framework, it is the epitome of Banker technology. The 12C embodies everything about us--elegant, bold, somehow clinging on to life in a world that no longer needs it. One look at its brushed plastic exterior and you think: "Damn, this thing is pro."

Excel Mobile, it speaks a pure, unambiguous language: Reverse Polish, a postfix notation that eliminates non-commutative issues. So instead of having to enter 7 + (5 * 2) - 5, you'd enter: 7 5 2 * + 5 -. Direct and to the point, crisp even--exactly how Bankers think and speak. I met a model from Krakow once, and although we hit it off physically, her English struggled, blocking us from that real "same plane" level I like to reach. So as a gesture of cultural sensitivity, I decided I'd speak to her in something closer to her native tongue. Over Lil's Wayne's Lollipop, I pointed between us aggressively and instructed: "You, friends, 2, TIMES PLUS... panties MINUS" Boom. "Same plane," said her eyes.

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May 8, 2018

Congrats on reading leveraged sellout.

pls cite

May 8, 2018

Potential jackass of the year award nominee...

May 9, 2018

At this point I wouldn't bother trying to read much of the material, especially the CFAI material.

Do a practice problem, if you can't solve it, read the solution explanation and find the topic in the kaplan material and try to understand the concept. Now do another practice problem and try not to look at the solution/explanation. Do this over and over until you can answer most of the problems on your own. Do this for all of the topics on the test (time permitting).

Oh, and this should go without saying, but don't make any weekend or after-work plans for about 45 days. Good luck!

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May 9, 2018

When I did level 1 I started studying a little less than two weeks earlier than you relative to that year's CFA, and found it pretty easy as I took a lot of finance and accounting courses during my undergrad (a large amount of the concepts and formulas known like the back of my hand).

With two weeks less and only a basic background in finance I'm sure it'd be possible to squeak out a pass, but probably unlikely. Either way if you go for it now it's going to be incredibly stressful trying to optimize your studying, as you'll most likely have to sacrifice a few topics.

EDIT: Didn't realize the exam dates have been pushed. If it's on the 23rd of June you have plenty of time

May 9, 2018

Focus on ETHICS and Quant (Learn how to use your calculator, it will do most to all of the solving).

Once you do that, I'd recommend nailing down Alts/Equity/Derivs. They are all small weights, but its very low hanging fruit.

Pound ethics/quant questions. You are probably a tad late to really learn FRA, to many sub-topics, you're better off focusing on 47% of the exam and praying on the rest.

"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets."

-John D. Rockefeller

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May 13, 2018

Worst advice ever.

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May 9, 2018

If you actually have the time (and more importantly, discipline) to study 8 hours a day until the exam, you'll be fine. That's ~350 study hours which is plenty of time, if not overkill.

May 9, 2018

I am in similar boat as you, but at least have done 20% of the total MC questions on Kaplan. I am not feeling overly concerned although I am dreading my life until June 23.

May 9, 2018

Having full time you should have no problem, but I would not like to be in your shoes...studying for 8 hours a day doesnt seem like fun. I am sitting for level III and already on my second review of the notes.

If you pass level I beware that you will fail miserably level II if you start studying in may, level I is a joke compared to level II

May 9, 2018

Same here, actually have exams at the moment so I'll only be starting in a week. Just have to put in the hours, since you've paid for it... you have a finance background so hopefully that'll help.

May 9, 2018

Hoping also my background from the CPA would help with the financial reporting section. Realize I am cutting it close but my employer is cool with letting me use some time at work to study. I did pass the longest CPA exam with 7 days of studying so hopefully with similar effort I should be alright.

May 8, 2018

Please don't disrespect the CFA charterholders by mentioning CPA in the same sentence

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May 9, 2018

Okay buddy, my CPA background will be completely useless on the financial reporting section of the CFA. You're right.

May 10, 2018

It won't be useless. In fact, CFA's financial reporting part is easier than covered in CPA.

May 9, 2018

Exactly

May 8, 2018

No CPA is very respectable, and a ton of CFOs are CPAs. I am just saying you can't compare the difficulty of passing CFA exams to CPA exams. Rereading my comment I was a little harsh my apologies.

May 9, 2018

if you're not working and have all day to study you can do it. but you'll have to be studying full time essentially. 200-300 hours is no joke

May 9, 2018

If anyone in SF wants $20 for their textbooks shoot me a DM.

If not, you know you will just be sitting on those books for years and eventually just throw them out. Why not give them out when someone can still use them.

Thx.

May 9, 2018

Freaking out and CFA L1 shouldn't be in the same sentence. If this is the case, either you are dumb or have poor planning.

