How to finish CFA curriculum in 2 months?

80 days are left for June CFA exam. Most of us would have finished around 50% of the curriculum so far. However, there will still be plenty of souls who haven’t got adequate time to devote for the exam preparations. Some guys even wouldn’t have opened their books and they are waiting for some miracle to happen so that they can start their studies. They definitely want to start the studies but they are better in excuse making. That’s why they keep making excuses for themselves.  With each excuse, they are building pressure on themselves and now they are afraid of even starting. This post is dedicated to those guys who haven’t started yet and are in a dilemma whether they would be able to do that or not.

It is very important to finish the first reading of the curriculum at least 20 days before the exam so that we can sufficient time for practicing mock exams. So we have only 60 days left. Many of you must be contemplating whether to defer the exam or give it a try. Just remember that half-hearted effort is most likely to end in failure and utter disappointment.

People are so afraid of failure. So afraid that they quit before they started. But you guys have do understand it’s not about failing. It’s about raising each and every time you did. Nobody I repeat nobody you know from television or books who is successful is fail-free. In fact those are the people that failed a lot. Because they never gave up. Because they always focused on what their goals were. Success doesn’t come overnight. It comes from hard work and dedication every single day. Nights. You don’t prosper from day one to day two. It takes weeks, sometimes decades. Your goal, no matter how high it may be, is reachable for everybody the only question is how much time and energy are you willing to spend. What are your priorities. If priority number one is and has been the thing you want to accomplish you will don’t worry about that.

The answer to your question whether it could be done in 2 months is a big YES. It can be done and many people have done it in past. All you need is right strategy and focused approach. Just remove all the doubts from your mind. Think of the greatest thing ever done by you so far. Compare that to this and you will find all the motivation to give it a try. The hardest thing is to start but once you are set, everything will fall into place. Don’t listen to any person who belittles your ambitions. An enemy is better than a friend who keeps on belittling your ambitions and wants your company in failure.

Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. Not even yourself (your own mind sometimes acts as a limiting factor. Break those limits). People can’t do something themselves. They want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something. Go get it. Period.

Strategy for CFA level I: 60 days – 67 reading. Maximum weight areas are FRA (Financial Reporting and Analysis) and Ethics. These two subjects constitute 35% of the exam. FRA has 14 readings. But first 3 and last 3 readings can be done in 2 days and are not that important for the exam point of view. The middle 8 readings are the crux. Each reading can be easily done in a day with proper practice. It will take 5-6 hours to read and solve the practice questions provided at the back of the chapter. Keep noting important formulas in a separate notepad. It will help you a lot during revision and will reduce your revision time by more than 50%. FRA needs 10 days. Either you can start with Quantitative Methods or you can start with FRA. It will depend on your background. If you are from a non-mathematical background, try starting it from FRA as Quant can consume a lot of time. You can break your FRA in two halves. In the first 5 days, read first 7 readings and last 7 readings in other 5 days (may be during the later stage of your preparation so that you do not forget anything about FRA).

After FRA, the basics of quant should be done which involves the present value of money and discounted cash flow (NPV and IRR). With these two readings, you can finish the 6 readings of Corporate Finance as well. These 8 readings could easily be done in 5 days. For Ethics, you can set 1 hour daily and finish it along with all the other subjects. By doing this you will be having enough of a practice of Ethics questions which will help you a lot in the end.

Quantitative Methods and Fixed Income has a weight of 11.66% each in the final exam. Economics and Equity have 10% weight each. After doing half of FRA, Quant basics, and Corporate Finance, you can attack Equity or Fixed Income. Equity is small and mostly theoretical and can be easily finished in 5 days. Fixed Income is little lengthy and it would take 7 days of yours. Do not forget to practice enough questions. After these subjects, move on to rest of the Quantitative Methods and Derivatives. These two subjects can be finished easily in 6 days and 4 days each considering you are devoting 5-6 hours daily. Now try doing Economics. Economics is too lengthy for its 10% weight. Selective reading would be good or try studying it from some prep provider so that you can read the concise version of it. Do not devote more than 8 days to it. Now 40 days are over and you are left with half of FRA, Portfolio Management, and Alternative Investments. You can easily do rest of the FRA in 5 days. Portfolio Management has 4 readings out of which 2 are very small. It won’t take more than 3 days and AI can be done in 1 single day. So, you can easily finish it off in 49 days. Rest 11 days can be devoted to your weak areas, practicing more questions and reading Ethics again.

Last 20 days should be spent on 2 revisions. First revision will take 10 days and the second will take 3-4 days. Try to attempt at least 4-5 mocks before the main exam. Once you’re done with it, the chances of success will improve a lot. It is that simple. 5-6 hours a day for other subjects. 1 hour daily for Ethics. Total of 6-7 hours daily for next 80 days and you are through. Now don’t give another excuse that you have an office to attend. 6-7 hours daily makes 45 hours for a week. If you can study 12 hours on weekends, then you need to study only 4 hours on weekdays which is manageable. You have to do it no matter whatever it takes it to do.

You can download the study plan for CFA level I from here.

Strategy for CFA level II: 60 days – 56 readings. Equity and FRA have the highest weight and they are the easiest of all the subjects with Corporate Finance as one exception. The good thing is that you can start from any topic as almost every subject builds on from the material you studied in level I curriculum.

Equity has 8 reading and first 3 readings are very small and can be finished in one single day. Rest 5 readings can be finished in 6 days assuming 2 days for the most important reading i.e. Free Cash Flow Valuation. FRA has a total of 8 readings. Last 3 reading can be done in 2 days and first 2 readings in 2 0days. The most important readings are Readings 19, 20 and 21. There is 90% chances that you will get at least one item set from each of those 3 readings. Master those three readings in 5 days. Practice enough of item sets questions provided at the end of the curriculum books.

