CFA CFA Level 1 Any tips for Level 1 guys?

Any tips for Level 1 guys?

  • This topic has 37 replies, 14 voices, and was last updated May-17 by Zee Tan.
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    • vanessaturner555
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      Is it okay that I start studying after summers?

    • Zee Tan
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      @vanessaturner555 “after the summer” I take it to be earliest September, which gives you 3 months. I’d say that’s too short…

    • vanessaturner555
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      So when should I start? Like proper studying.

    • Zee Tan
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      Sophie’s written one for the June exams which you can adapt for your December schedule: http://www.300hours.com/1/post/2013/01/the-secret-to-balancing-cfa-studies-and-work.html

      Basically now may be a good time to think about easing into the study routine. It depends on how much background knowledge you have.

    • vincentt
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      For someone like me who has no relevant background and possibly not a very quick reader, it took me slightly less than 4 months to cover the syllabus and 1 month for practice questions, so 4.5-5 months in total.

      It’s always good to start early and leave more time to do practice questions.

    • Sarah
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      And also to start early to give yourself some room just in case something unexpected happens. Underestimating how much time you will need means panic and higher possibilities of failing. And that means having to study for the exam all over again!

    • djwestwood
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      Start as early as possible as Sarah says; it will pay dividends (sorry, pun intended) when you get to the business end of things in November. Also, depending on your circumstances (full-time job, full-time degree/major) be prepared to sacrifice a lot of your own time in order to get the job done. Whatever you do though, don’t panic – keep calm and stay focused 🙂

    • banananata
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      It takes time for your brain (and bum) to adapt to long hours of studying so I would recommend starting as early as possible. Chances are there’ll be a lot more distractions during the summer and you may only sit down for an average of 1 or 2 hours a day in June and July but by the end of July you’ll have maybe ethics, quants and some of econ read.

    • sakitime
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      @vincentt how many hours did you target per week?


      @banananata
      if your only through ethics, quant and a part of econ by the end of July are you counting on putting in 20ish hours the next couple months to play catch up?

    • vincentt
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      @sakitime I don’t know what to expect when I first started, so I just went with the 300 hrs as the target. So around 18 hours a week, not that i’m 100% discipline but i did try to hit 2-4 hours each evening.

      In fact, after having experienced both levels, you shouldn’t need to worry about the time spent. What I think works better is that you set a target of topics or readings to complete each week and make sure the figure sums up to the total weeks you have excluding the last 4 weeks for practice questions. Also, leave some margin of maybe 2-3 weeks, just in case there are some topics that you might struggle with.

    • Sophie Macon
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      I completely agree with @vincentt. @sakitime, it’s not about number of hours sometimes, it’s also about topic coverage deadlines.

      I explained a little here about this “big picture targets”.

      It goes something like: “Ok, I have 6 months left, the last whole month is for practice questions and last minute revisions. So that leaves me 5 months, which I will take off another 2 weeks for emergency. So I have 4.5 months, and 5 books to cover.

      So start planning using a “top-down” approach, and have a quick look at those 5 books and set targets like:

      a) By [DATE], I must finish book 1 (including EOC questions), repeat this for the other 5 books
      b) Make sure all books are read/revised within that 4.5 months

      With those benchmark goals, you start your revision every week, noting the time you take to absorb understand materials, with your other work/life commitments, and adjust accordingly to meet those “big picture” milestones.

    • clwcain
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      As I look to spread my prep time over a year these posts are very helpful. Thank you.

    • vincentt
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      A year is such a long time, you might need a slightly different strategy, unless you can remember things very well.

    • Sarah
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      yea as @vincentt said the biggest problem with spreading prep over a long period of time is that the material you learn first becomes fuzzy. You’ll have to insert repetition of key concepts of previous topics so you don’t forget too much.

    • clwcain
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      I generally have good retention and I’m planning to build lots of review into the schedule. But I’m also working around my family obligations so 2-4 hours per day + weekends just isn’t an option. Not to say I won’t ramp up the intensity over time as I get closer to June next year.

      I do find it tempting to shoot for December but I don’t think I can prep L2 effectively in the time between December & the June exam. So, if I’m not taking L2 until 2015 at the earliest, I might as well aim for L1 in June 2014.

      I also know there’s some remediation I’ll probably need to do. If I sit down to tackle Quants this August and realize that I’m in over my head year schedule gives me a few extra weeks to bone up on the underlying maths before tackling it again.

      Thinking out loud here, really.

    • sakitime
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      @vincentt thanks! I read a post on the blog last night and laid out my schedule that way. I’ll be through quant this week or next and then pretty much on track for a book a month after that. I skimmed ethics and was planning on really hitting it at the end. Do you think that makes sense?


      @sophie
      the detailed goals are great thank you!

      You guys are both great resources

    • vincentt
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      @sakitime i don’t know what’s the best method for you, but what I did was I left ethics till the last but i did lots of practice questions on to get an understanding of how it works.

    • banananata
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      @sakitime I didn’t clock the number of hours that I spent studying for level 1 or 2. It was probably over 300, but I think that it would be more effective to set goals for each time you study.

