The Best Way to Study for the Level I CFA® exam

Although everyone is aware of the Level I CFA exam’s depth, many don’t take it seriously until they encounter it themselves. The 2019 Level I CFA pass rate was 42% which states that you need to be keen, driven, and have a committed study plan.

100 CFA candidates, who are presently charterholders, were questioned regarding the advice they have for current candidates, and a summary of their answers regarding the ideal approach for the Level I CFA exam has been mentioned below.


1. Get into a Study Routine Early

Numerous CFA® charterholders credit their examination routine for their success during the CFA journey which includes not only understanding what the content highlights but also applying it to various situations that will be tested during the CFA exam. This level of understanding and functional application requires time and patience which further prioritizes the need for an effective and comprehensive study plan.

One method that has proven to be effective is the Prepare > Practice > Perform technique. In the prepare phase, you learn the content through reading and attending training sessions while practice includes recollecting the material and identifying gaps in your learning so that you can perform well during your mock exams. Ensure that you spend 30 – 40% of your time during the preparation stage, 40 – 50% practicing, and 20% on performing well in the exam.

2. Emphasize on the Exam Weights and Learning Outcome Statements

You must have a clear understanding of the CFA exam educational modules and how every topic is weighted for the Level I CFA exam. Although the three levels of the CFA exam center on the 10 main themes, the content is refreshed every exam cycle. Exam weights differ for each level and can change marginally from year to year, so it’s better to confirm the weights before you start studying.

The Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) are based on the Candidate Body of Knowledge, created by CFA Institute and highlight what the candidate is expected to know from each topic. Therefore, embed this into your study plan, as they will enable you to center around the critical points for the exam.

3. Apply Concepts to Real Situations

Simply knowing the material isn’t sufficient to pass the CFA Program exam. Knowing how to incorporate one’s learning into the exam questions is a crucial aspect as the CFA Program curriculum is beyond just memorizing the textbook content. You should have the capacity to take the knowledge and apply it to sensible circumstances. Numerous CFA trainers regularly ask you to relate your learning to the present reality. Saqib Baig, CFA, states, “During your CFA journey, constantly ask yourself why you are learning the concept and the impact of the topic on your career.” The better you can relate to the topic, the easier will it be for you to recollect.

4. Figure out How to Take the Exam

There’s a distinction between learning the content and learning how to apply the content to the CFA exam. Ensure that you re-take a mock exam in a realistic environment at least one month before the main exam. CFA Institute will give you one such question paper, and you can buy more with exam prep suppliers like Kaplan Schweser. You can likewise complete a 6-hour live mock review offered through CFA societies in more than 120 areas worldwide or on the web.

These exams offer a tutorial that guides you through each question and helps you understand where the answer originates from, the calculations required, and what are the concepts being tested in the respective question. This will fill in your learning gaps and give you an idea of how you should prep for the real exam.