Most of June 2018 CFA level 1 candidates begin their exam preparation in January. That's why below you will find what a proper 5-month CFA study plan should look like.
Interested in a different study plan? See:
3 Main Reasons
Why You May Fail In Your CFA Exam
For many years now, we’ve been helping people to prepare for the CFA exam and other financial exams. While doing so, we’ve discovered 3 major reasons why candidates fail their exams.
CFA Candidates’ Problems With Maths
First of all, though it may sound rather surprising, some people struggle with maths.
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 maths, 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 CFA Practice Exams
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.
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 global 5-month study plan, 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 if, say, you’ll have a busy week at work OR add some readings if you’ll want to quickly move on with the study material).
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
15 January is the first day of this study plan. The last day falls on 22 June, 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:
START on 15 January
1st Study Block (15 Jan – 18 Feb)
- Quantitative Methods
- Portfolio Management
- QM+PM Review
2nd Study Block (19 Feb – 8 Apr)
- Financial Reporting & Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- FRA+CF Review
- QM+PM Review
suggested dates: 26 March – 1 April
3rd Study Block (9 Apr – 6 May)
- Fixed Income
- Equity Investments
- FI+EI Review
- QM+PM+FRA+CF Review
4th Study Block (7 May – 27 May)
- Derivative Investments
- Alternative Investments
- DI+AI+ECO Review
- Ethics Review
FINAL REVIEW (28 May – 22 June)
END on 22 June
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),
- regular spaced revision sessions all throughout your exam prep (for topics, but also for each week of your study as available inside the Free Study Plan Application).
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
CFA level 1 exam in 5 months + 1 week off studying:
* OUR ADVICE: If you choose the 26 March – 1 April week for your holidays, complete FRA+CF and QM+PM Reviews before you take your week off (you’ll be able to arrange for it inside the Study Planner when you’ll be about to finish Corporate Finance).
AVAILABLE FOR ALL LEVELS
NOTE: If you create your study plan as of 15 January 2018, your deadlines will be as stated in the table. If you set up a study plan at a later date, the deadlines will get adjusted.
Below you can see both global and weekly view of your 5-month study plan:
Study Plan: Global 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.
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 ‘Summarize’ button).