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Getting gud - the CFA Level III moaning and groaning thread

I started a thread in the Level II subforum for blowing off a couple of years ago and now I've finally made it to the last stretch, I'm starting a fresh one here.

Here's a pinned thread by one of the site administrators for ease -
Looks pretty convenient.

Seems like people advise to start mocks early, like in January for chrissakes, and to take morning mocks under timed conditions to simulate writing by hand as fast as possible without getting carpal tunnel...

I checked how soon I should begin studying if I want to give myself two weeks per Study Session and four weeks for revision and mocks, and I'd have to start study on 27th August! Way too soon! I might just stick with my original plan of October and aim to complete my readings a lot quicker than I have been able to in the past...



  • Moaning and groaning, I like it!

    First time L3-er here, yet to register but will be doing it soon. 27th August - 4 more days of holiday then!

    I'll probably try and match your October start date, but suspect will start in November for a initial study + mock look through, break for Christmas, then start again in January.
  • FreddieFreddie BeijingPosts: 2 Associate
    Yea Level 3 candidate aswell registered a few days ago.

    That sounds mighty soon though, starting in October even has a high risk of early burnout. I'm planning to start slowly late November and then speed it up come February.
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    Mm, though I'm conscious that I have two weeks' holiday next month and I always fail to put in the hours in December...

    I printed off some items from the CFA website today to give me something to munch on before I pay my fees and get the eBooks. Stuff like the guideline essay questions and answers, and the full index of study sessions. I shouldn't be surprised, but there's a lot to learn!

    You guys ever visit Quora? I get a lot of CFA-related questions there and some of them are mind boggling. I should just pass on answering them but increasingly I want to say "You think you can pass CFA if you can't even read their website?".

    Or my other favourite, along the lines of "Will CFA help me get a job?".

  • jasdev said:

    You guys ever visit Quora? I get a lot of CFA-related questions there and some of them are mind boggling. I should just pass on answering them but increasingly I want to say "You think you can pass CFA if you can't even read their website?".

    Quora is totally useless for CFA or any kind of specialized questions. It's going (but not quite there) the way of Yahoo Answers.

    Yeah I plan to start slow and casual, hit some sacrificial practice exams around December/January to get a feel for the exam, then ramp up in January.

    Does anyone have any info/tips on essays to share?
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    Just in reading through Reading 3 / Study Session 2, I'm becoming aware of just how much we will be expected to know the Code and Standards forwards, backwards, upside down, blindfolded...
  • MarcMarc TorontoPosts: 186 Portfolio Manager
    @jasdev For what it's worth, I do not recommend writing mock exams until within about six weeks of the actual exam.

    In their CFA Insights book, the people behind this forum recommend doing 7 practice exams for Level III and their data shows rapidly diminishing marginal returns to doing more than that. So if you're going to write 7 mock exams, it seems like a waste to do any of them several months before the exam. It's best to wait until you have a stronger command of the subject matter so as to avoid feeling like you "wasted" good practice questions, which are a relatively rare commodity.

    If, like @policedog, you are writing Level III for the first time, you may want to go through one mock exam in order to get an idea of what the morning session is like because answering constructed response questions is definitely a different experience than answering the multiple-choice questions that you did in earlier levels. However, it isn't essential to become familiar with the different exam structure so early in the study cycle. At this stage, your time would be better spent developing a strong command of the material.
  • Procrastination is mine enemy!
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    This sub-forum feels a bit dormant this year, seemingly all the activity has moved to AnalystForum and r/cfa on reddit.
    Just posted this for anyone morbidly curious:

  • jasdev said:
    This sub-forum feels a bit dormant this year, seemingly all the activity has moved to AnalystForum and r/cfa on reddit.
    Just posted this for anyone morbidly curious:

    I'm L2, but feel like I can comment on this. I read all three forums, mostly lurking.

    I like this forum. When I do post, I prefer to post here rather than Analystforum or reddit. This comment summarizes why I don't like posting on the other two forums:

    I didn't really get useful responses to my questions especially when I was in L1 and a noob but this forum was more helpful than the others. I find the 'bro-culture' around most CFA groups to be tiring, where everyone mostly fronting or trolling. Of course there are some helpful people in the other forums too, but the snide comments in my experience are very off-putting for us newbies.

    I read your update, hope you make it to the finish line safely!
  • @jasdev - I'm finally back from a detour in the startup world after passing L3 a few years ago. Long story for another day! Kinda decided I like finance a little bit more so it's good to be back!

