This is how I cleared my CFA Level 1: Computer Science to Finance
Ethics and Equity Investments >75% Quants, Fixed Income, Economics, PM, Derivatives, Alt Invst, FRA and Corp Finance > 90%
“Fortune favors the bold” is a phrase which everyone appreciates but are scared to put that in action. Going out of our comfort zone is something that we have been told ‘Not to do so’ since a very long time but I would like to share something with you guys which might contradict the ‘not to do so’ thing and gear more towards the phrase. Why did you take Computer Science if you wanted to do CFA? You won’t achieve anything after clearing level 1. I don’t think your CFA skill will be useful anywhere. Why are you choosing CFA over an internship? These were just a few questions I was asked when I started my preparations four months back.
But I just wanted to do something different which I never tried and I went for it. I admit that it was pretty new for me and I did question myself a lot during my preparation. But all I knew was, even if I fail, I will be sad for a couple of days but I’ll be happy for the next couple of decades thinking at least I tried, so I carried on with my studies.
This not only gave me something to talk about but also the confidence that I can do something different if I want to and if I can do something different then I am sure there are millions of other people who can get out of their comfort zone and excel in it.
The reason I am telling you this is because the thing that contributes the most to your success is motivation and dedication. Before even starting to think about preparing for Level 1, ask yourself ‘WHY’, what is the motivation behind it. Remember that motivation always and every day.
Let’s get to the preparation now. This is how I prepared for my CFA Level 1. There is no guarantee that this is the only way to clear Level 1 but the following schedule worked out pretty good for me.
When and how did I start preparing?
I started my preparation on Feb 5th, 2019 before which I had taken only one-course ‘Foundations of Finance’ at my university. That was all the knowledge I had in finance as I was pursuing my Masters in Computer Science.
This is the sequence in which I would recommend to study: 1. Quantitative Methods 2. Corporate Finance 3. Derivatives 4. Alternative Investments 5. Equity Investments 6. Fixed Income 7. Economics 8. Portfolio Management 9. Financial Reporting and Analysis 10. Ethics
The reason I am putting FRA and Ethics at the end is that there is just too much to remember in those topics so if you finish it early, you won’t be able to sustain it till the very end.
How to prepare?
Create a Reddit account and subscribe yourselves to r/CFA. IT IS VERY HELPFUL.
If you have time: Go through Kaplan notes for each reading in each section and watch IFT Videos for the same simultaneously. After each reading, solve the CFAI Question Bank and then move on to other readings.
If you don’t have time: Don’t do Kaplan notes, just go through IFT free videos and rest remains the same as above.
Keep the last 20 days for mocks and revision.
Every weekend revise whatever you studied the previous week.
1.5 months before the exam, make sure to read the Formula Sheet I will be uploading on the drive, ATLEAST ONCE EVERY DAY. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF PREPARATION. No matter how tired you are, read it during your travel, lunch, dinner anytime but do it. You should be able to tell any formula even when you are half asleep.
You can access my notes while revising so that you don’t have to waste your time on making notes.
1 month before the exam, I just went through my notes and all the mistakes I did on the CFAI Question Bank. I also gave 3 mocks which are provided by CFAI and scored an average of 75%
How many days to allocate for readings?
This is how I allocated days to my readings: 1. Quantitative Methods: 11 days 2. Corporate Finance: 4 days 3. Derivatives: 2 days 4. Alternative Investments: 2 days 5. Equity Investments: 7 days 6. Fixed Income: 6 days 7. Economics: 8 days 8. Portfolio Management: 2 days 9. Ethics: 2 days 10. Financial Reporting and Analysis: 15 days
I used to study for approx 12 hrs every day (except weekends) because of which I was able to complete the syllabus in 2 months and revised it for the next 2 months.
Not everyone has the time to study for 12 hrs so start your preparation accordingly.
How to give mocks?
Whenever you plan to give the mocks, make sure to give it in the same environment, time and in the same mind frame. Start your AM session at sharp 9 am and PM session at 1 pm. During the break, eat the same thing that you will be eating during your final exam.
The most important part is to get up at 6 am and warmup for the exam. This is what you need to practice so that you are not tired or sleepy on the final day.
What to do on the exam day?
As cliche as it may sound, stop studying one day before the exam. Maybe just have a look at the formula sheet but that’s all, nothing more than that is required. What you studied for 3 months cannot be revised in a day, so just relax!
What I do before any important day is to listen to a couple of motivational songs which boosts my energy so high that I feel like crying :P
So if you have any songs which get you goosebumps, do listen to it a few hours before the exam.
And just remember, no question on the paper is unsolvable. It’s the situation you are in which makes it SEEM DIFFICULT.
Notes: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1S_F8B5HDLoDuxTNHVmT781EVPQVW4kzN PS: I will be uploading the rest of the notes soon!
You guys can connect with me on LinkedIn: