Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finally ,the third umpire has pressed the green light

I know it will happen..That was the amount of confidence I had in my own preparations...Finally CFA has announced it officially .I have cleared level 1 of CFA and I’m all set to think about the next level.
I understand that lot of my friends are going to take up CFA level 1 coming December...So I thought I could share some of my preparation strategies which might help them..
Start Early: There have been some exams during my engineering days which I will not be able to study completely even if I spend infinite number of hours...Because the subject would have been very difficult..But in CFA, there is no portion in the syllabus which you can classify as very difficult. The success or failure in CFA exam depends upon the amount of time you’ll be able to dedicate for this exam..Here is an approximate amount of time that you need to spend to prepare completely for the exam.

If you will complete term 4 and 5 at MBA/you are already a MBA degree holder and a major in fin before you take up the exam – 150-200 hours of preparation
If you have completed your year 1 of MBA – 250 hours of preparation is required
If you have not done the year 1 of MBA – At least 500 hours

Hence I would advise you to start early, so that you can adjust for unavoidable circumstances like the college exams or a critical deadline at office etc.
Every topic is important: You cant crack the exam by being a master in a particular area .. I have heard stories about people who had more than 5 years of experience in finance (say in corporate finance) and hence was overconfident that their scores in their area of strength can compensate for the other areas ..But that particular strategy has badly misfired.I would recommend you to concentrate on each and every topic.

Financial Statement and Analysis , Ethics : The two topics that could create the difference …FSA carries a lot of weightage(approximately 22%) and Ethics carries a weightage of 15% ..Now FSA is very important because it is difficult. If I can take the liberty to calling myself a veteran in this subject(my moment of stardom during my first year was because of this course) then even ‘I’ felt the area to be difficult and it needs immense amount of preparation..And regarding Ethics, you need to make sure you practice the situational questions a lot..Mere reading of the theory will not help..Make sure you have practiced at least 500 questions in ethics before you have reached the exam hall..The choices will be very close and differentiating them will be possible only if you have practiced.

Stick to Schewser : My personal take would be to stick completely to schewser notes . But make sure you understand every word of Schewser notes . Try to jot down your conceptual understanding/implications of concepts in your schewser material itself , so that it’ll help while revision . Some of my friends have completely read the 3000 page scary book sent by CFA institute . But you don’t have to read the books..But I would revoke my advise in case you think of doing a shallow reading of Schewser..I never touched the books but I would have been more thorough with the schewser material concepts than Schewser himself!!

Revision: The syllabus is heavy and it contains a lot of stuff. Hence you can tend to forget a lot of things..So keep at least a month for revision..And start practicing model papers which turned out to be very crucial for my preparation. Don’t skip derivatives, as the topic is very important for CFA Level 2...Also I would recommend you to maintain a formula sheet/concept sheet which you note down after you complete every study session. This will be very important before the day of the exam…

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