    How's the L3 preparation coming along? Doing mocks in Jan seems rather extreme/early!
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    @lugnuts agreed. AnalystForum (was) a place full of a more testosterone-driven individual and here felt more considered, plus it was easier to find CFA related memes here initially :)

    Thanks! I think I was lucky to pass LII on my 2nd attempt - good luck to you too.

    @Sophie Would be good to see you write a blog post for the main page regarding your experiences of the startup world!
    I did my very first mock last weekend purely because my progress through the curriculum has been so slow, I wouldn't have even been able to answer a single essay question back in January. At least I was able to do a handful from the 2015 exam now.

    I would like to spend less time on all the everyday stuff, less time procrastinating in general, and more time reading/doing questions, but these remain wishes for now!
  • jasdev said:
    it was easier to find CFA related memes here initially :)
    Literally the next thread:

    My first L2 attempt, not going well right now tho. I think I left studying too late and I'm only just starting to look at questions (I know you just did a practice paper, but I'm literally only looking at EOC questions now). I'm screwed, i know.
  • Oh I'm not sure if my experience is all that interesting. On a side note @jasdev, what do you do for work?

    Sounds like good progress on the 1st mock. Still early days in the mock/practice paper sessions. I remember the last stretch really drives in the focus and improvements. It was really eat, sleep, study, repeat.  It'll all be worth it in the end!  :)
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner
    Sophie said:
    Oh I'm not sure if my experience is all that interesting.
    I respectfully disagree - would be good to see if we can get some good stories!
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    @lugnuts Ha!
    I don't know how much time you can set aside, but practice, practice, practice. EOCs and the Candidate Resources section of the CFA Institute web site for Topic Tests, plus whatever mock exams you can lay your hands on. Under timed exam conditions and then learn from your mistakes before attempting another paper. Sorry if you know all of this already, but I cannot understate how important practice is!

    @Sophie I'm a senior credit risk analyst for an export credit agency.
    What will make or break my success right now is time - work is busy and I'm torn between doing overtime to meet deadlines or making enough of my evenings to read and practice questions - far too little of the latter right now!

    @Zee hell yes.
  • Wow @jasdev,  that sounds like an interesting role. Can you tell me more? Struggling to get my head around export financing. Whose credit risk are you assessing, presumably the importing country?

    @zee @jasdev Let me know if there's any aspects of startups you're particularly curious about. Will have a think about it to see if I've something useful to share with the community here :smile:
  • Ugh  definitely moaning about this level. 2nd attempt and feeling jinxed. How's revision coming along?
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    @cfachris slow going - reading about survey and panel methods now.
    I am strongly considering getting the full set of Mark Meldrum videos based on feedback elsewhere, but unsure if there's enough time to learn everything, even with the help of his tuition.

    How about you? What do you think was the reason you didn't pass first time?
  • Hey jasdev, do you know how many hours are his videos going on for? I presume it's just specific/tricky topics only that he covers? Never actually heard of him so just curious. Have you started some practice papers?

    I think my failure was due to time management and confidence in my knowledge. I dwelled on too long in uncertainty about answering things, that  just compounded and consumed me during the exam  :( Hopefully better luck this time heh 
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    edited April 2019
    I seem to have the number 57 in my head, as in 57 hours of videos for Level III. That might have come from one of his most recent YouTube posts, in which he up-sells you on purchasing his Level III package.

    He covers the entire curriculum, for all three levels. He speaks slow and advises you to watch his material at 1.5x speed while reviewing his summary PDF notes.

    I've done two past AM papers so far, was only able to answer 3 in 11 questions per paper because I've been going through the curriculum sequentially and I feel I am WAY behind.

    I read a tidbit of advice on AnalystForum that was absolutely worth its weight in gold, and so obvious I can't believe I didn't think of it. Arif Irfanullah, another prep. provider, says to begin the real morning exam by writing the time against each question on the first page of the exam, i.e. question 1 is worth 18 points, so allocate 18 minutes to that and write 09:18 against question 2, and so on for every subsequent question. That way you already know how well you are managing with time and where to hurry up / skip and return later if possible. Better to write a little for every single question than risk leaving some blank, right?

