How To Pass Your CFA Exam Level 1




About the CFA Level 1 Exam

The CFA Level 1 examination is the first of three exams set by the CFA Institute which needs to be passed for an individual to become a CFA charter holder together with all of the other requirements that are needed (including 4 years of practical work experience).

The actual exam consist of 2 separate papers, each 3 hours long, of which you will have to write one in the morning & the other in the afternoon of the same day consisting of 240 multiple-choice questions – fortunately there is no negative marking so you will not lose marks for incorrect answers.

As an estimate the degree of difficulty of the 240 questions is made up as follows;

How To Pass Your CFA Exam Level 1

How To Pass Your CFA Exam Level 1

  • 40% of the questions are relatively straightforward & made up of fundamental concepts
  • 50% are of moderate difficulty & will require a good grasp & understanding of the subject matter
  • 10% will be extremely challenging calling on your analytical skills to solve problems that may not be directly found in the study material but that can be addressed by in depth understanding & application of the principals.

This examination (2 papers) can be taken in either June or December.

So, it sounds simple enough but, as you probably already know, there is a mountain of material to study – in fact 300 hours worth.

You would be well advised to order your 2013 CFA LEVEL 1 SCHWESER STUDY NOTES
which are an absolute necessity for passing your level-1 exams

Furthermore in 2011 the pass rate for the level 1 exam was only 39% so you really need to employ every tool available to ensure that you study the right things & prepare properly in order to pass this exam.

The Minimum Passing Score (MPS)

CFA1 ExamEveryone wants to know the minimum they need to score in order to get through & there has been all sorts of speculation from some people saying that pass rates have been between 30% to 40% & others taking this to mean that you only need to score between 30% to 40% to pass.

Believe it or not others have been known to ask whether scoring 35% in the first paper & 75% in the second will get them through – well if you cannot compute the answer for yourself I would advise this person to save their time & money & not even bother with a CFA let alone a career in finance.

so despite the speculation I can tell you that unfortunately the standards that the CFA Institute Board of Governors use every year to set the minimum score that you will need in order to pass is not fully disclosed.

It is believed that the passing score is determined by the difficulty of the of the questions rather than being based on a certain pass rate of candidates which stands to reason as you would expect a significantly more difficult exam this year should have a lower MPS than an easier exam set the previous year.

It is also worth noting that anyone scoring over 70% has never been failed which means that answering 168 questions correctly will get you to the magical 70% mark.

This also means that this is what you should concentrate on & not worry about how many candidates have passed or failed in previous years – just make sure that you hit that 70% pass mark in both papers & you will almost certainly get through.

Finally once you have completed the exam & submitted both papers you will have to wait for no longer than 60 days within which time you will be notified of your score.

5 Tips For Passing CFA Level 1 Exam

Tips To Pass CFA Level1 Exam

1. Get the Best Study Material, Practice Questions & Past Exams

Having the best study materials, including books, study guides, prep books & videos, will stand you in good stead.

Doing past papers is one of the best ways of ensuring that you know the material well as well as giving you the confidence that you will need to pass the exam.

If you really want an advantage it is recommended that you get the Schweser CFA prep material including the QBank – doing as many practice questions as possible is what will get you through.

2. Be Familiar With the Exam Format

Knowing the exact format of the exam will ensure that there are no surprises & that there is no chance of panic setting in which can happen if you’re surprised with something unexpected.

So just to recap, the format of the CFA Level 1 exam is as follows;

Format: multiple-choice
Questions:

  • 240 equally weighted questions
  • Morning Session: 120 questions;
  • Afternoon Session: 120 questions
  • Each question has three answer choices
  • On average, 1.5 minutes should be allocated for each question
TOPIC LEVEL 1
Ethical and Professional Standards 15%
Investment Tools 50%
Quantitative Methods 12
Economics 10
Financial Statement Analysis 20
Corporate Finance 8
Asset Classes 30%
Equity Investments 10
Fixed Income 12
Derivatives 5
Alternative Investments 3
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 5%
TOTAL 100%

3. Revise the Material 3 to 4 weeks Before the Exam

You cannot revise enough – in fact the more you revise & the more practice questions & exams you do the more confident you will become for tackling the exam not to mention being more comfortable & proficient with the principles.

So give yourself at least 3 weeks before d-day to do as many EOC (End of Chapter) questions & QBank (Schweser) as possible to ensure that you are familiar with all the material & principles.

4. Read & Understand Each Question Carefully

Due to the time constraints & the pressure of sitting the exam, a common mistake is to misunderstand a question & therefore opt for the wrong answer.

It will pay you to spend a bit of time reading the question properly in order to not misinterpret it & if it seems too involved & too time consuming you can decide to leave it & go onto another that you can tackle & answer quickly.

Time management is very important – wasting too much time on time consuming questions could mean missing easier questions & wasting easy markes

5. There Is Only One Correct Answer

Be precise even if you have to sacrifice a bit of time to get your calculation right.

Do not rush it as you could end up using valuable time as well as missing out on getting a relatively easy question right.

Silly mistakes will cost valuable marks.

Finally, ensure that the calculator you use is one that is accepted by the CFA Institute – you have two options:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional)
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)

and remember that there is no substitute for proper preparation which is what will get you through your CFA level 1 exam.

Lastly, do not forget to order your 2013 CFA LEVEL 1 SCHWESER STUDY NOTES
so that you have them in time to prepare properly for this tough exam

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One comment on “How To Pass Your CFA Exam Level 1
  1. MoneySense says:

    It would be worthwhile getting a second opinion but a CFA (even just having your level 1) will stand you in good stead in becoming a financial analyst.

    So it certainly won’t do any harm, in fact it’ll look really good on your CV, by taking your level-1 exam.