Can I pass the CFA with no Finance background?
March 24, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Passing the CFA, is it really possible as a liberal arts major?

I came across several postings, on meta and elsewhere, including the time commitment posting. But I am guessing that when people say that they can pass with two months of study, it mean they have a background in finance and are at least familiar with the material when began studying for CFA? I've registered for the level 1 exam, and I've been preoccupied until now, and I am trying to get back to studying for the June exam and I am just not sure if I can teach myself the material. I think it's too late to seek outside help even if I can find a way to cough up the dough.

Can I really pass the exam if I can devote the recommended 250, or even 300 hours, studying the material? Especially considering the fact that I have liberal arts background and have just the basic knowledge on equity/fixed income investing? If so, any tips on how to tackle the material? Thank you in advance.
posted by anonymous to Education (4 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I passed the Level I exam with 4 weeks of intensive studying, despite not knowing a thing about finance. I didn't even know the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement.

The caveat to this is that I had undergraduate and masters degrees in physics, so the maths came very easily to me. The maths however is very easy, even for someone with just a high school maths background. What I found difficult were all the little things that you had to remember about financial statements, but your mileage may vary.

The real question is, how good are you at studying?
Can you pass it from a standing start now? Probably, yes, but it may require surrendering your weekends until June, as well as your evenings and your lunch breaks, and getting up an hour earlier in the morning.
posted by atrazine at 11:39 AM on March 24, 2010

The math is all algebra.

There is a lot of material to cover; don't underestimate te amount of time it takes to pass. The above responder should not be construed as typical in any way.

I have a bachelor's in English and am going through the tests.

MeMail me if you want more info.
posted by dfriedman at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2010

It's less about the math and more about understanding the math.

I do think you're cutting it close, but as others have said it's manageable. Spend the money on some practice exam books and work through those methodically, checking answers and understanding incorrect ones.

Although the core curriculum is interesting, there's a lot of fluff surrounding the meat of what they'll test you on. At least that's what I found. Good luck, I'm currently studying for level 2 :)
posted by teabag at 1:29 PM on March 24, 2010

It'll be tough. I'd get the Schweser Secret Sauce guide and use that instead of the official textbooks. It's a digestible amount of material whereas the textbooks are overwhelming.

However, I'd read the ethics section in the official texts. You'll want to ace the ethics section if you're borderline pass/fail.
posted by mullacc at 11:30 PM on March 24, 2010

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