19 Horror Stories About The Brutal Exam Wall Streeters Are Cramming For This Week

This is a brutal week for those Wall Streeters who are cramming for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

On Saturday, they will be taking the Level I exam of the CFA.

The CFA curriculum, which consists of three levels, is considered to be the hardest test on Wall Street. To put it in perspective, fewer than 20% of candidates pass all three on the first try.

The average test-taker also spends a solid five to six months preparing for the CFA.

Of course, every test-taker hopes things go smoothly and according to plan on exam day. But we’ve heard some crazy horror stories ranging from bathroom disasters to concentration-breaking distractions.

We’ve included them here. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Also, if you have a CFA horror story to share, feel free to email [email protected] We’ll keep you anonymous.

There was a regional blackout and the test center went dark. One prepared guy had a flashlight on him and the other test-takers basically wanted to kill him.

From a BI commenter:

When taking L2 in (New Jersey), there was a regional blackout that made the entire convention (testing) center pitch black. Amid the darkness, one very well prepared gentlemen took out a pocket flashlight and continued writing the exam. As you'd expect, this didn't go over well with either the proctors and fellow exam takers (who's exams are graded on a curve). A proctor ran over to take away his flashlight and unwittingly saved his life.

A test-taker sat by another guy with a penchant for drumming.

A marching band performs outside the stadium before the start the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, February 2, 2014.

From Analyst Forum:

'This year I sat next to a very talented percussionist. Every 90 seconds, his layered nervous tapping would crescendo as he ruthlessly beat the answer out of his calculator in a solo that would make a metal drummer proud. With the invigilators roaming, I couldn't express my appreciation with a look or a hushed whisper. So I grabbed the right half of the two person folding table we were sitting at, pushed the middle with my left arm, pulled with the end with my right jerking the table right out from under little drummer boy. I didn't change my expression or even stop answering questions. He jerked the table back, clearly eager to resume his interrupted concert. A half-measure in, I threw his end of the table out from under him again. After 3 encores, he got the hint.'

Two proctors talked through the afternoon session of the exam.

From Analyst Forum:

When I wrote Level I at the Javits Center, two of the proctors stood right in front of my desk (I was front row) and chatted through the afternoon session of the exam.

If X-Acto knives were allowed in the CFA exam, I would have stabbed them both to death.

A CFA test-taker forgot his calculator and no one wanted to share their back-ups.

'The CFA Institute allows you to bring two calculators in case one calculator's battery dies. In the section I was in, one guy forgot his calculator.

He was sweating, his face turned purple and it looked like he was about to cry.

And everyone else in the room was pretending they couldn't hear what was going on, even though they knew exactly how the guy felt. But at the same time, nobody wanted to risk losing another year on their CFA progress. Nobody wanted to give the guy their second calculator because everyone's thinking 'If my calculator dies and I fail, then I have to wait a year to take the test again.'

Source: Business Insider

One CFA test-taker made the whole room smell like Burger King.

Burger King just posted the biggest sales gain in 2 years.

From Analyst Forum:

'After the morning session we seemed to have access to the testing room and could just wander back in after the break. When I entered the testing room one guy is sitting at his desk EATING BURGER KING!!! The testing room smelt like his lunch??????'

A test-taker cut his hand changing the batteries in his calculator.

From Analyst Forum:

My buddy had to change batteries during the exam. He thought he was covered since he brought his screwdriver. He said during the exam he cut his hand pretty bad when his hand slipped. Had to write his first half of his Level I with blood all over his desk.

A test-taker was in a fix after eating breakfast that upset his stomach.

From Analyst Forum:

Bad past experiences at Level 1: I went to a bagel shop in the morning for breakfast. I thought if I had a good breakfast, it would hold me through the morning. It was a bad idea. I had to go to the bathroom so bad in the morning session and was so far away from the bathroom. It took a good minutes and killed me on the test.

I know someone that went to a fast food restaurant for lunch during the level 1 exam since it was the only thing near the test site. Apparently it was not the most sanitary fast food restaurant in town. Needless to say, he didn't even come back for the afternoon session.

My advice….pack your own lunch, make your own breakfast and eat only things that really agree with you. You don't need to have those problems on exam day. Also don't drink too much coffee or tea or anything else for same problems noted above.

A test-taker was in the Holland tunnel headed to New Jersey and realised he was supposed to take the test in Long Island.

From a BI commenter named Cameron:

'I took a company car with a fellow employee to New Jersey for level 1. He was taking the test at the Continental Arena. Midway through the Holland tunnel, I realised I was taking mine at the Nassau Coliseum. Cabbie dumped me off in Weehawken. Somehow, I called a cab service, he booked it to Long Island, and got me there just in time before doors closed. Heart attack city. I passed, I don't how, because I was shaking for the first hour of the test.'

One guy was so preoccupied by the CFA that he opened his car door into oncoming traffic and nearly had it ripped off.

From a Business Insider tipster:

'The night before my Level III exam I went out for dinner. I was so preoccupied with the exam, I opened my car door into a car coming up behind me. It nearly ripped the driver side door off. Then it wouldn't close all the way. Instead of dealing with it, I drove it back to the hotel with my arm out the window barely holding the door semi shut. I parked it/wedged it driver side door against a street light in the hotel so no one could get in it and crawled out the other side and locked the car. Obviously it was NOT a good night's sleep before the exam!

Some test-takers were wearing high-heeled shoes that echoed throughout the exam room.

From Analyst Forum:

My favourite parts were when people with high heel walked up to get some water or go the bathroom. Concentrating during the exam, my brain did block out some of the minor sounds but the high heel sound got into my head and I picked it up whenever someone walked past and it would last a good 30 to 60 seconds, both ways.

I know it's a bit silly but high heels should be discouraged in the exams. And if you do have to wear them and walk about during exams, please do so as a duo. Also both (you and your friend) will have to gallop across the exam hall to give the illusion that a horse is running through the exam hall. That way it will not only be distracting but amusing too.

In 2004, a test-taker claimed that another guy had diarrhoea in the sink.

From Analyst Forum:

I am waiting for the bathroom in this massive line about 10 minutes before the start of the exam. There is this guy panicked out of his mind in line ahead of me who I noticed for the previous half hour had been rocking back and forth in the corner of the lobby murmuring his notes back to himself from memory…a real whack job.

Anyway, As I am standing in line with this guy in front of me he starts to sweat profusely and I can literally hear this guys stomach rumbling…this is where he really freaks out. He starts pounding on the stall doors ( there were only 2) and, of course, no one is coming out so this a-- clown drops his pants, hops up on the sink, and blows s--- all over the sink! The most disgusting thing was the back spray all over this guy! He was COVERED in his own s---. I am laughing my a-- off but this guy didn't miss a beat, he rinses off his pants, throws his shirt in the trash and walks into the test wearing only his windbreaker and wet pants.

Are you sure you want your CFA now?

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