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# GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread

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Current Student
Joined: 09 Apr 2008
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Schools: Chicago Booth '11
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  21 Nov 2008, 19:26

The key is just doing as many tests as possible. CFAI didn't offer Level I practice tests online when I wrote LI but I liked the CFAI practice tests for levels II and III. If you have the means, they are worth the  and time about a week before the test.

Best of luck to all December test takers....I think you guys/girls are crazy if you take two tests in one year but that's just because I couldn't do it.
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  07 Dec 2008, 10:40
Hey guys!

I just took the Level I exam yesterday, and to report... morning session I felt really good on, but afternoon session was significantly harder. Quant was tough, while FSA was surprisingly easy - the other sections were about par for the course. Some of the ethics questions were really tricky though.

I wrote it in Vancouver in a converted hockey rink at UBC, and maybe 90% of the exam writers were asian. :D

My background contains no business or statistics courses (I'm an English major), so the curriculum was quite difficult. Thankfully I had taken introductory economics courses before (and did really well in them) so I barely needed to review the Economics section. The Asset Valuation and Ethics sections were also quite intuitive, and I spent far less time on these than on FSA - which took up maybe half of my total studying time. Another major hurdle for me was the Stats and Probability, but those were a fairly minor portion of the exam so I just made sure I knew the basic concepts - variance, the central limit theorem, skewness/kurtosis, etc. while going through the entire material once. I will probably need to take an introductory statistics course before tackling the Portfolio Management material at Level II.

My studying involved studying every day from around the first week of October till now - I did not have a job, and dropped all my classes to focus on this. I read the curriculum for Ethics and part of FSA, but for the rest I used the Schweser's notes. Those were a lot clearer, and I really liked how the LOS were explained in order and in separate sections. The actual curriculum books were often confusing with respect to this.

After about 4 weeks of intense studying, I took the Boston Society Mock Exam on Nov. 8th and scored 156/240 (65%). My weakest area was FSA - and at the time I had not even looked at Corporate Finance or Portfolio Management yet. After the Mock Exam, I finished up the curriculum, and spent the last 3 weeks on Schweser Pro, reviewing the LOS and doing the LOS quizzes one by one. I spent an additional 10 days on FSA to shore it up since I had zero accounting background and it was all very confusing and arbitrary to me.

I rewrote the morning session of the Mock Exam on Thursday morning and scored 97/120 (80.8%), and spent the last day and a half reviewing Derivatives and Ethics. Then I went to write the real thing.

This thread has helped me and actually was also one of the reasons I even decided to enter the CFA program in the first place. So here's me giving back with an account of my experience in it so far - I hope it is of help to those who are also hoping to pass!
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  07 Dec 2008, 13:24
I took the Level I exam yesterday as well. Glad it's over! I took it in Dallas, with a reported 700 other people. I worked full time (~55-60 hrs/wk) while studying over the last 3-4 months, but feel pretty good about the way the exam went. I felt Ethics and Econ were the hardest sections on the exam, despite reading through both sections twice. I'd read the passage, formulate an answer in my head, and then find two answer choices that were almost identical to what I was expecting. Hopefully I made up for it in FSA (easier than expected), and Fixed Income (Strongest section for me). We'll see. Either way, I felt the exam was pretty fair - if you were prepared and knew the information, you had a good shot at passing the exam. As long as a bunch of my 50/50 guesses didn't go against me, I give myself a decent chance at making it. I guess we'll see in 6 long, long weeks. Best of luck to everyone!

