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The Last Minute Guide: How To Cram For the CFA Exams

edited May 2013 in 300 Hours
imageThe Last Minute Guide: How To Cram For the CFA Exams

By Sophie,  Regular Contributor .  Check out her  previous posts  to learn how to optimise your life and ace the CFA exams in 18 months, even with a full-time job. She can be found lurking (very...

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  • @Sophie - I don't know what I'll do without 300HOURS....dude, I'm one of those almost done with material at the same tome simultaneously doing practice questions. I feel like my head is about to pop, oh well!!

    Thanks for being so straight forward about this "OK, calm down and take a few deep breaths. Shit happens, we understand." - too awesome :)). I'm trying to keep calm and not burn myself out
  • Great post @Sophie!

    I was wondering, for those of us who are currently writing practice exams and concentrating on improving our weaker areas which we find, how do we set aside time separately to concentrate on those combinations of large and small weight topics as mentioned in the post? Are you saying we should do questions on just these topics?
  • SophieSophie Posts: 2,036 Sr Partner
    Yo @Shwebs - I'm just writing from memory as how I felt, the goal is to help you guys out through this painful period (I only wished 300 hours existed earlier in my days...). And it's true shit happens sometimes! But thank you for your kind words, such things keep me going and know that I'm not talking to a wall :))

    @sidmenon - this is a guide for those who are slightly behind schedule and know they don't have enough time. It's a prioritisation list, if you like, for "damage control". So what you can learn from here, even though you're on schedule, is which topic to prioritise/master based on your strong/weak areas.

    I'm not suggesting you should ignore other topics (as you have time!), but even during your review you should take into account your weak areas and topic weights to "maximise coverage". Revise all since you can, but prioritise the heavier weighted areas if you have less time.
  • @Sophie - painful indeed, I've never encountered something that mentally messed up my psyche like this... come 1st June, epic battle!! :ar!
  • Thanks for the article. I had quite a bad weekend of studying just past. Just could not get the motivation to come out. Currently trying to grasp some of the concepts I didn't get earlier. Quite a lot of stuff as I am now finding out.I really should have had this done earlier but I have taken the last week of May off work and will need to use if effectively if I want to increase my chances of passing from none to slim.

    Now is the time for the belief to come out though and I think if I really try then there is a possibility I could be sat with a congralutory email come July. No excuses, I am exactly the kind of person that should be able to pass this as I have no family to support, job isn't too demanding (though unstable) and a decent support network. Weather is getting nicer though so it sucks to be inside on the weekends but will have all of June off no matter what.
  • @sophie

    how was the minimum passing score established?

    I know that you can pass the exam without necessarily passing all the sections (passing being >70% I presume)

    but in reality, whats the overall score to pass? is it the MPS? I'm confused lol
  • @sophie for level 2 (cramming style) one can concede to be defeated for 2 topics?
  • SophieSophie Posts: 2,036 Sr Partner
    @Shwebs - Level 2 is worse, be prepared!

    You're welcome @james010. Don't be too hard on yourself, life can be harsh on you, but you are already taking active steps to change things (by taking the CFA). Sometimes not having faith in your abilities can crush things, when you are really capable. Just focus for the last 2-3 weeks and you can enjoy the summer. Plus I don't call this weather in London now summer, really. So you're not missing out that much!

    @lulu123 - pls refer to this epic post by @zee for the MPS explanation breakdown. It's by no means a guide, but a better educated guess (and not confirmed) on what you need to pass.

    @alta12 - sorry I don't fully get your question here? (it's monday after all)
  • MarekMarek Posts: 10 Associate
    edited May 2013
    I am very much in a similar situation and have looked at % weighting of topics per Schweser study guide page for each topic. (pages per topic/% weighting) and as a result Economics seems to be the topic with the least bang for your buck at a whopping 25 pages of material for each percentage point. Ethics at just under 6 is a clear winner. So I will leave Econ to last, if there is time left over. The other 'bad' topic by this measure is Quants, thankfully I did that one first so have it mostly covered. Ignoring both would probably be a very bad idea, but if you are deciding which topic is the least worth the precious time you have left at this stage, I would suggest Econ.

