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Best CFA Level 1 Prep Material

nutsaboutWS's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 628

...for the money. Looking to start studying for level 1 now. Your guys' input would be great. Thanks in advance.

My background: non-bus major, IB analyst, taken finance/accounting

Best CFA Preparation Course

Our users largely agreed that the Schweser program, provided by Kaplan, is the best option for CFA exam studying. To supplement this program, our users believe that you should use the end of chapter questions in the CFA provided materials.

Read more about the Schweser program and purchase it on their corporate website.

Our users shared their experiences below.

chitownanalyst:

Used Schweser for L1 & L2. Using it again for L3 this Spring. Schweser has the Q-bank, or whatever it's called these days. You should be fine with either and doing the CFAI EOC questions.

Ravenous - Hedge Fund Partner:

I used Schweser for all three levels and went 3/3 -- definitely recommend that path as the CFA books are crap, but use the CFAI end of chapter Qs as someone else noted. Level 1 is easy, but focus on the big ticket items first and make sure you have those cold.

zombie_12:

Schweser + EOC + mock will get you through. But if you have time go through the CFA textbooks, helps in level II.

See a picture of the book below.

Read More About the CFA Exams Here on WSO

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Comments (230)

Dec 28, 2011

Schweser study guides. That's about all you need for Level 1. Maybe Schweser practice exams. Do the CFAI mocks.

I'm sure there are already threads on this topic. Use the search.

Dec 28, 2011

Used Schwesser for L1 & L2. Using it again for L3 this Spring. It's not that different than Stalla material. Schweser has the Q-bank and Stalla has PassMaster, or whatever it's called these days. You should be fine with either and doing the CFAI EOC questions. Good luck.

Dec 28, 2011

Kaplan acquired Stalla (and decided to email and leave voicemail announcing the great news!) so you're really down to Schweser, Elan, and some lesser providers. Schweser, EOC questions, and as many practice exams as you can get your hands on and you should be solid as long as you stick to a studying schedule.

Dec 28, 2011

I used Stalla for 1&2; since they have been acquired I would suggest Schweser. Study guides weren't necessary for 3, but practice questions and exams are a must.

Dec 28, 2011

Schweser+EOC+mock will get you through. But if you have time go through the CFA textbooks, helps in level II.
I have a CS degree ,took only a couple of basic eco classes in college and only used the CFA text for level I (4-5 month prep)

Dec 28, 2011

I used Schweser exclusively for June 2011 Level I and passed with a 70%+ in 6/9 categories including all the biggies (FRA, Ethics, Equity, Econ, Fixed Income, Quant) without even taking the official CFAI books out of their package.

I would however recommend supplementing Schweser with the CFAI EOC questions as they are more similar to the actual exam then the Kaplan Mock Exams which I thought were a bit more quant-oriented then the exam.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

Dec 28, 2011

I used Schweser for all three levels and went 3/3 -- definitely recommend that path as the CFA books are crap, but use the CFAI end of chapter Qs as someone else noted. Level 1 is easy, but focus on the big ticket items first and make sure you have those cold.

Dec 28, 2011

Ravenous,

What are you doing now? Equity Research? Asset management?

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

Dec 28, 2011

ER at a hedge fund

Jul 2, 2013

Gents. Hope you are all well. I barely failed Level 1 last December and I am looking to re-take it this coming December 2013. I bought the Schweser PremiumPlus(tm) Package last year but was looking to re-use this material this year as well as take one of those NYSSA prep classes in NYC. Does anyone think this is a good plan? Are those NYSSA prep classes with Nathan Ronen any good? I would appreciate any honest feedback. Thanks

Jul 3, 2013
winning10is:

Gents. Hope you are all well. I barely failed Level 1 last December and I am looking to re-take it this coming December 2013. I bought the Schweser PremiumPlus(tm) Package last year but was looking to re-use this material this year as well as take one of those NYSSA prep classes in NYC. Does anyone think this is a good plan? Are those NYSSA prep classes with Nathan Ronen any good? I would appreciate any honest feedback. Thanks

barely failing is still failing - doesn't matter how close u get - just accept reality

USE SCHWESER - i only used schweser for lvl 1 and passed - u can get by on lvl 1 w/ just using the schweser materials (and lvl 2 to a certain extent)

"so i herd u liek mudkipz" - sum kid
"I'd watergun the **** outta that." - Kassad

Jul 3, 2013

the curriculum is fucking huge. if you stack the books they send you up, its prob like ~8 inches tall. You stack the review books youd get up, prob like half that. Its really just a time thing, more than anything else imo. The prep books extract the fluffy bullshit. I personally used their books for L1 cuz i didnt/dont have a job so time wasnt of the essence. If you're busy, I'd say use a prep program though

GBS

Jul 3, 2013

So at my office there were a few of us taking Level I a few years ago. Our company only paid for the test/CFA materials, and I was cheap so I decided to use CFA materials only. A buddy in my group bought the Schweser books, and I took a practice test from those a couple of weeks before the test and found out that I was going to fail if only used the CFA books. I bought the Schweser QBank and ended up passing. Followed the same strategy for Levels 2 and 3 and passed both on the first try.

The CFA books are actually pretty good on their own, but like any class you've taken it can be hard to tell from the textbook what will be on the test. I'd personally recommend Schweser from my own experiences, but no matter what prep company you choose it helps to have someone show you what is going to be on the test.

Jul 3, 2013
tctc33:

So at my office there were a few of us taking Level I a few years ago. Our company only paid for the test/CFA materials, and I was cheap so I decided to use CFA materials only. A buddy in my group bought the Schweser books, and I took a practice test from those a couple of weeks before the test and found out that I was going to fail if only used the CFA books. I bought the Schweser QBank and ended up passing. Followed the same strategy for Levels 2 and 3 and passed both on the first try.

The CFA books are actually pretty good on their own, but like any class you've taken it can be hard to tell from the textbook what will be on the test. I'd personally recommend Schweser from my own experiences, but no matter what prep company you choose it helps to have someone show you what is going to be on the test.

