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GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread

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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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30 May 2008, 08:42
sudden wrote:
wait until you get to the 3rd one Audio

my unsolicited tip for passing the 2nd test is this -- you dont need to set the high score, but you do need to nail the heavily weighted topics. if you can dominate equity, FSA and debt, you will most likely pass. i failed at least two of the smaller sections last year and still made it through by nailing the big stuff. ethics and debt are also relatively easy points.

i would do the CFAI mocks and schweser over qbank, which tends to be on the easier side.

Good news is that the subjects you mention are my strong points. Bad news is that I dunno if I grasp them well enough in order to pass (75% on average in qbank on these topics).

Still have to review ethics - I'm giving myself 2 days for that (plus the dreaded Treynor-Black, to be on the safe side - cf. last year's exam, full vignette on that topic)
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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30 May 2008, 10:27
Audio wrote:
Passing level 2 in June - it's a nightmare! I fully agree with ryguy when he says that L2 is the difference between the boys and the men.

Reviewed the material twice already, but I'm only reading the Qbank resumes (which are about 10 times shorter even than the Schweser resumes) - for those who know what I'm talking about. Hopefully that'll be enough (I really can't be arsed reading the full thing, I fall asleep after 10 minutes).

I've been hitting between 70% and 80% at Qbank (overall average 73%), and I'll do a couple of mock exams from CFAI. Hope that's enough.

For the CFA charterholders, what is your view on the rumours stating that the quality of the CFA diploma is regressing? Any ideas?

PS: little tip for the level 2: in order to avoid last year's "disappointment" (to say the least), I would suggest reviewing Treynor-Black, you never know, it might come back again...

If possible, I would do questions in the Practice Book 1 (what they used to call Book 6, I believe) in lieu of the QBank. In my opinion the quality of those questions is a little higher than the QBank. Even if you don't take the tests in a simulated fashion (i.e., timed), you'll get more bang for your buck with those questions. You're getting down to the wire, so you're time is precious.

As far as benchmarks go, I always felt that if I was hitting 65% on a simulated Schweser exam (Book 6), I was in good shape. If you are close to that score, you are well within striking distance.

You're down the homestretch --- Study like a beast for these last 7 days. After that, you'll discover there are endless supplies of alcohol, and your friends who probably won't recognize you will be happy to supply the funding.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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30 May 2008, 10:28
Sorry if this has been covered and i missed it, but can someone itemize the topics covered for the CFA level I?

THANKS!
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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30 May 2008, 10:42
hotdog wrote:
Sorry if this has been covered and i missed it, but can someone itemize the topics covered for the CFA level I?

THANKS!

The Outline
http://cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/resourc ... tline.html

Topic Weights
http://www.cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/cou ... ights.html

The Study Sessions
http://cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/resourc ... mbined.pdf
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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30 May 2008, 11:41
ryguy, you're awesome. thanks, bud.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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01 Jun 2008, 21:04
ryguy904 wrote:
howardforever wrote:

what are your thoughts on following

1 currently i am in my freshman year. if i opted for taking level 1 during final year of the undergraduate program (as it is allowed by the CFA) and the next two years i devote myself for the level 2 and 3 and do full time job as well (say in investment management) .will this route will be suitable ? my thought on this are i will be in better postion to apply for the graduate buisness school after getting some expereince.

2 will it better for me to apply for the GBS for mba without having any exams cleared (i will surely be doing job in any firm to fulfill my experience requirement after my undergraduate program before i apply to graduate buisness school so i thought why shouldn't i complete my CFA before i apply for the GBS)

1) The earliest you should take Level I is senior year of college - PERIOD. Let's say you can clear Level III by the time you graduate, well - you're going to have to wait FOUR years before you will ever be able to call yourself a CFA Charterholder. Additionally, the CFA is not just about passing tests (although some people would like to think so). It's about distinguishing yourself in the investment management community based on education and work experience. The CFA Institute extended the work experience requirements in the last year from three years to four years. They believe that work experience is just as important as the education. Firms that hire people (including new grads) are also interested in experience. Despite how passionate I am about the CFA designation, as a general rule, I firmly believe that a company will take somebody with 5 years experience any day over a Level II Candidate (or Level III Candidate) with 0-2 years of work experience.

