You are just one exam away from crossing the finish line!
True, the actual exam pass rate is the highest of all three levels. But this is highly misleading and doesn’t really bring out how difficult this level actually is.
We’ve been delivering Level III classes for many years now and we know what it takes to pass. So let us set out the Challenges and Study Strategies (and the key differences from Levels I and II) to prepare you better for the CFA Exam.
This is the most underrated of all the 3 levels. People look at the high pass rate, think the worst was Level II and start late/prepare lightly. And they fail
The question format is Essay in the morning and Item set in the afternoon. And the former is where students usually get killed. It is the first time that you will be answering essay questions in the CFA exam.
The thin looking curriculum books are misleading. There is surprisingly LOTS of dry, boring theory to wade through
There are tons of nuances and subtext in Level III. True there are fewer LOSs and Readings compared to Level III but that only means they can ask from any corner of the curriculum
In Level I and level II you had a vague idea of what kind of questions you could be asked. In Level III that is not always the case. Take Individual portfolio Management- each question is totally unique which you’d never have seen before and you have to think rapidly on your feet (or your seat!)
Within an essay question, sub questions in Level III can and do build on one another. All Level I and even most Level II questions were stand alone
For probably the first time in the CFA journey, you will face time management issues in the exam, more so in the morning (essay) section
The Level III exam is only once a year. Failure means waiting for another year and lost opportunities.
The study strategies
It doesn't matter whether you passed CFA Level I and II in the first attempts and/or scored above 70% in most or all subjects. Level III is a completely different beast. Do NOT be over confident
Tough, long, unique questions DEMAND that your conceptual skills are super solid. And that means putting in the hours.
You could skip a small weightage subject in Level I or II, hope to pass and you probably did. You can’t afford to ignore anything in Level III. Weakness in any subject can be fatal as one essay question/item set on a topic you ignored can damage your chances. Do NOT try and game the exam
Essay questions in Level III can be large. Hence speed reading skill is essential. You can be given 1-3 page long large essay Qs so the ability to quickly sort out the rubbish from the relevant is essential.
Learn to WRITE well. It may sound obvious but it is more critical than you think. Essays are major time burners and one big reason for failures is the inability to write quickly, concisely and clearly under stress. Practice as you study- write down the answers
Work out the examples from the CFA Curriculum (CFAC) and also the end of chapter problems in the CFAC. The CFAC is your BEST friend in Level III - you should rely on this far more than in any other level.
It’s the only level for which CFA Institute releases past actual exam questions (with guideline answers) and they do this only for the morning (essay) section. These are available to all candidates for the last 3 years. You MUST work out all questions to get a good flavor of the actual exam
Level III is a way lot more stuff so start revision earlier than you did for Level II. At least 4 weeks of intense revision is required
Kaplan Genesis has arguably the best Level III support system in the region. With many full time CFA trainers (all of whom have delivered multiple Level III sessions), Level III review courses, Level III revision courses and a proprietary Level III e-learning system, we have always been the Level III trainer of choice.
Give us a shout if you have any queries.
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