Approximately how many months did you spend preparing per level? Which level did you find the hardest to prepare for? How useful would the CFA be in unison to a master's in finance for example? And how useful is it when applying for trading positions (both paper and physical)?Prospective applicant here haha.

The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.

Jul 3, 2013

Interested as well - I planned to use the CFAI stuff only however would like to hear people's opinion. OP, I'm also taking it in December.

Jul 3, 2013

Use Kaplan Schweser.

For L1, you don't need the CFAI materials at all. Debatable for levels 2 and 3.

Jul 3, 2013

What Kaplan Schwesser program does everyone recommend? Schwesser notes or the essential study? First one has 3 practice exams and the other has 6.

http://www.schweser.com/cfa/cfa1d.php

Jul 3, 2013

kaplan video lectures are pretty damn clutch. if you can get a hold of them somehow, i would highly recommend.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Jul 3, 2013

They uploaded a torrent to PB with the lectures.

The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.

Jul 3, 2013

or any other reasonably priced options?

Jul 3, 2013

Analystnotes is solid.

If utilized correctly it is probably better than Schweser. Make sure you get the expensive package w/ everything.

Pros:
Plethora of material
Hardest CFA mock exams/questons you will find
Downloadable App filled with tons of information & test questions

Cons:
Can be a challenge to study from a computer screen vs. a book for that long of time

If you don't mind ALWAYS studying from your computer then I would say go for it. However if you are better off studying from a book, I would recommend getting the Schweser notes ($300) and then getting some mock exams from Analyst Notes.

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks rothyman for the feedback!
I can just print everything from analystnotes though, right?
I'm good with 'solid' and can study a number of different ways, especially at a fraction of the cost.

Anything particular you mean by 'utilized correctly'? I'm very open to suggestions and constructive criticism so feel free to be blunt.

Have a good one!

Jul 3, 2013
SteelNerves:

Thanks rothyman for the feedback!
I can just print everything from analystnotes though, right?
I'm good with 'solid' and can study a number of different ways, especially at a fraction of the cost.

Anything particular you mean by 'utilized correctly'? I'm very open to suggestions and constructive criticism so feel free to be blunt.

Have a good one!

Yes meaning if you take advantage of the Anaylstnotes application & the community that is behind it. A big benefit is the community. In the app, there are forum responses below each prep question. Basically if you don't understand it, someone in the forum already has/will explain it to you. And it's built right into the desktop application. Pretty cool.

Yes you can print out the mateiral, although that can be a pain too. I'd say for the money it is a great deal.

Jul 3, 2013

Analystnotes is a great value. For less than $100 you get tons of practice questions and a structured interface for covering the material through condensed notes.

A few drawbacks though:

  1. At this price point you can see the lack of editing/formatting which can be annoying and made me a little more skeptical of the material. You can find typos in the material and often the formulas are formatted weird (using only text = sq rt 1/2^4) which is not ideal. Having said that, I didn't find any content that was not accurate and many of the sections do a very good job of explaining concepts.
  2. While there are a ton of questions, their system doesn't seem to have a methodology for spreading out the breadth of a module during a question session. So if you want to do 20 questions on Quant. methods you might get 20 questions that cover 5 out of 30 concepts, and then the next time you may get questions over completely different concepts not touched on before. If you want to cover all the concepts in a module, the only way I found was to do all the questions (with some sections having over 100 questions, this would take quite some time).
  3. Some of the material may be to concise. I found myself referring to Schweser and CFA books to get a better understanding of material that wasn't so clear on Analyst notes.
Jul 3, 2013

Nope... I am using FinQuiz & Schweser for LII.

Jul 3, 2013

I put my vote on Schweser, their stuff is pretty squared away and by most accounts perfectly adequate for passing L1 if you devote enough time to practice. You can also find plenty of their old and current materials online (just to assess the quality of course). For full disclosure in this regard, I do have a peg leg and a parrot on my shoulder (argh). Best of luck!

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser for sure. Their Level 1 content on derivatives is a bit confusing but certainly more than adequate to get you passing.

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser

Jul 3, 2013

i used Schweser for all three levels

Jul 3, 2013

Does anyone ever use anything that's NOT Schweser? That plus the official texts will do you fine.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks everyone turns out Schweser is the only available prep course in DC anyway!!!

Jul 3, 2013

Do you have the Schweser notes? I read those then did a bunch of practice tests to see where my strengths/weaknesses were.

Try to give yourself 3-4 wks before the exam to fully review everything you've gone over.

Jul 3, 2013

yeah i did i even bought the video classes and practice exams...but i didnt have the time to go through enough questions... i assume that's one of the major reason why i failed. poor time management and too little practice.
so did you solely use the notes or together with the texts? i was reading the textbook at the very beginning but then i found myself suck in the first curriculum for like forever so i quit...

Jul 3, 2013

you may want to lok into analysrforum.com. I would say for a solid finance major guy, you will need at least 300 plus hrs plus practice test from the institute. Gluck

Jul 3, 2013
Jul 3, 2013

this seems like a good site, thanks for letting me know! and yeah i realized that practices are extremely important after i failed!

Jul 3, 2013

I passed level one this December (I bet just barely, but who cares). I would first look at your results from December and figure out which sections you need to work on. Then get the Schweser notes (if you didn't use them last time) and read through those especially focusing on those weaker sections. Once you get through Schweser take the practice tests and section review tests over and over to identify which concepts you still don't know and then study those.

Send me a PM if you have any other questions.

Good luck!

Jul 3, 2013

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/whats-your-a... http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+study+cfa+wallstre...

ignore the link to busty russians on the second link
to cut shit short people use the books themselves or schweser.

you may be able to procure schweser at cheaper prices from people who've already finished with them

Jul 3, 2013

I just used the texts themselves and took practice tests the week before. > 200 hours total study time. Was taking 18 hours of mostly finance classes at the same time though.

Jul 3, 2013

The CFA Program is a rigorous one that requires hundreds of hours dedicated to studying and revision. I've passed all three exams on the first go and find that proper planning makes the task a whole lot easier. Also, to pass the CFA exam it is imperative to practice using mock exams that simulate the environment of the exam to a certain extent to prepare you for the big day. There are many sources for such material. For example, the CFA Review website provides a good live mock exam for the level I exam.

Jul 3, 2013

Personally, I read through Schweser notes, wrote down everything I didn't already know.
Memorized Schweser's Quicksheet thing
Read through my notes as a re-fresher (you won't remember everything you read 2 months ago)

Took the practice (3 of schweser's + the 1 offered for free).
Circled every question I wasn't 100% sure on.

Went through tests and reviewed each circled question as well as anything answered incorrectly.

Array

Jul 3, 2013

Complete the schweser notes, qbank, and 6 practice exams and you'll be good to go for L1. L2 is a different story.

Jul 3, 2013
Jul 3, 2013

I have multi-posted it, sorry for that , I never knew which was the best topic to post it under.

Jul 3, 2013

Read the Schweser notes. CFA textbooks are a waste of time. Use the textbooks if you really have no idea what the Schwesers are saying, but the CFA text writes in 100 pages what the Schwesers teach you in 25 pages. 600 hours is a shitload of time. You can get thru the Schwesers in a week with a business background but for you I think you'd get thru it in a month but you'd probably want to read them more than once.

If you don't know how to work your calculator to it's fullest extent, you will push yourself a lot closer to failing. Easy marks in TVM, NPV and bond type questions. The Texas Instruments BA2 Plus is a lot easier to use than the HP 12C so if you're having trouble with the calc then I suggest trying the other one.

As everyone says - the info covered is not very difficult, just a lot of it - mile wide and an inch deep

Jul 3, 2013

@Bob - Thank you for that prompt reply.

It is not that I am finding it difficult to use the calculator but I dont know how to use it at all. The manual is very big to read. Suggest me how to learn using ti.

Also do you mean to say I could be through with just one month of preparation. I am really excited hearing that.

Do you still stick by that statement after knowing that I have completely zilch financial knowledge.

Also I am told that the CFA text books are the best bet for ethics , is it so ?

Jul 3, 2013

I used Schweser books as primary study material, then if I didn't understand something or needed a better reason why I wasnt answering a certain question right, I would use the CFAI books for more information.

As far as the calculator goes, get the schweser books and Q bank, there is a free video tutorial on both the HP and the TI that will get you up to speed. The first book has a lot of time value of money (TVM) and cash flow (CF) chapters/problems, so this will get you very familiar with the calculators.

One month is no where near enough, especially if you have no financial knowledge. You WILL need all six months. Also with the Schweser program you can use their study calendar option that will tell you exactly what to do every day until the test day (choose 2 or 3 days off, so if you get behind you can catch up during those days).

To get up to speed on basic finance knowledge, read financial news, here you can find out a lot about ethics, economics, portfolio management, product knowledge. Come to WSO daily, often users ask questions regarding complex subjects you will encounter in CFA that often have very detailed explanation from the experienced WSO users.

Investopedia.com is your friend. When you come across a term in CFA you are not familiar with, use investopedia search engine, 80% of the time, you will find a good explanation there that is geared for someone like you.

Always feel free to post here or on analystforum.com with questions (NEVER use real questions directly from CFAI or Schweser texts, this is against the code of standards which as a candidate you are required to abide by) stick to general topics, themes, etc.

Jul 3, 2013

@Trailmix8 - Thank you for that elaborate reply. Seems I have a lot on my plate now. Anyway , the way you explained all those questions was awesome, I feel like being shown the right path.

Also I cant dedicate the entire 6 months, could you please tell me if 600 hrs ain't enough.

Also tell me if I could follow the same path as you did, by studying from Schweser notes and looking into CFAI material for doubts.

Jul 3, 2013

If you cant dedicate six months, it is not a big deal, just make sure you start now. As you get familiar with the material and go through it over the next three months, you will realize how much you need to spend over the last three months and allocate your time accordingly.

Unfortunately as somoene who does not have a good finance base, im afraid that you will defeinately need to be in the 400-600 hour space. 600 is definately enough though.

Yeah I would start with the schweser notes studying if I was you, sign up for the package that includes the videos as well. Sometimes I found that if I dont fully understand something on paper, I would understand it in a lecture, and vice versa.

Just make sure to get started and dont put it off. PM me if you have specific questions down the road.

Jul 3, 2013

Thank you trailmix8, I would start going in Dec. Hopefully pull it off. Definitely would contact you if any doubts arise. Once again thank you for the support.

Jul 3, 2013

CFA level I has wide coverage and less depth in terms of knowledge. For Calculator, I think the best way is to learn by practicing, whenever you have to solve a NPV or IRR (or anything related with Cal), use it, and try to use it fast, since during the exam, time can be tight in finishing all the questions, and you do not want to waste any time on Cal. I remember there are instructions on how to use Cal from Schweser notes, really useful and when studying the sample questions, do not just read them, but also do it yourself for once or twice till you get the answer right.

Good luck with exam, I am preparing for 2011 level II.

Break Through

Jul 3, 2013

In regards to the Schweser notes which one do you guys recommend, the basic package for 349?

Also has anyone ever bought the ghetto versions on craigslist, if so what was your experience with them?

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser, I'd say 150 hours of dedicated study is fine

Jul 3, 2013

Focus your studying on the study guide materials from either Stalla or Schweser. This will eliminate some of the noise and really allow you to concentrate on the beefy topics of the exam. Basically exactly what you have been hearing from everyone else. And the recommended study time from the CFA Institute is 350 hours. It sounds like your more a quant person, like myself, so the best way to familiarize yourself with the information is by doing a ton of questions. This will also get you using the calculator. Also, check out the CFA Institute website ... They have a tentative schedule of what readings should be covered when leading up to the exam and they basically outline everything for you. Obviously, you should pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses and address those areas accordingly, but it will give you a good start to making your own schedule.

Jul 3, 2013

try this website for using the calculator. i didn't know how to use the BAII Plus as I had always used my TI-83. It helped a lot.

http://www.tvmcalcs.com/

Jul 3, 2013

Some general notes about the CFA from a student:

I took the CFA last December and managed to pass it studying only from the CFA texts; however, from everything I have heard Schweser seems to be the way to go. As others have said, the CFA texts are long, boring, and unnecessarily wordy; but you can study from them if you don't want to shell out the extra $$ for the supplemental materials (like me).

Just to give you an idea how I passed, I was taking 18 hours that semester alongside my CFA prep, and I would estimate I spent under 200 hours studying from the CFA texts themselves. I read through each book once and would do the example questions at the end of each section as I read. During the two weeks leading up to the exam, all I did was redo the example questions, take about 3 practice tests, and re-read the ethics portion. While no one knows the true grading policies of the CFA, it does seem clear that the ethics portion will make or break you if you are a borderline pass.

I will admit, I felt I was slightly under prepared after taking the test; however, I was a middle of the road pass so I guess I was prepared enough to be comfortable. Seeing how you are a self described finance "newbie," you might want to spend a little more time. Most of my 18 hours that semester were in depth finance classes as well. Just some food for thought, take it how you will.

Jul 3, 2013

Thank you for all your comments,I got direction now. I read Quantitative methods from the CFA curriculum , in my opinion it is unnecessarily verbose. So I bought the Schweser and Im going to continue reading the rest from it.

Jul 3, 2013

I think doing it in your final year of school just allows you to put CFA level 1 candidate on your resume (since by the time you find out your exam results recruiting season is over) and it helps if you're applying to certain industries where they value the charter. Advantages about doing it after you get a job is that the company might reimburse a part of that... assuming you pass of course.

Also suggest you look into applying for their Access scholarships. It wasn't hard to get imo (write a short essay, show financial need), and it lowers your exam cost to just $250. :)

For L1: Read the Schweser notes, do lots of practice exams, and you should be fine. I didn't even read the CFA textbook, though I heard it's a good idea to go through the Ethics portion of it. Undergrad finance/stats courses definitely covered most of the material.

Jul 3, 2013

I would look into analystnotes.com cheap and solid. I'm a sophomore registered to take L1. I think getting it done in school while you have a good learning capacity and brain is a great idea.

Jul 3, 2013

Material to pass:
- Schweser Notes
- Schweser QBank ad nauseum
- Schweser practice exams
- CFAI End of Chapter (EOC) questions
- CFAI practice exams

Jul 3, 2013

To clear things up for some people, you're not actually allowed to take the exam until you're in your final year of study. I graduate in December and took the Level I exam in June and passed. I can't register for Level II until I actually graduate.

I studied for a full 4-4.5 months and put in about 400 hours, even being a finance student. Granted, I may have studied more than I needed to make sure I passed because I really wanted to have "Passed CFA Level I" on my resume before applying to jobs this fall. At my exam center, I was one of a few seniors taking it. I believe seniors in college taking it has become more popular, but definitely not the norm. Most test takers were 22 - 30 it appeared.

I would recommend:
-Analystnotes.com - This is a very cheap source that provides good chapter and section summaries with practice questions as you go that show you how compare to other test takers. They also provide decent practice exams, but I don't believe they match up well with the actual exams.
-Schweser notes - These can be expensive if you have to pay for it yourself. I had to pay for the exams myself, but was lucky enough to have my boss provide me his couple year old Schweser texts. If you use older Schweser books, be aware that some of the sections change from year to year. They provide great summarized version, end-of-chapter questions, and accurate practice exams
-CFAI Books - Most don't actually read these as the text is just too much. However, at minimum, I recommend reading the Ethics portion from here as you'll need to know every little trick in the book. Also complete all the end-of-chapter questions from these texts. The practice exams that the CFAI provides are also great. I would recommend doing these last.
-Look for scholarships. Check your university or local CFA society website. Makes it much easier to pay for it and I wish I would've known before.
-Do as many end-of-chapter/practice questions and practice exams as possible. Your first practice exam scores will be low, but don't get discouraged.
-Create a study schedule and stick to it. I bought "Direct Path to the CFA Charter" by Rachel Bryant and used her style. It worked well for me.

Jul 3, 2013

15% off on BenchPrep for WSO visitors here: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/wall-street-oasis-d...
...along with a bunch of other discounts. Good luck!

Jul 3, 2013

thank you, just signed up for 'Savored' and recommended some friends to do the same

Jul 3, 2013

I used analystnotes and passed the June 2013 level 1 exam. The 10 mock exams of the site were extremely challenging and helpful. I am using its level 2 package which I think is ok but not as good as its level 1 question bank.

    • 1
Jul 3, 2013
Jul 3, 2013

Schweser q bank on the ipad is v useful

Jul 3, 2013

Hey guys, thanks for your replies. Has anyone used an app for studying the material, i tried downloading vitalsource which is crap. Considering buying an app from a new app provider called 5 a day CFA, they seem to be new but their sample product seems pretty nice.. Just want to know if anyone else is considering any similar provider

Jul 3, 2013

bump

Jul 3, 2013

Sure, just make a schedule, stick to it and hammer it through. Personally, I liked reading through all of the chapters twice, once through the books, do some practice tests, then through the entire set of books again.

Jul 3, 2013

Should be fine. It's about 3,000 pages worth of material. None of it is overly difficult. I did it in about that time frame while also working full-time and attending a part-time MBA nearly full-time. I work in finance/IT, but I don't deal with the large majority of topics day-to-day so a lot of them were not fresh in my mind and much of it was new.

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks for answer.

After reading a few posts, I think I should buy Schweser. Which book or package would you recommend (best ROI) ? Are Schweser notes enough ? Is ebook provided by CFA after registration enough to cover the content of CFA, at least is it good start or should I look exclusively at Schweser ?

