Learn How Candidates Performed in CFA Level III 2012, Topic-By-Topic

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In the past weeks and months we’ve analyzed and discussed the results of Levels I and II 2012 in every way possible. Topics, bands, minimum passing scores, pass rates. Lots of stuff.

But it was only last week that we delved into Level III – we covered MPS, band differences, and the ‘essay section factor’.

And for this post, we take a look at performance by topic.

It was important to establish the essay format as a significant factor in the Level III exam first, before diving into the topic-by-topic analysis. After all this wasn’t a factor in our analysis for the other levels.

Because the topic coverage isn’t as even as Levels I and II, factored with the significant influence of the essay section, it’s important to consider this alongside the topics learnings. If a topic shows as having a great performance (or a bad one), it could mean that it was an easy (or hard) question rather than the topic itself.

Pass Rate – Very High Among 300 Hours Readers.

As expected, the pass rate for Level III is high amongst readers – 76%. Much higher than Level I, Level II, or the overall pass rate for Level III 2012.

CFA Level III 2012 Sample Breakdown by Grade

And here are the topics breakdown for the entire sample, the failing candidates and the passing candidates.

Also included for reference are the topics and points allocated for this the 2012 paper – that way you can easily see which topics appeared in each session.

Morning Session – Essay (180 points)

  • PM Individual – 53 points
  • PM Execution – 21 points
  • Economics – 24 points
  • PM Institutional – 34 points
  • Fixed Income – 23 points
  • Derivatives – 25 points
Afternoon Session – Item Set (180 points)

  • Alternative Investments – 18 points
  • Equity Investments – 18 points
  • Ethics – 36 points
  • Fixed Income – 18 points
  • Portfolio Mgmt – 18 points
  • Asset Alloc – 18 points
  • PM Individual – 18 points
  • PM Perf Eval – 18 points
  • PM Risk Mgmt – 18 points
Everyone bombed Institutional Portfolio Management.
Ok, that’s a little harsh. But the performance of Institutional Portfolio Management is pretty extreme – the worst among all levels so far. This is most likely due to a tough question rather than the topic itself, but it wouldn’t hurt to show this topic a bit of love when you’re prepping for Level III.

Performance between passing and failing is evenly distributed.
In Level I and Level II, there were some topics where passing candidates did well where failing candidates didn’t. The key learning from this was that failing candidates often did not master topics that were heavyweights in the exam, and thus their overall score suffered.

In Level III, between the uneven coverage of topics and the veteran status of candidates, the performance between pass and fail are quite evenly distributed. Everyone’s covering topics as they should – the differences comes from overall thoroughness.

There are quite a few trouble spots.
Ethics, consistent with our Level I and Level II observations, saw a solid performance by candidates. However there were quite a few problem areas:

  • Alternative Investments
  • Derivatives
  • Fixed Income
  • Portfolio Mgmt – Execution
  • Portfolio Mgmt – Individual
  • Portfolio Mgmt – Institutional

Make sure you do not miss these topics and focus more on them in your Level III prep!

Like this post? Get our analysis report for all our analytics for all levels, or view our 10 Commandments for every level!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


2 thoughts on “Learn How Candidates Performed in CFA Level III 2012, Topic-By-Topic”

  1. That’s genius. I knew I didn’t do as well in my essay section, but didn’t know it was that widespread. Great piece of work!


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