Hi everyone! I have recently joined this forum and I figured i should break the ice by sharing my Level II story with you all. Alright, so here it goes:
This June 2013 was my second attempt at Level II exam. I got a band 10 last year but have passed this time. Thank God!
Now to what went wrong in my first attempt. Umm.. I started pretty late last year (in March). For the most part, I just concentrated on reading and revising the chapters and devoted less time to practice. I solved CFAI EOC questions but only once and just skimmed them for the second time. Didn't buy any third party practice questions and solved only two mock exams. I also took two subjects for granted i.e. Ethics and Equity. Ethics because I had gotten greater than 70 in Level I, so I was quite confident of nailing it again, and equity because I was somehow finding it easier so didn’t practice it enough. Ahh, the fail was inevitable for me. It however taught me four important lessons:
1. Start early! (If you are a re-taker then February is your safest bet. If it's your first attempt then start in January.)
2. Aim to absolutely crush the big three subjects i.e. Ethics, FRA and Equity! (Some of you will find equity to be a lot easy, but trust me that is a big illusion in disguise. You have to understand equity extremely well in order to avoid traps in the exam.)
3. Practice as much as you can! (Do CFAI EOCs twice, do blue box examples and do PQs of 3rd party providers. More than half of your preparation time should be devoted to practice instead of reading the chapters.)
4. Solve at least 5 mocks! (The past CFA mocks and sample exams are a must. They are the closest deal you will get in the exam, except for that shitty 2013 CFAI mock.)
I had learned my lessons the hard way, so i was determined to give the exam another shot. I registered again! We had only 56 readings this year compared to 64 readings in 2012, so that was a BIG relief for me. This time, I did the following things that I believe made all the difference:
1. Started in Feb. I subscribed to one of the Elan packages with a 40% retake discount.
2. By March, I had finished the first read-through of all the readings. I used Elan guides extensively and just referred to the CFAI curriculum for solving EOC questions and blue box examples. (BB examples for Level II are a must, especially for Equity and FRA). I also made it a point to solve them right after finishing each reading and I also marked the important ones down for later review.
3. By end April, I had finished my second read-through but skipped economics altogether. There was a lot to study in econ and I was just not willing to waste any more time on this least-weighted subject. I also solved all the Elan practice questions RIGHT AFTER reviewing each chapter.
4. During May, I devoted all my time to solve the mock exams, review the answers (both right and wrong ones) and brush up my weaker areas. I was lucky in that I got a full month study leave for my preparation. Thanks to my awesome boss! I also perfected the currency exchange rate and parity problems, but other than that I skipped everything else in economics. In total, I solved seven and half mocks. (3 past CFAI mocks, 2 past CFAI sample exams, 2 Elan mocks, and half of 2013 CFAI mock.)
5. In last 2 days, I revised the whole syllabus one more time. (Yes! Thanks to the adrenaline rush I got from this year's CFAI mock.)
The paper this year was a bit of shocker for many because CFAI had changed weightage of AI and FI. But I was able to sail through them because I had studied everything well. The paper was a breeze and I was confident that I would nail it this time. What, however, I didn’t expect till July 23rd was to get greater than 70% score in each subject. I guess I got lucky with some of my flukes in Ethics and Econ.
So that’s how I nail the Level II exam!