These two subjects constitute 40% of the exam. Keep on revising them. Note all the important formulas and results on a sheet of paper and spend at least 30 minutes daily in revising those. These will take 16 days of yours. After these two subjects, Derivatives, Corporate Finance, Ethics, and Fixed Income have 10% weight each. Derivatives (6 readings) can be finished in 8 days. Corporate Finance (5 readings) can be finished in 5 days. Ethics (10 readings) can be finished in 5 days. (Spend more time on the new reading for level II which were not there in level I) Fixed Income (6 readings) can be finished in 8 days. You still have 18 days left for rest 4 subjects which have a weight of 5% each in the main exam. Quantitative Methods (3) readings can be done in 3 days. Economics (3 readings) is the simplest of all once you have understood derivatives) and can be easily finished in 3 days. Alternative Investments (4 readings) can be done in 3 days. Portfolio Management (3 readings) can be finished in 3 days. So, everything would be over in 54 days. Practice is the main thing after that. Practice lots of questions and spend lots of time on the 6 topics which have 80% of the total weight.

You can go through this article for a detailed strategy to finish CFA level II curriculum in 2 months.

Strategy for CFA level III: 60 days – 43 readings. This is the toughest level of all and if you are from an accounting background, you will find it relatively tougher to crack as there is no weight given to accounting subject in level III. It is also different from the level I and level II and it has one subjective exam as well. The best strategy to crack the exam is to go through the previous years’ mock exams. The questions in the exam will be almost similar to the questions provided in the mock exams. Once you can master those questions, no one can fail you in the subjective test.

30% of the subjective paper will come from the Portfolio Management – Individual and around 20% will come from the Portfolio Management – Institutional. So, you know which areas you need to master. Devote enough time on those 2 topics as you will find 10% more of those in the objective paper. Those two areas can be mastered in 15 days. Read them slowly and practice the questions by writing on a sheet of paper. That will make a lot of good to your confidence. Once you are done with these two areas, rest is easy and fun to read.

The first book and the last book that are related to Ethics and GIPS respectively, generally comes in the objective paper only and constitute 30% of the objective test. GIPS is too lengthy and weight is also less. So, spend the time accordingly. By looking at the previous mocks, you will have a good idea what all things you need to study carefully. One should not spend more than 8 days in these two readings.

Rest all of the readings concerning with portfolio management, equity, derivatives, economics and fixed income are fun to read. You will learn a lot in those readings and if you have mastered the concepts in level II, you can finish all of those readings very quickly. If you are weak in your concepts, try to study them carefully and assimilate all the learning. The subjective exam will be highly conceptual unlike level I and level II. So, proper understanding is very important. All of these readings can easily be done in 35-40 days if you can spend 5-6 hours on a daily basis.

You can go through this article for a detailed strategy to complete curriculum for CFA level III exam in 2 months.

If you haven’t registered for the exam yet, tomorrow is the last day for registration for the June exam. Do register for the exam and give it a go. Start the preparation from today itself. everything would be fine in next 60 days.

If you wanna start then start now “I’ll start tomorrow” is a lie!! And you know that. No excuses anymore, no tomorrow anymore. There’s no tomorrow. There’s only today.

So, start today. Open up your books. You have neglected them for such a long time. But they never said any words to you. They are not angry with you. They are waiting for you like a lover. Go on and fall in love with them.

Also, remember that pain is temporary and pride is forever. All the best. Success will be yours.


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10 thoughts on “How to finish CFA curriculum in 2 months?

  1. Rajat March 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm Reply

    Thanks for an awesome article especially for people like me who havent opened up their books yet. While you mentioned about the days which would be required, I request you to also give how much time each needs to be devoted so that we can plan according to college schedule

    • konvexity March 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm Reply

      @Rajat: You need to devote 5-6 hours every day for your CFA studies and 1 hours extra daily for Ethics if you are writing CFA level I exam or for revising FRA and Equity formulas if you are writing CFA level II exam.

  2. skyislimit March 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm Reply

    Brilliant stuff ! Thanks for giving insights on cfa level 2 exam. I have gathered courage to take cfa level 2 head on !

  3. Pankaj Jain March 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm Reply

    Nice article…..just one question…Can I read Equity and Fixed Income before starting FRA?

    • konvexity March 23, 2013 at 2:22 am Reply

      Yes, Equity and Fixed Income could be done before starting FRA. Those subjects have almost nothing to do with the level II FRA. However, one needs to be aware of level I FRA for equity valuation especially free cash flow valuations part. You can revise that by reading this article –

      • Pankaj Jain April 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm

        When both the current market values and forecasted market values for debt and equity are given, which one should be used to calculate weights for WACC?

  4. Mandarr February 24, 2014 at 1:58 pm Reply

    PANKAJ JAIN – Thank u so much SIR

    dis article gave me hope and belief

  5. Mandarr February 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm Reply

    ooops sorry i meant konvexity – thank u guys

  6. raj May 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm Reply

    great article… best of all the article i found on net…. but i am cfa aspirant looking to give it in june 15 deliberately even if i can attempt dec 14… because i want to prepare without registering and then registering when i feel all the way prepared for the exam.. will this stratagy help…….. i guess you can take clue out of it for not registering.

  7. Cruzer CFA March 15, 2015 at 10:05 pm Reply

    Very nice article.
    i was lost hope and now it gives me courage go for the final assault on CFA level 1 June 2015 exams.

    I have been searching for an article like this for the game plan as i dont have many days left for the exams.

    Many Thanks and God bless you for your effort in writing such an helpful article.

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A blog of the NYU Colloquium on Market Institutions and the Leipzig Colloquium on the Market Order

Fundoo Professor

Thoughts of a teacher & practitioner of value investing and behavioral economics

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