Would appreciate that you describe the material you used for preparation.

Regards.

Jul 3, 2013

I have a long commute by train, so I read the text books through, made sure I could do the end of chapter tests, then acquired the Schweser notes, read them through.

While I was going through, I made flash cards of every concept, calculation and definition I thought I might need to know and ran through the flash cards when the train was too crowded to pull out a text book.

Once I finished going through both sets of books once, I took the mock exam from the CFAI, and read through the CFA books again (double or triple speed on the train only).

I went in with four other people and we got the two Schweser mock exam books (six exams in all ~$120ish?) and for the seven weeks before the test wrote a practice exam each Saturday. After writing a test, mark it, make a list of every question I had trouble with, during the week go read the section or chapter on that subject until I was scoring 80%-90% on every practice test. I passed all three on the first go, but I put a lot of effort into being prepared.

Jul 3, 2013

Did you follow a set study schedule or list that you followed when preparing to help make sure you were as prepared as you were?

Jul 3, 2013

kaplan. they teach you what's on the LOS, so you won't miss anything.

Jul 3, 2013

For level 1, Kaplan is absolutely sufficient. All of this debate has been had on analystforum, I would go there for CFA talk. Also, the consensus seems to be that the CFA is not really helpful in 'breaking in'- I have only passed 1 level but it did not result in a high rate of call backs for ER. Just know that you will invest at least 800 hours and $4k for the credential and once you finally obtain the charter (if you are able to fulfill the work experience requirement), loyd Blankfein and jamie dimon dont show up to your apartment with bottles of champagne

Jul 3, 2013

For L1, Kaplan. For L2, Curriculum.

Jul 3, 2013

Oreos, CFA here: L1, Kap; L2, Kap; L3, Kap + CFAI

Jul 3, 2013

thank you all for your answers. to @"Barcadia" , I am painfully aware of that, simply I just don't want to be instantly discarded because of my lack of it. for some positions it is simply mandatory (I am not enrolled in an MBA nor I will in the future although I have a Msc in Finance [I am based in Europe]) and I fear my CV might be binned as soon as they read it... as I have read, the CFA for ER and AM is like a degree, it's nothing special but you are expected to have it.

Jul 3, 2013

L1&2 Kaplan is sufficient.

Also, totally agree that having those CFA exams done just checks off a box. I've never really paid attention to it for juniors (especially since you have a MSc Finance) but some people do and many HR blindly follow checklists.

Jul 3, 2013

I passed level I with only the Schweser notes and did their practice exams afterwards, passed with flying colors in under two months of study. But I have a background in Finance. So you should be more than fine with 4.5 months.

This was the order that I found to be most efficient based on my experience...

1) Finish the quant section first
2) Then fixed income, alot of applications of time value of money that's covered in quant
3) Then corpfin,(npv analysis, more applications of time value of money)
4) Equity or accounting or econ, doesn't really matter which first, (equity is the easiest section of level I imo, it is also the most heavily weighted if i'm not mistaken, so this is the section you should try to ace)
5) Don't doze off on ethics, just devote half an hour a day reading it. The sentence structure and syntax of this part can get tricky, and this section is difficult, if not impossible to cram for last minute
6) tbh i dozed off on derivatives and skipped alt investments entirely, I did well enough on 1-5 where I can afford to miss these. It's ill-advised, but if you're under a time constraint, these are the sections I would devote less time towards (they are not as heavily weighted anyways).

Everyone's mind works differently, but this is what worked for me, hope this helps and best of luck.

P.S. I didn't touch the actual curriculum CFAI gives u, i don't think its necessary and u can just use them as reference if you have a hard time understanding the schweser notes.

"I respect your courage for coming this far alone! However, you are still going to die!"

Jul 3, 2013

You can pass the exam in 4.5 months but you might have to put in more than 3 hours a day since you do not have background in Finance, and not to mention Accounting (heavily tested on level I). I passed level 1 with less than 3 months prep using Stalla, but like Lubu, I have a Finance background and did not open the CFAI books either.

Since you don't have Fin, Acct, or Econ background I think you should be fine if you read ALL your Schweser notes and do ALL the EOC question and the example problems from the CFAI books and Schweser. CFAI EOC question is a must for you.

I do not think the order in which you study matters as long as you study everything, I studied Ethics last and spent the most time in Accounting (heavily tested) and worked my way down to the lightly tested topics. Per the Stalla website the weighting for level 1 topics is:

Ethical and Professional Standards, 15 percent
Investment Tools, 50 percent
Quantitative Analysis/Methods, 12 percent
Economics, 10 percent
Financial Reporting and Analysis, 20 percent
corporate finance, 8 percent
Asset Valuation, 30 percent
Equity Investments, 10 percent
Fixed Income, 12 percent
Derivatives, 5 percent
Alternative Investments, 3 percent
portfolio management and Wealth Planning, 5 percent

Study accordingly, all the question/topic get you equal point, pick the low hanging fruits and master the topics that get you the most points.

Good luck.

Jul 3, 2013

Get the schwesser review, read the book, do the exercises, and then do ALL the practice exams.
Well although this is not completely legal, but a friend of mine downloaded the CFA schwesser level I notes online for free on some site (use your google skills). You might want to take a loot at that, but if you like it and use it to study: don't be a pirate and buy the actual books.
The people writting the Schwesser review did a really good job, and seeing people shamelessly using their work for free is very unpleasant.

Remember, you will always be a salesman, no matter how fancy your title is.
- My ex girlfriend

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Jul 3, 2013

I'm working on LIII right now. Have yet to fail a level.

First off, don't even think about the June 2009 exam yet. If you plan to take LI in December, you're still a little early to begin work. It takes 5-6 months total.

This is my strategy (and it has worked for me and many others): Read ONLY SChweser notes. CFAI texts will be mailed to you after you register, but they suck - long-winded and too much info. SChweser covers t6he essential shit in 1/3 the time.

I do use CFAI texts for the practice problems. They must be covered.

