Level I of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam is being administered on December 7.
Unfortunately, that means that a bunch of young Wall Streeters will be cramming for the test over their Thanksgiving vacation.
It’s an incredibly difficult test. Fewer than 20 per cent of candidates pass all three levels of the CFA program on the first try. What’s more is it takes the average test-taker five to six solid months to prepare. And the Level 1 exam is administered just once every six months.
And if that doesn’t sound completely horrible, we’ve heard some crazy horror stories.
A Level II candidate shared with us a terrible story he witnessed in the men’s restroom this past June for the Level I.
Here’s his tale:
The afternoon session is about to start, so folks make their last minute run to the bathroom. I’m in the bathroom and a fellow Level I candidate steps up to use the facilities (the urinals go all the way to the floor). Candidates are carrying the various test-day items (calculator, passport, exam registration, etc.), and this particular guy didn’t seem to have any pockets. So with hands full, he decides to put his belongings on the counter near the sink. Not more than five seconds later, I hear all of his things drop to the floor. The worst part: his calculator hits the floor, the case shoots underneath the sink…and the calculator flies right into a urinal. The look on his face was priceless. All of us stare at the ill-fated calculator, then stare back at the poor guy, who says what each of us were thinking — “I gotta have it. I can’t not have it”. The poor guy uses some paper towels, grabs the calculator, rinses it quickly in the sink (but not too long for fear of ruining the batteries), and hurries out to the exam room.
As I look back at this funny incident, I can’t help but think two things: (a) I would have done the same thing. The calculator is your lifeblood for this test. (b) The guy never did use the bathroom. That had to be a tough (and gross) afternoon session.
I have no idea if the guy passed or failed, but it sure made for a memorable test day.
Hold on to your calculators, guys.