Beginning to study for CFA L1 and wondering best practices for note taking / review in general.

Hey all,
First off thank you for any and all input.

As the title states I'm getting into the thick of my CFA L1 prepping for December. I've been going through the books and reading / highlighting / writing notes in the margins. This has been working for some of the more "quanty" things like Econ and derivatives as they are all in line with my degree and I felt quite comfortable.

I'm moving onto FR&A and Ethics and I'm not quite sure that the same method will work for me. In the past I've always written notes in a word doc. and used that as a study guide but the sheer quantum of information on the CFA makes this seem a bit unrealistic (I don't want to walk around with a 100 page note packet for reviewing because then I might as well just use the books). Furthermore since Schwesser is already the condensed version I'm not sure how effective rewriting / typing the content would be. My bigger concern with hand written notes is that I don't want to end up using time inefficiently and then never look back at them again. Would appreciate any insight / personal experiences anyone has had. I understand everyone has their own methods that work for them but I'm just looking to see if anyone shares / shared similar concerns as myself and what you would change in hindsight. Thanks!

Sorry if this is posted / formatted incorrectly, still relatively new to WSO.

Comments (4)

Jun 6, 2018

When I was studying L1 I made note cards for every little thing I didn't know and typed pages of notes in word. It took me months. Do you know how much of that shit I had time to review after all was said and 1/50th of it. Best advice is read the chapter and then quiz the section you just read. Take note (do not literally take notes) of what gave you trouble. Move on to the next chapter and quiz. Keep going back to what you don't do well on and make sure to quiz/concentrate on that. Just keep reading and quizzing. I literally threw all of those notes and note cards out and barely looked at them, very painful lesson. Remember it is a test, and the best way to master the questions is reading the material and quizzing ALOT!

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Jun 7, 2018

Thanks for the feedback. I've spoken to some friends that passed L1 and they had the same mentality. Writing notes helped some who weren't natural test takers get going but in the end nobody truly began learning / memorizing the tiny details until the practice questions / challenge questions / mock exams came to effect. After a few hundred questions they would all figure out where they were lacking and go back, understand the material and quiz again. Everyone said I should be getting in 2k+ sample questions in (about 1500 from the schwesser q-banks and then all the ones after each session as well.)

Historically taking exams in college I've felt quite comfortable just reading material so I think I'll take that route.

Jun 7, 2018

I took notes after each reading and condensed it down to the most important topics (such as leases and inventory methods for FRA). I never got too much value after the initial write down though. I relied heavily on flash cards which worked like a charm to keep all concepts current. In terms of Ethics, this is trickier to condense since you really just need to witness the various carve outs and what not from doing as many practice questions as possible (theres around 50 great ones at the end of the CFA Standards book if I remember right). It gets frustrating since CFAI has little carve outs for various rules that they'll try to trip you up with.

Starting in June for the December L1 was also my strategy. I ended up finishing all of the books with 6-7 weeks left and had too much time for practice. I ended up having to refresh my memory more than I thought which was a little annoying but I guess better than being in the opposite boat.

My strategy was flash cards (made 280), Schweser Qbank (did 97% of the problems), and 5 practice tests which put me above the 90th percentile. But we all learn differently of course. Best of luck and enjoy the LI stroll before the doom of LII.

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Jun 8, 2018