My December 2019 CFA Study Calendar: Can 7-Month Prep Be Really Not Enough?

CFA exam / Study plans / Level 1 Dec 2019, 7-month


Sadly, it’s possible.

7 months of preparation before your CFA level 1 exam can really turn out to be not enough. Especially for Dec candidates (though June candidates should be concerned too!).

Let me take it step by step to explain why.

7-Month CFA Exam Prep: Seemingly Sensible Choice

Don’t get me wrong.

Starting your preparation 7 months before your CFA exam is a good idea. It means you’re taking your exam seriously and you wouldn’t like anything unexpected to spoil your plans.

(Frankly speaking, since I’m a rather careful person myself I think I’d do the same and opt in for a 7-month CFA exam preparation.)

It doesn’t matter whether your attitude is driven by your character or if your strong resolution to start your prep well in advance is a result of your previous CFA exam failures. Either way, your choice is a sound one and all you need to do now is to exercise it well.

However, while a 7-month CFA exam prep certainly opens an opportunity for a successful study time, it is not without its risks. And it is about these risks I want to tell you about because they have the power to lead your sensible plans to ruin.

The first threat has to do with the length of your exam prep and the other is about the way you study.

How Did I Lose All This Time? Impossible…

With 7 months still to go you need to plan for about 10-15 study hours per week. So, you can study at a relaxed pace and you are not made to give up your social life or neglect your family, which is undoubtedly a great advantage. You can take it slow and still be certain you’ll be able to deal with all the readings in your CFA curriculum.

Be careful though not to lose this time!

7 months seems long. You may get tempted to study irregularly and postpone your study sessions by days or even weeks. Especially after you first manage to study successfully for a couple of weeks, you may find yourself full of excuses to justify your delayed study sessions. So beware of your inner voice telling you: “It’s ok if I put off my today’s study session. There’s still plenty of time before the exam and I’ve already studied a lot. I will surely handle all the study material on time”.

You don’t want to be taken by surprise 3 months before your exam when you realize you haven’t done as much as you planned. It may turn out to be too late with your study hours impossibly piled up. Were you still to think of success, you’d be forced to speed up and impose rigorous discipline.

With so much precious time just gone, your sensible 7-month CFA exam preparation would be a fiasco turning into a 3-month torture.

Set Up Free Study Plan For Systematic Learning
Free Study Plan


How Could I Forget It All? …? …?

The other danger is related to the way you study.

While this risk is true for all CFA candidates, regardless of when they take up their exam prep – it can affect you more negatively if you start your preparation now and fail to include this one key element in your study process.

Today’s May, 6.

You are starting your 7-month CFA exam prep. We already said that on average you should have roughly 10-15 study hours scheduled per week. Since you are aware now of how time can be irreversibly lost, I take it you’ll be smart enough to keep to your weekly plan.

You’ll spend all your weekly study hours on going through your CFA curriculum and watching various videos and presentations. After each reading, you’ll also do some practice questions to see if you know how to use all the theory. Since 7 months is indeed a long time, you’ll plan your 2-week holidays meanwhile. You’ll do some readings in advance so as not to be made to catch up too much after you come back.

{ OK here’s this nice Spain, Thailand or whatever trip you’ll take. 2 weeks of doing just nothing , where nothing = all the best things you could probably ever think of :) }

You come back. Batteries recharged. The smile on your face. Do you really strongly believe you’ll go back to your regular study sessions right away? Or will you delay for one more week or so?

But you know what? It doesn’t really matter!

Because the problem is you probably no longer remember too much of what you studied in all the previous months!

It’s the forgetting curve!

Unfortunately, the thing that was missing all this time from your study process was regular review. You did nothing to make sure you can actually learn what you study.

And that’s a mistake…

Only regular review sessions ranging in duration and technique can help you learn what you study:

Learning Curve

Otherwise, without constant reinforcement and practice you’re going to lose it all – the time you put to studying and the effects of your hard work (with or without holidays meanwhile!):

It’s the forgetting curve!

Your Study Plan With Study & Review Sessions
Your Study + Review Plan


Sensible Choice Only If Sensibly Approached

If you do not take these 2 threats seriously, it may all end up badly for you. I hope you can see it.

Your sensible choice to start your CFA preparation well in advance is not enough. It needs a sensible approach based on regular weekly study hours and iterative revision.

It doesn’t mean you cannot postpone some of your study hours sometimes or that taking holiday is forbidden when preparing for the CFA exam.

No such thing!

Actually, it’s best if you take some time to rest and relax over such a long prep. With July and August being typical summer holiday months here in Europe, as well as some other parts of the world, Dec candidates deserve to have some fun and sun (having said that about Dec candidates, I have a message also for June candidates – the 2 dangers of notorious delay and neglected review are true also for you!).

Moreover, it’s only natural that no two weeks will be the same over your whole CFA exam prep (regardless of its length). Some weeks will be harder at work, some – at home. While it may be a serious problem when you have just 3 months to your exam, it’s not such a big deal with still 7 months to go.

But you need to stay reasonable about it. If you fail to study all your 10-15 hours for a week or two, catch up as soon as possible. Even better, if you know you’ll be more busy over the next week – try to study more this week so as to have as few overdue study hours as possible.

In Charge of CFA Exam Prep

If you want to stay in full control of your CFA exam prep, I’d encourage you to set up your personalized CFA study plan:

  • You’ll have your 7-month CFA calendar divided into study weeks that you’ll be able to edit according to your needs.
  • As you follow your plan from week to week, you’ll be able to mark your CFA readings as done or partially done to see your progress over the week.
  • After each week, you’ll come back to sum up your weekly tasks. Should you be more busy over some period of time and fail to do some scheduled readings, you’ll see which ones are overdue because they will be marked red.
  • Also – if you opt for Motivation PLAN – you’ll have your average weekly study hours displayed and reduced as you get concrete readings done (for that simply mark the readings as done).
  • Should you choose Knowledge Retention PLAN – you'll get not only your CFA readings but also your review sessions properly scheduled (in addition to topic reviews & pre-exam Final Review – which are already included in Free PLAN).
  • Moreover, you can also schedule some holiday weeks already at registration (regardless of the PLAN you'll take).

Personalize Your CFA Study Plan
Personalized Study Plan


CFA Calendar For 7-Month Exam Prep

with editable weekly schedules keeping you in charge

& review mode to encourage real learning

START on 6 May

1st Study Block (6 May – 23 June)

  • Ethics
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Portfolio Management
  • QM+PM Review

2nd Study Block (24 June – 11 Aug)

  • Financial Reporting & Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • FRA+CF Review
  • QM+PM Review

suggested dates: 12 – 25 August

3rd Study Block (26 Aug – 29 Sept)

  • Fixed Income
  • Equity Investments
  • FI+EI Review
  • QM+PM+FRA+CF Review

4th Study Block (30 Sept – 3 Nov)

  • Derivative Investments
  • Alternative Investments
  • Economics
  • DI+AI+ECO Review
  • Ethics Review

FINAL REVIEW (4 Nov – 6 Dec)

END on 6 December

NOTE: If you set up your personalized study plan,
the deadlines will get adjusted.

I’m In For a 7-Month Exam Prep
7-Month Exam Prep


Below you can see both calendar and weekly view of your 7-month study plan:

Study Plan: Calendar View

Study Plan: Calendar View That’s where you can view all the weeks of your CFA exam prep to see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you.

Also, here you can customize the plan to your needs using the DRAG & DROP feature (the icon) to move the readings around.

Study Plan: Week View

Your Current Week View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. Each week you will find some useful practice tools & compact study materials. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the ‘Sum Up Current Week’ button).

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