Schweser is great for every level if that kind of material is your thing. The videos + books are great, you won't ace everything based on those alone, but they get you over half way there.
Very clean PDF books. Delivery as download link. CFA level 3 2018 Schweser Notes + Quicksheet. 2015 CFA Level 3 // Exam Preparation Study Materials // Quicksheet HD Quality w/o. How to Pass the 2015 Level 3 CFA Exam - Kaplan Schweser.
My trick has been Schweser books + videos then the 7city/fitch learning 2 day final prep course (which is basically grinding out questions on the most tested topics) and there in class mock if you want the extra help. Things i didnt like were Schweser online mock exam for level 3, but everything else mentioned above was good.
Also i would say secret sauce is limited in usefulness and i never really got around to using it, even though on the surface it seems like a useful product. The reason for this is over half the questions are probably not even covered there, so you are better off using the quick sheet + your notes, + slides (i use slide packs from videos, print them off and keep best ones that cover really important material). I went through books and videos up until day before test, while mixing in mock tests during the last couple weeks and the fitch learning 2 day in class question grind the week before the exam. I dont like the way it is usually recommended, study many months before, stop like 4-6 weeks before and work on tests, that sounds like recipe for failure, but we all learn differently, and my way is a bit more grueling, but i end up really knowing the material well. A lot of the questions are some of the less emphasized topics, and reviewing all material even up until the end will keep a lot of stuff fresh in your mind when test day comes.
In a perfect world, i would do 1) Schweser books + vids about 3-4 months before (you do this first cause its light, and will make the CFAI books easier to understand, no need to do questions at this point unless you feel like it). 2) CFAI books and end of chapter questions 2-3 months before 3) Schweser books + vids + questions in Schweser books + questions in slide pack that comes with vids about 1-2 months before 4) In the last 3 weeks-ish Schweser books + vids + cfai questions and mocks + any other mock exam you can find + 2 day in class. Also reviewing your own study package during last couple days. Step 4 should be about 150 hours, it should be grueling and almost like a full time job. That is a lot of studying, but you can't really fail. After today, I have failed level 3 three times.
Two of those times, including thr most recent exam, I used Schweser. What I have learned is that for Level III, the Schweser essay questions and practice exams (for the essay portion) were not as helpful as they were for the multiple choice questions. I felt they missed on preparing me for the essay portion.
What I found most useful and wish I would have practiced more with were the past CFAI morning session exams. These were the real thing so when I took the actual exam, I was familiar with the layout and question format. While I didnt pass, this time around I will spend more time with the CFAI exams and I will incorporate some of Justin's suggestions above such as the 2day prep course of Schweser's Windsor week. It really depends on multiple factors like student/full time job, spouse, kids, social life, background, etc.
I would have failed CFA level 3 exam if I had studied from CFA books but that is because I found them too verbose and I just cannot digest CFA books. My friend loved CFA book and hated Schweser.
We both passed. He reads much faster than I do. It takes me 15 minutes on a page because I get stuck with every line and over analyze so I need less words for my style. Schweser worked great for me.
It is definitely not perfect by any standard but if you understand the material then Schweser is decent. I love their QBank at all levels because they check your concept right away. Granted it is not in the essay format etc. But if you create a quiz of 100 questions or so from 5-10 topics then you start to get in the grooves. I bet you there are people who would fail miserably with Schweser and they need CFA books or 7city etc.
If there is one thing I really like about Schweser, it's the question bank. It can really put you on the right 'mental frame' for exercising your mind on the topics. For Level III, of course you can't rely solely on this but I still feel it can be useful. With regards to Schweser notes, I feel they are useless for someone with my style, as I prefer to read the real source of material (CFAI text) and make the notes myself - which takes a lot longer but gives me the confidence I need that I am reading from the same source as the exam questions. The issue i have with that is i really do not know what info is important till reading Schweser notes and videos. So much time can be wasted on untestable material, i would rather be reviewing stuff 5 times that will be tested instead of once or twice going over each and every detail including a lot of minutia.