    Here is Mark Meldrum doing an Ask Me Anything on reddit:

    And here are his gushing fans:

    People talk about him like he is a rockstar. My colleague repeating Level I, though, purchased his materials 3 weeks prior to exam day last June and failed - and admits he left it too late. I wonder if I have left it too late this year, but will see whether I can get work to fund part of the cost.

    Boy that was long.

    [EDIT] Bonus meme:

  • jasdev - good summary of Mark Meldrum, took me a while to go through although seems quite hyped up on Reddit. May be tempted to try it out except his website isn't the clearest at explaining things at times :)

    You're absolutely right about Arif's tip though, thanks for sharing! I'll definitely incorporate that for the exams. Thanks dude!
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    Well, I just bought the full Level III package from Mark Meldrum, I'll let you and others know what I think of it.
    Just for the six books alone, there are more than 90 hours of video!
    I'm looking forward to this.
  • Yes please, that would be great jasdev. Appreciate it. I don't know if I've got 90 hours to spare given how far behind I am with materials, but keep me posted! 

    Btw, which is the trickiest topic you found so far jasdev? For me it's fixed income...
  • jasdev said:
    Well, I just bought the full Level III package from Mark Meldrum, I'll let you and others know what I think of it.
    Just for the six books alone, there are more than 90 hours of video!
    I'm looking forward to this.
    I'd be keen to hear what you think as well. Am L2 at the moment but good to collect advice for L3! Are his packages meant to be studied alongside the curriculum books?
  • jasdev said:

    [EDIT] Bonus meme:

    Just saw this. That definitely sums up the Reddit group.
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    I went sequentially, now on the reading for Capital Market Expectations. So, I have a long way to go.

    I wish I had covered Fixed Income, Equity and Derivatives already - I think it was my failure to finish these by now that spurred me to purchase Mark's package.

    Mark says in one of his YouTube videos that he recommends 2 minutes of question practice per 1 minute of his videos; just based on yesterday, I felt as though I needed to switch those around.

    I've read the entire reading for CME but it was long, difficult, and I felt I needed to go through it again with Mark's help. Still going through Mark's video for the reading, it's about 4 hours long, and got his PDF notes for the reading printed out for referencing and scribbling as I go (as he recommends).
  • Well, CME is quite important I guess, keep at it as I remember lots of practice questions to come from that (based on previous L3 attempt). It's a long road jasdev, but hopefully it'd be over soon!

    Any plans post exams, just to lift the spirits and have something to look forward to? (Not studying is definitely a GOOD start!)  :)
  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    I have a couple of holidays booked - and I'm starting a short course shortly after sitting LIII but it's a language, so entirely unrelated!
    How about you?
    It will also be nice to say yes to friends and family, and colleagues, once again, after blowing them off for months.

    I can't believe I wasn't aware of this before, but it was basically hiding in plain sight on the CFA Institute's website ( I added readings myself) - I was wondering for ages how to match subject weightings to study sessions, where the distinction wasn't clear, and now I wonder no more:


    Exam Weight

    Study Session(s)




    1, 2 and 3

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6




    16 and 17

    Equity Investments


    13 and 14

    26, 27, 28 and 29

    Fixed Income


    11 and 12

    22, 23, 24 and 25




    32, 33 and 34

    Alternative Investments




    Portfolio Management & Wealth Planning


    4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 16, 18 and 19

    7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 31, 35, 36 and 37

  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 84 Sr Associate
    P.S. I will give my two pence on Mark Meldrum, although it may be too late for June 2019 candidates to benefit from his full package.

    In using Mark's videos and PDF notes, alongside the CFA curriculum, I feel as though I am back at university, with the course textbooks (CFA curriculum) as required reading, the lecturer (Mark) giving his own handouts at the beginning of the class, and then proceeding to bring the material to life (albeit in pre-recorded video) and answer questions (though not live Q&A).
    This must be how MOOCs are. It's nice that I can slow down, rewind, pause etc. if I'm struggling to follow. Makes a huge difference from live lectures ten years ago!

    In terms of how good Mark is - maybe I was silly for expecting that he had one single manner of explaining tough concepts that every candidate would immediately understand. Admittedly, I'm only on economics and haven't sampled his other videos yet. Maybe he really comes into his own on more complex subjects. I can't escape putting in my own hard work, is what I'm saying :P

    But his site is very polished and well-organised, with lots of supplementary content and videos/book recommendations for when not studying, as well as his Applied CFA videos taking the curriculum and showing you how it can be used for real life situations (haven't sampled these yet).
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