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Finish all the exams in about 3.5 years?

Hi,

I'm due to start a graduate job as an investment analyst in January. I have looked at the syllabus for all three papers, and for the first level 1 managed to obtain the five Schwester books. For my undergraduate degree I read economics, and for my MSc I read Economics and Finance. As a result the vast majority of the content in level 1 (about 70%+) is completely familiar, and seems relatively very easy. Would it be possible to take the first exam in December 2014 and the second in December 2015 and then the third in June 2017? I understand that these exams are supposed to be incredibly difficult, but after looking at the syllabuses I believe that the low pass rate is due mainly to the fact that a lot of people undertaking the exams have a completely unrelated prior education, and so are overwhelmed by the material. In addition, I consider myself to be very strong in exams having achieving a first in my undergraduate degree from Cambridge and a Distinction in my MSc; whereas many people taking these exams will in all fairness not be that intellectually bright. Are my beliefs that the CFA isn't actually that difficult completely false? Finally am I correct in thinking that you need 4 years of appropriate experience in addition to the exams? So would I have to wait 6 months after the final exam (assuming all goes well) to be awarded the qualification?

Sorry if I sound a bit arrogant. I don't mean to I'm just trying to objectively analyse this situation.

Comments

  • @123monitor123 - no problem, and no you're not sounding arrogant if you've caveated it ;) Welcome to 300 Hours by the way!

    I think I'm best qualified to answer your questions - I was a Cambridge undergraduate, read Economics there too and did my CFA exams in 18 months. Now I certainly hope I don't sound arrogant there - it's just a little background.

    Firstly, I wanted to clarify something in your statement: For Level 2 and 3, the exams are held once annually in June, so there are no Level 2 exams in December. Only Level 1 exams are held twice a year (Dec and June).

    It's perfectly possible to do the exams in 3.5 years with proper time set aside for preparation. While I would agree that most material may seem familiar to a Finance/Econs undergrad (especially Level 1), I wouldn't say it is easy.

    Remember, the CFA exams are not just about the sheer amount of materials (which I'd say is 60% of the difficulty), but also 20% exam technique and 20% motivation/discipline. For example, although Level 1 was familiar to me, but doing it under exam conditions (and yes I've done tons of exams too in my life) is a whole different thing - you need a proper study plan, doing sufficient amount of practice papers to get used to the tight timings you have.

    The tricky thing about CFA studies is not about mastering the material (which you can do if sufficient time is spent on it), but it's about juggling that with work, family and social commitments. The motivation and discipline you need to constantly study (for me it was just weekends because I work late on weekdays) means you're perpetually working, which can lead to burn out after a while if not planned carefully. Exam techniques is also something that comes with practice, again it's all about time management really.

    And yes you're right on the work experience issue.

    Hope this helps, happy to elaborate more if you've further questions.
  • @123monitor123 it could very well be that you may find the CFA exams a piece of cake. Some do, but I must say that this is a very small minority.

    I would say that underestimating the exams is a very normal mistake that contributes to the high failure rate. The material isn't necessarily hard, but the amount of material you have to remember, together with a full time job, is what normally kills the usual candidate.

    It's also worth pointing out that many candidates are high-achievers such as yourself.
    Sophie
  • @123monitor123 there is a difference between underestimating the difficulty/time investment for the CFA and have confidence in yourself. I do not think you are being arrogant. Anyone deciding whether or not embarking on the CFA needs to have an honest introspective dialogue and if you dont believe in your ability to grasp the material then its a non-starter. Having a familiararity with the level 1 curriculum definitely gives you a leg up, just dont take this test for granted! Good luck.
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