CFA Society Chicago Candidate Mix & Mingle

stress-391659_1920With every passing day the CFA exam gets near and candidate stress levels rise. What could help? A free event with an open bar, appetizers and pizza! CFA Society Chicago organized an event on March 29th at Hotel Allegro where candidates poured in to relax and network with their peers. They discussed what was and what was not working for them (in hopes to hear similar stories for affirmation that they are not alone!).

Kaplan Schweser, co-host of the event, sponsored a raffle prize of their Review Workshop to a candidate which was awarded to Kevin Anderson. Bijesh Toila, Lecturer at Kaplan Schweser, was sharing his wisdom helping out candidates with any concerns they had and getting feedback on study materials. He views his organization’s partnership with CFA Society Chicago to be a success and looks forward to strengthening it. The Society’s organizing committee members and executives joined the event for moral support of candidates.

We wish all the candidates best of luck on their upcoming exam and wish them success on the path to obtaining their charter!

Crunch Time! CFA Society Chicago Cram Session

DSC_2760Dan McKenna, CFA Institute’s Manager of Supplemental Study Tools, led off with insights and advice directly from the source.  New charterholders and study partners, Shai Dobrusin, CFA, and Jay Bullie, CFA, shared their thoughts and where their studies differed.  Dobrusin, Trust Associate and Financial Analyst at Charles E. Dobrusin & Associates, focused on the end of chapter problems in addition to the, now Kaplan Schweser, study materials and used the Kaplan QBank as supplement.  Bullie, Associate Director at Fitch Ratings, added that relying on Kaplan alone is debilitating, especially in regards to new material.  Kaplan tends to avoid adding CFA’s new material because it is not consistently tested. Bullie experienced these new questions and had to “suck it up and move on.”  Russell Rhoads, CFA, had the most unique route to becoming a charterholder.  He gained the designation 13 years after taking Level I because the hedge fund he worked for discouraged taking the exams.  Also, as the Director of Program Development, Options Institute at the CBOE, he is one of the few at the exchange with the designation.

After the panel discussion, attendees were fortunate to ask additional questions at level specific tables.


  • DSC_2765Repetition is key to success. You are able to gain familiarity with the structure, format, and level of difficulty.
  • Utilize the learning outcome statements to direct your focus (i.e. do you need to know the formula or just the concepts).
  • Examples in the text are very helpful.
  • Optimize your remaining study time so you can cover all the material, master the challenging topics, and keep the mastered topics fresh.
  • Scale back the final week and if you are not done reading then focus on questions.
  • Relax the day before the exam and ensure you gain plenty of rest.
  • Take as many practice exams as you can. Replicating the test environment for at least one is helpful.

Level II

  • Mark up the vignettes to easily reference the facts.
  • Repetition and practice will make you more efficient.

Level III

  • The questions and answers rely heavily on the curriculum.
  • About 700 graders look for key items to give credit. After 7 hours of looking at an answer, graders appreciate your efforts to make it easy to give out points (bullet points, underlining).
  • You can get partial credit even if your formula is not 100%.
  • There is no extra credit. If the question asks for three points, anything beyond will be ignored.

Future Exams

  • CFA Chicago gives out scholarships for all levels including the Level I exam in December.
  • The Study Group Kick-off Party and Open House for the December 2016 CFA Level 1 exam will be held on July 12th at Norther Trust.

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day,” except on exam day (adapted from Douglas Adams).