If you want to have a good CFA level 1 study plan, there are some universal principles you’ll always need to follow, no matter how long you’re going to prepare for your CFA exam. When you start your prep, make sure your learning strategy includes:
- Proper planning – it’s more than just a list of topic deadlines…
- Systematic work – ‘cos the exam content is voluminous.
- Conscious learning – understand, don’t just memorize!
- Regular review – for better knowledge retention.
- Practice – to get skillful at solving test questions.
- Weekly control – assess your progress every week and react if needed!
- Analysis of weaknesses – get to know your weak points (mind that some may appear as the prep evolves).
Interested in a different study plan? See:
CFA Level 1 Study Plan See what a proper 5-month CFA study plan should look like (details below).
3 Main Reasons
Why You May Fail In Your CFA Exam
We’ve been helping people to prepare for the CFA exam for many years now. While doing so, we found out there are 3 major reasons why candidates fail their exams. Before you sit down to plan your CFA exam prep, consider if you also struggle in these areas:
Problems With Math
First of all, though it may sound rather surprising, some people struggle with math.
It’s true not only of those who graduated from the university some time ago but also of students who currently attend their classes. This group constitutes even up to 30% of all CFA candidates.
Mathematics used in the exam is not complicated. It’s sufficient to know how to transform formulas and do fractions. Of course, those who can calculate and analyze things in their mind are better off when it comes to the real exam.
If you master your math, you'll be able to do even more than 50% of all calculations in your head, which will very often prove to be much quicker than if you used the calculator.
Not Enough Practice
Here’s the second reason for failure in the CFA exam. Most of the candidates practice too little.
They study their CFA Curriculum but they fail to test themselves on what they’ve actually learned. What you need to do is to solve countless exam-type questions all way through your exam prep. Over and over again. To see where you’re standing.
It’s best if you develop the right habit from the very beginning. It would be perfect if you tested yourself on a daily basis, after each reading and each topic. If you do tests regularly, you’ll see your progress and you’ll know which areas still need some improvement and which are fine.
Moreover, by doing different exam-type tests, you get accustomed to the form of the CFA exam, which should definitely make you feel more comfortable when the exam day comes.
If what you know about the exam is that it’s a multiple choice test consisting of 120 questions of the morning session and 120 questions of the afternoon session, you will not feel that much comfortable for sure.
To get the fact resonate better:
Imagine that you are to play a basketball match and all you know about basketball is that you need to throw a ball into a basket but never in your life have you tried to score a point. Certainly, you’ll agree that to win that match, you’ll need a lot of luck.
No Proper CFA Planning
That’s how we come to the third reason of many CFA exam fiascos. It’s about the volume of the study material required in the exam and due planning.
To cope with 10 CFA topics covered on over 3000 pages, you need to work systematically. This – as we know well – can often be a great challenge!
The first step to overcome this challenge is to have a timetable with deadlines for all the topics, which you can find below for the 5-month CFA level 1 study plan.
Then, you want to have control over your learning progress. That you can have only if you adopt the approach of small steps, where a well-organized study week forms the basis of your exam prep.
To put you in charge of your study time, we launched a new and advanced CFA Study Planner available for FREE to candidates of all levels.
You will find there the whole CFA Curriculum divided not only into topics but also into readings. And while you’ll have your 5-month study calendar, you’ll also have the means to control your weekly study progress. You’ll have the average study time per week stated which you’ll be able to edit according to your needs (take away a reading or two OR add some readings if you’ll have a busy week at work OR you’ll want to quickly move on with the study material, respectively).
That’s not all!
If you plan your CFA exam prep using our app:
you’ll surely find enough time to practice (see below) – and if you practice enough:
you’ll be able to improve your mathematical skills!
How to Prepare for CFA in 5 Months
1 July is the first day of this study plan. The last day falls on 6 December, that is the day before the exam. The last month should be devoted to revision and mock exams in countless number. The first 4 months are divided into 4 Study Blocks:
5-Month CFA Study Plan:
START on 1 July
1st Study Block (1 July – 4 Aug)
- Quantitative Methods
- Portfolio Management
- QM+PM Review
2nd Study Block (5 Aug – 8 Sept)
- Financial Reporting & Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- FRA+CF Review
- QM+PM Review
suggested dates: 9 - 15 Sept
3rd Study Block (16 Sept – 15 Oct)
- Fixed Income
- Equity Investments
- FI+EI Review
- QM+PM+FRA+CF Review
4th Study Block (16 Oct – 10 Nov)
- Derivative Investments
- Alternative Investments
- DI+AI+ECO Review
- Ethics Review
FINAL REVIEW (11 Nov – 6 Dec)
END on 6 Dec
There’s a special topic sequence applied to help you focus on the more challenging topics and facilitate the uptake of related topics (that’s why, for instance, you’ll find Portfolio Management follow Quantitative Methods).
Ethics is scheduled twice – at the beginning and at the end because of the specific nature of this material (moreover, our Study Planner urges you to review Ethics regularly, which is definitely a good idea with the ethics adjustment being in force).
The time scheduled for each topic depends on its difficulty understood as the number of pages in the CFA Curriculum, topic weight in the exam, and the share of math and calculations in the topic (but you can further custom topics difficulty inside the Study Plan app).
Holiday & Revision
As you must have noticed, our study plan also includes:
- 1 week of holidays* (right in the middle, after you do your Ethics, QM, PM, FRA, and CF, but *you can choose otherwise!),
- 4 weeks of Final Revision preceding your exam (indispensable to be ready for the CFA test),
- spaced revision sessions all throughout your exam prep (for topics – as available inside the Free Study Plan Application, but since topic and final review are not enough to fully overcome your forgetting curve – you may also opt in for proper review system inside Knowledge Retention PLAN!).
All this to help you prepare for your exam thoroughly.
The weekly break has 2 functions. On the one hand, it allows you to recharge batteries in the middle of your exam preparation. On the other hand, it motivates you to work hard on the first 5 topics. It’s like an award for those who follow the plan!
And as far as the hard work goes, all the revision sessions arranged inside the study plan give you plenty of space to practice and review what you’ve learned. It’s an important prerequisite to successful and productive learning.
Your CFA Study Plan In 5 Months
CFA level 1 exam in 5 months + 1 week off studying:
|Ethics||7 July 2019|
|Quantitative Methods||21 July 2019|
|Portfolio Management||2 Aug 2019|
|QM+PM Review||4 Aug 2019|
|Financial Reporting and Analysis||1 Sept 2019|
|Corporate Finance||6 Sept 2019|
|FRA+CF Review||8 Sept 2019|
|QM+PM Review||8 Sept 2019|
|>Holidays*<||15 Sept 2019|
|Fixed Income||29 Sept 2019|
|Equity Investments||11 Oct 2019|
|FI+EI Review||13 Oct 2019|
|QM+PM+FRA+CF Review||15 Oct 2019|
|Derivative Investments||20 Oct 2019|
|Alternative Investments||25 Oct 2019|
|Economics||8 Nov 2019|
|DI+AI+ECO Review||10 Nov 2019|
|Ethics Summary||10 Nov 2019|
|Final Review||6 Dec 2019|
NOTE: If you set up your personalized study plan,
the deadlines will get adjusted.
AVAILABLE FOR ALL LEVELS
Your Current Week View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. You will know what to study, when to study, and how much to study. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the ‘Sum Up Current Week’ button).
Also note that for each week you will find some useful practice tools & compact study materials inside the study planner. Enjoy!