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 cleared the exams in one shot. That was January 2007. Today is August 2009. I have cleared 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) Its not that tough that they make you believe. CFA is very do-able.
2) CFA is 80% hard work and 20% intelligence.
3) An average joe 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 suitable 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.
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 most scoring and important 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