      There’s 67 readings for level 1 so if you start in July, you have 17 weeks until Nov 1. So 4 readings a week. That also include the curriculum EOC and the Schweser EOC questions. That leaves you December to review and do practice exams. Doesn’t seem like a lot but remember to take into account the days where you feel lazy, sick or swamped with other errands. Take one week at time but remember to not fall too far behind with the goals that you set!

      Hope that helps.

    • vanessaturner555
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      This is all very helpful guys! Thank you.

    • vanessaturner555
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      And after reading it all, I think I should start studying as soon as possible! Wish me luck. 😀

    • Zee Tan
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      Good luck @vanessaturner555! If you have any questions just feel free to plop them here.

    • vanessaturner555
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      Thank you!

    • BobBarkerPlaysPlinko
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      I’m with @clwcain…6 months seems insane. I have young kids, a full-time job. I’ll build in the review period in my study plan and shoot for June of 14.

      My initial plan is 3 hours/night on the weekends plus 1-2 hours during the week for notes review. A week off for vacation. A week off prior to the exam for full-time prep.

    • dpittle
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      I subscribe to the school of thought of more time = more better. I’m doing the 6 months route and shooting for 12-13 hours a week, which lends itself to 300 hours. Plus if need be I can add more hours later.

      What I’m struggling with, however, is should I read everything first and then do practice questions; or read a unit, do some practice questions, then read the next unit etc. Anyone want to share their approach?

    • Sophie Macon
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      @dpittle – a slight twist to the latter. Meaning read one unit, then do end of chapter questions as practice (not the proper exam papers yet, unless you have enough Question bank questions to try a bit more). Then read the next unit and repeat

    • Chip
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      Enjoying this thread. I signed up for Level 1 June 2013 and had to withdraw due to lack of preparation. My life seems to more closely resemble that of BobBarkerPlaysPlinko in terms of time available to study. For those of you targeting June ’14, are you currently studying 2013 CFAI materials, and if you so will you plan to purchase the 2014 materials before the exam? I’d prefer to stick with my 2013 materials which have notes in the margin, etc. Thanks!!

    • dpittle
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      June ’14 is an interesting idea. I bought the study material but still haven’t officially registered for the test. For those of you who have studied Ethics and Professional Conduct Standards: I can’t technically say I’m even a candidate yet! I’m planning on registering for the Dec ’13 before the next deadline in August.


      @Sophie
      I have some friends at work who just sat for level 3 in June and were telling me to run through as many problems as possible to solidify the concepts. I like that approach and will let you know how it goes!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Great @Dpittle – I look forward to your updates soon!

    • ppcomfort
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      Oooopss…just decided this week to start my reading for the coming December CFA level I exam. Am an IT person…no hint on Finance….any advise from your friends…Any strategy?? Will also appreciate if someone can give the topics series…which to start with and followed by which one…

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @ppcomfort! Welcome to 300HC – not having finance background is totally fine as long as you read through the materials in time with loads of practice time.

      I suggest going through them chronologically – there’s not much magic in switching around.


      @vincentt
      – any advice from your perspective? (FYI @ppcomfort @vincentt is in IT too and have just taken the Level 2 exam, so he may have good suggestions too)

    • ppcomfort
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      Thanx @Sophie, will really try to stretch up myself. @vincentt….kindly advice……

    • vincentt
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      @ppcomfort I think most people here did it chronologically, but following is the order I did it in (I started in July):

      1. FRA (with no accounting background you will need to spend quite a fair amount of time on this)
      2. Quants (part I – this calculation bit is very crucial as it will be used throughout the syllabus)
      3. Fixed income
      4. Equity
      5. Corporate finance
      6. Derivatives
      7. Quants (part II – this is to do with hypothesis testing, i’m not too sure if it’s still the same split as dec 12)
      8. Alternative investments
      9. Portfolio management
      10. Economics
      11. Ethics

      In my opinion, level 1 has the steepest learning curve and I remember having to use a lot of google/investopedia to look up on terms or jargon that i have no clue about. Another thing i find useful is to memo formulas, notes, etc on a post it and stick it on the wall (group them by study session and reading), e.g. on each post it i would write something like SS8 R27 – DuPont analysis.

      So, when you come across terms or formulas that you might have forgotten, you wouldn’t need to waste your time flipping through notes and books to look for it. I feel that being able to refer to those information quickly and frequently helps memorising them.

      Once I’ve completely covered the syllabus I would compile all those post it into a notebook so i could easily carry them around and refer to them on the train, cafe, etc. The benefit of sticking postit into a notebook is that you could easily move them around, adding/removing them.

      Lastly, when and if you are stuck with some of those topics and have spent quite sometime scratching your head trying to figure out why, you could post your questions on this forum, there are many friendly people here that would help.

    • ppcomfort
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      Thank you very much @vincentt. Let me see and will keep in touch in here.

    • clwcain
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      @ppcomfort
      I, too, currently work in IT. Not sure I’ll be able to offer much advice as I’m looking at taking Level 1 next June but I’ll help if I can.

    • vincentt
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      @ppcomfort no prob at all. Happy to help.

    • ppcomfort
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      Sure @clwcain…..let’s keep in touch as we move ahead….

    • toeknee9121
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      @sophie I agree there, the material builds upon itself and frequently reinforces previous concepts.

    • Zee Tan
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      @toeknee9121 awesome username!

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