Maybe I am not good at figuring out what is testable, what isn't at first glance, and that is why I need Schweser material to guide me, i cant first find out what is important just before doing the exam while doing practice papers, i need to know early and get my head wrapped around this stuff, and avoid all the noise (which is a large percentage of CFAI books imo). Anyway, everyone studies differently, I am just pointing out why i need Schweser material, but i know a lot of people work the way edulima does and have great success. I think the reason people say Schweser is less useful as you go through the levels is cause you need to have problem solving abilities to get through the other levels, where level 1 is just a knowledge quiz.
So yeah, Schweser can't give you problem solving abilities, they can't give you a high IQ, there are a lot of things they can't give you, and for level 3 they certainly can't teach you how to write. But if you have level 3 videos you will find out game changing information to pass level 3 writing, if you pay attention to David Hetherington, it is really the only place you will get info like this unless you go to class (and even then his info is better if it sinks in while you watch it). I have posted links to good videos if you dont know who he is, or value he can add to level 3 experience. This guy really gets it, and i get shocked when i find people who dont like him, this guy IS CFA level 3. In some ways though, this info here in these youtube vids could already be enough for you to figure out what you need to figure out regarding the writing portion, although the other vids give more examples of writing plus everything else that comes along with them.Not sure if i should have videos linked in these posts, i had just copied site address but it appears it is embedded into the post unintentionally.
For the L2 Passers, congrats! Let’s help out those who will be writing next year 1. What was your matrix? Study materials? Estimated hours? For me, I passed L1 last June on my first attempt using CFA materials exclusively.
Passed L2 first attempt; all 70 except 50-70 on Economics 2. Thoroughly studied CFA materials and supplemented with mock exams 3. Started in February and studied approximately 350 hours but I don’t keep track so this may be off 4. Put more weight on the heavier areas (FRA, Equities, Ethics) and master ALL blue boxes and EOC questions. All above 70 except Ethics between 50, 70 (Same exact matrix as Dec 2012 Level I) 2. Books, CFAI EOC questions, Some QBank questions on topic I found difficult. Around 200 hours, started first week of March 4.
EOC questions absolutely cruicial. I skipped some readings where I had experience in and went straight to EOC.
If I got over 70% on that, then I moved on to next reading. EOC questions much more useful over QBank and EOC questions.
EOC and blue box questions are very useful do them more than once for topics you arn’t sure about. For Ethics, I suggest you read CFAI books. Read a little bit every night before bed. I did mostly on and got killed. No idea how I got above 50.
Naturally, you’d want to focus on FRA and Equity. Don’t skip any material on those even if it takes up 1 reading. I did that and the reading I skipped had an entire vignette in the exam.
Don’t be discouraged by your mock scores. I took 2 mocks and averaged low to mid 60.
Nowhere close to 70. I took the 80/20 approach. Was criticized a bit for parts of my strategy but I passed with 70+ in all except ethics, Fixed income, and Econ and 50-70 in those. My approach: Rough # of hours spent: 300. Rough breakdown of time spent: 15% Videos 50% Finquiz practice problems, 20% CFAI mocks, 5% mocks, 10% reading notes and CFAI text.
In Level 1, I found that I learned most when doing the problems, not from reading or watching videos. So I figured for L2, I’ll dedicate a larger proportion of my time to problems instead. But I still need an overview of the material before I can do problems. So before each study session, I’ll watch the videos on that section AND take notes while watching (as if sitting at a lecture in college.) I’ll spend 1 entire day a week (usually Saturday) and watch as many videos as I can this way. Then on Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day doing problems using Finquiz (not Qbank.) During the weekdays, I’ll try to get 30 minutes to do Finquiz practice problems even if I didn’t feel like it. If after 30 minutes I still didn’t want to, I’ll just go play video games, watch TV, work out, etc. Without guilt.
Most of the time, doing problems for 30 minutes was enough for me to build momentum to study for a few more hours. In the beginning, I don’t even care if I got problems wrong. If I keep getting a certain type of problem wrong, I’ll go back and read the notes or CFAI books. I also did both the item set AND regular questions. The latter mainly to drill the material I just learned from the videos.
