Muschamp Rd

CFA® Level I Candidate

March 3rd, 2007
Job Wanted

Seeing as how my MBA was such an amazing success and having discussed it during several interviews and having recently been given a surprise online quiz basically about my status as a candidate even though it was not a requirement for the job if you had an MBA, I’ve decided to officially enroll. I’m now a CFA Level I Candidate.

What this means is I’ve committed to studying at least 250 hours and taking a really hard test, in order to be able to study even longer and take an even harder test. Only one in five people who register for the certification program complete it. The first test actually has the highest failure rate as it weeds out the most people. I’ve looked at some sample questions and I’ve had similar questions on exams as an MBA student. I plan to study a lot and decided to give myself the maximum amount of time by choosing the December examination date.

I’m curious as to what official calculator I can use, I did not like the last official calculator I was forced to use. I plan on doing a lot of sample problems with the official calculator, Excel is very much not allowed and I was burned a bit by relying too much on Excel during the MBA Core assignments, when the finance final rolled around. I corrected this in Period One, getting an A on my Finance class by doing sample problems over and over with just pencil and paper. Through hard work and a healthy dose of skepticism I managed to do very well on Accounting during the Core, even helping others. The other area tested is ethics, I’d like to think I’m an ethical person, but some people might not believe that…

I’m now about a thousand dollars poorer. To register for the test is $760 US dollars, but then you need to buy the books. You actually get a discount of forty-five dollars on the books once you pay the seven hundred and sixty. Of course as a Canadian I had to pay GST. It may be possible to study for the test without the official text books, but why would you want to try? The ethical questions come straight from the professional code of conduct and other official sources, though you could teach yourself some of the accounting and finance calculations from a third party source I guess.

Update July 24th 2012

Today is exam results day, so it seems like everything I’ve ever written about the CFA Level 1 exam is being reread by random strangers. Lucky me. I actually passed the CFA Level 1 exam, but most definitely not on my first attempt. I made a blog post about it, it is probably more relevant than this five year old post.

I’ve also written a lot of posts trying to help others pass the CFA Level 1 exam including giving away my personal study materials. I don’t recommend blogging about your experience as a CFA candidate but since I did you might want to try these links:

Good Luck! And remember it is always too early to quit. It took me four attempts to finally pass the CFA Level 2 exam.


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  • My 19 pounds of official Level I curriculum books have finally arrived. That’s six inches of reading material. The six volumes cover:

    Ethical and Professional Standards and Quantitative Methods
    Economics
    Financial Statement Analysis
    Corporate Finance and Portfolio Management
    Equity and Fixed Income
    Derivatives and Alternative Investments

    Volume one should contain considerable new material, but the next four volumes were all covered to a degree by courses I took during my MBA. Although I studied venture capital, real estate investment, even options volume six might contain a few surprises.

    I’ll probably start this weekend and I’ll eventually have to buy one of the official calculators to perform the practice problems, over and over.

  • My 19 pounds of official Level I curriculum books have finally arrived. That’s six inches of reading material. The six volumes cover:

    1. Ethical and Professional Standards and Quantitative Methods
    2. Economics
    3. Financial Statement Analysis
    4. Corporate Finance and Portfolio Management
    5. Equity and Fixed Income
    6. Derivatives and Alternative Investments

    Volume one should contain considerable new material, but the next four volumes were all covered to a degree by courses I took during my MBA. Although I studied venture capital, real estate investment, even options volume six might contain a few surprises.

    I’ll probably start this weekend and I’ll eventually have to buy one of the official calculators to perform the practice problems, over and over.

  • I finished the first three study sessions which compose Book 1. Things like NPV were review but statistics in particular had new material to me. I’ve never been particularly good at statistics. I will definitely have to revisit this material.

    One of my early complaints is not all chapters require the same approximate amount of time. They all don’t have to be the same number of pages and I actually planned my studying around the study sessions as I’d been instructed to. I don’t think all the study sessions are the same amount of work. The first book has only three study sessions and many sample problems at the end of most chapters. Book two has almost no sample problems but study session four is eight chapters long rather than the four I’d grown accustom too.

    Doing the sample problems takes a lot of time and I will be redoing them or ones very similar many times before I write the actual test, but when I made my study schedule I allocated approximately the same number of days to each study session. I think this may have proven a bit naive.

    Each book has a glossary, but I think each book has the same glossary. I was going to review the glossary at the end of each book, but since it contains terms that weren’t even in the readings… I may make some sort of definition testing apparatus (flash cards perhaps) for the glossary, but not until closer to the exam. I have a pretty good memory, I’m more concerned with the quantitative and reasoning questions than definitions.

    Although I spend more time lurking at Sherdog (which is an absolute zoo of an online forum) I’ve also tried to check out Analyst Forum from time to time. I think once you’ve covered the material initially being able to ask peers questions will be a big asset. Of course it relies on other people knowing the material and voluntarily helping you. After my MBA I’m not so sure of the benefits of voluntarily helping others.

  • I finished the first three study sessions which compose Book 1. Things like NPV were review but statistics in particular had new material to me. I’ve never been particularly good at statistics. I will definitely have to revisit this material.