P.S> I'm really struggling with a decision - would love some input. I ordered a bunch of GMAT prep materials yesterday, and plan on taking the GMAT in the upcoming months. I really want to start gearing towards grad school over the next year or two, and would like to start my own non-profit on the side before going back to school (for personal and admit reasons). Basically, I can pursue GMAT > Non Profit > MBA over the next year, or GMAT > CFA Level II (June). Anyone go through a similar decision and have some input? Thanks!
Senior Manager
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  08 Dec 2008, 06:40
NickTW wrote:
I took the Level I exam yesterday as well. Glad it's over! I took it in Dallas, with a reported 700 other people. I worked full time (~55-60 hrs/wk) while studying over the last 3-4 months, but feel pretty good about the way the exam went. I felt Ethics and Econ were the hardest sections on the exam, despite reading through both sections twice. I'd read the passage, formulate an answer in my head, and then find two answer choices that were almost identical to what I was expecting. Hopefully I made up for it in FSA (easier than expected), and Fixed Income (Strongest section for me). We'll see. Either way, I felt the exam was pretty fair - if you were prepared and knew the information, you had a good shot at passing the exam. As long as a bunch of my 50/50 guesses didn't go against me, I give myself a decent chance at making it. I guess we'll see in 6 long, long weeks. Best of luck to everyone!

P.S> I'm really struggling with a decision - would love some input. I ordered a bunch of GMAT prep materials yesterday, and plan on taking the GMAT in the upcoming months. I really want to start gearing towards grad school over the next year or two, and would like to start my own non-profit on the side before going back to school (for personal and admit reasons). Basically, I can pursue GMAT > Non Profit > MBA over the next year, or GMAT > CFA Level II (June). Anyone go through a similar decision and have some input? Thanks!

It depends what your ultimate objective is. If the MBA is the ultimate objective, then do non-profit. I have the feeling that CFA is not very valued. Some people reading your application either don't realize how incredibly hard it is, or worse, don't even know what it is.

However, if you want to get into the IM industry after your MBA, then a CFA will be VERY useful.

It also depends on how solid your EC references are. If you have none, then the non-profit is a no-brainer; if it's already solid, I would suggest CFA.

But ultimately, you could try and do both and see what happens. If you have an economic or financial background it might be worth the try. Plus you have nothing to lose except a couple of bucks (easy for me to say obviously). Finally, even if you don't pass, you will have SOME knowledge that you can lever at the next exam.

Be aware though: L2 is significantly tougher than L1.
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  08 Dec 2008, 07:57
NickTW wrote:
I took the Level I exam yesterday as well. Glad it's over! I took it in Dallas, with a reported 700 other people. I worked full time (~55-60 hrs/wk) while studying over the last 3-4 months, but feel pretty good about the way the exam went. I felt Ethics and Econ were the hardest sections on the exam, despite reading through both sections twice. I'd read the passage, formulate an answer in my head, and then find two answer choices that were almost identical to what I was expecting. Hopefully I made up for it in FSA (easier than expected), and Fixed Income (Strongest section for me). We'll see. Either way, I felt the exam was pretty fair - if you were prepared and knew the information, you had a good shot at passing the exam. As long as a bunch of my 50/50 guesses didn't go against me, I give myself a decent chance at making it. I guess we'll see in 6 long, long weeks. Best of luck to everyone!

P.S> I'm really struggling with a decision - would love some input. I ordered a bunch of GMAT prep materials yesterday, and plan on taking the GMAT in the upcoming months. I really want to start gearing towards grad school over the next year or two, and would like to start my own non-profit on the side before going back to school (for personal and admit reasons). Basically, I can pursue GMAT > Non Profit > MBA over the next year, or GMAT > CFA Level II (June). Anyone go through a similar decision and have some input? Thanks!

You have to decide between GMAT and CFA definitely. I am speaking from my own experience and I have decided to pursue GMAT and MBA postponing my CFA II.

In January 2007 I decided to prepare for CFA I and GMAT simultaneously, considering these exams are somehow complementary. How wrong I was... I passed CFA I in June 2007, but GMAT few months later brought nothing but dissapointment - 610 in October 2007. Then I decided to postpone CFA II and not to show up in June 2008 but to try to improve my GMAT. And I did it, although spending entire winter. I ended up with 720 in April 2008 and done whole application process (got admitted from Cambridge and interviewed from Wharton). Now I want to pursue level II for 2009.

What is my point? Setting too much goals (very, very demanding ones) could lead you to a disaster. You can end up with some poor GMAT score and "failed" on CFA. Although I'm not try to underestimate your potential, GMAT is such an exam that you never, and I mean NEVER, can say "I've studied too much for it". And it is too damn important not to focus on it with 110% energy.