    Here is the full list anyway, my strategy is to keep working through the most efficient topics as a priority, so that the ones that get the least time at the end will cost me the least on the exam:

    Ethical and Professional Standards 15% 5.7 pppp (pages per percentage point)
    Quantitative Methods 12% 22.4 pppp
    Economics 10% 10.00 24.5 pppp
    Financial Reporting and Analysis 20% 15.6 pppp
    Corporate Finance 8% 14.3 pppp
    Portfolio Management 5% 14.6 pppp
    Equity Investments 10% 12.6 pppp
    Fixed Income Investments 12% 15.0 pppp
    Derivatives 5% 17.4 pppp
    Alternative Investments 3% 10.3 pppp
  • SophieSophie Posts: 2,036 Sr Partner
    Sounds great @Marek, you're getting the prioritisation right, but looking at pages per topic is one thing, another is whether you're good at it due to work/education background (if applicable).

    Thanks for sharing with us your detailed Level 1 strategy, I'm sure the community will find it helpful! :)
  • @Sophie: Absolutely, another very important factor to consider is how quickly you can get through the pages in each topic, which could definitely change prioritisations, and will depend on your background. (You wouldn't analyse a company by only looking at one ratio, and so similarly you shouldn't choose topic priorities just based on pages per percentage point :) )
  • why am I so tensed seeing this analysis?
  • SophieSophie Posts: 2,036 Sr Partner
    Hi @abdloringo - don't be stressed, it wasn't my intention! Are you taking Level 2 this June?
  • Hello, I have a situation maybe someone could help me out
    I have completed CFA level 1 reading material (CFA provided Books) and simultaneously done chapter wise questions (Schweser) 2 months before exam. When I look at mock exam or full subject exam, I feel blank-out and shift to chapter wise questions (done this twice); seems like its not working.
    Now 2 weeks left for Dec exam what should I do? any expert advise ?
  • @raey‌

    I have to be honest here - I really think you should be not just starting mock exams, but hitting them as hard and as fast as you can. Shifting back to chapter questions at this point is just not an option. Better to blank out now and work on that than blank out in the actual exam.

    Just my 2-cents.
  • 63 is the MPS?! WOW! I guess I shouldn't have a problem then. But no way I'm getting complacent. Btw special thanks to @Marek I was really planning to do a calculation like that so you saved me a lot of time. Thanks
  • mctoeymctoey Bangkok, ThailandPosts: 1 Associate
    Sophie, thank you very much for the article. I understand that the post is especially for people who are running out of time preparing for the exam, but it still surprises me since everyone else seems to suggest working very hard on the essay questions in level 3. Just wondering how much score a L3 candidate should be aiming for the item-set questions, given that most people will perform worse in the morning essay section? 70%, 75% or even 80% for the item-sets?

    So just reviewing the questions and answers for the essay questions will be enough?

    I think I have relatively done more essay papers compared to the item-sets. Do you suggest that I should focus more on the item-sets at this stage?

    Also, how much should one realistically aim for the essay section? I personally find that hitting 70% in the (mock) essay section is very hard. It's not all about stuffs that I cannot recall or don't know, but answering styles plus small details, timing and really answering what is being asked that also matter.
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
    Hi @mctoey

    It's tough to give a definitive answer to your question, as L3 candidates' experiences vary. In fact, a minority of the candidates will find that they score higher in the essay section. So I can only answer on an average basis.

    The average candidate will score significantly lower in the essay section compared to their item set. And since a comfortable overall pass grade to aim for is 70%, L3 candidates should aim for as high a score as they can in the item sets. If you think you're scoring about 60% in your essays, that means you'll have to aim for 80% in your item sets.
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