Oh me!

We are so small between the stars & so large against the sky. and lost in subway croud, I try to catch your eye …..

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

67 Comments to

“CFA Level 3 – 50 things that you should know”

  1. On September 10th, 2009 at 3:00 pm seema gupta Says:

    oh! really some thing good to learn ya..


  2. On September 13th, 2009 at 5:21 pm Collin Says:


    Unfortunately, CFAI requires candidates to have degree before able to take Level 2, at least for now.


  3. On September 29th, 2009 at 9:46 pm nupur maniyar Says:

    hello ..thanks for the tips..dey r really helpful..just gt thr AF..i have a ques plz answer ..i m in 2nd year of my bba..so is it possible to giv dec 2010 attempt..bt cfa site says u shud b in final year at the time of registration ..and ur degree shud b compatible with US degree..wats all dis ..can u plz answer..thnks in advance

  4. On September 29th, 2009 at 9:59 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    I’m afraid Nupur I won’t be able to provide any info here. I think by comparable US degree they mean that you should have 16 years of education that is 12+4 or 12+3+1. Engineers easily meet this requirement.

    I think you should contact CFA institute directly for some reliable info.. I have found their responses to be quick.

  5. On October 8th, 2009 at 10:03 am S Says:

    Wow, impressive and well written up!

  6. On December 31st, 2009 at 2:01 pm pallavi mishra Says:

    dis r really helpful tips ..got dis link frm analyst forum..thnk u..i m a student of bba fianl in delhi..i wanted to know wats the level of mathematical knowledge required 2 clear dis exam ..as i m frm commerce backgrnd my quants is lil weaker ..so does math really matter or is all theorotical …THANK U AGAIN…

  7. On January 21st, 2010 at 5:54 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    Math content isnt that high, except in Level 2.
    But its not IIT level math and a commerce student can very well clear the exam

  8. On April 6th, 2010 at 5:02 pm Ram Says:

    Hi Bhaiyyu,
    it was really helpful but just need a clarification on two things, since you are contradicting.
    1. At first you said CFA seemed to be that great qualification which was very difficult to attain and thus very much respected. and next you say, CFA alone will not calapult you to the $100,000 job 99% of the times.
    2. taking the 1st Question little fwd if you can tell me which degree with CFA will help me to reach $100,000.

  9. On April 18th, 2010 at 4:13 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    1) I said “CFA ‘Seemed’ to be ….” … This is what I thought before I started with the CFA program.

    2) I don’t know which degree will get you a $100,000 job… a Harvard MBA may be?

  10. On April 20th, 2010 at 3:00 pm Ram Says:

    So now after completing CFA, what do you feel?
    And also if you can let us know whether CFA will help me in getting into IVY League colleges.

  11. On May 2nd, 2010 at 10:58 am bhaiyyu Says:

    That is an interesting questions, may be I can write another blog post for that.
    I’d say It feels good because you have the confidence that you can do difficult things.

    I dont know about CFA helping with Ivy League colleges. I’ve been rejected at 12 “wonderful” universities before being selected at Columbia University and Ivy League Uni.

    I opine that the question if CFA will put you in Ivy league doesnt have an answer. Inconclusive.

  12. On May 3rd, 2010 at 4:56 pm Hardik Says:


    What is the minimum score I should score in Schweser PRO ( Not the practice exams, the software ) to crack Level 2 ?? I used to get 75 % + in Level 1 and cracked it at first go. But I cant seem to get more than 70 % in any topic in Level 2. Please guide.

  13. On May 4th, 2010 at 11:55 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    anything in late 60s or above is good.

  14. On May 15th, 2010 at 2:56 am Vik Says:

    I enjoyed reading your experience and words of wisdom. #50 is the most important.

    As someone who has been in the industry for 10 years and has seen wall street burn over the past two years (from the front seat of this rocket), I can tell you that the Ethics section is pure bookish material. Real life deviates from the CFA material very quickly. Just the way it is. This realization has made it difficult for me to study all the bookish stuff that I know is followed by no one in the industry. So better to take the exam when one is still in school.