2) Additionally, many things may happen over the course of the next few years. a) You may decide that you want nothing to do with investment management. b) Even if you are interested in IM, you may not be able to get a job that qualifies as the appropriate work experience. And then what, you wait even longer...

3) The CFA designation is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY specific. It is for investment management (and peripheral) related job functions. Again, you want to make sure that this is the route you want to go. You may meet a cute girl in your biology class and end up going pre-med. Much crazier things have happened.

4) Based on my experience of having just applied to b-school (and also the second hand experience of my friend who is a Level III Candidate, taking the exam in 2 weeks, and also just got in at Duke), once you get past Level II, there is probably not much differentiation of candidates for business school at all. As a CFA Charterholder it pains me to say this, but in general, I don't think b-schools really get what the CFA is all about. I can go into this point later on for those that are interested.

As an additional note, a previous poster made a comment about getting the work experience doing anything in finance. WRONG! The CFA Institute is extremely particular on what counts and in recent years has become meticulous on looking at work experience and what qualifies.

I don't want to deter you from your goals. I think that it is phenomenal that you are looking so far out in the future. My advice is for right now to simply focus on your grades while in school. A GPA >3.5 will be helpful in getting into a top school. Take the CFA Level I in your senior year (at the earliest!). Get your work experience. Some firms will even pay for your materials/exams. After all, you are going to need to have ~3+ years of work experience to get into a top b-school anyway.

Cheers,
RG

thanks a lot rguy !!
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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01 Jun 2008, 22:00
Is the CFA worthwhile for those seeking to get into private wealth management?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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03 Jun 2008, 12:23
swbluedevil wrote:
Is the CFA worthwhile for those seeking to get into private wealth management?

Depends on how/who you work for.

The short answer is no. There are very few folks on private client with CFAs. More common is CFP (cert financial planner. Private client tends to be more of a sales gig (especially in your first 5-10 years) than a management gig.

that being said, some folks who work in wealth management could benefit from a CFA because they manage their book with a lot of investment sophistication. others, i'd say the majority, would not benefit from such an analytical certification, but rather a planning designation instead.

i'm in private wm now and would like to get into more sophisticated money management, and i see an mba/cfa as my means to do so.

just my thoughts...! hope it helps.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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03 Jun 2008, 18:09
So do you do a lot of cold calls? What's the wealth management position like post MBA (i.e. at goldman, etc)?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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04 Jun 2008, 12:18
ryguy904 wrote:
howardforever wrote:

what are your thoughts on following

1 currently i am in my freshman year. if i opted for taking level 1 during final year of the undergraduate program (as it is allowed by the CFA) and the next two years i devote myself for the level 2 and 3 and do full time job as well (say in investment management) .will this route will be suitable ? my thought on this are i will be in better postion to apply for the graduate buisness school after getting some expereince.

2 will it better for me to apply for the GBS for mba without having any exams cleared (i will surely be doing job in any firm to fulfill my experience requirement after my undergraduate program before i apply to graduate buisness school so i thought why shouldn't i complete my CFA before i apply for the GBS)

1) The earliest you should take Level I is senior year of college - PERIOD. Let's say you can clear Level III by the time you graduate, well - you're going to have to wait FOUR years before you will ever be able to call yourself a CFA Charterholder. Additionally, the CFA is not just about passing tests (although some people would like to think so). It's about distinguishing yourself in the investment management community based on education and work experience. The CFA Institute extended the work experience requirements in the last year from three years to four years. They believe that work experience is just as important as the education. Firms that hire people (including new grads) are also interested in experience. Despite how passionate I am about the CFA designation, as a general rule, I firmly believe that a company will take somebody with 5 years experience any day over a Level II Candidate (or Level III Candidate) with 0-2 years of work experience.

2) Additionally, many things may happen over the course of the next few years. a) You may decide that you want nothing to do with investment management. b) Even if you are interested in IM, you may not be able to get a job that qualifies as the appropriate work experience. And then what, you wait even longer...

3) The CFA designation is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY specific. It is for investment management (and peripheral) related job functions. Again, you want to make sure that this is the route you want to go. You may meet a cute girl in your biology class and end up going pre-med. Much crazier things have happened.

