CFA CFA Level 2 Study Plans/Techniques

Study Plans/Techniques

  • This topic has 17 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated Aug-17 by sakitime.
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    • stt00007
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      Hey guys

      I’m a newbie on the forum, so I apologize if I’m covering old ground here.

      I have always been the kind of person to just pick up textbooks and read – very little note taking, no plan of action.

      This worked reasonably well for most of my academic life. Unfortunately, however, this method recently betrayed me while studying for L2 June passed. This may sound ridiculous but how do I go about making a study plan? How detailed should it be? What does a study plan even look like?

      I understand study plans cannot be one-size-fits-all, but input would be welcome from anyone who believes they have a discipline and methodical approach towards exam taking.

    • mattyc
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      Hi @stt00007, the technique that worked best for me was to start from the exam date and work backwards. I wanted to give myself a full 6 weeks from test day to take 1 full practice exam per week, thoroughly review each question and use the time between tests reviewing different weak areas/topics. On L1 I only read through the materials once before I got to my final 6 weeks but for L2 I am going to try to read through twice. So in that case I give myself about 10 weeks each time to make one pass through the entire curriculum. My advice is to get granular, look at each week, each chapter and plan out an approximate goal to help you stay on track (ie 2 chapters a day or something). If you follow that you will back track and find an approximate starting date for studying. Add 2 weeks onto that to account for random life distractions. Boom you have your study plan and your official studying start date.

      Of course tweak this to however your habits and preferences dictate.

    • MockTurtle
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      Hi @stt00007, the CFA exams are a little bit different from the exams that come at the end of standard academic courses. Firstly, the goal is to pass the exam (learning the material is the means to achieve that end). The best way to achieve this goal is to do as many practice problems and mock exams as possible. That’s when you truly understand the material. Since you must have already gone through all the chapters, it won’t take you so much time to read the material again. Finish it and then set the last two months (You’re aiming for June 2014, right?) for doing problems and mock exams (look at the forum discussion for great resources for buying additional mock exams and question banks).
      I am not personally fond of group study (I get very tense imagining that everybody else knows a lot more than me) but that works to motivate lots of people, so you can find out if there are other candidates in your local area with whom you can study. It might make it more enjoyable, depends on what your studying style is.
      Best of luck with your preparation.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hello @stt00007 – the whole blog (and forum) has quite some info if you browse this list and see what’s interesting. I wrote about creating a study plan recently which may help with a basic but effective study plan structure in collaboration with @Dan – have a look and see if it’s helpful.

    • stt00007
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      @mattyc & @MockTurtle both exellent replies, you hit exactly my key issue – Mock Exams.

      I passed L1 in Dec 2012 and only had 4 months for revision. I knew mocks were essential but never managed to fit them in due to poor planning – I really only managed to complete one mock exam.

      I had a decent knowledge of the curriculum – having a masters degree from a CFA program partner (much like an introductory course) so most of the material I had some familiarity with – come exam day however, the item set style and wording of questions threw me. Ethics and Derivatives in particular.


      @mattyc
      inverting your planning and working backwards from the exam day is an excellent idea – something that I had never considered, so many thanks for this.


      @Sophie
      , thanks for your input. I will search the forum and your article on creating a study plan.

      Thanks for your support guys, I’m very grateful.

    • edulima
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      Thought I’d add to the excellent comments already provided here…

      I believe one of the most important aspects of preparing for such a killer exam is the determination you need to incorporate in your behavior when executing your plan. The exact format of your study plan can vary; for example, I count pages and problems and divide them up by the number of available weeks (excluding the last month or so for mock), which results in an assignment of a (hopefully) reasonable number of pages and review problems per week.

      Such a plan (including any reasonable variations) can only translate into success when coupled with the “almost obsessed” determination to execute it with full honesty — in that you go for each concept, don’t skip and don’t sleep over your book — and minimal adjustments to the schedule.

      This, IMHO, is the key to success. Let’s go @stt00007, you can do it!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Spot on @edulima – mine was a little less detailed in the sense that I just gave myself a hard deadline to finish book 1 by date 1, book 2 by date 2 etc – leaving the last month for the last minute hard core practice papers!

    • stt00007
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      @edulima another great reply – I was manic about my studying for the first 2 months. I would say I was hitting 40 hours study per week, while having a full time job.

      The problem was without an organized framework I was substituting quality for quantity. I was completely shattered by the 3rd month and akin to a punch drunk fighter, swung aimlessly at bodies of texts I felt would most likely be tested.

      Out of interest, do you guy’s track the amount of hours you study? I struggle with this as I have periods where I learn almost nothing during a period of say 5 hours, while on the other hand I have “intelligent hour” where everything seems to click.

      I would be afraid to chalk up those ersatz hours for fear that I would give myself a false sense of security that I was on track, while lagging on a material covered front.

      Great input guy’s, I will definitely incorporate your idea’s into my study plan.

    • Sophie Macon
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      @stt00007 – definitely NOT track hours, but objective base (number of pages covered). @Dan shared with us his super spreadsheet which I have adapted to have a simple study plan framework to track progress and productivity here.

    • edulima
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      I also don’t track hours, although I have an idea of what my average pages/hour is, in order to plan my week. Like @Sophie, my focus is on the milestones making sure my study is high quality (I actually do my own summary of each reading (as opposed to reading a ready-made one). This takes incrementally longer but the material sticks more because I am going through the thought process while doing it. End-of-chapter problems put the icing on the top to ensure my understanding is right.

    • stt00007
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      Hey guys, I don’t think this question merits a new thread and as its ultimate relates to a study plan I thought I would tail end this thread.

      I’m planning to take a couple of mocks to use along with my L2 2013 scorecard to determine my weakness so I can focus more time and attention on these areas while devising a study plan.

      Any suggestions how I can (ethically) get my hands on these?

    • hairyfairy
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      I just roughly track my progress (measured I. Readings or number of books) and see if it corresponds to the amount if time I have left.

      Not incredibly accurate I guess, but it’ll do.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @stt00007 – it’s still early days, best to leave the mocks and practice papers to the last month. For now all you need to do is go through the materials, try the EOC questions. A simple tracking here (save the spreadsheet separately) of how many you got right should give you an early indication of topic strengths and weaknesses.

    • stt00007
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      Hi @Sophie already downloaded the planner, I think it’s great! So thank you very much. You’re maybe right, think I’m putting the cart before the horse, EOC questions may be a more adequate gauge.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Yup, I’m glad you found it useful @stt00007. It can be overwhelming looking at ALL the work you need to do, but it’s all about taking baby steps. So now, think a little short term, set your time goals on when you need to finish your materials (once or twice is definitely needed) and record your EOC scores as you progress, tracking your study productivity, noticing when/where/how you study best – that’s all useful stuff to know as we approach the last month before your exams.

      We’ll be here for you, so no worries!

    • sakitime
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      @sophie just took L1 in December and wanted to get started on L2. Did not want to waste 3 weeks just waiting for the results. I downloaded the spreadsheet you posted and found it really helpful for L1. Was wondering if you had a rough schedule for L2. Thanks!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @sakitime – you should change/update the input of that spreadsheet for Level 2 yourself, based on your available time per week and study material you’ve used. It’s easily adaptable to any levels really!

    • sakitime
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      @sophie – After I posted that I just looked at the ebook to look at the number of pages that Schweser has for the first three topics. Won’t order any books for level I or II until results day, but this helps until then. Thanks for the quick response!

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