    Good points. Hope you are enoying your $100,000 job :-)


  15. On May 15th, 2010 at 1:26 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    Honestly speaking Vik I too think #50 is the most pertinent thing.

    Ethics are subjective at the end of the day. 2000 years back no one thought slavery was unethical.

  16. On August 22nd, 2010 at 8:16 pm Pavan Says:

    Hi Bhaiyyu, Loved your style. I have something to ask you.
    It is rather an unusual idea. I am an engineer, a working engineer, and have no idea of finance. But I am interested to learn finance. I want to give a shot at CFA. I am ready to put in an hour’s study everyday and full weekend. What are my chances you think?

    Also, how would CFA help one get a job. This is more in general question. May be very less options for an engineer with a CFA!!
    Any comments on these will be highly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!!

  17. On September 3rd, 2010 at 7:03 pm akhil Says:

    I am giving a brief background before I ask my query. I have a commece background and dis an MBA from a very average institute and worked as financial analyst for 9 months and had to leave because of family problems and now I am finding difficulty in getting a job because now I have a gap of 8 months. will clearing CFA L1 help me to get back to the industry? I hope i get a respnse. Thanks

  18. On September 20th, 2010 at 1:59 am bhaiyyu Says:

    It may. Concentrate more on the skills that L1 will teach you.

  19. On September 20th, 2010 at 2:00 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Think of CFA as an exam which forces you to learn stuff. Just because u’re a CFA wont get you a job. chances of clearing CFA are good if you make sure you devote weekends completely for preparation

  20. On November 15th, 2010 at 10:00 am hina Says:

    im a final year Bsc Accounting and finance (LSE international program)student.i’ve always been a position holder and i’ve made a first class degree in my 2nd year.Can u please advise me if i should go for Msc Accounting and finance from LSE or CFA or CA?
    i can choose only one of them asin i cant go for my masters and come back and do CFA because of some family issues.
    and your 50th point is the BEST:)it feels good to hear such stuff from succesful people like you.At the end all that matters is Happiness not grades and degrees.

  21. On November 15th, 2010 at 10:06 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Hi, Thank you for the kind comments.

    I’m not familiar with the UK system of education so cant comment on the choices. (LSE = London School of Eco , right?).

    However you can do CFA even when you’re 30, so I dont think its a “either-or” choice.

  22. On November 22nd, 2010 at 1:45 pm Bilal Says:

    Hi there, I am a graduate in Bus.. Management and CFA was completely new to me. However, I gave up my friends, games and the time that i use to spend on watching tv shows. I believed I was prepared but so far i took 2008 CFA practice exams and shockingly I am getting about 60-65% marks in each morining and afternoon session.

    My target is to get abt 75% in practice exams and I know that I am almost there but I dont know how to incearse this percentage. Please guide me, I only have 2weeks to my exam. Theres nothing more important for me than to get paid for my 4months nerdy hardwork.

  23. On November 22nd, 2010 at 8:33 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    1) Calm down. Dont be jittery. I suggest you take a day off
    2) After every exam, revise. Make sure you know what mistakes you did in mock exams and dont repeat them.

  24. On December 24th, 2010 at 8:56 am Max Says:


    Which book / source do you think is most useful to pass Level3? Is it CFAI or the Schweser?

    >>> Schweser

    if for CFAI, which book out of the 6 volumes command the biggest %?

    >>> IPS (personal as well as institutional)

    Thanks for you help.
    >> You’re Welcome

    Edited By Varun(Bhaiyyu)

  25. On April 20th, 2011 at 1:32 pm khushboo Says:

    I want to know about the procedure for applying to Schweser.

