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CFA Level 3 – 50 things that you should know


I started preparing for CFA when it had been 6 months into my first year at B School. CFA seemed to be that great qualification which was very difficult to attain and thus very much respected. It seemed to be the magical gateway to $100,000 jobs and it was an accepted fact that it required very hard work and that hardly anyone passed all three exams in one shot. That was January 2007. Today is August 2009. I have passed all three levels in my first attempt. I think now having gone through the program, I can write decisively about the myths and realities surrounding it. Here’s 50 insights in the program

1) It is not a difficult exam to pass. CFA is very do-able if you put in the hours.

2) CFA is 80% hard work and 20% intelligence.

3) An average joe/jane can clear the program provided that he/she does not give up hope.

4) CFA is difficult because you’ll have to give up on your social life for the three years that you’re doing it.

5) It is much more difficult to clear the exams while you are working

6) Thus, if possible take atleast 1 ( better 2) levels while you’re still in college

7) Clearing only 1 level or clearing only 2 levels does not carry any weight.  You have to clear all three levels before you can make the exams work for you.

8) CFA alone will not calapult you to the $100,000  job  99% of the times.

9) It is expensive. Abt $2500 to be precise

10) It will cover all topics in finance, but it is more ‘sellable’ for equity research type of roles

11) it is not a subsitute of FRM ( and vice versa)

12) You’re not going to seem attractive to chicks in a bar only because you hold a charter

13) People don’t get that much impresed that you’re a CFA unless they are CFA level 1 candidates

14) the feeling of passing level 1 is the great, level 2 is good and level 3 is just ok

15) The happiness of passing Level 1 lasts 1 week, level 2 lasts 2 days and level 3 lasts a few hours. ( this may be incorrect for some others )

16) Schweser is the best

17) Study atleast 2 hours everyday

18) start Preparing atleast 4 months before the exam

19) refer to CFAI textbooks only when in need for level 1 and level 3

20) Use CFAI textbooks often in level 2

21) you’ll forget what you studied by the time you complete your course.

22) in View of 21, revise atleast thrice before the exam

23) you mock test scores in Schweser Pro are the best indicators of your expected score

24) Doing Schweser back of chapter problems and doing CFAI past years qns is a very good idea

25) take free CFAI sample exam 3 weeks before the exam

26) take CFA mock exam 10 days before the real exam

27) apply for a 2 week leave before the exam  , well in advance .

28) try to understand the material rather than mug it

29) Ethics is BY FAR the easiest to nail topic in exam ( especially in level 1)

30) take lots of tests

31) If possible, study from Schweser Videos for L2

32) Everyone who studies for atleast 300 hours for L1 shall pass that exam

32) NOT Everyone who studies for  300 hours for L2 shall pass that exam

33) L2 is very difficult. Abt 4 times more difficult than L1

34) If possible, form a study group

35) Don’t start hitting on the girls in the study group. If prone to such activities, study alone

36) Talk to your friends regularly on weekends. take out 1 hour on both days for this purpose. This will ave you from burning out

37) Have a beer when you’re frustated of this F&&&& exam

38) If extremely bored of prepatration, take a weekend off. Go on a trip/ read Calvin & Hobbes/ Gossip with friends. After 1 weeekend, hit the books again. Without fail

39) Don’t let people fool you into thinking that you can pass the exam in 2 weeks. That won’t happen unless you’re John Nash.

40) Join www.analystforum.com

41) It makes immense sense to talk to someone who has cleared your level (recently) before starting actual preparation

42) Don’t be afraid of the numericals. They’re not that difficult

43) for L1 – FSA , ethics are Imp

44) For L3, having a holistic view is important

45) For L2, Everything is important

46) Do not send the picture postcards you received with CFA registration to anyone, that’ll instantly classify you as nerd

47) Its better to complete one book before moving to another one, that way you’ll always have an idea about how much syllabus you’ve covered

48) Once you pass, don’t boast about the CFA program. That’s one of the most stupidest things to do.

49) If you fail once, don’t give up. If you fail twice, continue if situations were outside your control. If you fail thrice, leave it.

50)  Degrees, Education, Charters, Exams are all of zero importance if you do not maintain good relationships with people. That’s the single most important thing that i’ve learnt over the three years in this program

CFA Experience – 3 June 2007


Ok. So I came all the way back from Delhi to take the CFA exam in Bombay on June 3, 2007. so what if the useless trip cost me 12,000 bucks. It was well worth the efforts, time and money…. Or was it?

Ummm… may be not. this exam was different. .. Chalo let me start from the beginning

I landed at Mumbai airport after flying through beautiful clouds aboard an Indian airlines flight. People say that their service is poor; however it was much better than Go air. Anyways, I had a window seat and for the first time was in an airplane while being in midst of a storm. The plane was shaking violently and was bumping too… seemed more of being in a bus from Kota to Ajmer rather than in a plane from del to bom.

