How to Prepare for CFA Exam in 3 Months?

CFA exam / Study plans / Level 1 June 2018, 3-month



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3-Month CFA Study Plan: Intro

This post tells you how to efficiently prepare a 3-month CFA study plan. We are confident, you will find it worth reading no matter if you have already started studying or if you are about to open the Curriculum for the first time today.

Apart from the study plan, below you will also find 4 CFA level 1 topics categorizations together with some relevant exam preparation hints designed to let you make the most of the upcoming 3 months.



What Kind of Learner Are You?

To equip you with the right mindset for the next 3 months preceding your CFA exam, we begin with a BIG question:

ARE YOU A SUPERHERO?

Very Important: Your aim after reading this post is to accept who you are. Possible choices: natural learner vs supernatural learner:

  • I am a supernatural learner possessing intellectual skills worth a superhero.
  • I am a natural learner, which means I can acquire any kind of knowledge if I have enough time (as for my CFA exam, I would make do with these 3 months).

YES! There are (only) 3 months left before the exam is due. This implies lots of hard work for natural learners. For supernatural ones, it presumably makes no difference ;).

Have you ever heard a story how someone passed their CFA exam having studied for only [choose the option applicable to the story]:
6 weeks/4 weeks/2 weeks
?

We have.

And we know what it is when we hear it. A lie!

It’s surely better to take it that you are not a superhero kind of learner and NEVER BELIEVE SUCH LIES! This kind of devil-may-care scenario simply has no happy ending.

If you dream of a happy ending for yourself, take your CFA exam prep (and the exam itself) seriously. Otherwise, you may as well join the 25% of CFA candidates who do not even show up for the exam because they know they did far too little to pass.


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CFA Level 1 Topics Categorization

There are 10 exam topics, which can be handled using different ways. Below, you will read about 3 possible categorizations we prepared for you (plus 1 you will be guided how to create on your own).

Exam topics can be divided according to:

  • exam weights,
  • difficulty,
  • efficiency.

CFA Topics: Exam Weights



The graph presents the most significant topics if their weights in the level 1 exam are taken into account. The highest-weight topics are:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis, whose weight is as much as 20%,
  • Ethics, which makes 15% of all exam questions (also note that ethical issues are important in the exam because of the ethics adjustment),
  • Quantitative Methods, which is given 12% in this classification.

Then comes another group of topics with the same moderate weight of 10%. It consists of Fixed Income, Equity Investments, and Economics.

The last group is made of 4 topics that are given less weight, namely Corporate Finance and Portfolio Management (both with the weight of 7%), Derivative Investments (5%), and Alternative Investments (4%).


Exam preparation hint

Spend more time on the topics with higher weights - the higher the weight, the greater the number of topic questions per exam session.


CFA Topics: Difficulty

Another criterion used to categorize CFA exam topics is their difficulty. Contrary to the weight criterion, this one is subjective, which means that the classification we propose below may not work for you.

Our division is based on our observations during the courses we provided, as well as the opinions of Soleadea users given mostly through questionnaires.

According to this classification, we distinguish 3 groups of topics: difficult, moderate, and easy. Note that the sequence of topics is very important here: the higher the position, the more difficult the topic.


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How do we define difficulty?

If a topic is said to be difficult, it means that the concepts it covers are considered difficult. It does not have to mean it will take you long to acquire the topic.

Just the opposite, if you easily grasp mathematical concepts but you find it difficult to memorize things and learn them by heart, you may feel that Equity Investments is a greater challenge to you than Fixed Income.

Difficult topics:

  1. Fixed Income (FI),
  2. Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA),
  3. Derivative Investments (a positive thing about DI is that although its concepts are difficult, level 1 exam questions often prove much easier).

Moderate topics:

  1. Ethics,
  2. Economics (ECO),
  3. Quantitative Methods (QM).

Easy topics:

  1. Portfolio Management (PM),
  2. Corporate Finance (CF),
  3. Alternative Investments (AI),
  4. Equity Investments (EI).

Exam preparation hint

If you happen to REALLY struggle with something while studying, be careful not to lose too much time on it. Instead, consider leaving it out (at least for the time being) in favor of other concepts & problems. Go back to it when you feel you can afford it.


CFA Topics: Efficiency

The last classification we are going to present is about the efficiency of the topics.

Efficiency is understood as an average number of exam questions for a given topic per 100 pages of the CFA Curriculum and it is calculated using the following equation:

\(\text{E}=\frac{\text{W}\times\text{240 questions}}{\text{N}}\times\text{100 pages}\)

Where:

  • E – topic efficiency,
  • W – topic weight,
  • N – no. of pages on a topic in the CFA Curriculum.

For example, if the efficiency for Ethics is 13, it means that in the exam you will find about 13 questions per every 100 pages on Ethics in the Curriculum.


Exam preparation hint

If during your exam preparation you feel that you have to give up on certain topics, make sure that Economics is the first to drop out. Do not give up on other topics too easily.


CFA Topics: Your Classification

The last division is yours to decide.

You should consider your previous knowledge of topics. For example, if you took your finance course at university or you work in finance, you will definitely know some topics better than others.

You need to take this into account while arranging your 3-month study plan.


Exam preparation hint

When planning your CFA exam prep, take into consideration what you already know.


CFA LEVEL 1 CURRICULUM = over 3000 pages

Are You a Superhero?

If NOT get down to work now using our Free CFA Study Planner.

YES? Quit the CFA exam & save the world like superheroes do .

3-Month CFA Study Plan

If you plan your CFA exam prep as of 26 March, you will get a study schedule exactly like the one below. Of course, unless you choose to personalize it... but personalize you should! By all means, we recommend you to choose topic difficulty or tick off the already-studied readings. 'Cos a personalized study plan is what you need! Let the one below be a sample 3-month schedule then...


START on 26 March

1st Study Block (26 Mar – 15 Apr)

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

2nd Study Block (16 Apr – 13 May)

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

3rd Study Block (14 May – 27 May)

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

4th Study Block (28 May – 10 June)

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

FINAL REVIEW (10 – 22 June)

END on 22 June


3-Month CFA Study Plan Timetabled



7-Point Summary

Let us recapitulate the key things you need to remember after reading this post:

  1. There are 3 months left no time to lose before the exam.
  2. You should spend more time on the topics with higher weights in the exam - the higher the weight, the greater the number of topic questions per exam session.
  3. If you happen to REALLY struggle with something while studying, be careful not to lose too much time on it. Instead, consider leaving it out (at least for the time being) in favor of other concepts & problems. Go back to it when you feel you can afford it.
  4. If during your exam preparation you feel that you have to give up on certain topics, make sure that Economics is the first to drop out. Do not give up on other topics too easily.
  5. When planning your CFA exam prep, take into consideration what you already know.
  6. Soleadea offers a free CFA Study Planner, which allows you to organize your personalized CFA exam preparation successfully.
  7. Not everyone can be a superhero ;).

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