  26. On April 23rd, 2011 at 10:03 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    pay them money. U’ll get the books. no ‘enrollment’ required

  27. On April 25th, 2011 at 12:25 pm khushboo soni Says:

    Hey Thanks for replying.
    I hav done BCA in 2008 and working wid infosys since 2009.
    I googled about background profiles for CFA and tat is lil bit confusing coz it is saying tat only commerce bg ppl can do wonders after CFA in terms of package. I want to knw tat do i stand fair chances after CFA and wat kind of package i can expect? or do i need to go for some distance learning degree to strong my profile?
    Thanks in advance.

  28. On May 1st, 2011 at 5:09 am kk Says:

    i am a mech engg student but have interest in finance and want to pursue a career in it. my question is that is it possible for a non-finance background person to clear cfa level 1?i have 6 mnths to prepare.plz advice.

  29. On May 2nd, 2011 at 11:50 am bhaiyyu Says:

    I am not sure if you’ll get a ‘package’ just because you clear CFA. People get employed because of relevant work ex and/or MBA. And then they get decent packages above 10 lpa.

  30. On May 2nd, 2011 at 11:51 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Yes, You can clear CFA L 1 in 6 months, assuming you study hard

  31. On May 21st, 2011 at 5:43 pm Prashant Says:

    Very well written and true! I am an L3 candidate preparing for my exam which is 2 weeks away.

  32. On June 4th, 2011 at 11:00 pm j Says:

    Hey Bhai yU

    I just wrote my level 3 Paper….wanted to find out if there is ever a feeling that one gets when they did well enough to pass….I am focusing on what I couldn’t answer so a bit worried ??


  33. On June 13th, 2011 at 8:33 pm atul Says:

    Hi, bhaiyyu!
    I must admit your are a good consultant. You have encouraged me a lot for CFA. God bless you forever.

    One thing I also want to ask you please suggest. Due to financial problem I could not study after 10th (1992-Passed).

    Now I am 34 year old and pursuing 12th though NIOS. My focus is pretty much high and I am working too. I want to be Financial Analyst and I am passionate about it. My research has given me a plan. After 12th I will do my BBA and will pursue CFA. Do you find any possibility on my plan and what about my career? ……lol I think when I will pass CFA I will be 40. Please guide me or suggest me something better.
    With Regards.

  34. On June 14th, 2011 at 12:17 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Just stop thinking about it. Enjoy your life for the next 3 months ( and even after that :) )

  35. On June 14th, 2011 at 12:18 am bhaiyyu Says:


    There is no problem of age in CFA. and with time, experience counts more than CFA degree. Having said that, your CFA charter will always help you in your job and job interviews alike.

  36. On July 14th, 2011 at 2:55 pm Raj Says:


    I am a b.tech CS graduate with work ex 3 yrs, I have lot of interest in stocks, infact i have been trading in stocks for past 2 and half yrs very seriously and i believe i know some stuff related to accounts and investment after having read many things for my stocks.

    I am considering writing a CFA coz i want to change my domain from IT to some finance related post. I want to know if i can get some post like money manager or some analyst in any brokering firm or bank. I just want to get some exposure to real life big time trading, After which i plan to start my own fund.

    Can CFA get me any exposure to investment banking with my computer science background and IT profile.

  37. On July 14th, 2011 at 7:09 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    The best thing for a career change into IB would be through an MBA from a top 10 institute.

  38. On July 15th, 2011 at 2:54 pm Vikrant Says:

    I have a Finance Background (Coporate Finance) and Accounts experience for 2-3 years + Project Finance experience (1 year). I am a MBA Finance from NMIMS
    I want to move into IB / Equity Research from my Company Job, can i do it with CFA?

    I gave Level I in 2010 Dec and cleared it, gave Level II in June 2011 and feel like i bombed it (i lost abt a mnonth in Feb due to my marriage), i studied from Schweser Notes + Videos referred CFAI books for EOC Questions. I am more than 50% sure that i won’t clear.

