CFA Level One Studying Reflections – Part One

Excited by a delivery I received a few weeks ago whose packaging better resembled that of a fridge than what I would have expected of a curriculum for the CFA, I now find myself stunned by the realisation that weekends are out of stock until December if I wish to pass the CFA.

As I discussed in my CFA Level One study plan, I do not have a finance background short of a bit financial mathematics and general knowledge about particular areas. I hadn’t intended to be able to cruise through the CFA as everyone that I had spoken to had suggested that it was one of the most challenging courses out there. Having said this, I was not expecting the full extent of the enormity of information that I will need to take in before December in order to have a chance on the day.

For those out there who are considering having a go at passing level one of the CFA, consider this: 18 topics spread across mathematics, economics, accouting, financial statement analysis, fixed income securities, derivatives, portfolio management and corporate finance. You are allowed to bring a calculator and pens into the exam, but are not allowed notes or formula sheets or any other aids. You then have 6 hours to answer 240 questions spread across all these topics.

My most relevant initial reflections on my study so far include:

  • I have decided that reading all the CFAI Curriculum (3000+ pages) that they sent in the Fridge packaging is simply not possible by December in addition to working 40 hours a week and staying sane. I have decided to use the Schewser course notes, video series and audio files as planned.
  • The Schweser Video series that I got my hands on are particularly helpful and I am finding it makes the information much easier to take in if I watch the video, take notes about the concepts in the video at the same time and then read the Schweser course material following this.
  • The Audio files that discuss each topic in a question / answer manner, whilst being mindnumbingly monotonous, are very helpful and are good to listen to on the way to work. Especially when combined with my iPhone.
  • Ensuring that I think about at least one or two topics every day is important to ensure I committ recently learned information to long-term memory and to stay on top of things. My skiing trip to New Zealand today should make this interesting.
  • The prereading that is required for Economics and Financial Statement Analysis (i.e accounting) is looking like it is actually going to be required. I was hoping this would not be the case but it does appear I will have to start at the bottom. This is going to be a challenge!
  • The first two books which include Quantitative Methods, Economics and Ethics have so far been relatively straight forward short of my lack of a foundation in economics.
  • In particular, Ethics will be very straightforward I believe (helped by my legal background I think).
  • Quantitative methods will just be like throwing in first year university advanced maths and stats degree and will be tough but definately doable. I am not yet far enough into Economics to make a judgment.

I plan to continue giving updates about my progress as I continue into to CFA information vault so please sign up to my RSS feed ( Here is an updates CFA level one exam – 4 days before it.

If anyone else in Sydney is doing the CFA exam in December 2008, get in touch with me if you so wish :)

14 thoughts on “CFA Level One Studying Reflections – Part One”

  1. hi there,

    Just need company.Regd. for CFA level I , from half way round the world. my centre is dubai.

    i m too referring sheweser notes. dont want to think much about the prospects of clearing, as i have yet to make a plan.

    May I help u with anything??

  2. Congrats on the job james and good luck with the CFA, I think you’ll be fine, I should should be doing my CFA this time next year. You should look at memory and recall studying techniques to help with that amount of info.


  3. Congrats and good luck – I am also doing the CFA level I in Sydney… every second person I know who’s just started in the industry seems to be doing it. Might see you at beers following the exam :)

  4. I am also signed up for the 12/6 lvl 1 test. Quant methods kicked my ass, but econ is ok. My problem is that I am behind. It’s 10/19 and I’m still on economics (and only 1/2 through the book at that). I was considering Schwezer. Any thoughts on whether the course would materially improve my chances of getting though the material in time? I now dedicate 10 hours/weekend and 3-5 hours/wk, during the week. My fin. statment analysis was rock-solid in school (only 7 years ago:). One other question for anyone with an opinion: Is there any reason why one would withdraw from the 12/6 test and re-register for the June session instead of just giving it the ol’ college try?

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