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May 9, 2018

Oh man...I've been a staunch BA-II Plus user for 15 years. Say it ain't so...the HP-12C really is superior...isn't it?

Side note: I feel like I'm about to get my first monkey sh*t thrown at me over this post.

May 11, 2018

I remember people freaking out about having spare batteries for their calculators, or having a second calculator. I've had my BA2+ for (many) years now and she still runs like a champ. A year ago someone spilled coffee on it during a meeting, thought it might be dead, but the next day it started up clean and fine.

May 10, 2018

If you do 7-8 hours a day of studying from now until the exam you will be more than fine. Others are correct to point out the high weights of equity, FR&A, ethics, but I recommend you make sure to take a look at everything. There are easy points in portfolio management etc. that will probably have a higher marginal return to your study time than overdoing it on the higher weighted sections. Look through the Schweser stuff, but make sure you do all the CFAI topic tests before the exam. They will do the most to prepare you for the style and difficulty of the real thing. The practice test is great too of course, but can give you a false sense of security/hopelessness if the questions it asks match/don't match what you know the best.
A final point of encouragement: if you know the answer to 50% of the questions and outright guess on the other 50%, you would probably pass (assuming that you have a 1/3 chance of being correct per question and a 66% passes). You have plenty of time to learn 50% of the material and put yourself in a position to do better than 33% on the material you don't learn as deeply.
Good luck.

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May 11, 2018

Depends mate, if you have a finance degree from a reasonable university, you should have most of it covered off. That said, I have friends that didn't bother sitting the second half.

The other reality, while past performance is not indicative of future outcomes, the fact that you haven't started studying yet, doesn't fill me with confidence that you're going to start applying yourself now. If I could bet against you I certainly would.

Monkeys, new business idea, betting on CFA results. People taking the test can call it hedging. I want to short OP by c. $1,000.

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May 11, 2018

Its possible to prepare well till June exam if you put in consistent hours everyday and the employer lets you take a couple of weeks of as a study leave. With that being said you have to finish all of your readings before June and double down on practice questions afterwards. Also don't skip the parts that have less weight in the exam, you don't wanna be stuck in band 10, because you missed 2 stupid questions in PM or Derivatives. Good Luck

May 11, 2018

Why not wait until December to write level 1? Whether you write level 1 in June or December, you will still have to wait until June 2019 to attempt level 2 (assuming you pass).

If you half-ass your level 1 studying you may pay the price when it comes to level 2 because your fundamental understanding of the material may not be as strong.

May 13, 2018

Assuming the OP is already registered, there are no refunds if you decide to withdraw from writing. The only benefit in doing so would be getting to register for the December exam earlier, as you don't have to wait until the June results are released.

May 13, 2018

Annihilate the Ethics section. It's more heavily weighted and if you do really well on it the test gives you a bonus of sorts and makes it more likely to pass you with a marginal score. It's been so long now that I can't remeber specifics, but I did very mediocre on every subject except derivatives and ethics, and on the ethics section I got an astronomical score--something like a 90 or 95%, resulting in a pass.

May 13, 2018

Real talk, your best bet is to use this test as experience for the December exam. Whatever slim chance you have for the June exam will only be workable through ALL of your vacation days between now and then assuming you work full time, or if you're a student or something, time to start slamming down Monsters and Red Bulls and pull 12+ hour shifts.

Level 2 is substantially harder than Level 1, so if you do pass, don't go into Level 2 with the same cavalier attitude.

And watch my YouTube video :)

How I passed all the CFA Program exams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DUdnYkojtk&t=37s

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May 13, 2018

Hey man,

I took CFA level 1 this past December (2017) while backpacking Europe and didn't start studying until October 20th-ish. Given the exam was on December 3rd or something like that, that's about 5 weeks of prep. I solidly passed, with my 95% confidence interval saying I would never fail.

I will say that I had just finished the CPA prior to late October, so the FRA was much of a review. However, I really thought the FRA was fair on exam day, and other things like bond convexities, options, DDM, economics, etc were headaches and I was a complete noob at.

Moral of the story is I think you have a great shot if you have 7-8 hours a day. People will say you don't but fuck what they say; you've got this. I used Wiley's textbook and supplemented it with CFA online questions (formerly called TTs) and did 2 mocks. PM if you want more advice as I do have a ton more.

Quite honestly, I walked out of the exam thinking I failed, and told everyone I did too. Quite amazed that I got above 90th percentile of students for Ethics and FRA, but hey, sometimes you crush it without feeling that way.

May 14, 2018
May 14, 2018