    However i wanna clear this damn exam as while studying it felt doable to me. Just need to know, what should i do now that have 1 year ahead of me.

    Thanks in advance!!

  39. On July 15th, 2011 at 8:52 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    I would think that CFA will be a good compliment to your MBA from NM for entering Equity Research. You can easily clear CFA 2 if you start preparing for it from September-October. I used to study from Schweiser as well as CFAI notes.

  40. On July 16th, 2011 at 8:39 pm Raj Says:

    Does the course material change every year for cfa..i just want to know if I can start preparing for 2012 with 2011 material

  41. On July 17th, 2011 at 1:09 pm Raj Says:


    What kind of work expericence is required to get CFA even after passing all 3 levels.
    I am currently working in IT, with a compnay that is into finance products. Does that exp count

  42. On July 22nd, 2011 at 9:44 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    Yes it changes a bit, about 10% I think. Its always good to have the latest stuff.

  43. On July 22nd, 2011 at 9:45 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    Raj, I am not sure about that. I have still not applied for my charter so cannot provide trustworthy info.

  44. On August 9th, 2011 at 11:25 am Vikrant Says:


    As discussed i failed, Band 10.

    But i think it is passble. Started with CFAI Books, till Schweser Notes come out. Solving CFAI EOC.

    I think practice is the key. Thanks for your help bro!!

  45. On November 6th, 2011 at 1:52 am Sandeep yadav Says:

    Hi bhaiyu…i m sandeep pec-2010 electrical batch…i m also planning to do cfa..good to know that someone who was at the stage where i m today has achieved such success…i need ur guidance sir..it ll b really helpful..

  46. On November 6th, 2011 at 3:23 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Thanks for the praise (which I’m unworthy for to be honest).

    Ask me directed questions and I’ll be happy to help.

  47. On November 6th, 2011 at 3:16 pm Nishant Says:

    Hi bhaiyyu,

    i m unable to retain most of the FRA’s formulas and diff b/w US GAAp nd IFRS.

    My accuracy in Schweser CD roams around 65%-70%.

    Is it okay?

  48. On November 6th, 2011 at 7:55 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    EVen i couldnt remember US GAAP Vs IFRS.. so its ok if u leave some things.

    FSA formulas…revise the everyday till u remember it. You Have to mug it up unfortunately.

  49. On December 21st, 2011 at 8:49 am Bernard Says:

    Hi, came across your post about the CFA. Thanks for writing this up.

    As you have mentioned, “refer to CFAI textbooks only when in need for level 1 and level 3.” Is it possible then, to use external notes like Schweser as the main study material?

  50. On December 21st, 2011 at 9:06 am bhaiyyu Says:

    That’s what I did

  51. On December 21st, 2011 at 9:12 am Bernard Says:

    looking at your profile, you are obviously a smart guy! But let’s say if I would like to, but can’t make it through the curriculum, would relying on the Schweser videos, notes, and do lots of practice be a good substitute?

    P.S. have you heard of Analyst Notes before?

  52. On December 21st, 2011 at 9:16 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Thanks for the undeserved praise. Well, as I said before, I followed schweser for L1 and L3 and comfortably passed.

    No, I havent heard of analyst notes, although analystforum was a good place.

  53. On December 21st, 2011 at 9:26 am Bernard Says:

    OK. I am gonna get back to the books then. Thanks for the great insight!

  54. On January 28th, 2012 at 11:15 am ram Says:

    Hi bhaiyyu,
    I have cleared L1 in dec 11 and would be taking L2 in june 12.
    What should be my order of studying,as in which subjects to study first and which last?

  55. On January 28th, 2012 at 11:21 am bhaiyyu Says:

    do FSA first. then fixed income. i found them difficult in L2

  56. On February 4th, 2012 at 2:36 pm kk Says:

    i have also clered level 1 and planning to take level 2 n june 2012. But,I am still in my final yr and will graduate in may 2012. can i register for the exam??