I started in late December and finished my 1st pass through the materials this way in mid April. With a few exceptions, I didn’t start doing the CFAI problems until mid-April. I wanted to save them for near the end. Mid April to 1st week of May: I did CFAI problems on the weekdays and mocks on the weekends. I’ll go through 1 mock a day.
After the 1st week of May, I did CFAI problems and CFAI mocks exclusively. I did both the 2013 AND the 2012 mocks (I saved the 2012 one when I signed up for L1 last year.) I marked the questions I was unsure of when I did the mocks and went over those even if I got them right. After finishing the mocks, I went over all the wrong questions PLUS the ones I got right but felt shaky on. I redid those numerous times till literally the last day. I think this was what made the difference between failing and passing, since the style and format of the CFAI problems became second nature to me by the end. Last week: I took off from work.
Last day before the exam: I stopped studying around 1pm. I think the people who do tons of mock exams are just wasting their time. It’s equivalent to shooting fish in a barrel.
I only used and completed one mock exam in the last week in order to get a good strategy in place to deal with item sets (I was totally freaked out when I first saw an item set). My best advice is to go through the books over and over. And once you’ve done that a few times, go over them again and again. Forget the mock exams other than knowing how to deal with item sets and question formats. Pierrewoodmanfan wrote: ethics is a waste of time. You can skip ethics though, on the exam I guessed all the ethics questions and got over 70% i’ve never seen a more misguided statement as is the common agreement, do not undestimate ethics and do all the ethics problems and do a read through of ethics in the official text.
Yes it may be time consuming but you do not want to even allow for the potential of messing up ethics. You want to put yourself in the best spot possible to do well on the exam. Some may have guessed all ethics and gotten over 70%, but i am not sure that you want to gamble on that kind of luck for an exam you put so much time into. What was your matrix? 70 in all but FI, between 50 and 70 2. Study materials? I read all the content from (only pension from CFAI) 3.
Estimated hours? I started in the first week of january, even before knowing i passed DEC level I. It proved a good strategy, which made me study 5 months in a row, about 350 hrs. First pass: Read - after every reading, do all CFAI EOC and EOC. In the second pass, read all summaries and do all blue boxes from CFAI third pass, read all summaries again and redo all CFAI EOC then Dive into MOC in the last 4 weeks, reviewing between then your weakest areas. I passed level 2 this time after getting destroyed last year (band 4) - tried to do Dec L1 and June L2 and ran out of gas.
If I can make one comment and one comment only it is this: DO NOT SKIP ANY SECTIONS! Do not try to guess on what you think CFAI will test, you have to know it all, not 100% of course, but you should be able to achieve at least 4/6 on each item set from each section. Also it is absolutely mandatory to read Ethics from the CFAI book and do the problems, this helped me a ton.
You have to nail Ethics it can make or break you. I studied from for the rest, never opened a CFAI book other than for Ethics, but that is also because I took a review course using the books and other review materials. Took 6 practice exams the last week.
Started with the recipe for success - EOC from CFAI, Videos, Notes and end chapter questions from Scheweser. 2 Months before the exam - Could not recollect or had the courage to revise EOC from CFAI, focused solely on Scheweser - Notes and end of chapter questions along with the videos. Exception was Ethics, which I covered from CFAI. Did not attempt a single practice test.
Level II actual exam questions were no surprise, 99.9% covered in Schewesers. Passed Level I in Dec 2012 (50 to 70 in quants, rest above 70) and Level II in Dec 2013 (50 to 70 in Eco and AI, rest above 70) This has worked for me so far. Used CFAI books only, and read thru every reading, including the EOC questions. Also, during my reading, I would take detailed notes in what eventually amounted to two large binders.
