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CFA Note Taking (Schweser, CFA, other... etc.)

HeavenBeyondHeavenBeyond British ColumbiaPosts: 4 Associate
Hello Everybody!

I did some searching in the forum, but I couldn't find anything relevant to note taking. I'm just wondering if any of you could elaborate on 'how' you take notes - do you hand write them, type them, flash cards etc.? It'd be great to hear some feedback from people who have passed the different levels and the approach they took to do so.

Thanks,

Comments

  • tng2928tng2928 CanadaPosts: 10 Sr Associate
    Probably not the most efficient in terms of understanding/memorization.. but I'd use a dual monitor set up... Schweser on one, Word doc the other, type out LOS (the purpose of that reading, given to you), things i think are important for understanding, and i just snip/screenshot any excessively hard to type out formula... after going through the material the first time, i'll rely more on my notes for review and refer back to institute/Schweser if its sth I had missed or sth I hadn't noted clearly to myself (personally I feel like looking back at institute text is pretty daunting if you're doing that for every question you get wrong, whereas my own notes feel a little bit more user-friendly)
  • SophieSophie Posts: 1,985 Sr Partner
    Hey @HeavenBeyond‌ - generally note taking slows you down considerably, and you wouldn't have much time to revise otherwise is my general feel. I did my exams in L1 and L2 without note taking (just reviewing the materials a few times), but I did try out note taking with L3 with a laptop on certain sections to prepare for the essay part. I think doing some notes for sections may be useful, but if it's copying down formulae, it isn't. Because you'll remember it better doing tons of practice questions.
  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager
    Hi @HeavenBeyond‌ I have discussed this with many colleagues who take the CFA exams and I've come to the conclusion that everyone has their own method that works best - you just have to find yours. What works for me is to take notes while reading - essentially I make a huge summary of all the books. This year for level 3 my summary was over 200 pages and it took me several months to read/write. On the flip side, after writing the summary, I have never read it again as I felt I now remembered most of the material. After that I simply kept practicing with practice exams and other exercises.

    To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this method to everyone, because I believe there is no single method that works for everyone. Good luck!
    SophieZeeAlbertoMZ
  • SophieSophie Posts: 1,985 Sr Partner

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us @MM12‌ - I'm amazed you did all the note taking (I was probably just too lazy), bravo! 

    MM12
  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager

    Thanks @Sophie‌! I have done this from middle school through university and feel it has always helped me prepare well for exams. But I know of some very smart people who study in totally different ways - that's why I always put the very important disclaimer that everyone studies in their own way and must find what works for them! :smile: 

    Sophie
  • HeavenBeyondHeavenBeyond British ColumbiaPosts: 4 Associate
    Thanks everybody for the feedback, it's greatly appreciated. I just feel that with such a large volume of material, it would be pretty hard to take quality notes. Unfortunately, I won't be starting this year due to my inability to read that Level 1 isn't offered in June :neutral_face: .
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner
    I find that scribbling directly on the study notes works best from a time/benefit perspective. I was the type that insisted on proper nicely written notes though. Did handwritten for L1 and L2, typed for L3.

  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager

    @HeavenBeyond‌ I don't understand what you mean by "Level 1 isn't offered in June". As far as I know, level 1 is offered twice a year, in December and June, and levels 2 and 3 are only offered once a year, in June (by 'offered' I mean that the exam takes place in the months I mentioned).

    hairyfairy
  • HeavenBeyondHeavenBeyond British ColumbiaPosts: 4 Associate

    @MM12 I remember reading somewhere that Level 1 wasn't offererd in June... but I think that's obviously incorrect. This changes things.
  • HeavenBeyondHeavenBeyond British ColumbiaPosts: 4 Associate

    @Zee Did you find that the notes were beneficial (I'm assuming so since you passed)? If so, can you elaborate on what exactly you would take notes on (ie. All materials, materials you didn't understand, examples etc.)? Thanks :)
  • I'm one of the few who spent the time to make literally a few thousand flash cards. Flash cards take longer to make but they're extremely useful for reviewing in the final month. They're good for reviewing as you're still learning material as well - the last thing you want is to finish all the material and not remember the first bunch of topics you saw

    hairyfairy
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner

    @Zee Did you find that the notes were beneficial (I'm assuming so since you passed)? If so, can you elaborate on what exactly you would take notes on (ie. All materials, materials you didn't understand, examples etc.)? Thanks :)

    My general rule was scribbling down 'notes to self'. If I understood a particular concept, I'd write down an 'unofficial' explanation to my future self (who presumably would have forgotten this material again) in my own language.

    The notes were very beneficial, one because through the notes your past self is tutoring your future self, and also the act of writing things down summarises things in your mind and makes things a lot easier to remember!

    MM12
  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager

    My general rule was scribbling down 'notes to self'. If I understood a particular concept, I'd write down an 'unofficial' explanation to my future self (who presumably would have forgotten this material again) in my own language.

    The notes were very beneficial, one because through the notes your past self is tutoring your future self, and also the act of writing things down summarises things in your mind and makes things a lot easier to remember!

    :lol: in general it should work the other way around - your future self should have more knowledge than your past self. If a time machine existed, I would love for my future self to come over and explain all kinds of stuff that will be useful in the next years!

  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner

    @MM12‌ my 'point of best understanding' usually occurs at a point where I just read the concept and worked it out in my head though. I'd be educating my future, forgetful self, whom after reading a whole bunch of other stuff, has forgotten all about this particular concept. Just need a few pointers from my past self to remember it all again. :)

  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager

    @Zee‌ I know what you mean and I wasn't really serious in my comment. I was referring to the more general situation in any level of school, where you look back at last year's books and think "did I really find this stuff difficult? It's so easy now". Obviously this doesn't quite hold true for the CFA :wink: 

    Zee
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner

    @mm12 If you asked me to take the CFA exams now, I'd be so screwed...

    MM12
  • MM12MM12 Amsterdam, the NetherlandsPosts: 58 Jr Portfolio Manager

    @zee to be honest the same goes for me, and I just did the CFA :neutral_face: 

    Zee
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