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CFA CFAs, share some tips plz.

Hend Abuenein

Active Member

I got this reply from ebb on another thread, but thought it would be useful here.


Let me offer my 2 cents for these two exams. I completed CFA, FRM, CAIA, PRM, and finishing CIPM. Too many silly letters but get it done while young right?

The scope of CFA is much larger as everyone attests to. The other challenge that people often forget to denote is that CFA is three separate exams. I don't mean it like CFA is 3 levels and FRM is two levels, so therefore CFA > FRM in difficulty.

Each exam requires different strategies and study methods. CFA Level 1 is fairly straight forward when it comes to studying.

CFA Level 2 goes out of its way with its vignettes to "storybook" the clues. You have to practice reading quickly and to not panic! Just reread the last sentence! It almost sounds ridiculous just reading it but I think many candidates who did Level 2 would probably agree. CFA Level 2 goes out of its way to test you on the strength of your understanding of the material. While I'm sure there are going to be Type 1 errors (those who passed who shouldn't have), I would surmise that the vast majority did so because they studied pretty darn hard. The exam is written in such a way that you can easily confuse one fake clue and miss the real clues for your answer.

Then, you have Level 3, which has an "essay/short answer response" part that makes the exam unnecessarily difficult because for myself, I ran into huge time constraints. I never write anything with my hand anymore. Absolutely never. Everything I do is typed so forcing me to write for three hours is an exercise of extreme difficulty. Now, add it together with our usual reliance on spell check / grammar check to make sure what you write is even semi coherent, CFA L3 presents an exam where half of it will be very challenging for many. Now, imagine how it will be for folks who do not have English as their first language. Writing for many is very intimidating. I imagine the vast majority of folks do not write in their day-to-day jobs outside of email correspondences. Writing coherent thoughts in a time pressured environment is very challenging.

FRM's curriculum is tough. 1/2 to 3/4 of the actual textbook is jargon that I can hardly understand. I can do the computations and evaluate the results but to truly understand it is beyond me. However, I was genuinely interested in the material. This is similar to how I felt during the quant sections of the CFA. But imagine almost the entire exam on that topic. While you might be able to get the question correct, I doubt many really understand the relationships between MSR/MSE/etc and how they apply in real life. We just interpret and move on. However, I notice that much of the exam questions can be simplified using framework that David Harper (of Bionic Turtle) approaches them. Just think big picture and a guesstimate will usually get you close for most questions that you might have doubts about. The rest should be simple plug and play.

I didn't find a material difference in studying for P1 and P2 for FRM. I just found P2 to be slightly repetitive of P1 curriculum and significantly less organized. For the most part, it was interesting though. I think this is simply a function of maturity. P2 is less than 3 years old - the first time it was offered was in May 2010.

I like the calibre of the FRM curriculum. Very fascinating reads. I just wish it is more mature. I guess just like CFAI, it takes many years. CFAI's current curriculum is extremely well written.

In terms of what's tougher...I guess I would put CFA L2 > CFA L3 > FRM P1 > FRM P2 > CFA L1. But that is dependent on person. I did FRM after CFA L2 so perhaps that influenced how difficult I found it.


Basically, I agree...
I went from PhD (Math) > CFA>MBA>FRM> ...?
I'd put it as CFAL3>FRM P2>CFA L2>FRM1> but this is a matter of taiste:)
CAIA is not an issue at all; the same with PRM.
CQF is the target ! BUT > too costly; need a sponsor:)
Currently: Financial Analyst, disgusting data collection
Would like to: Quant Position