 This topic has 16 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated Nov17 by Sophie Macon.

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Guys, just a quick one on formulas.
What have people found to be the best way of handling them all? In all honesty, I have no problem whatsoever understanding all of the concepts, how and why they are applied and can in fact apply a few of the early ones in the book to my current job.
However… Due to some (pretty legitimate reasons) which are too detailed to go into now, unless I constantly reapply something by pure repetition to ingrain it, I have memory retention issues and the formulas can eventually just float away. Obviously if you were in a job requiring the CFA knowledge, you’d simply refer to your diligently written formulas book to reaffirm the one you need (until you’ve got it off by heart after a while), but this isn’t allowed for the exam.
What has everyone here found to be the best way of ingraining the formulas? I’ve taken to rewriting them into a formula book and taking a big black marker and some A1 paper from a flip chart to turn my study wall into the wall of formulae.
Anyone else found some good tips? I’m giving it my all, but working full time, kids to bed and dinner, then study… there’s not a huge amount of time to construct repetition exercises to ingrain the knowledge, but I’m going to have to find something if all else fails. Perhaps skim through it, understand the basic principles and then hammer the practice tests for a month before the December exam?

Maverick said:
“I’ve taken to rewriting them into a formula book”
That was exactly what I was going to suggest. Between picking out the key formulae, recording them down in a book, and using them in practice exams, you should have no problems. Personally I wouldn’t bother with the A1 formula wallpaper route, but I think that will definitely help as well.


@Maverick there are tons of formulae but there are only a few key ones. I had about 3 pages worth at the end of L1. It’s probably good practice to just size up each formula you come across and as you do practice exams just reassess them on whether they’re really relevant or key to the actual exams.

This is probably already obvious, but it also helps to make sure you can reconstruct a formula using logical reasoning, instead of pure memorization. In other words, there should be a “story” that is easy to remember behind each formula, and it’s when you are “creating” this story in your mind that you are actually taking the needed steps to memorize it.

I also have a memory like a fish, and used to be useless at remembering formulas for exams. But I’ve found some basic memory techniques to be really useful. Basically you come up with a striking or memorable image to represent each part of the formula and then remember each part in a specific location that you can ‘walk’ through when remembering it. It’s also less boring than learning by repetition. This guy will explain in better than me:

Thanks guys, I like the idea of creating the story to go with the formula. It’s the weekend here tomorrow, so I’ll have a look into that. Kinda odd that I’ve done a bit of writing in the past, but being asked to ‘make up’ a story to go with a formula seem quite hard right now. No worries though, I’ll get my head around it.


i agree with @hairyfairy here, although the others are right too 😉
make your own sheet of formulas as you study along, and when you are through with everything revise that sheet to condense it as per your needs…read through the formula sheet twice a week till the exams and you’ll have no issues at all…you’ll have difficulty with less than half a dozen formulas when you make that condensed sheet and after a few reads you’ll have a story for them :smiley:



@Maverick Sorry for posting so late to your thread. I was taking a break from all things CFA lol. But for me I took notes while I read the study notes and made special notes of formulas etc. Then when I started doing the mock exams, whenever I graded one I had a piece of loose leaf paper where I wrote down everything I didn’t know how to do or got wrong. Then I made note cards of those formulas, steps etc. That seemed to really help me.
And after you take a few mock exams you cans tart to get a feel for what topics are more important than others (or more likely to be tested) and make note cards of those formulas. Lastly, I also bought a white board that I wrote the formulas on while I studied the note cards that I made.But like @hairyfairy said; It seems daunting now at the beginning of the study process, just focus on reading and understanding the concepts, and then when you go back and review, the number of formulas will seem much easier to handle. Best of luck! 
Thanks @Dr_Pain28 , seems pretty much the route I’ll go down.
Wasted an hour in probability theory thinking I was totally missing something when it came to covariance and the matrix they illustrated. I knew I wasn’t going mental and there was nothing in that section about how they came up with it. Finally, after thinking sod it and moving on to correlation and jointprobability function, they finally dropped the line that “you can’t work out covariance without a joint probability….”
Cheers CFAI! You could have slipped that in somewhere about 10 pages previously to stop me rereading the same page for an hour thinking I had entirely lost the plot! Sometimes the logic of teaching the science of something that you can’t work out without first knowing a variable they don’t intend to introduce for quite some time utterly defies me.

@WannaBeePM somewhere on this forum, i remember reading that a formula had changed between the 2013 and 2014 curriculum in Kaplan, I think…now, not many people use CFAI material for L1, so this kinda stuff is risky and hence requires complete review by the individual studying the material…
besides, believe it or not, it greatly helps reading a formula you have written down than a formula written down by someone else, regardless of how beautiful the other’s writing might be 😉
@Maverick funnily enough, i had similar troubles for that topic, although in kaplan…makes you wonder why they don’t reorganize the material when these providers are almost rewriting it all…

> @Goggs said:
> I also have a memory like a fish, and used to be useless at remembering formulas for exams. But I’ve found some basic memory techniques to be really useful. Basically you come up with a striking or memorable image to represent each part of the formula and then remember each part in a specific location that you can ‘walk’ through when remembering it. It’s also less boring than learning by repetition. This guy will explain in better than me:
>
> http://www.ted.com/talks/joshua_foer_feats_of_memory_anyone_can_doDoug Van Eaton of Kaplan Schweser did a great presentation on effective study techniques geared particularly towards CFA candidates. It, I think, is available online under free resources in Schweser’s website. There I can remember very well (using methods discussed in that presentation) he said using image based memory techniques to text based learning is useless.
In my opinion, I think it is so because of many reasons. For one, you can’t have many houses to go though to remember many (100+) equations. For two, its way inferior to the alternative. Which is to quiz yourself on the formulae so that you know the formula when you need it as opposed to trying to remember it. But it is true, one has to remember a formula in the beginning. But the idea is to reuse the formula immediately after and sometime after remembering it few times to put it into memory of things you know the concept bend it. Thus the quiz effect.
Enough said.

I also don’t think unrelated memorization (for example through association with places you are when you memorize a formula) makes any sense. But I like to think about a story (or a drawing or anything, really) related to a given formula, as in a situation where the formula can be used. It’s not rocket science.
For example, when remembering the signs of the relationship between LIFO and FIFO (for both COGS and EOY Inventory), I like to quickly draw two little pile of pancakes and then arrows in each that would represent LIFO and FIFO movement of inventory; this way when there’s inflation, it’s easy to see which has a bigger COGS and which has a bigger EOY Inventory, and then add/subtract the LIFO reserve (or changes thereof) accordingly and “voila” you have the formulas.
I pretty much had one such little story in my mind for each formula I had to memorize… maybe I should write a book 🙂



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