Use this winter smart, since you already have a lot material for GMAT sit and learn, get into some cool programme and then attack CFA again. It seems that in recent years it is never too early to start business school, for CFA you always have time - at least nobody will ask you "Why now?" if you try CFA in 36.
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Manager
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  08 Dec 2008, 08:27
Thank you both for the insightful replies. I think you touched on my concerns exactly. Especially the fact that higher progress towards my CFA *should* help immensley with IM recruiting out of school for a semi-career switcher like myself, but doesn't seem to carry an appropriate amount of weight in the admissions process . I definitely think ECs are the weakest part of my app, which is why I'm leaning toward the non-profit + GMAT route, and sitting for Level II later (Maybe June '10 after applications are done?).

Anyways, thanks again for the advice - much appreciated.
Intern
Joined: 13 Dec 2008
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  13 Dec 2008, 17:39
hi everyone, this is a great thread, so much info. I am going to be taking a year off between my 3rd and 4th year at university and am going to be taking the cfa level 1 june 2010. Does anyone know if, tenative on a pass, I will be able to sign up for level 2 in june 2011. CFA institute says you need confirmation of degree though I would have this by the time may 2011 came around. I'm figuring that undertaking a grueling study regiment while at uni would be a bit easier than while working 70+ hours a week. Anyways, cheers for any advice.
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Dec 2008, 19:07
karlb - lucky you! When I'm a student, I don't even know what a CFA is
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  17 Dec 2008, 08:50
hey rguy

i want to know how do you see asset management industry in US in the coming years.what are its prospects. will there be easy to get jobs for the international students pursuing CFA? and further what do you plan to do after your mba?
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Apr 2009, 10:36

Just wondering, who's taking the test in 2 months? Ugh.....it's stressing me out =/

Good luck studying for the homestretch guys!
Current Student
Joined: 09 Apr 2008
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Schools: Chicago Booth '11
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Apr 2009, 11:18
I don't miss that feeling one bit.

If anyone has any strategy/studying questions, PM me and I'll see if I can help. I have a ton of old tests and practice questions from CFAI books for Levels II and III. I also maintained a calendar with all my study activities....so I can tell you my strategy at each point in my study regimen.
Senior Manager
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Apr 2009, 11:36
Nice bump. I'm actually debating whether I'll take L3 next year or not during my last year. I could do it in terms of workload, but do I want to sacrifice my last months of freedom and fun for... the CFA?? Tough call. Flip side is that it's going to become really hard during work.

What I might do is take a middle road: prepare a bit, do exercises, and take the exam. If I pass, great. If I fail, it's a learning curve for the year after.
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Apr 2009, 13:02
Audio wrote:
Nice bump. I'm actually debating whether I'll take L3 next year or not during my last year. I could do it in terms of workload, but do I want to sacrifice my last months of freedom and fun for... the CFA?? Tough call. Flip side is that it's going to become really hard during work.

What I might do is take a middle road: prepare a bit, do exercises, and take the exam. If I pass, great. If I fail, it's a learning curve for the year after.

Just be forewarned, Level III is much different than LI and LII. It is much more touchy feely, gobbily goo. However, that doesn't mean it's any easier! In fact, I'd argue that LIII is equally as hard, if not more difficult than LII.

There is a bit on behavioral finance, and a HUGE amount of personal and institutional portfolio management. There are two main issues that you will come up against. 1) This isn't a plug and chug type of exam. You really need to substantiate your answers, especially on the morning (essay) portion of the exam. Furthermore, there aren't as many concrete equations, formulas, concepts, etc. to memorize so you will have to do A LOT of practice problems to make sure you understand the material. 2) Since this is a more touchy feely test, there is a lot more objective material. When you read the behavioral finance section, some things make sense, while on others may have you arguing with the material as you are reading it! Same thing applies for Portfolio Management (which accounts for 45% of the exam). I could add to this some more, but I think you get the general idea.

