So I’ve been running through curriculum and referencing schweser after finishing my readings and EOCs in the curriculum. When I do schweser questions/Self-Test I find them to be a joke, now, when I go on to the CFA website and do their topic exams (Mainly FRA and Corp Finance which is were I’m at now) i find the questions insanely hard to do, especially in 18 minutes. I had a break down after spending the amount of time (about 20 hours a study session using the curriculum and following up with the schweser) and getting destroyed on the topic based exams the CFA provides. Like there is no way it can be that ridiculous on exam day, unless it is, especially for people combining the curriculum and notes to do studying. If that is the case I think the failing rate should be excessively higher then 54%. Like is anyone else struggle to answer the questions on these topic based tests? It’s depressing to me to put in this much work so far, thinking I understand (legitimately), then get smacked in the face by CFA question writers.
There is a significant difference between the Schweser concept testers and the real thing. Unfortunately the item sets on actual exam day are quite lengthy (the ‘story’ can be more than 1 page long). No magic bullets I can think of to counter this easily unfortunately, hammering away at practice will get your times down.
I found a great way to save time was to answer the questions as I read the vignette. The questions usually follow the sequence of the vignette so you can read the question and go find the answer without having to read the entire vignette first. Disclaimer: its somewhat of a risky strategy since questions don’t have to follow this order and you might get tripped up. I would recommend after answering all the questions skim through the vignette again for missed details before moving on.
Well, I also failed last December, band 9. What I do realize is that CFAI was not fooling around when they mentioned: “Level I exams consists of basic knowledge and comprehension questions focused on investment tools; some questions will require analysis.”
Emphasize ‘basic knowledge’ part, I think that’s the real key here. As a physicist, I easily aced the Quant part…. but I still messed up my conceptual understanding of basic finance a lot, at least according to CFA lv1 standard. 🙁
Long time lurker here. First off, let me say that this is a great community with a lot of positive sentiment. Very cool to see. I’m in a bit of a different boat than the OP – it’s not the difficulty of things per se that I’m struggling with the most (although there are definitely some very challenging/nuanced topics) – the biggest problem I find is being overwhelmed at the sheer amount of material/lack of retention. I’ve been thinking of ways to map out my remaining study time and was wondering if someone could comment on the efficacy (or lack thereof)…? Thanks!
(i) Finish what readings I have left for CFAI by March 7th (Portfolio Mgmt, Econ, Quant, Ethics)
(ii) Redoing CFAI EOCs/Blue Boxes – focus on memorizing formulas/hammering home big picture concepts*
(iii) Skimming through the FRA book again, as I know that will likely be my biggest weakness
(iv) Once I feel comfortable with the above, doing 7 mocks (six 2014 Kaplan mocks, 2015 CFAI official mock)
(v) Doing the “topic test” questions offered on the CFAI website
(vi) Learning how to use my financial calculator*
A few questions I have related to my planned study methods:
1) If someone can comfortably go through the vast majority of the EOCs and Blue Boxes and understand the core concepts being tested/solve them correctly (without relying on rote memorization of the actual questions), does that give them a decent shot to pass the actual exam? I’ve found the EOCs to be all over the board with difficulty and (lack of) things being explicitly tested. I’m going to bank on the fact that I expect test questions to test fairly similar concepts/not look too radically different than what the CFAI provides in EOCs/BBs/Mock Exam.
2) A mistake I made with the Level I is not learning how to use my financial calculator…at all. It was basically a glorified scientific calculator for me during the exam. Can anyone comment on the usefulness/quality of Kaplan’s calculator book? I’m thinking about ordering it. Unlike the level one, when I do practice questions this go around, I will try to actually try to incorporate calculator practice in.
Apologies for the lengthy post, and thanks in advance for everyone’s help/insight!
Honestly, you should not have to “memorize” anything to pass this test. You will end up memorizing stuff (formulas, rules, etc.), but because you practiced enough questions and understand the material well enough that you can quickly apply those concepts. If you want to guarantee a pass, sheer effort will do it; if someone wants to study just the bare minimum to get a pass, they will be risking going back to the drawing board next year, because it is not easy to calculate how much is the threshold amount of effort.
Having said that, even when overkilling, you need to be smart about it, otherwise it’s a lot of effort wasted – and that won’t feel nice. After covering the whole material with great care, do some (random or not) question bank sessions, and then move to mock exams. After doing a q-bank session or a mock, study it and see where you can improve your understanding. Get obsessed about it, go find your answers. Then go back and do another one and do the same. After a few of those, you should be seeing a significant improvement if you studied the raw material carefully enough.
I appreciate the advice. While I certainly understand where you are coming from, and I do agree with enough practice questions some of the things will subconsciously “stick”, I do think that for some areas even where I have decent understanding, rote memorization will definitely help me (FRA especially).
When you say question banks, I assume you’re referring to 3rd party providers? I am only using the CFAI curriculum, coupled with some Kaplan mocks, so I won’t be using these. I may order some questions/mocks from Wiley, depending on time management. I am relying on having a solid grasp on EOCs/blue boxes to get me through. If the actual test is similar in test and scope, I feel okay with this plan. If not, well…
I basically plan on spending 3 months of drilling questions and re-reading some of the material, as I see fit. I’m hoping to get to “initial” mocks to diagnose my weakest areas in late March after going through FRA for a second time.
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