4) Based on my experience of having just applied to b-school (and also the second hand experience of my friend who is a Level III Candidate, taking the exam in 2 weeks, and also just got in at Duke), once you get past Level II, there is probably not much differentiation of candidates for business school at all. As a CFA Charterholder it pains me to say this, but in general, I don't think b-schools really get what the CFA is all about. I can go into this point later on for those that are interested.

As an additional note, a previous poster made a comment about getting the work experience doing anything in finance. WRONG! The CFA Institute is extremely particular on what counts and in recent years has become meticulous on looking at work experience and what qualifies.

I don't want to deter you from your goals. I think that it is phenomenal that you are looking so far out in the future. My advice is for right now to simply focus on your grades while in school. A GPA >3.5 will be helpful in getting into a top school. Take the CFA Level I in your senior year (at the earliest!). Get your work experience. Some firms will even pay for your materials/exams. After all, you are going to need to have ~3+ years of work experience to get into a top b-school anyway.

Cheers,
RG

rguy

thanks a lot for giving such great insights

please tell me why CFA is very much specific i.e it is only worthy if you take the investment mangement route. at wikipedia it is suggested that CFA also works in investment banking ,financial analysis of stocks and bonds.and portfolio management

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartered_Financial_Analyst

so i am a bit confused by your saying that one must be sure that CFA designation will only be worthy of its hard work if one takes investment mangement route.
and i am very surprised that your interviewers at Kellogg didnt know what CFA chartholder is. it would have been so dissapointing for you.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2008, 09:27
Quick question:

Is there a difference between a CFA member and a charterholder?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2008, 09:37
kidderek wrote:
Quick question:

Is there a difference between a CFA member and a charterholder?

There are three types of CFA Institute "memberships"

Regular - pay $$, have passed level I, have accrued 4 years of approved work experience Charterholder - pay$$$, have passed all 3 levels, have accrued 4 years of approved work experience --- this is the one if which you get the letters after your name http://www.analystforum.com SVP Joined: 24 Aug 2006 Posts: 2132 Followers: 3 Kudos [?]: 134 [0], given: 0 Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink] Show Tags 05 Jun 2008, 09:41 GMATBLACKBELT wrote: Yes, I visit that site every now and again. But I wanted a straight answer, not some snide remark about my ignorance. Current Student Joined: 27 Jul 2007 Posts: 872 Location: Sunny So Cal Schools: CBS, Cornell, Duke, Ross, Darden Followers: 12 Kudos [?]: 200 [1] , given: 4 Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink] Show Tags 05 Jun 2008, 09:58 1 This post received KUDOS howardforever wrote: thanks a lot for giving such great insights please tell me why CFA is very much specific i.e it is only worthy if you take the investment mangement route. at wikipedia it is suggested that CFA also works in investment banking ,financial analysis of stocks and bonds.and portfolio management http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartered_Financial_Analyst so i am a bit confused by your saying that one must be sure that CFA designation will only be worthy of its hard work if one takes investment mangement route. and i am very surprised that your interviewers at Kellogg didnt know what CFA chartholder is. it would have been so dissapointing for you. financial analysis of stocks financial analysis of bonds portfolio management I would consider all three of these "investment management." Investment banking is NOT considered investment management or really even a tangent of investment management. That being said, a lot of people move from i-banking to the buy-side, but that's a whole different story. As far as$ goes, the CFA designation is worthless for a career in i-banking. From an academic/knowledge building standpoint, I do believe there is "some" value. However, a first year associate with a CFA charter and a first year associate without a CFA charter will not be paid any differently. Similarly, a CFA Charterholder will not necessarily help you land an i-banking role. GS, LEH, MER, MS, etc, will take a Chicago MBA (w/o i-banking experience) any day of the week over a CFA Charterholder w/no i-banking experience.

That's why I emphasize that it is important to know which path you are taking. As somebody that has fulfilled the requirements of the CFA, I know that this is something that you don't want to casually pursue. It requires focus and dedication. If you want to take a path that is a tangent of investment management, it will be hard to keep up those two things, since you won't really see any light at the end of the tunnel, even as you successfully work your way through the program.

I hope this helps a little. Let me know if you want some clarification or have any more questions. I'm trying to help as much as I can, while at the same time be objective. I am a big believer in the CFA Program and what it stands for. At the same time, I've experienced the emotional pain and drain that it has, and don't want it to inflict any of it on you unless it will add value to your long term goals.