  57. On February 8th, 2012 at 4:37 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Not sure, you should mail CFA Insti and ask them. But good going man!

  58. On March 24th, 2012 at 8:02 pm ram Says:


    From where can we practise vignettes for Level 2..bcoz in schweser cd there are mostly single questions…..

  59. On March 24th, 2012 at 8:15 pm bhaiyyu Says:

    Schweser Practice exam books have vignettes in them. In my time, SchweserPro returned vignettes if you selected “difficult” level as a setting for the software.

  60. On May 30th, 2012 at 4:20 pm Rajesh Says:

    Hi bhaiyuu,
    I totally agree the things you’ve said, well at least 90% of them. Very realistic!!
    I passed L1, first attempt. Failed L2, band 9(i had skipped studying derivatives, portfolio, and quant- so, very surprised to see me failing with a ‘respectable’ band 9:)

    I’m writing L2 again. Since mugging the CFAI books didnt help, i got schweser notes and practiced questions from Scheweser pro. I’ve finished doing all 6 full practice exams and have been scoring >70% in average. But i found them quite easier compared to the CFAI mock, which i did around a week ago and scored just 53%.

    And your right! i tend to forget even the formulas or concept, that i went through the day before!! so much thing to comprehend, you just cant get everything inside your head.

    How do you assess my situation? and your advice for the final 3 days before the exam day??

    thanks a lot in advance!

  61. On May 30th, 2012 at 7:49 pm bhaiyyu Says:


    Only to give you an idea, I used to score > 80% consistently in schweser pro for L2, and had ~70% in CFAI mock – I passed comfortably. SO I would assume with >70% in Schweser Pro you should be in a comfortable situation.

    I would suggest you revise the questions you answered incorrectly in Schweser Pro, revisit your highlighted/underlined notes and have a very good 9 hour sleep before the exam.

    Best of Luck!

  62. On June 1st, 2012 at 12:18 am Rajesh Says:

    will take a note of that…Thanks!

  63. On July 25th, 2012 at 6:46 am Vikrant Says:

    Hi ,

    I cleared L2 yesterday. Thanks for all the help!!

  64. On July 25th, 2012 at 7:14 am bhaiyyu Says:

    Congratulations! L2 is a beast, good to know you tamed it :)

  65. On January 10th, 2013 at 5:20 pm Sitaraman Says:

    Well summarized

  66. On February 11th, 2013 at 8:42 pm Rahul Says:

    Well CFA is not that difficult as given in your post and very simple to clear if we plan well in advance for those who work they can clear Level 1 – 400 hours, Level 2 – 750 hours and Level 3 – 600 hours of productive studies. Its easy than Indian CA where passing percentage are just 12-14%. Anyone who clears CA in First attempt can clear CFA easily

  67. On February 12th, 2013 at 11:10 am Vikrant Says:

    Hi Rahul,

    You can not compare CFA and Indian CA. If you are one of those who want to clear it just for the sake of completing degrees then i can understand.

    Personally i learnt a lot from Level II, i studied from core curriculum and learnt a lot.

    As far as Indian CA is concerned it is way too much over hyped imo. I have seen many fresh CAs(1st timers) clear in the last 4-5 years and i have personally found out many of them too be way too dumb to be having a professional degree written after their name.

    ICAI exam difficulty has gone down a lot in the recent years a lot. Plus i have a friend who cleared CA some 10 years back when results used to be 1-2% which has gone up substantially.He himself confessed this to me.

    All in all ICAI increases % results basis demand in the industry and thus produce many low quality CAs.

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment:

  • Log in
  • Valid XHTML

best wedding dress designers knee length prom dresses long sleeved evening dresses Ralph Lauren Men's Polo Shirts Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet UK Ralph Lauren Women's Outlet ralph lauren outlet shopping Ralph Lauren Plus Size Outlet Cheap Polo Ralph Lauren replik uhren hublot