CFA Exam Results Analysis: 3 Areas of Improvement


CFA Exam Results AnalysisSam is our first CFA exam blogger. He was born and raised in Illinois, currently working in New York. He failed Level 1 in June but will retake in December.

I promised to write a more in-depth analysis on the results release day. I did this a while back, but it’s today that I got the will to write this properly on paper.

CFA Exam Results Analysis – Focusing on Weakest Areas

I hope the examiners could be more precise, but I appreciate the breakdown in the CFA exam report. As mentioned in previous post, I was in Band 9 with the following results:

  • <50 in FRA and Econ
  • >70 in Quant, Equities
  • 50-70 in Ethics, Corp Fin, Fixed Income, AI, PM

My Thoughts on Band 9

Band 9 means I was pretty close to passing, but the gap not as razor-thin as those in Band 10 (thank goodness I wasn’t in Band 10. I would have punched myself real hard).

I am in fact quite optimistic — it looks if I improve my obviously weak areas (FRA and Econ alone represent 30% of Level 1), and stay the same for the rest, I should be able to pass. I could even have time to revisit the topics in the 50-70 range to make sure I have a good foundation for Level 2.

1. Financial Reporting and Analysis

By now, you all know I bombed FRA. I knew it on the exam day. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was disappointing.

At the same time, it was the biggest topic in CFA Level 1. I was really disadvantaged to be weak in this subject area. I should have worked more on this even if I ran out of time, given the pretty big weight at 20%.

2. Economics

I almost didn’t want to write this post because of Econ. For God’s sake it is my major (and I did well at school!) The biggest problem, other than running out of time, is how overly confident I was in this topic. If I haven’t touched academic economics concept for a few years, I shouldn’t have expected to do well without any studying. This is another big lesson for me.

In fact, now I remember one of my colleagues bombed FRA and he is an accounting major and a CPA. Same issue — he didn’t realize that, while FRA is all about accounting, it’s accounting in the perspective of a financial analyst instead of that in the auditor’s perspective.

3. No More Second Hand Books

I have been using a hand-me-down from one of my colleagues who passed Level 1. The Schweser book wasn’t that outdated (2016 version), but it really made me uncomfortable that I might have missed something or studied an extra reading that wasn’t necessary.

In fact, now that I have the time to compare the 2017 changes, it wasn’t much — most of it in Econ and Corporate Finance, plus one extra reading in Ethics.

But my point is that it isn’t worth the time and effort to compare when there are gazillion of things to worry about. If you can afford it, just go buy the latest version. The cost is a drop in the bucket considering the entire CFA investment and hopefully the future benefit we can get from this designation.

With that, I am going to sign up for the Wiley free trial this coming week.

Latest To-Do List

  • Find a way out with Sally
  • Analyze exam results
  • Sign up for free trial from Wiley CFA
  • Work on Wiley practice questions
  • Take the mock exam

Note from Stephanie

Thanks for the analysis Sam. I agree that it is clear where you room for improvement is, and it should be an easy fix. If you properly plan and study this time, I am sure you can nail it.

Please let us know how you think about Wiley in your next post!

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Sam H

I was originally from Illinois, now working in New York City as a financial analyst. I am aiming to take (and pass!) the CFA Level 1 exam in June.

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