Cheers,
rg
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2008, 12:34
ryguy904 wrote:
At the same time, I've experienced the emotional pain and drain that it has, and don't want it to inflict any of it on you unless it will add value to your long term goals.

Cheers,
rg

Indeed, bye bye social life! (and no, it's not exaggerated).

It's a massive test of nerves and will.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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07 Jun 2008, 18:58
did you go 3/3 ryguy? how long did it take you to get through? how many hours do you think?

i just took level 3 and i am a bit disappointed. i studied *really* hard but the morning section was a trainwreck. i went 2/2, so i knew what it would take to get through the 3rd one, but there was no way to prepare for that section. i took the 2006 and 2007 official tests available on the website and they were pretty straightforward. nothing too funky -- even the IPS questions were manageable. 2008 was a monster though -- the IPS questions especially were just terrible 1.5 pages worth of details to come up with a return calc?? brutal. i crushed the afternoon, but i don't know if it will be enough.

have you seen a lot of benefit to having a charter? i am not sure that i want to go through this again in the event that i failed. i haven't failed yet, and i am optimistic, but i was shocked at how poorly the test was written. it's what, 1500 pages of material... there's one, ONE question on immunizing bonds which came out of a 50+ page reading (it was THE major topic for fixed income this year), and then they decide devote an entire item set to reverse cash and carry arbitrage, which is an obscure topic that they devoted like one page to in the readings. i mean, wow, how do you prepare for that? it's devestating to spend hundreds of hours studying and then feel like you failed some random, arbitrary "test" that doesn't even represent the material (i actually thought i was in the wrong test in the morning LOL!).

good luck on the results for everyone else who took the exam.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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08 Jun 2008, 00:33
Hey sudden, hope it worked out for you. In my test center there were a lot of people who were in dismay after the AM session - apparently it was a nightmare. PM was ok though.

Took level 2, hope it went well - PM session was difficult though.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2008, 08:36
ryguy904 wrote:
financial analysis of stocks
financial analysis of bonds

Does this fall under the "research" department of and investment bank? Or is it for the IM leg of the firm?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2008, 08:51
1
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sudden wrote:
did you go 3/3 ryguy? how long did it take you to get through? how many hours do you think?

i just took level 3 and i am a bit disappointed. i studied *really* hard but the morning section was a trainwreck. i went 2/2, so i knew what it would take to get through the 3rd one, but there was no way to prepare for that section. i took the 2006 and 2007 official tests available on the website and they were pretty straightforward. nothing too funky -- even the IPS questions were manageable. 2008 was a monster though -- the IPS questions especially were just terrible 1.5 pages worth of details to come up with a return calc?? brutal. i crushed the afternoon, but i don't know if it will be enough.

have you seen a lot of benefit to having a charter? i am not sure that i want to go through this again in the event that i failed. i haven't failed yet, and i am optimistic, but i was shocked at how poorly the test was written. it's what, 1500 pages of material... there's one, ONE question on immunizing bonds which came out of a 50+ page reading (it was THE major topic for fixed income this year), and then they decide devote an entire item set to reverse cash and carry arbitrage, which is an obscure topic that they devoted like one page to in the readings. i mean, wow, how do you prepare for that? it's devestating to spend hundreds of hours studying and then feel like you failed some random, arbitrary "test" that doesn't even represent the material (i actually thought i was in the wrong test in the morning LOL!).

good luck on the results for everyone else who took the exam.

Hey Sudden,

I'm really really sorry to hear about your frustrating experience with the exam this weekend. I had very similar experiences at both Level II and Level III. Before I get to that, I spoke with one of my friends that took LIII this weekend as well. He felt like he got torn apart on the morning session. The afternoon was slightly better, but he was pretty beat down emotionally and felt like he had no confidence after lunch. This was his second time taking the exam, after having failed last year. He even read both the CFAI materials and the Schweser. He said there were some very challenging questions on VWAP and implementation shortfall. He also felt like the IPS questions, in terms of calculating required return, were tricky. As far as the afternoon goes, he said the ethics was brutal.

Level I
A bit on my experience. I passed Level I in Dec 2004. I had planned to take Level II in June 2005, but there was no chance after I saw the material. I'm averse to accounting, so there was no way I could pass with only 4 months of studying (results released at the end of Jan.).

