Sunday, June 7, 2009

It is OVER!! Very happy. Got back my life.

It has been a hell of a day and here is a chronology of the exam:

6 June 2009 10pm – Did my final readings on ethics and GIPS. Deliberately read it while I was on bed tuck in to sleep so that I can make myself sleep quickly. It works, by 11pm I was sleepy and I felt asleep. However, the night was not good as I keep on getting up for fear that the alarm clock will not ring.

7 June 2009 6:30am – I end up getting at this time instead of the scheduled 7am. Actually I woke up at 5am and forced myself to sleep as I keep on having nightmare that the alarm clock did not ring!

I took a heavy breakfast as previous night had bought some stuff to eat. Beside drinking the usual dose of coffee, I drank an additional cup of water knowing that I will have no chance to drink until lunch. My wife told me to take a cab to the exam hall as public transport will be too long to wait. I agreed.

7:40am – I took a cab to Singapore Expo. I arrived at 7:50am at Hall 3. Wow, there was already a big crowd outside. I tried to figure what I should do and I realize I need to locate my seat number. I managed to find my sit number from the board. At the same time I also saw that there was a booth for those who forgot to bring their tickets. Apparently they were able to check for the candidate. I thought that it was quite considerate for CFAI to have such a booth for forgetful candidates.

8:00am – They started to call the candidates to check-in. Had to put my belongings at an assigned place outside the hall. By the look at it, there was absolutely no security whatsoever. A very big sign board stated that nobody will be held responsible for the lost of belongings.

I lined up to check-in. After waiting for a while, I was told that I cannot bring in the BA2+ Professional’s soft covers. So I have to put it in my bag and queue all over again!! While queueing, a candidate cut queue. I told him he needed to line up but he gave an excuse that he was there initially. He thought I was blind. What an ill-manner person. Can he gain a profit for cutting queue? Obviously he must had lost his mind!

In the meantime, I saw someone who in panic dropped his calendar. Opps… hope nothing bad happen! Than I saw those with a cover for the eraser has to throw the cover away. Ridiculous!

Finally entered the exam hall. Feel like some kind of Matrix with zombies in the hall! Also observed that about ¼ did not turn out.

9am – At last, the exam started. I needed to shade the ovals and these were so small!

And I cannot believe it! The exam is so easy. Ethics were quite easy. Econs were chicken. FSA was strangeforward. In fact, all subjects were chicken… But to think about it, the standard is quite similar as the CFAI mock exam but I guess because I was prepared. The Schweser Vol 1 and Vol 2 exams were quite similar in difficulty as the real thing. However, the QBank’s Readings’ questions were terribly difficult.

There was not many “trick” questions for the real thing. Either you know or do not know.

10:30am – Felt very urgent and wanted to go to the toilet. Felt really great after relieving the pressure!

12am – At last the exam for the 1st paper was over. It was an easy paper. Strangely, there were some who left the exam hall much earlier. Looks like they failed.

Managed to get my free lunch packet because it is one of the privileges as a Student member of CFA Singapore. Not bad. And I was soooo thirsty. Drank the entire mineral water (included in the lunch package). Also I noticed that Stalla had a booth giving free mineral water plus an “energy pack.” Not sure what was in the energy pack…

Found a corner and ate to my hearts content. Wife SMS asking me how was it and I told her it was chicken for the morning.

I placed my bag at the usual place but to my horror found many stationery all over the floor. It looks like some thief had a good time stealing stuff from those bags. Too bad..

1pm – It is time to go in. Decided to go in earlier because there wasn’t any space to sit outside the hall.

Just before the exam started again, I saw a small commotion. The proctor (think must be the leader because she worn a different color), confisticate two calculators from this candidate. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but can see by body language she was scolding him. My guess is that the guy had brought in two calculators there were not approved for the CFA exam. Poor thing! He must had thought having two calculators were “safe” but he ended up no calculator! Later, he spoke to another proctor and after a while I saw the first senior lended the BA2+ Professional calculator to him stating that another candidate was willing to lend him. Good for him! Except that if he never had use that calculator before, he will be in trouble still!

2pm - Exam started again. This time, the body was very weak. After lunch, the brain seems to be very slow. Feel dizzy. Felt terrible. The afternoon sleepy spell was killing me!

I told myself that once I reached question 181 (half way), I must go for toilet break. So when the question arrived, I went to the toilet and wetted my face. Then I discovered that there was a water dispenser just outside the toilet! Aiyo, why I didn’t see it in the morning? So I took a small cup of drink. Now, I felt much better and ready (again). This time, I was much more alert and I could answer the questions without the mental sleepy torture!

Then I saw one lady left who probably gave up.

As for difficulty, it was chicken also. The questions were very easy. But I realized that the mental exhaustion was horrific. Although it was easy but familiarity with every topics were necessary. One cannot afford to use too much brain power for each question. Otherwise, mentally one will not be able to endure the intense brain power required. Moreover, 1.5 mins per question isn’t a lot of time. So familiarity with every topics is a must. No short-cut to learning because there is no time during exams to make “deductions.”

There were a number of calculations but most are quite simple. The longest was (___ deleted this because it is against the exam rules to say what came up for exam ___) which I had to calculate all parameters twice (i.e. 10 ratios to calculate). Other than that it was quite simple and chicken.

5pm – At last it is over! Cannot wait to get out of the exam hall!

As I typed this, I found myself very very mentally exhausted. Hope that I can recover by tomorrow. Also felt very dehydrated. The exam hall was cold and dry. Currently felt like a dried duck.

Overall – I think the exam is chicken but the mental exhaustion will cause many to fail. The only way to pass this exam is to be expert in all subjects by doing infinitely number of sample questions so that there will be less brain power required to do the actual questions. I think I should be able to pass.

The day has arrived - 7 June 2009 (CFA Level 1 Exam)

Today is the day I go for the exam. This post was scheduled ahead and will appear automatically on 7 June 2009 at 9am. When this post appears, I will be at Expo staring to my first question.

It has been a long battle with this exam. I did not expect it to be so difficult. I know of many candiates who had failed. Among those who passed are those who are already chartered holders. I started studying since end of last year. However, it was beginning of March that I stopped work to concentrate in studying. Once in a while I still go back to work to help my client transact and provide continuing servicing to existing clients. Fortunately the opportunity cost of not working is not much since we are having a recession.

I have lost track on how much time I spent studying. So far, it seems that I have master all topics. I also seem to be quite strong on FSA since I spent a lot of time on it after hearing nightmares from other candidates how difficult this topic is.

Passing shouldn't be a problem but you never know because "freak" accident can always happen.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Schweser Vol 2 Exam 3 AM

Scored 83%. I felt it was very difficult.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Schweser Vol 1 Exam 2 PM

Scored 85%. Looks good. But I am getting really tired but I can't sleep.