Then, after my reading was complete, I would condense those binders into a smaller one by hitting the big items and bits that were difficult for me to understand (more conceptual stuff), while also going thru the Secret Sauce and MindMaps (attended the online crash course). Once I had all of this information condensed, I would read thru it once more before spending a month on practice exams. I used the CFA mocks from years past, practice exams, and any other relevant practice exams I could find (they’re out there – just have to look for them). Seems like a lot to do in order to prepare, and it is. Did this same approach for L1 and straightlined 70%+. Almost straightlined L2 this year. In all honesty, it’s a crapshoot for L2: FI was weighted at 18, while Derivs was weighted at 36.
I scored very poorly in FI when I thought I did great, and murked Derivs when I thought I got raped. If you adopt the attitude that you can always do more, it will behoove you in the long run, especially on test day. Don’t skip any readings.
Work as many practice tests as you can. Do every single EOC question (and revisit again when doing practice exams – they’re like mini test questions after all). QBank for L2 is almost useless.
Finally, I was pretty strict on how I tracked my progress. I put together an excel spreadsheet tracking hours spent per day/ week/ month, estimated time to completion, average pages/ hour, etc. Helped to judge how quick/ slow I was going. I’m more structured, so that helped for L2. For L1, I just went straight thru the readings and somehow ended up with a month for practice exams. PM me if you’d like the spreadsheet.
Passed first attempt, 70 on everything except. I started studying on May 1, but took the whole month off of work and studied every single day, which I think made it a lot easier becuase I wasn’t distracted. Total I probably studied about 150-175 hours but I think you gain the equivalent of like 100 hours by 1. Studying every day and 2. Not filling your brain with anything else. All I did that month was study and play poker (aside from two weddings). The downside was that in the last week I was so sick of the material I literally could not do any studying other than reading the secret sauce.
In any case, if you can take that much leave (I actually negotiated the paid leave with my firm) I think it’s a good idea, and then the suffering lasts for a much shorter time. I watched all videos other than Ethics but only fully read 3 of the books, and picked sections of the others that I felt like I was shaky on. I also watched the 3-day workshop by Andrew Holmes which was helpful in organizing the stuff in my brain before I started doing practice questions in the last 1.5 weeks. I did a couple mock exams and then stopped because I felt like reading the vignettes was a waste of study time and concentration because of all the extraneous information. I think you only really need to do a couple so that you know how the questions are structured, and then you can focus on Q-bank because they test specific points of knowledge (did 1000+ questions). I concentrated on Equity and FRA and felt like I knew the concepts really well – on everything else I knew them at varying levels, and was weakest on Deriv. And PM, which I ended up getting in the 50-70 band on, along with AI (everything else 70).
Cfa Level 3
I spent only one day on ethics total a few days before the exam, and just focused on the stuff that was different from level 1 – seemed to me like it was pretty much the same and I was scoring high on practice questions, though I thought the questions on the exam were brutal. I did not touch the CFAI books at all and threw them away the day after the exam.
Yes, there was stuff on the exam that wasn’t covered by, but you are not going to know everything anyway so why torture yourself by trying to deal with two sets of books? Finally, I think taking level I in December was actually really helpful because the base concepts were fresh in my mind, think I would have had to study a lot more if there was a year or more between exams. Agree with poster above, these are just opinions and it is what worked for me, and by no means was I 100% confident walking out of that exam that I passed. I passed Level 2 first attempt June 2013 after having passed Level 1 first attempt in December. I’ve been working in investment banking in Calgary, so it was hard to stick to a firm study plan when I knew that I might be at the office during that time.
I got 70% on all other topics. I was surprised by the ethics mark, but it the rest went about how I had hoped. I used Elan for Level 2 after having used for Level 1.
Overall their videos and books were fantastic, although they were ludicriously awful in terms of their release times. Especially on the practice question side of things, they would frequently set a deadline for release, miss it, then just change their PDF online to reflect a new, considerably farther away deadline. I watched all of the Elan Videos while taking notes in the text (unlike, Elan does not have distinct material for videos. It’s literally them talking their way through the books). After each reading I would go through the CFAI EOCs as well as the Elan questions once they came out.