    One of my early complaints is not all chapters require the same approximate amount of time. They all don’t have to be the same number of pages and I actually planned my studying around the study sessions as I’d been instructed to. I don’t think all the study sessions are the same amount of work. The first book has only three study sessions and many sample problems at the end of most chapters. Book two has almost no sample problems but study session four is eight chapters long rather than the four I’d grown accustom too.

    Doing the sample problems takes a lot of time and I will be redoing them or ones very similar many times before I write the actual test, but when I made my study schedule I allocated approximately the same number of days to each study session. I think this may have proven a bit naive.

    Each book has a glossary, but I think each book has the same glossary. I was going to review the glossary at the end of each book, but since it contains terms that weren’t even in the readings… I may make some sort of definition testing apparatus (flash cards perhaps) for the glossary, but not until closer to the exam. I have a pretty good memory, I’m more concerned with the quantitative and reasoning questions than definitions.

    Although I spend more time lurking at Sherdog (which is an absolute zoo of an online forum) I’ve also tried to check out Analyst Forum from time to time. I think once you’ve covered the material initially being able to ask peers questions will be a big asset. Of course it relies on other people knowing the material and voluntarily helping you. After my MBA I’m not so sure of the benefits of voluntarily helping others.

  • I finished the second book, it was a lot different than the first, only two chapters had any sample questions at all. That is not to say there wasn’t formulae in the other chapters just no questions to practice with.

    I actually think the chapters that are just reading are better for me. I can read anywhere, though on the bus or in the gym, or even at lunch is tough. I’m using a two bookmark system. One bookmark is where I’ve read to, the other bookmark is where I’ve typed notes to, I generally read ahead and highlight and type up my notes later when I have access to a desk or table.

    I of course will be revisiting my notes, the sample questions, and likely an entire pool of additional sample questions once I’ve completed the reading. I’m roughly on schedule, sometimes I fall a day or two behind, but I really prefer to be ahead of schedule then I don’t have to feel guilty when I do something other than study for the CFA.

    I’ve made so many sacrifices over the last five or six years, hopefully one day it will be worth it…

    Another observation I’ve had is the existance of optional material. At first I was reading it, but in chapter 32 for instance most of the chapter was optional. The reason there is optional material in the official study material is I believe they licence entire chapters and sections from other books. I was reading the optional material at first by why bother, I have so much material to learn already, shame about paying for optional material though.

  • I finished the second book, it was a lot different than the first, only two chapters had any sample questions at all. That is not to say there wasn’t formulae in the other chapters just no questions to practice with.

    I actually think the chapters that are just reading are better for me. I can read anywhere, though on the bus or in the gym, or even at lunch is tough. I’m using a two bookmark system. One bookmark is where I’ve read to, the other bookmark is where I’ve typed notes to, I generally read ahead and highlight and type up my notes later when I have access to a desk or table.

    I of course will be revisiting my notes, the sample questions, and likely an entire pool of additional sample questions once I’ve completed the reading. I’m roughly on schedule, sometimes I fall a day or two behind, but I really prefer to be ahead of schedule then I don’t have to feel guilty when I do something other than study for the CFA.

    I’ve made so many sacrifices over the last five or six years, hopefully one day it will be worth it…

    Another observation I’ve had is the existance of optional material. At first I was reading it, but in chapter 32 for instance most of the chapter was optional. The reason there is optional material in the official study material is I believe they licence entire chapters and sections from other books. I was reading the optional material at first by why bother, I have so much material to learn already, shame about paying for optional material though.

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  • Things haven’t gotten better for me, and if some of my MBA Classmates continue to have their way, things will never get better…

    My return to unemployment may allow me to catch up on my CFA studying, I’ve fallen way behind my revised schedule.

    I’ve been making my own notes, but while looking for a graphical representation of one particular formula I found first the site AnalystNotes.com one of many that will sell you material to help you pass. Then further digging turned up a site in all likelihood run by someone from India who is providing notes for which he might not have the copyright to.

    Just having notes won’t help you pass, you have to really learn the material, which changes from year to year and become really efficient at answering questions. I need to put in a lot of work, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation or the determination anymore…

    Why Mar?

  • Things haven’t gotten better for me, and if some of my MBA Classmates continue to have their way, things will never get better…

    My return to unemployment may allow me to catch up on my CFA studying, I’ve fallen way behind my revised schedule.

    I’ve been making my own notes, but while looking for a graphical representation of one particular formula I found first the site AnalystNotes.com one of many that will sell you material to help you pass. Then further digging turned up a site in all likelihood run by someone from India who is providing notes for which he might not have the copyright to.

    Just having notes won’t help you pass, you have to really learn the material, which changes from year to year and become really efficient at answering questions. I need to put in a lot of work, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation or the determination anymore…

    Why Mar?

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  • Well done passing the cFA level 1 exam. CFA level 2 is the real hurdle. good luck on your preparation.

  • I’m unemployed, so I stopped pursuing the CFA in order to try and actually earn a living… I may still register for Level 2 in June, I was hoping to have a job by now. I’m waiting to hear back about two, possibly three jobs but things have been tough for a long time for me. I try to help people, it is a character flaw. My writings on the CFA Level 1 exam have become popular because I passed and I gave away study materials that took 100s of hours to create. My ROI on the CFA is negative, just like the ROI on my MBA.

  • Helping people is not a character flaw. At the end, the return will be positive. I wish you the best on your research.

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