It's still 8 months to go before your December 2020 CFA exam. Since you're reading this post – you must have already registered or you're thinking about it. You're about to start your preparation soon. But before you get down to books, you need to arrange your own CFA level 1 study schedule allowing for:
- your strengths,
- your weaknesses,
- your learning pace,
- your finance background.
Looking for a specific study schedule?
Choose your JUNE or DEC 2020 CFA Study Plan:
Looking for a specific study schedule? Choose your JUNE or DEC 2020 CFA Study Plan:
- 2-month L1 Study Plan
- 3-month L1 Study Plan
- 4-month L2 Study Plan
- 4-month L1 Study Plan
- 4.5-month L1 Study+Review Plan
- 5-month L1 Study Plan
- 5-month L2 Study Plan
- 6-month L1 Study Plan
- 7-month L1 Study Plan
- 8-month L1 Study Plan
You best know what are your strong and weak points but here we'd like to draw your attention to some key aspects: ability to prioritize, ability to plan, ability to act as planned, and ability to focus. Ask yourself how serious you are about your exam and whether you're able to organize your CFA exam preparation well and follow your plan effectively.
NOTE: It's no mistake to start your CFA level 1 preparation so soon. On the contrary, it may be a very prudent and responsible decision as long as you can manage your study time reasonably and use it to your advantage.
Your strengths (or weaknesses for that matter :/) may relate not only to time management, diligence, or determination but also to your previous knowledge of some of the topics gained as a student or at work. You may want to take this into account when making your study plan.
Remember that even with 8 months to go it is important to study systematically and at a suitable pace. The exam day will come sooner than you think and you want to be prepared for this day and then satisfied when the exam is over.
The CFA level 1 study plan you will find below is a good basis for your own 8-month study schedule. If you use our CFA Study Planner, you'll be able to adjust it to your needs, e.g. you’ll be able to allocate fewer study hours to those topics you are good at by marking them as ‘easy’. We say more about it at the end of this post.
Creating a CFA Level 1 Study Plan for Dec 2020
- Starting date: 6 April
- Ending date: 4 December, i.e. Friday before the exam
- Final revision: 1 whole month before the exam
START on 6 April
1st Study Block (6 Apr – 1 June)
- Quantitative Methods
- Portfolio Management
- QM+PM Review
2nd Study Block (2 June – 3 Aug)
- Financial Reporting & Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- FRA+CF Review
- QM+PM Review
3rd Study Block (4 Aug – 20 Sept)
- Fixed Income
- Equity Investments
- FI+EI Review
- QM+PM+FRA+CF Review
4th Study Block (21 Sept – 1 Nov)
- Derivative Investments
- Alternative Investments
- DI+AI+ECO Review
- Ethics Review
FINAL REVIEW (2 Nov – 4 Dec)
END on 4 December
This plan follows the optimal topic order – topics come in quite natural pairs, where one is more challenging and one a bit easier, namely QM+PM, FRA+CF, FI+EI, DI+AI. Ethics starts and Economics ends your preparation. Also, apart from the final month of revision, there are 7 topic review sessions scheduled meanwhile.
*Topic difficulty is a rather subjective criterion (here as estimated by Soleadea expert). To learn more about it, see CFA topics categorization.
What is great about this CFA level 1 study schedule is that you will be able to study every topic thoroughly. You may as well read each topic twice. The final revision lasts roughly 30 days. Proper revision enhances your long-term memory and allows you to better recall things in your exam. There is really a lot of time and you should try to use it as effectively as possible.
Exam preparation hint
The worst you can do is spend these 8 months ineffectively! Grrr…
Only the responsible attitude of regular and productive work can save your exam prep.
Let the time slip through your fingers and you’re in for real trouble – make sure you don't wake up too late to a great deal of work ahead of you!
Detailed CFA Level 1 Study Schedule Timetabled
Here’s a table with all the topic deadlines for your 8-month Dec 2020 CFA level 1 study plan. You will also find the number of days devoted to each topic according to the schedule (incl. topic review). Given in the last column are also the most current CFA topic weights.
|CFA Level 1 Topics||Schedule (Deadlines)||No. of Study Days*||Dec 2020 CFA Topic Weights|
|Ethics||19 Apr||22 days||15%|
|Quantitative Methods||10 May||23 days||10%|
|Portfolio Management||29 May||23 days||6%|
|Financial Reporting and Analysis||12 July||43 days||15%|
|Corporate Finance||26 July||16 days||10%|
|Fixed Income||23 Aug||19 days||11%|
|Equity Investments||9 Sept||15 days||11%|
|Derivative Investments||27 Sept||7 days||6%|
|Alternative Investments||4 Oct||8 days||6%|
|Economics||25 Oct||26 days||10%|
|Final Review||4 Dec||33 days||n/a|
*Includes dedicated topic review sessions.
If you set up your personalized study plan,
the deadlines will get adjusted.
Your CFA Study Plan: 35 Weeks, 315 Study Hours
The topic deadlines are given in the table based on the 35-week exam prep (8 months). The study plan allows for the total of 202 study days plus 33 days of revision. However, with still 8 months to go, you need not study every day. By studying 3 hours 3 days a week, you get yourself as many as 315 study hours, which you can easily split into study time and review time.
In the paid versions of our CFA Study Planner, you can find separate blocks devoted to revision and get benchmark study times for all topics given on a weekly basis and allocated to every CFA reading one by one.
Want to Arrange This Study Schedule
to Your Needs?
Using our CFA Study Planner, you can personalize your study schedule. That's what you can do:
- choose the topic sequence,
- choose the exact starting date of your CFA exam prep (need not be today),
- decide for each topic if it's easy, moderate, or difficult to you (easy means you’re not new to the topic and you can cover the topic more quickly, difficult means you’ll need more time to study the topic),
- tick off the readings you have already studied (if there are such),
- choose if you want to take any weeks off studying and say when exactly,
- opt in for some aids to help your motivation,
- decide if you wish to add review sessions to your study schedule and fill in your study plan with study tools & review apps to support the productivity of your work,
- edit each study week by adding or deleting concrete readings or simply by using drag & drop in the All Weeks view.
Below you can see both ALL WEEKS and CURRENT WEEK views of your 8-month CFA level 1 study schedule:
CFA Study Plan: All Weeks 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.
CFA Study Plan: Current Week View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. Each week you will find some useful practice tools & compact study materials. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the SUM UP button).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.