M-F I was studying maybe 0-3 hours depending on when I got off work (I wouldn’t study if I worked past 11pm). On weekend if I wasn’t working I would put in very heavy sessions - it was typical to go 6am - midnight if I had a full day off. I was done the material by April and then spent all of may doing mock exams/review, which gave me enough time for 10 mock exams.
The biggest thing I can recommend is rolling review. Each week set aside a couple of hours and do questions from all previous sections you’ve covered. I did not do this, but I really wish I had. Given the volume of material you’re covering, it pays to keep everything fresh. The last thing you want is to get comfortable with something a few months out and then totally forget how the material by the time you start final review. Littleanalyst wrote: For the L2 Passers, congrats! Let’s help out those who will be writing next year 1.
What was your matrix? Study materials? Estimated hours? For me, I passed L1 last June on my first attempt using CFA materials exclusively. Passed L2 first attempt; all 70 except 50-70 on Economics 2.
Thoroughly studied CFA materials and supplemented with mock exams 3. Started in February and studied approximately 350 hours but I don’t keep track so this may be off 4. Put more weight on the heavier areas (FRA, Equities, Ethics) and master ALL blue boxes and EOC questions I think your strategy is good, and everyone uses it should do quite well. ALTHOUGH i didn’t follow your strategy because i was lazy and found the CFAI texts too wordy lol.
Passed 1st try in a shocker (gave myself 30% chance to pass). Used notes extensively, took a live class (although didn’t find it all that useful besides the slideshows provided), found Qbank a bit of a waste of time. I felt it came down to the CFAI end of chapter questions and summaries. I ripped out each EOC summary/question section and brought it to accompany the materials. Did 6 mocks (4, 1 live, 1 CFAI mock) and failed them all miserably, maxing out at like 60 on one of them and 55 on CFAI.
Did some of the CFAI EOC’s (item set only) twice and I felt this was the key to passing. Of course spent a bulk of time on FSA, Equity, Corp Fin, Ethics & a decent amount of time on Alts (had a feeling this would come in handy). Felt that I blindly guessed on 20-25% of the exam (QM, Derivs, PM, much of Econ come to mind here). Doing so poorly on the mocks served as sort of a motivational tool not to be complacent and keep pushing through that last week and if I were to do it over, I would do the EOC item sets 2-3 times - amazing resource that’s right in front of you to get practice straight from the source. Felt the real exam was easier than any of the mocks. What was your matrix? Ethics, Economics, Derivatives, and Fixed Income: 50-70% All the rest 70% + 2.
Study materials? Started CFAI only but got 60% through the curriculum and then started falling behind. Started watching videos and reading the notes, which helped put me back on track.
Then re-watched all the videos and did EOC questions from CFAI material. Then did end of chapter questions from notes just to get my head around a few tougher concepts. Finally, went through 6 exams (very well written imho), score varied from mid sixties to 81, and without any pattern (as in progressively getting better or worse). Did one ‘sample exam’ from CFAI (the 2 hour mini versions), and with a week to go got a 63% on CFAI’s 2013 mock.
That was a bit scary. Estimated hours? If you aced level 1, you will have an advantage going into level 2 though it will be far from easy (this was my case). If you barely scratched by level 1, you’re going to have to work twice as hard if not more to get through level 2.
Get very good with details, learn to scan the vignette for the right information, get well practiced with the memory functions in your calculator - many formulas require numerous intermediate steps. Likely the hardest subjects: pricing currency swaps (derivatives) and pension accounting, both have lots of moving parts to keep track of. Most important part of preparation: doing the mock exams. What was your matrix? Alternatives, CF and Economics at 51-70%, the rest 70% 2. Study materials? Schewser materials including Secret Sauce + Cheat sheet, Doing CFAI blue boxes questions (I skipped those that were open-ended, but on key topics such as Equity and FRA, I tried answering them too to test my depth of understanding), Elan’s 11 th Hour review guide, and my own notes 3.
Estimated hours? No clue I gave up keep score. Ultimately quality of the hours spent quantity. The last 100 hours spent were FAR more productive than the first 100 hours falling asleep at my notes.