If you want to go crazy, you can order the SChweser question bank which has 5000+ questions, but I think it's overkill if you do Schweser Notes and CFAI practice tests.

LI is easy (It gets tougher on LII). I passed with maybe 125-150 hours, but most people do 200-250 over a 5-6 month time period.

Jul 3, 2013

I would suggest that you omit Schweser and concentrate on CFAI textbooks. Schweser practice exams might be good in the final stages of preparation, but not a must of course.
Though, for Level 1 it doesn't really matter, this cirruculum is mostly covered during the university studies.

Jul 3, 2013

If you want to pass, go with Schweser. Mark my words: Many, many people pass these exams with just Schweser. Reading CFAI means reading an additional 1500 pages of crap that isn't really required for the exam.

If you know Schweser inside and out, you will pass with flying colors - and spend 100-200 less hours in prep than the CFAI people.

Jul 3, 2013

Did most of you get through Level I when you were in your final year as an undergrad? I'm probably going to take the approach of studying for the GMAT over the summer (hopefully I'll have some time) and during the first semester of my final year to make sure I get that out of the way. At this point, I think it is more important for me to concentrate on the GMAT.

However, the CFA designation is something that I've been thinking about pursuing. Even though I've heard differing opinions on it, I'm still trying to determine when I would even get the time to study for it once I graduate and start working full-time.

Jul 3, 2013

I, for one, enrolled into CFA Program after graduation (though I think enrolling earlier rather than later is actually a good idea).

joemontana: I of course respect your opinion about Schweser as a better source for preparation. Just given that for me personally, CFAI textbooks served very well at all 3 levels, and I didn't use Schweser (other than Schweser practice exams for L2), of course I have no reasons not to recommend using CFAI materials.
Besides, everyone who registers for exams automatically gets all CFAI materials, so Schweser is also an extra cost :)

Jul 3, 2013

you should check out www.analystforum.com if you have questions about the CFA

Jul 3, 2013

I'm using Schweser for June 2013 and they're very good. No complaints. Can't speak for Stalla myself, sorry, but heard that they're pretty good as well.

Jul 3, 2013

thanks

Jul 3, 2013

Please include an email address in your PM.

    • 1
Jul 3, 2013

Are these notes for 2011 by any chance?

Jul 3, 2013

PM'd you. Thanks for doing this!

Jul 3, 2013

This is a troll. I messaged him right away. Then he asked for an email, which I instantly sent. Still no response in PM.

Jul 3, 2013

He's not a troll dude...at all. GoodBread has significant brand equity here. Just because he didn't respond to your frenzied request for free shit instantaneously doesn't make him a troll. He has you know, one of them job things.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

    • 1
Jul 3, 2013

Thanks demon.

Jul 3, 2013

better contact me at [email protected] as I use that mail more frequently....

Jul 3, 2013

as i just passed level 1, I have the 2006 schweser level 1 material available to sell.

PM me if you are interested - I work in Midtown

Jul 3, 2013

How much more marketable does the CFA make your resume for IBanking? I've seen many a post on here say it's irrelevant? Care to comment?

Jul 3, 2013

since you have already taken acct and fin courses, you should do fine. the new info you will learn will be in the form of fin regulations and ethics.

see: www.analystforum.com

also, talk to your local CFA society and try to set up a study group if you can. it will also be a good networking opportunity.

budget for about 250 hrs from now till the exam.

L1 is not that dificult, relative to L2 or L3.

everybody i know who used schweser notes said they were invaluable.

good luck.

man made the money, money never made the man

Jul 3, 2013

Don't use Schweser Q banks anymore. Those just test your fact knowledge. Schweser mocks are closer to the real deal but nothing beats the real CFA mocks. Dig up all the historical ones from the past few years and focus on the CFAI mocks. Unless there's been a huge curriculum change I would focus on historical CFAI mocks, not Schweser mocks.

    • 1
Jul 3, 2013

Try to make as many example questions as you can!! Old mock exams are the best. Schweser is pretty good or rankyourbrain .com/games/finance.

Yes they are pretty consistent. Only make sure you practice enough questions within each category as there a lot of sub-categories, exams can have the impression they are quite different in terms of coverage.

GL

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks Nico!

Jul 3, 2013

Second what everyone has said. For me, doing the Q-bank on the weak areas identified from the result of my mock exam helped.

Jul 3, 2013

For L1, the package with the kaplan books, secret sauce, practice exams, and Qbank is what I used. If you're really not getting a topic, just lookup some videos on youtube

Jul 3, 2013

No. Best study method for every standardized financial test I have taken is to create bare bones review guides from the reading and do every practice problem available. Kaplan sells review guides but I have forgotten exactly how they are marketed. Basically memorize the guides, they are so condensed its almost all intel vs explanatory fluff. Then do practice problems from the Qbank for that section until you can score above 75%. I don't open the expanded books, almost a waste of time when the practice problems will teach you the application in exactly the way your understanding will be tested on the real thing. Also if you're asking this now I assume your starting your study process? Study the material in order of its weight on the test (duh), Financial Reporting=>Ethics=>Quant etc etc.

Just my 2c.

61 days....

Jul 3, 2013

*-Just saw that youre sitting in Dec.

Many days...

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks! I haven't really started the studying yet... wanted to develop strategy first. This is super helpful. I'll probably do the classes since that ensures accountability.

Jul 3, 2013

2009 should be OK, but don't take my word for that. Sometimes they slightly change the LOS to decrease/increase what you need to know. But really the basics stay the same year to year.

If anything see if you can get the LOS list for this year (I could prob help you out w/ that) and compare it to 2009 and see what's different.

I know several individuals who studied for L2 for 3 months & passed. Then again, I know even more who studied for 5 months and failed. L2 is known as the hardest level because of all the memorization of formulas. L3 is more PM theory & writing.

If I were in your position I'd take L1 this December. First because if you take L1 in June, you're definitely going to want to take a break after 150+ hours of studying. Trust me. Second, if you fail L1 i December, you can still take it in June.

Also.. do they even give L2 in December? I didn't think they did..

Jul 3, 2013

Y don't you just get the 2011 notes? Google is your friend.

For searching from a list of qualified providers and to buy the notes of course...I'm not advocating any other method/methods of obtaining the guides/practice questions/question banks/secret sauce/educational videos.

Good luck!

Jul 3, 2013

Level 2 is only offered in June.

Jul 3, 2013

Some of the Learning Outcome Statements are changed/revised each year. So portions of the 2009 study material might be irrelevant.

Jul 3, 2013

Thx guys. Looks like 2011 notes it is!

Jul 3, 2013

www.analystforum.com

Also, where are you located? I am trying to get a study group together in Atlanta, GA.

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser

Jul 3, 2013

I honestly get so tired of people being like "Oh level 1 is not that bad if you study for a few hours.." or "I'ts so easy.."

You need 150 hours of studying. Minimum. I would recommend 200-250. I passed it the second time I took it. The schweiser books are worth the money if you want to save yourself 50-75 hours of studying.

Good luck.

Jul 3, 2013
MoneyKingdom:

I honestly get so tired of people being like "Oh level 1 is not that bad if you study for a few hours.." or "I'ts so easy.."

Were you a finance major?

Jul 3, 2013

I did it in less than that... albeit I wouldn't recommend it.

Jul 3, 2013

I am thinking of signing up for next June.
Do you think 150 hours is still necessary if I did undergrad finance, and two years as an analyst?
If so, aside from the ethics section, what type of material would someone with my background not necessarily know?

Jul 3, 2013

I second the above spend at least 200 hours. I had no previous financial experience I was a practicing attorney at the time and was able to Pass Level 1 in 2008 with only the Schweser materials they are very good, but you have to put the time in. I did not have the chance to study as much as I should have for Level 2 which I took earlier this month, and I am almost certain I failed.

Jul 3, 2013

go to analystforum.com much more depth on this topic.

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser all the way. Passed all 3 levels (never failed a level) using schweser. It is more than worth the money in terms of time saved. Schweser covers in 1000 pages what the CFAI text covers in 2000. It is concise and fully covers the essential stuff.

Jul 3, 2013

"Schweser all the way. Passed all 3 levels (never failed a level) using schweser. It is more than worth the money in terms of time saved. Schweser covers in 1000 pages what the CFAI text covers in 2000. It is concise and fully covers the essential stuff."

same here, schweser is the way to go

Jul 3, 2013

Econ / Math

Jul 3, 2013

For those of you who used Schweser, did you get the Premium or Essential Solution? (http://www.schweser.com/cfa/products/solutions.php)

Jul 3, 2013

I only did the basic package (texts only, and a cool crib sheet).

Jul 3, 2013

I did 225 hrs on LII & LIII each. 150 on LI.

Jul 3, 2013

Schweser and Stalla.

I've used both, but thought Schweser had better quality questions. Also have some friends that like Stalla better. All depends on what you like and how you learn.

The thing is, as of this coming testing year, the CFA Institute is issuing study materials with the registration fee. I would take a look at what they send you and see if it will work for you.

Alot of the prep depends on your background.
The CFA says 250 hours per exam.

I know some people who studied 50 hrs and passed and others who studied 500-600 hrs and didnt pass.
Depends on your background. The 50 hr person had a bachelors and masters in accounting and 3-4 years experience as an auditor and stock analyst.

It also depends on how much you're working.
If you're cranking 80-100 a week, I'd forget about it, because your work quality will suffer and you probably won't get as much as you want out of the program.

Jul 3, 2013

Make sure you have the time to study. I probably studied 100 hours and if I had done 70 more hours I would have passed it.
But yeah Schweser hands down.

I want to work now! No, really. I want those 100+ hours/week.

Jul 3, 2013

Don't want to create another forum, but does anyone recommend doing the CFA L1 after their Sophomore year. I would have two years of university educ and two years of professional work experience (not summer jobs , internships). They already said I was eligible, but I want to make sure if it's worth it. And how much prep do you think is necessary, with two years of finance/business education and completed another securities course (CSC).

Thanks

Jul 3, 2013

It certainty can't hurt. But it would be a serious workload if you are already in school full time.

I would try to take the June exam. That way, if it doesnt work out, you are still pretty fresh for the December L1 exam. Or, you will have an entire year to study for L2.

It's good to know you are aldready eligible.
What was that process like?

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks for the advice. I'm actually a rising sophomore, and I worked FT during my first year, and doing so again this year.

The only problem with writing the exam in June is that I won't have enough time to study (around 2 months after school ends). So I might end up studying the entire summer and then write the December exam in my Junior year, but I'm I wont be able to retain all the info over time.

Jul 3, 2013

I used schweser, i found it enough for level 1. I thought the qbank was stand-out and the secret sauce was also helpful.

Jul 3, 2013

I used Kaplan and passed it this December

I would refer back to the CFA textbook from time to time, especially the ethics and financial accounting.
Other than that, the study guide is more than enough to get you a pass.

Just keep cramming mock exams once the exam is approaching, you should be good to go if you can manage to hit around 75+ from the mocks provided by Kaplan and CFA's site

Jul 3, 2013

Took it last June. Schweser for everything except Ethics - use CFA book for that.

Jul 3, 2013

when do ppl usually take the CFA? during first year as analyst? how long does it take to prep for the test on average?

Jul 3, 2013

Has anybody used Stalla? How good are their materials?

Jul 3, 2013

Go through the Schweser notes and hammer through the Qbank.

Jul 3, 2013

I am also interested in the quality of Schweser vs Stalla. I have friends who rep for Stalla that I could get cheaper, but I feel like it is second rate.

Thoughts from those who know?

Jul 3, 2013
moneyrunner:

I am also interested in the quality of Schweser vs Stalla. I have friends who rep for Stalla that I could get cheaper, but I feel like it is second rate.

Thoughts from those who know?

It's different for everyone. Some prefer Stalla others Schweser. I used Schweser for L1 and thought they were fine. The qbank is essential to passing L1, not so much L2. Check out analystforum if you want to dive into the Stalla vs. Schweser debate.

Jul 3, 2013

mmm i dunno if im allow to say any of this, but you can find the kaplan material online.

6 books all PDF-ed, including some mocks
i took them to a print shop, cost a grand total of 60$

Jul 3, 2013

Right now, I'm using Schweser for L1 in June. When comparing it to the CFAI texts, Schweser leaves plenty out. Depending on your college background with finance it shouldn't be a big deal, becuase all the pertinant info for the exam (IFRS vs GAAP rules...) are still covered in the notes. But it does seem a little vaugue.

Q-bank is extrememly valuable.
I refer to the CFAI texts for FSA and Ethics.

Jul 3, 2013

.

Jul 3, 2013

I found AnalystExams.com to be helpful. It provides a quick overview of many topics pertaining to the CFA exams, including Stalla vs Schweser.

Jul 3, 2013

What's your suggestion for a proper study plan then?

Jul 3, 2013

Prep courses help alot. It cuts to the chase without leaving much of the little details that you probably wont get from analystnotes. I say don't cut corners and get the prep notes. In the long run if you spend 599 on the notes and pass the first time, it will save you money because you wont have to spend another 1000 just to take the test again.

Jul 3, 2013

I spent 0 in additional resources. I got all the previous CFAI mocks I could find and a friend gave him schweser mock test from when he did level I. You have plenty of time to go through the CFAI books extensively.

Jul 3, 2013

Would definitely recommend some sort of self-study prep. CFA has a huge body of material that you can be tested on and the prep courses help 1. condense some of the material into the most important points 2. provide you with additional quiz, sample test, mock exams questions that help lock in the concepts you read about.

If you have no finance experience it might be useful for you to go through the CFA books once and then go through a more condensed prep course. If you start studying early, you should have plenty of time to do both.

Jul 3, 2013

No question, the Schweser prep books are worth the $300-$500 you may spend on them.

The CFAI books themselves can be hard to study from, as each book contains tons of information that you probably don't need to know.

Schweser breaks it down into easy to learn concepts for each lesson and you also have the benefit of having the Schweser program on your computer (Qbank) which helped me tons.

I've seen quite a few friends go it alone without any study aids. To be honest, they all failed and regretted the method in which they studied.

Jul 3, 2013

Thanks everyone.

Rothyman, given your comments on my post about analystnotes, would you choose Schweser hands down over Analystnotes? I do have some finance background (said 'no exp' just to get a good baseline) so the material wouldn't be foreign to me. Really curious if the $600 and $1300 Schweser packages are just a sham and should just get the $100 analystnotes package since I do well studying on my own.

Thanks everyone for being candid, tough skin here so you won't hurt any feeling, I appreciate the honest feedback.

Jul 3, 2013
SteelNerves:

Thanks everyone.

Rothyman, given your comments on my post about analystnotes, would you choose Schweser hands down over Analystnotes? I do have some finance background (said 'no exp' just to get a good baseline) so the material wouldn't be foreign to me. Really curious if the $600 and $1300 Schweser packages are just a sham and should just get the $100 analystnotes package since I do well studying on my own.

Thanks everyone for being candid, tough skin here so you won't hurt any feeling, I appreciate the honest feedback.

Analystnotes & Schweser are very comparable.

The only difference is Schweser comes 'pre-packaged' and organized so you don't have to print/organize all the lessons yourself. You simply receive the Schweser notes and begin studying. With Analystnotes, you have to print out the seperate lessons, staple the materials, and then go back to the computer APP to do the practice questions. I also believe the mock exams must be done online.

So you're basically paying an extra $300-$400 for conveinence.

Myself I split the $599 Schweser package with a friend (So $300 a piece) and then paid $99 for the analystnotes on top (I really wanted to make sure I passed).

Then I downloaded the Schweser CFA videos from the previous year online.

If you're extremely organized and ahead of the game in studying, I would recommend analystnotes. If you are more like me and you like the material already organized and handed to you, then go for Schweser.

Jul 3, 2013

Schewer are the best supplemental notes out there now that Stalla was bought by Kaplan (which owns schwerser)

Jul 3, 2013

I'm pretty organized and I'll be studying in a library setting or somewhere with wifi so working from the computer won't be a problem. Looks like i'll go with analystnotes then, i don't have anyone to split the cost.

Did you get the Schweser videos from the previous year on a free download?

Thanks again Rothyman, you are ridiculously helpful!

Jul 3, 2013
SteelNerves:

I'm pretty organized and I'll be studying in a library setting or somewhere with wifi so working from the computer won't be a problem. Looks like i'll go with analystnotes then, i don't have anyone to split the cost.

Did you get the Schweser videos from the previous year on a free download?

Thanks again Rothyman, you are ridiculously helpful!

Goto a torrent website like btjunkie or piratebay and search CFA. There should be some older video torrents up to download. Other than that, there is no way to get the videos unless you know someone or unless you want to shell up the ridiculous $500 extra.

Jul 3, 2013

10-4... thanks again Rothyman!

Jul 3, 2013

Well i had zero finance background. The CFAI books are way in detail its really hard to grasp them up. I passed the exam in first attempt with the help of Schweser for Level I. It is organized, LOS based (which are testable in exam) and comprehensive. For Level II I am facing problems while using but as Level I is concerned go with Schweser, once you are done with your first reading, try revising the material. While giving your first reading its better to organize yourself up by underlining important areas and highlighting the key points. It would help you remarkably while revising. The CFAI End of Chapters Questions are the least which you should do to pass the exam, according to me. Schweser's QBank is relevant. Don't waste the questions by solving them without preparation. First prepare yourself up then solve the questions to learn from them.

Disclaimer: I have no relation with Kaplan Schweser. I only mentioned about them as I used them and found them good. It is purely based upon experience nothing else. Better look into other material providers and seek others opinions too.