I'm not trying to scare you off, but really I don't think you can BS your way through LIII. I have two friends that I took LI and LII with me and both of them failed LIII on their first attempt despite spending significantly more time studying LIII than they had LII. They're both smart cookies too (one works in product management at PIMCO, while the other is a 1Y MBA at Duke with a masters degree in accounting that used to conduct due diligence on hedge funds).

Also, as another sidenote, when I passed LIII in June 2007, the Schweser Notes were awful (they were pretty solid for LI and LII, in my opinion).

pguard is an excellent resource (as well as a few others on here), so let us know if you have questions.
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Current Student
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  14 Apr 2009, 13:39
Audio--

I agree with Ry's comments on cramming...it's a tough one to cram for because of its subjective nature. However, if cramming is your only option, PM me and I'll send you a ton of practice material.

I'm not sure how it will work with your school schedule, but this seminar is great: http://www.schweser.com/cfa/instruction ... eminar.php

LeFebvre is awesome.
Current Student
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  15 Apr 2009, 09:58
Audio wrote:
Nice bump. I'm actually debating whether I'll take L3 next year or not during my last year. I could do it in terms of workload, but do I want to sacrifice my last months of freedom and fun for... the CFA?? Tough call. Flip side is that it's going to become really hard during work.

What I might do is take a middle road: prepare a bit, do exercises, and take the exam. If I pass, great. If I fail, it's a learning curve for the year after.

Audio - Try your chance with LIII, it is much more common-sense than LI and LII. I read the books once, did not touch anything for 2 months and then winged it and passed. You don't have much to lose other than the fees.
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  15 Apr 2009, 10:08
falibay wrote:
Audio wrote:
Nice bump. I'm actually debating whether I'll take L3 next year or not during my last year. I could do it in terms of workload, but do I want to sacrifice my last months of freedom and fun for... the CFA?? Tough call. Flip side is that it's going to become really hard during work.

What I might do is take a middle road: prepare a bit, do exercises, and take the exam. If I pass, great. If I fail, it's a learning curve for the year after.

Audio - Try your chance with LIII, it is much more common-sense than LI and LII. I read the books once, did not touch anything for 2 months and then winged it and passed. You don't have much to lose other than the fees.

I'm slogging through level III right now. It is more "soft material", however the free answer is a b*tch. I'm using Stalla right now. Also http://www.analystforum.com is very usefull.
Current Student
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  15 Apr 2009, 10:26
Analyst forum is a pretty good resource. What is nice with LIII is that if you understand the basic concepts very well, you can guess your answer and say somethign that is half intelligible. While when it is technical stuff, when you don't know, you don't know...

Good luck guys! I know it is painful but LIII is the last step
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  15 Apr 2009, 20:41
howardforever wrote:
i want to know how do you see asset management industry in US in the coming years.what are its prospects. will there be easy to get jobs for the international students pursuing CFA? and further what do you plan to do after your mba?

From what I've seen, investment mgmt has been murdered. The shops that are lucky enough to be around are laying people off. Totally different climate than a few years ago.

naturallight, CFA
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  20 Apr 2009, 21:27
Being chartered, do you work in the industry right now? How long will it take for the industry to turn around in your opinion? I know it is probably highly related to the capital markets, but even if the markets turn today, I'm sure it will take time to ramp up such firms again. I ask because I know there are plenty of us on here that want to go back to school solely for investment management.

naturallight wrote:
howardforever wrote:
i want to know how do you see asset management industry in US in the coming years.what are its prospects. will there be easy to get jobs for the international students pursuing CFA? and further what do you plan to do after your mba?

From what I've seen, investment mgmt has been murdered. The shops that are lucky enough to be around are laying people off. Totally different climate than a few years ago.

naturallight, CFA
Current Student
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Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread [#permalink]  05 Jun 2009, 07:23
Alright then, the exam is tomorrow (at least here in the Middle east) and I am sitting for lvl-1. Guys, do post your impression of the exam afterwards... would be nice to hear how hard ( ) others found it (if anyone else here is taking lvl-1)
Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread   [#permalink] 05 Jun 2009, 07:23

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