Preparing for the Level I CFA® Exam

Studying for the Level I exam is crucial, and it takes a substantial effort.

There are no shortcuts. The one thing standing between you and success on the Level I CFA Program exam is hard work. CFA Institute recommends you aim to spend at least 300 hours preparing for Level I exam. Schweser’s Prepare • Practice • Perform ® methodology gives you the structure you need to get the most out of the time you spend preparing.

Previous Knowledge

Prior to enrolling in the CFA Program, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree, or be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree program. That degree does not need to be in a particular area of study, but you will be in a much stronger position if your education is finance-based. The CFA Program is designed to be a supplement to a finance-related education and investment experience already completed by an investment professional. In short, you don’t need to have a finance degree to sit for Level I, but you may face greater challenges than those who do have a finance-based education.

Level I Curriculum

The Level I curriculum is focused on ten topic areas. You’ll also be tested on simple analysis using investment tools. The topic areas are:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

How Long it Takes to Study

The generally held notion is that candidates should spend an average of 300 hours studying for each level of the CFA Program exam. In a 2016 survey, Level I candidates reported spending an average of 304 hours studying for the exam.

How to Study

The Kaplan Way is a three-phase learning strategy: Prepare • Practice • Perform ® . Using this methodology, we have built the most comprehensive study packages available for the Level I of the CFA Program exam, designed to help you make the most of the time you spend preparing for the exam.

  • In-Person: Attend live classes in select cities, led by CFA charterholders.
  • Online: All the quality of a live class, with convenient online delivery.
  • Self-Study: Comprehensive, flexible, no-frills exam prep package.

Tips and Tools

Looking for additional tips to help you prepare? Schweser has you covered.

  • Start early. Build your confidence by getting into a routine.
  • The tools in your review package are designed to work together. Use them all.
  • Find exam prep tips on the Schweser Blog.
  • Download our free eBook: CFA Fundamentals, 2nd edition.