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The most common excuse I receive regarding going to business school to get an MBA is, "I can't afford it." Well, here's a news flash for those that use this excuse:

No one can afford business school. 

The typical business school student does not have the greater than $100K required to attend the average business school. I sure didn't have that much money when I entered business school. In fact, knock the "K" off the previous number and that's more like what I had in the bank back then.

It's important to recognize that going to business school is an investment in yourself that has an almost guaranteed positive return. To illustrate this, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School sent me a nice infographic showing the ROI of an MBA.

Two things stood out to me as interesting ...

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Failed Rubber StampThe CFA Level 2 exam is a [insert your favorite swear word here]. The week before I took the CFA Level 2 exam I got a sinus infection thanks to my delightful spring allergies. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sleep, and my head was pounding, but I had to press on.

At this point, after passing the Level 1 exam the prior December, I had been studying CFA material for nine straight months and had to give the test my best effort. The problem is that Level 2 is chock full of esoteric finance. Every other study item falls under the category of “When the hell am I ever going to use this?”

Still, I felt like I had a good enough grasp of the material that I could pass and move on to Level 3. Then, on test day, I ran into a question I will never forget. It was an entire item set on Treasury bond options. Not just bonds or options on stocks, both of which I understood, but options on bonds.

I didn’t have a clue. I mustered my best effort to apply what I knew of options to bonds, but the concept was so foreign to me that I didn’t know if my answer was even in the right area code.

A couple months later when I got the notification that the exam results were posted, I discovered that my answer had not been in the right area code. It might not have even been in the correct hemisphere because there it was:


I can’t remember the exact phrasing the CFA Institute used to say I did not pass. All I could see was that I had failed and it hit me like a sucker punch to the gut.

Given the low pass rates of the CFA exams, there’s a good chance this will happen to you, so here’s how to cope and press on after failing the CFA exam.

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