Level II
I started studying for Level II after Thanksgiving 2005, leaving me with about 6 months of studying, including 3 weeks of review. My strongest area without a doubt was equities. When I got to that section in the afternoon, I read through the passage and completely understood everything. However, when I got to the questions, I thought what the ^&@*!!! What do these have to do with the passage that I just read? I still remember the basics of the case. It has something to do with a Swiss watch maker. Going into the test, I was banking on getting at least 5/6 from that passage, since I knew that if I were to pass the test, it would be by a slim margin. I walked out of the Level II exam and was completely devastated. Not only was the equities section difficult, but ethics, and FSA were also brutal. I felt that I could have gotten anywhere from 6/12 to 12/12 on the ethics (I ended up scoring in the 50-70 range in that area). I walked out of the Level II exam and was completely devastated.

I had studied for 300-350 hours (maybe more, who knows!) and I thought that it was all a waste. I even thought to myself that maybe this CFA thing was not for me. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I beat myself up over the exam for about 2 weeks. How can somebody study so hard and have such a poor outcome. Nevertheless, when the results came out in August, they read, ryguy904: PASS. Un-believable.

Level III
Now to Level III last year. First of all, last year was the lowest passing % in the history of Level III. I think only 50% passed. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I just believe that people really underestimate Level III and it’s staring to show in the results. I had two friends that I went through the first two levels with, and sadly, both of them were sitting in Pomona (Los Angeles test center) again last Saturday. I felt that I did OK on the essay portion, but definitely below what I was capable of. The individual IPS required return calc was very difficult (which I ended up getting wrong) and the portfolio attribution section was a bear. I knew the formulas like the back of my hand, but somehow the questions were asked in a way in which I came up shooting blanks. In the afternoon, I wanted to cry. I felt like I was getting my *ss handed to me. I seriously felt like all of my study time had gone to waste. I put in the most time for this exam, maybe 400 hours+. I felt like I was 50/50 on every question that I “should” know. For Level III, the section that irked me was risk management (VaR, etc.) I felt that I knew the section well and had read it maybe 4-5 times (it was relatively short, maybe only 60 pages for the entire study session). When I got to the questions, I was hoping for at least 4/6, if not better. I thought that at best, I only managed 2/6 - and that was if I was lucky. Meanwhile, GIPS appeared in the afternoon section of the test, for the first time since--I don’t even know when! I reviewed the previous exams from 2003-2006 (four stinkin’ years!) and the format was virtually the same each year. Also, it was in the essay portion in those years. When I got to lunchtime, and hadn’t seen GIPS yet, I was a little worried. I knew it would be in the pm for sure, but in what format?? GIPS ended up being the last six questions on the exam. I basically got ripped a new one. We had to calculate the return for a portfolio….HUH?!?! I had skimmed through these sample questions in the reading, because I was like “no way, these questions take like 5 minutes each to solve.” Yet there were two questions in the pm that had us do this. I walked away praying that I hit 3/6 in GIPS, although 1 or 2 was more likely. And of course, ethics was a monster, as usual. I thought 9/12 would’ve taken a miracle. Ironically, Level III was the only year in which I scored >70 in ethics. Go figure. End result LEVL III: PASS. And to answer your question, I did go 3/3.

I really feel your pain, Sudden, and understand what you just went through. That’s why I wanted to post you comprehensive note on my personal experience. There’s a long way to go until the results come out. Trust me, I was as anxious as anyway to get them. I was literally having nightmares a couple weeks after the exam was over. For instance, I had a dream that the person next to me was cheating of my exam, and we both got in trouble! I had another dream that there were 30 minutes left on the essay section and I was just starting question 2!! Ultimately, you really did the best that you could. If I had put money on how I did after I left the test centers, I would have lost EVERY time. I really didn’t even have much of a glimmer of hope for Level II and Level III. As far as your test goes, you put down YOUR best answers on paper. You can’t go back and change them at this point. With that in mind, do not pick up any CFA materials. You will only make matters worse. Try to take your mind off of the situation as much as you can. Go on vacation, read books, rent movies, play Halo, or whatever floats your boat. It’s a long way until the results come out. Enjoy your free to and remember what it’s like to have a “normal” life.

All the best,
ryguy
Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I?   [#permalink] 09 Jun 2008, 08:51

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