Quick Ways to Uncover the Content
Level 1 & Level 2
CFA Program Curriculum: Quick Ways to Uncover the Content
Level 1 & Level 2
My CFA Curriculum: Richly Detailed Source of Knowledge
CFA Curriculum is a richly detailed source of knowledge. The study content required in the CFA exam is known as the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) and it’s aimed at developing the key skills and abilities that investment professionals need to possess and practice. Every level of the exam focuses on different skills and abilities and covers different areas of the essential knowledge.
There’s a separate curriculum for each level of the exam.
So, there’s: CFA level 1 Curriculum, CFA level 2 Curriculum, and CFA level 3 Curriculum.
Here, we concentrate on the two first levels of the exam but some of the information may be useful to level 3 candidates as well who are also kindly recommended to see our post about the CFA level 3 exam.
CFA Level 1 & Level 2 Curriculum Structured
Every CFA Curriculum is lengthy. Like reeeally leeengthy. It’s more than 3000 pages to read and study for both CFA level 1 and level 2 candidates.
The whole content is divided into smaller portions: volumes topics study sessions readings.
CFA level 1 & 2 Curriculum in Numbers
CFA BOOKS & TOPICS
There are 6 CFA level 1 books. Same for level 2.
Both CFA level 1 and level 2 books cover 10 topic areas but in a different sequence:
CFA level 1 & 2 Topics
What matters is that the topics are given different weights in the CFA level 1 and 2 exams, meaning you can expect different number of questions for particular topics depending on the exam you’re about to take (for CFA level 1 topic weights, see here, and for CFA level 2 topic weights, see here).
So, depending on the level, the focus is on different topics:
as a CFA level 1 candidate, you should particularly focus on Financial Reporting and Analysis, Ethics and Quantitative Methods. These are the topics which are given the highest number of questions per each exam session. Also, keep in mind that Fixed Income, Derivatives, and FRA are considered to be the most difficult level 1 topics.
as a CFA level 2 candidate, you should put the most effort into Equity Investments, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Fixed Income and Derivatives. While for the first three you can expect more questions than for the rest of the topics, the last three are the most challenging when their difficulty is taken into account.
Form and Focus of the Exam
When reading and studying your CFA Curriculum, you will do wisely if at the back of your mind you will keep remembering also about the form and focus of your exam. Both these aspects should determine the way you prepare for it:
if you’re a CFA level 1 candidate, be sure you develop the general understanding of investment tools.
if you’re a CFA level 2 candidate, focus on asset valuation and practice your analytical skills.
Also, get accustomed to the form of the exam as you study. Test your knowledge as often as possible using exam-type questions. This is how you make the quality time of your CFA exam prep: when you choose the best studying strategies to optimize your chances of passing the exam.
You can find many useful study tools inside our CFA Study Planner:
Each topic has its study sessions which are further divided into readings.
In your CFA Curriculum, you will find the study sessions enumerated before you start each topic. There, you will also see the so-called topic level learning outcome which – in general terms – describes what you should know after reading and studying each topic.
At the beginning of every reading, there is also a more detailed list of things you should be able to do when you’re through with a given reading. These are the learning outcome statements (LOS). Every reading-specific LOS is paired with a checkbox to its left for you to tick when you feel competent about the LOS. Note the command words used to define the skills and abilities comprising the LOSes.
As a rule, all the readings are obligatory and they form the basis for the exams. However, there are also some optional segments in the CFA Curriculum. These fragments are clearly marked as optional and they give you some additional information you will not be tested on in your exam. They are included in the curriculum alongside the required bits to make you understand things better.
All throughout the readings, you will find many bolded words and phrases. These are the words and phrases that have been defined for you in the glossary (available at the end of every volume for your convenience). There are also numerous examples, tables, figures, exhibits, and formulas. Their role is to illustrate and better describe the concepts and situations explained in the curriculum.
Each reading closes up with a bulleted summary followed by practice problems (end-of-reading questions) with solutions.
Note that all the examples, tables, figures, exhibits, formulas, and practice problems are part of the curriculum and they form the required segments. Take this to your heart, because exam questions are often based on the examples in the curriculum or the end-of-reading questions. Exam questions are also based on one or more LOSes.
CFA Curriculum - Summing Up
Let’s state it explicitly: the knowledge of your CFA Curriculum is crucial. Thus, if you don’t have enough time to read it from cover to cover (or from the first to last e-page), you should at least flick (or scroll) through it every now and then so as to study the bolded bits or analyze all types of examples, practice problems or exhibits.
And if you’re struggling with your study time, here’s for you a tricky way to aid curriculum absorption:
GET YOUR CFA CURRICULUM SQUEEZED OUT AND SHRUNK INTO PALATABLE STUDY CONTENT!
Our bite-sized video lectures give you a solid background for your further detailed study of the CFA Curriculum. Easy to digest because based on the core issues illustrated with numerous examples, our videos will help you gain the general understanding of all 10 topics tested in the exam (plus they’re great for the revision time).