CFA CFA General Harnessing Your Memory for the CFA Exams – Part 1

Harnessing Your Memory for the CFA Exams – Part 1

  • This topic has 15 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated Apr-17 by Sarah.
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    • Sophie Macon
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      Dissing American coffee made me laugh. I felt the same too when I was in the states. I was like “you call this coffee?”

    • Marc
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      Wow. How can I be expected to compete with this?

    • Sarah
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      Photographic memory doesn’t exist.

      I hate to tell you but unfortunately photographic memory is a detestable myth. It doesn’t exist. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Surely a memory like Mike Ross’s is confined to the realm of TV.

      Or is it?

      A 101 on the History of Memory
      A long time ago when teaching how to memorize was still taught to school children. Roman senators used to memorize their speeches and medieval scholars memorized entire books (wouldn’t that come handy with the CFA exam). So before you lambaste me for advocating “memorizing” and not understanding the material and citing and that the CFAI is moving towards comprehensive and not rote memorization. I know, but hear me out!

      A long time ago when the ability to memorize was valued and not just a neat trick, it was believed that memorization techniques were used to etch into the brain foundational texts and ideas.

      Tony Buzan founded the World Memory Championship in 1991 and believes, “what we have been doing over the last century is defining memory incorrectly, understanding it incompletely, applying it inappropriately, and condemning it because it doesn’t work and isn’t enjoyable”.

      “The general idea with memory technique is to change whatever boring thing is being inputted into your memory into something that is so colourful, so exciting, and so different from anything you’ve seen before that you can’t possibly forget it”.

      Why does it work like that? Because we are extremely good with remembering visual imagery but terrible with remembering words and numbers – unfortunately CFAI missed this memo. That is why formulas fall out of our heads but we remember the grinning people on our Schweser study notes (or whatever study material you are using – why are they all always smiling?!). We have to take our formulas and transform them to something that does leave a visual impression.

      A Couple of Examples
      Maybe you are still skeptical so I’ll share a few of my own tricks. I apologize for the very level two centered examples.

      • An autoregressive model you can’t use the Durbin-Watson statistic to test for autocorrelation. Why, this is when I whip out one of my favourite childhood show. Where Arthur (AR) and his sister DW rarely were agreeable with each other, just like autocorrelation doesn’t agree with Durbin-Watson.
      • With all the rules thrown at us in the financial reporting analysis section imagine how helpful it would be to remember that GAAP doesn’t allow for partial goodwill but IFRS does. (US GAAP being only for the US it makes sense they are confined to partial recognition of the goodwill just like they are confined to terrible cup of java – the image of US GAAP being drowned into a partially filled cup of java makes me chuckle every time. I image that US GAAP is a city slicker with hard features and a wickedly deviously sense of intellect or why else would LIFO be allowed … but I digress).

      No, it isn’t exciting but it works for me – find what works for you. It takes awhile to do this, but it pays off!

      Next Week
      Another method that can be used is the memory palace also known as the “method of loci”. You didn’t seriously think there was only one way to memorize, did you? See you next week guys and happy studying!

      Quotes and Ideas taken from Moonwalking with Einstein – The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

    • fabian
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      Cool! Great post @diya.

    • Sarah
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      thanks @fabian!

    • Ryshi
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      So for something like Fama-french has 3 components: mkt prem, small cap rem, and book to mkt prem
      I should memorize along the lines of a French Farmer has 3 cows: 1 sold to the mkt, 1 is smaller than the big ones, and 1 loves reading books

      and he sells the cow to a Pastor S for money so liquidity premium 😀

      Could you post more of your memory ideas?

    • Sarah
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      @Ryshi that is perfect! You are getting the hang of it. Now whenever I have to work with the fama-french model I am going to think of a cow reading a book :p

      I could but it won’t be helpful to everyone because this is a highly personalized process what is striking to me might mean nothing to you. I deposited the pension accounting rules on my bookshelf (this is another method of memorization which I will share in part two).

      To give you an example of how non-transferable it is I’ll give you a story I use for multinational operations.

      current rate =rurouni
      temporal rate = battosai
      (why? because rurouni = simple life and temporal = difficult)
      Rurouni is a wayfarer, no attachment, he is separate -> just like we have to use the current rate for independent operations.
      Battosai’s scar is part of the past (historical rates) one is for COGS (his cost is the guilt he bears) and the other is depreciation (he doesn’t age (depreciate) The pairing still creeps me out).
      In the temporal method only non-monetary assets are translated at the historical rate just like he didn’t monetize his pivotal role in history. It also reminds me of the Megumi arc and how he “torn down” the canon-like gun I don’t even know why I associate that (temporal translating non-monetary assets) with the Megumi arc.

      Rurouni Kenshin first came to Japan/East Asia – IFRS and thus I use current rate for hyperinflation (simply because I memorized them in order and current rate appears first in the book)
      Rurouni Kenshin came to the US second – use temporal. Just if you are curious it wasn’t licensed to VIZ until 2003 and didn’t translate them all until 2006 (a year before we started university and were busy doing the whole angsty teenage thing. Get it temporal-temperamental ->angsty.

      But as you can see a lot of people are going to read this and wonder what the hell I am going on about.

    • Gary
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      @Ryshi
      That is brilliant, i now have an image of three cows burnt into my CFA memory for some reason the second cow is wearing a very small cap.
      @Diya
      Maybe we should start a discussion on the most interesting ways we use to Memorise components of CFA

    • Sarah
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      @Gary maybe if there are enough tricks and tips contributed I will start organizing and compiling them.

    • Zee Tan
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      I never really consciously used memory tricks while prepping for CFA – but this seems awesome!

    • Sarah
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      @Zee even though I’ve known about these memory tricks while I was studying for level I I didn’t use it much. It is actually pretty difficult to do and doesn’t help that I have no experience trying to do this.

    • christine
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      @diya you’re starting a great series here!

    • ARGOS7
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      Diya
      This is a very helpful post and was surfing internet looking for somethig that helps me, in my claseshere in Argentina I always suggest to the students about tecniques related with mnemotecnics. This is the best way of remember hard concepts and formulas. http://www.acapinstitute.com/CFAMnemonicsLevel1Sample.pdf is an example of what im talking about. Good luck !!!

    • Sarah
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      @ARGOS7 thanks for sharing that. I think somebody else has also shared this before on this forum.
      I would suggest that people create their own mnemonic devices and learn how to implement it for anything that requires memorization. The “stories” used to memorize is a very individualist process. I have been mulling over creating a guide for some of the easier CFA chapters but at the moment I don’t have enough resources to undertake this type of project.

    • ARGOS7
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      Diya I will try to help, i ¨like this subject a lot, this works for me. Sorry If i´m saying something that was said.
      Argos

    • Sarah
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      @ARGOS7 thank you for your help and assistance and share whatever material you come across that may be potentially interesting. Even if it has been shared before a quick refresher never hurts =D

      If you have a list of mnemonic devices you have been using and don’t mind sharing, I’d be more than happy to organize, help and add my own to make it more complete.

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