Anyways, after a 45 min delay I landed at Mumbai airport at about 8 PM. I had already made my boarding arrangements at 3 places. So I went to NITIE because it was closest to the test centre at Thakur Engg college at Kandivili. I got a room on 7th floor, number 707. it seemed as if the airplane thing was just not leaving me. There the room was in a mess and no pillows or bed sheets were provided. So I borrowed a bed sheet from shriharsha which I eventually used as a pillow because I didn’t want the sleep to be a pain in the neck (pun intended)

When I landed in NITIE, Chandan told me that PPO decision is due on Tuesday. Now I already know what skimpy chance do I have at a PPO so it didn’t bother me much. However there was, and is, a small feeling that ….. Chalo, let’s leave that for a moment.

So I borrowed an alarm clock. I set multiple alarms just to make sure that I don’t forget to wake up in the morning. . I studied a bit of GIPS and asset valuation before I slept at 11 30.

I woke up at 5 30 AM. But then I thought “ki agar life mein neend nahi poori ki to kya kiya?”. So I slept for an hour more and woke up at 6 30 AM out of sheer tension. Then quickly got ready and was set to leave for the exam.

A break here— at this point I must state that NITIE campus is very beautiful. I liked it very much, about the same as PEC.

Haan to as I was saying, when I was going out of the hostel I found a few guys all ready like me. I guessed immediately that they too were CFA candidates. Since there was only one centre at Bombay, my baniya buddhi thought it better to share an auto (read cut my operating expenses by half). So I sat with this padhakoo looking guy. The route from NITIE to kandivili was very beautiful. It was a cloudy day and that really cheered me up. In fact it was so beautiful that I really had a doubt that this place was in Bombay. Chalo koi na, I finally reached thakur’s at about 7 50 AM.

There were lots of people at the centre. Around 2000 may be. There were a quite a few sexy looking chicks too, which busted my myth of finance being a male dominated area.

Jo bhi ho, the centre was very well managed. Invigilators were wearing a seemingly bulletproof yellow top up shirt which reminded me of a parrot. I asked one of them why was it like that and she told me it’s CFA policy. I though that the CFA institute makes people work like an ass and look like a parrot… what are they somehow affiliated to PeTA? But then I just shrugged off the feeling and continued my observations at the firagi test centre. There were big posters of Cell phones not allowed and Laptops/ PC’s not allowed all over the place. They were printed on pretty decent paper and I wondered how much would have this bullshit cost them. But with all that $845 fees, they can spend money on things like that I guess.

So then I went inside the centre where they repeatedly checked my hall ticket and Passport. They’re pretty touchy on these issues yaar. So then they gave us a very well printed exam booklet and OMR sheet and read the instructions aloud. The test began at sharp 9 AM according to the 30 Rs digital ‘hello kitty’ watch that I purchased from Dwarka.

I started with Portfolio Mgmt . there were 6 qns and I did not know answer to 1. CML and SML were heavily tested material. I then moved to asset valuation. But I found that tough and in the mid section went to economics which I again found tough. There were some qns on monetary policy effects on currency appreciation that I’m sure I did bad in. I next moved to Quant which was ok types and to Ethics which were fine. Then I went back to asset valuation before finally doing Financial statement analysis, which as again OK.
So in essence, asset valuation was tough and other sections were fine… but I din’t have that ‘phod diya’ feeling in AM test.

BUT I finished the test 1hour before .

Then there was a break for 2 hours where I had a very oily chola bhatura and a fag. This guy from ICFAI was also smoking and I cursed his institute a bit. He was curious about IIFT and I gave him general gyaan.

I met a few of my college seniors also during the exam

Then came the afternoon session.

This section was easier. I started with portfolio mgmt again which was just OK types. Lots of CML/SML qns again. Then I moved to asset valuation which I found easy. As I was a bit confidant, I moved to FSA which again was easy. Nest I went to Economics which was cool . Then was Quant which I think I cracked. Last was ethich where again I did well.
Overall paper was easy But tricky. Also lots of ‘ratta’ is required. Theory is big time important. Even quant had theory in it.

So in essence, AM was bad and PM was good. However, because AM was Quite bad, I’m 80% sure I’ll pass. Ok may be 90% but definitely not 100%

Out of 240 qns I did not know/got confused in 54 qns.

Assuming I knew the answers at this much correct of level, my score is

70%level 75%level 80% level 83%level 85% level
sure 186 130.2 139.5 148.8 154.38 158.1
unsure 54 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5
Total 143.7 153 162.3 167.88 171.6
% 59.875 63.75 67.625 69.95 71.5

at most I can get 74% approx

Most probably I’ll get 68% types. So that’s it. I’m borderline case in this exam

My first Post


Decadence is setting in. My ideas & ethics are dying and am everyday getting more and more materialistic.

A number of thoghts cross my mind everyday. This is an attempt to word my emotions on a gamut of things.

If you’re here to find some fun stuff, you’ll be dissapointed. This is meant to be more of a chronicle rather than an intellectual/entertainment portal!

However, if you’re here to see what have i been up to; you’re more than welcome.

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