CFA CFA Level 1 Level 1 exam prep, weightings by study readings

Level 1 exam prep, weightings by study readings

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    • mitch895
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      Hi guys,

      Like most who first enrol in the CFA program, I have been somewhat overcome by the sheer volume of material contained within the program.

      To try to cope with this I’ve thrown together an Excel spreadsheet which compares topic attribution scores (per exam weighting), and with each reading assigned a level of significance according to how many end-of-reading Practice Questions there are.

      My question is: does anyone know, are the number of Practice Questions indicative of the number of questions in the exam? (by proportion to the exam day’s 240 questions) For example, I have counted roughly 1,500 practice questions (non-multiple choice questions are counted by the number of question sub-sets); if there are say 40 Practice Questions at the end of a topic, and that topic’s total practice questions (across say 3 readings) is 100, would it be fair to say that that reading’s content comprise 40% (40/100) of that topic’s assessable content?

      I know this is unlikely to be anything near an exact science, and by no means is that my objective. What I am trying to do is work out an estimated significant of each topic in relation to the overall exam so that I can figure out which areas my weaknesses lay, and most importantly where I should be focusing my attention to improve my overall result.

      (i.e., if I am scoring 50% in a section that is worth 5% of the exam, but 60% in a section that makes up 15% of the exam, it makes more sense for my to improve my 60% score to 80% {3% improvement in overall result} than to screw around getting my 50% score to 90% {2% improvement in overall result} )

      Hopefully this makes sense. I’m happy to share the Excel spreadsheet I put together for this (though not sure if I can upload on this site? Maybe I can email to the moderator to post??).

      Cheers!

    • edulima
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      Hi @mitch895, since I have not taken the test yet (scheduled for Dec 2013), I can’t answer your question with much precision. But I do agree with you that the amount of material is overwhelming.

      I did a similar Excel summary with a variety of statistics per reading, such as number of questions, number of pages, etc. I did this when I was putting together my study schedule a few months ago. The CFAI site also tells us the exam distribution by topic (Ethics vs Quant vs FRA etc). Comparing the two, to a good approximation the proportions are similar. That was enough for me to conclude that the number of EOC questions is a good enough proxy for the weight of each reading in the exam.

      Having said that, I really want to perform well enough to safely pass with at least a few % points above the minimum required, and so my strategy has been closer to an “overkill” than to a “do just enough to pass” one. By that I mean I don’t leave any “stones unturned” while studying, and when I do practice problems I aim for 100% — of course I never get the full 100%, but I seriously aim for it and go over the problems I got wrong to understand what it was that I missed.

      As far as working on your weak points, I totally agree with your logic. There are a few question bank softwares that help you point out which areas you need more work, so maybe you should consider getting one of those if you haven’t already.

      Are you scheduled for Dec 2013 or Jun 2014? What has been your approach so far and what’s the plan for the remaining time until the exam?

    • mitch895
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      Good stuff @edulima. I’m of a similar mindset in terms of overstudying versus leaving any of the areas to chance. To be confident in getting through first time without (too much) stress, the aim is to be hitting 80%+ in the practice questions. In the “self tests” that I have run through (end of reading Practice Questions) I can see I have some serious gaps that need to be filled. That said, I feel more confident already knowing where my key weaknesses are as this allows me to study.

      Initially I also started plugging page numbers into a spreadsheet but have since scrapped that idea because it takes me 5 x longer to read a page with formulas than one on say Ethics.

      I only registered for the program at the start of this week and am scheduled for June 2014, so enough time to get my head around the (3,500+ pages of) material. Although I am involved in portfolio management there is a lot of stuff I haven’t ever used in practice, and there are even areas that I’m pretty good at (in the real world) that I completely stuffed up on the practice questions!!

      I am going to spend the next month skimming over as much material as possible, then will drill down into the areas where my weaknesses are most likely to show up in the exam.

      I haven’t purchased any of the QBank programs yet. Will probably get onto that at the end of year.

      If you’re getting close to 100% in all or most areas it sounds like you are going to smash the exam! Good luck!

    • edulima
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      Sounds good @mitch895. Since you’re going for Jun 2014, there’s enough time to test a couple of ideas and see what works best for you. Best of luck!!!

      To clarify, I’m not getting close to 100% — that’s just what I’m aiming for! I’m closer to 90% after reading twice each reading (first time I highlight, second time I write my own summary), which entails a lot of effort. My pace is about one Study Session per week (actually a little slower than that: 22 weeks for 18 study sessions; I spent more time on the FRA part), and I should be done in about 5-6 weeks from today, leaving me about a month until the exam. At that point, I plan to review my summaries and crack q-banks and mock exams at an increasing intensity.

    • Zee Tan
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      @mitch895 I’d say that’s very loosely true at best. The better way to judge is to look at the weightings in mock exams and practice exams.

      We’ve also written quite a lot about weightings and how difficult candidates found their topics:
      http://www.300hours.com/1/post/2013/02/cfa-results-analysis-topics-you-should-watch-out-for-in-your-own-cfa-level-i.html
      http://www.300hours.com/1/post/2012/08/cfa-level-i-results-analysis-topics.html

      If you’d like to email the Excel file to us I’m happy to post it in this thread 🙂

    • mitch895
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      Thanks guys, I really appreciate the feedback.


      @zee
      – I’ve been scouring this site for the past week taking in the suggestions posted by moderators and members — certainly helps to work out which areas I need to brush up on.

      If the Practice Problems are anything to go by, the difficulty of the exam is going to be much, much tougher than I initially anticipated. It’s full of topics that I know quite well, but the depth is insane!

      When I get back to the office and when time permits I’ll send you a copy of the Excel spreadsheet. Cheers!

    • Zee Tan
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      @mitch895 unexpected difficulty is the main issue that leads candidates to fail in Level 1 (i.e. they leave things too late etc).

      I’ve attached the Excel file for other members – haven’t had a chance to look through it yet but will come back with my comments later!

    • Zee Tan
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      Looks pretty extensive – awesome work @mitch895!

    • mitch895
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      No worries. Hopefully it’s pretty self-explanatory. As per the email I sent, users will obviously need to clear the “Practice Questions” sections and fill in their own details/results. Any questions just ask… Cheers

    • christine
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      A new and improved version from @mitch895! 😉

    • mitch895
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      Thanks @christine, hopefully it’s relatively self-explanatory (I think it’s better with the topic sections listed, allows better identification of knowledge gaps). Cheers

    • JayR
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      thanks @mitch895. Will look into it. Thanks @christine too :)>-

    • Pavitra Rungta
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      Thank you @mitch895 & @christine .. awesome work… i will be appearing for CFA Level 1 in Dec 2015.. i hope to incorporate these inputs for my study…:)

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