Apart from standard advice like do as many mock exams as possible, I would like to recommend using a program like Evernote to keep track of weak areas as you go along. Why Evernote? - It’s free - There’s a search function – you can type in the key words you want e.g. Covariance stationary and instantly find the notes you took regarding that area, as opposed to flipping through your notebook - Camera function allows you to take pictures of certain chunks of text instead of typing it. And the beauty of it is, Evernote recognizes text in picture. For instance, if the picture I took has the words Covariance Stationary in it, the search results will flag these pictures too (as long as the picture is decently shot) - A efficient and hassle-free way to review your weak areas on-the-go, or even on test day itself. You can review it on your smartphone, or on PC, or tablet, so long as Evernote is synced.
Disclaimer: Evernote did not pay or compensate me for posting this J. I’m not going to rebut any of the previous posters’ strategies as they may be effective.
I’d just like to share one thing that I felt made me pass the exam. Organizes a live mock exam 2 weeks before the actual. It’s a sit-in exam with the same basic procedures save for some narrations and the place itself. By then, I have studied all CFAI materials and ’s Secret Sauce and of course my notes. So there I was taking the exam I got a freakin 58% grade (note that I have covered everything).
It made me question my skills and at the same time made me want to seek revenge. Thereafter, I answered lots and lots and lots of practice exams until I reached a certain level of confidence.
If I got a high grade in that live mock exam, I may have felt a bit confident and may have not studied more intensely that I did. To the L2 taker, I beg you to take the live mock exam! I passed on my first attempt this year. Here are my numbers and the methods that worked for me: 1. 70% CF, Ethics, FRA. What was your matrix? This is irrelevant because whether you got 70s on all sections or not, a pass is a pass.
(Mine was an ugly pass) 2. Study materials? Combo of and CFAI text. I would work through each section in, take the end of chapter questions and then read the summary at the end of the CFAI text and then do a bulk EOC questions. I picked random samples when there were too many questions. I did ALL CFAI EOC vignettes. Estimated hours?
Didn’t count. Started studying in January and did 3 hours a day on weekdays and 6 hours on weekends. Then did some random extra 2 hours in the morning on occasion. Some cheat days here and there. Feel free to do the math.
Start early so you’re not scrambling at the end or feeling like you need to eliminate certain topics. Dedicate more time to the heavy weights. Equity and FRA.
Don’t skip over the other stuff but if you’re at a crossroads betweeen studying those 2 and a smaller weight subject, go with one of those 2. Do NOT skip ethics. Leave Ethics as your last topic and read from the CFAI text. All 300+ pages. This keeps it fresher in your head. On exam morning, I went through ethics in and that paid off.
Do sample exams from institute and CFAI mock. Best to get the questions directly from the horse’s mouth. Pray S2000Magician is still around to answer questions. Dont burn out.
2 Tactical things: 1) Push yourself to study 30 minutes a day minimum. Especially if you’re busy on weekdays and you don’t feel like it, make yourself a promise to sit down and study for 30 minutes with laser focus. Set the alarm for 30 minutes later. If after 30 minutes you still don’t feel like studying, then just go do what you usually do to vege out (i.e.
Kaplan Cfa Level 3
Watch tv) More often than not, you’ll be in the mood to study more, so keep going! 2) Use Evernote I use this program to take notes in my studies. Around December when I started, I created a separate note for EACH LOS. Then take notes by LOS this way as you go through your study provider. Organzied their notes and videos according to LOS so this system complemented it well. If you’ve gone through everything the provider offers and some notes are still blank, you’ll know to review them in CFAI texts. What was your matrix?
70% everything else 2. Study materials? Elan videos/problems/ 1 mock CFAI problems/mocks 2 mocks 3. Estimated hours? Started in late January 4.
I took two weeks off before the test to cram which definitely helps in my opinion. Some of those days I put in 6-8 hours, others I probably only put in 3-4 but it was still way better than going to work and got me in the right mode.
Schweser Cfa Discount
I pretty much just watched most of the videos from Jan-May and then started doing problems/mocks in May.