Quick Ways to Uncover the Content

Level 1 & Level 2

CFA exam / Curriculum


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

volumes

topics

study sessions

readings

CFA level 1 Curriculum

6

10

18

58

CFA level 2 Curriculum

6

10

17

52

CFA level 1 Curriculum

6 volumes

10 topics

18 study sessions

60 readings


CFA level 2 Curriculum

6 volumes

10 topics

17 study sessions

52 readings


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

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Volume 6

CFA level 1 Curriculum

Ethical and Professional Standards + Quantitative Methods

Economics

Financial Reporting and Analysis

Corporate Finance + Portfolio Management

Equity + Fixed Income

Derivatives + Alternative Investments

CFA level 2 Curriculum

Ethical and Professional Standards + Quantitative Methods + Economics

Financial Reporting and Analysis

Corporate Finance

Equity

Fixed Income + Derivatives

Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management

CFA level 1 Curriculum

Volume 1: Ethical and Professional Standards + Quantitative Methods

Volume 2: Economics

Volume 3: Financial Reporting and Analysis

Volume 4: Corporate Finance + Portfolio Management

Volume 5: Equity + Fixed Income

Volume 6: Derivatives + Alternative Investments


CFA level 2 Curriculum

Volume 1: Ethical and Professional Standards + Quantitative Methods + Economics

Volume 2: Financial Reporting and Analysis

Volume 3: Corporate Finance

Volume 4: Equity

Volume 5: Fixed Income + Derivatives

Volume 6: Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management


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

most important topics

most difficult topics

focus of the exam

form of the exam

CFA level 1

FRA, Ethics, QM

FI, DI, FRA

investment tools (comprehension)

multiple choice questions

CFA level 2

EI, FRA, FI

FI, DI, FRA

asset valuation (analysis)

item sets

CFA level 1

most important topics: FRA, Ethics, QM

most difficult topics: FI, DI, FRA

focus of the exam: investment tools (comprehension)

form of the exam: multiple choice questions


CFA level 2

most important topics: EI, FRA, FI

most difficult topics: FI, DI, FRA

focus of the exam: asset valuation (analysis)

form of the exam: item sets


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:


Do Tests Inside Your Study Plan


STUDY SESSIONS

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.

READINGS

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).

You can find many useful study tools inside our CFA Study Planner:


Watch Videos Inside Your Study Plan