November 2021 Level 1 CFA® Exam Study Plan & Tips

CFA exam / Study plans / Level 1 NOV 2021, 8-month


NEW STUDY PLANNER 4.0 available for ALL LEVELS


Since you're reading this post, you must be thinking about registering for your November 2021 level 1 CFA exam soon. The early registration fee deadline is not until 4 May and you can save $300 if you register by then, so it's definitely worth considering.




We'd also like to encourage you to start your preparation asap. We explain the benefits of 8-month exam prep here and below we present a sample 8-month study schedule. When setting up your personalized CFA exam study plan – which you'll do using our study planner – you should factor in:

We'd also like to encourage you to start your preparation asap. We explain the benefits of 8-month exam prep here and below we present a sample 8-month study schedule. When setting up your personalized CFA exam study plan – which you'll do using our study planner – you should factor in:

  • your strengths,
  • your weaknesses,
  • your learning pace,
  • your finance background.


Let's take a moment to discuss the strengths and weaknesses before we provide our deadlines for topics and topics review.


Are You Like Billy, Danna, Larry or Umber?

Your strengths and weaknesses may relate to things such as time management, motivation to study, diligence, and determination. But also to the previous knowledge of topics you gained as a student or at work. You will need to take all this into account when making your study plan. Just take a moment to think about it before you get down to books.

You know best what your strong and weak points are but here we'd like to draw your attention to some key aspects such as the ability to prioritize, ability to plan, ability to act as planned, and ability to focus. Why? Because CFA exam candidates:

  • are often very busy,
  • find it hard to fit their study hours into their full daily calendars,
  • are no different than the others and procrastinate at times,
  • struggle with efficient learning.

CFA Exam: Develop Your Soft Skills

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.


CFA Exam Tips for Organized and Focused Learning

KEY CFA EXAM TIP: It's no mistake to start your level 1 exam 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.

Here’s some advice on how to do it:

  1. Develop both hard and soft skills
  2. It means that apart from studying your CFA Program curriculum (hard skills), you should also learn about the specifics of the CFA exam and exam prep. So, read as much as you can to get familiar with the exam format, requirements, policies, etc. Also, get to know how much time you should prepare for your exam and how to prepare to pass (soft skills). We write about it all on our blog.

  3. Manage your distractions
  4. If you stay busy with everything else but your CFA exam prep, you won't be able to organize your prep successfully and study productively. Plus, you'll be tempted to put your study sessions off, which is not a good idea if you want to be among the 43% of candidates who pass their exam.

  5. Devise a clear CFA exam studying strategy
  6. Treat learning as a process, not an event – a good strategy drives every efficient process! The strategy we recommend can be put into 4 words: PLAN – STUDY – REVIEW – ASSESS. We implemented this strategy into our CFA Exam Study Planner and it is intended to help those who feel busy, disorganized, lazy or unproductive.

  7. Get yourself a good CFA exam study plan
  8. Plans make things happen! Plan for the big picture but focus on your everyday tasks. The level 1 study plan you will find below is a good basis for your own 8-month study schedule. If you use our CFA Exam Study Planner, you'll be able to adjust it to your needs, e.g. you’ll be able to choose your topic sequence and 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.

  9. Study regularly, then simply relax
  10. Study hard, then rest once in a while – a good student is a relaxed student. When you study, best go to your study space where nobody disturbs you. When you relax, don't think about the exam. It's the only healthy approach.

  11. Review and practice a lot
  12. Be careful! I’ve studied ≠ I’ve learned. It's because of the forgetting curve that makes us forget even up to 60% of what we study. To learn, you need to regularly review what you study. Also, practice systematically by doing lots of exam-type questions to get familiar with the exam format.

  13. Assess your study progress
  14. Each week you should check if you follow your study plan. Reward yourself if you’re making progress, try harder if you don’t. Remember that it's ok to make some reasonable adjustments to your study schedule as long as you do not postpone too much and too often.


Warning Against
8-Month Prep Threats

The worst you can do is spend these 8 months ineffectively! Grrr…
Only the responsible attitude of regular and productive work leads to success.
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!


Creating a Level 1 CFA Exam Study Plan for November 2021

Below, there's a sample 8-month study plan for the Nov 2021 level 1 CFA exam. It is divided into 4 study blocks with topics revision in between the study blocks and the Final Review just before your exam.

Some basic information about our sample level 1 CFA exam study plan (8 months):

  1. Starting date: 15 March 2021
  2. Ending date: 15 November 2021
  3. The Nov 2021 exam window lasts from 16 to 22 Nov 2021, so you can have from 4 to 5 weeks of – what we call – Final Review. Basically that's when you should do as many mock exams as possible!
  4. Using our Study Planner, you can choose your topic sequence. This is what we believe to be the best level 1 topic order (Ethics may be done either at the beginning or at the end):


START on 15 March 2021

1st Study Block (15 March – 12 May)

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

2nd Study Block (13 May – 15 July)

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

3rd Study Block (16 July – 5 Sept)

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

4th Study Block (6 Sept – 17 Oct)

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

FINAL REVIEW (18 Oct – 15 Nov)

END on 15 November 2021


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. (But you can easily choose your prefered topics sequence after creating your study plan). 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 exam topics categorization.

What is great about this level 1 CFA exam study schedule is that you will be able to study every topic thoroughly. You may as well read each topic twice, which will give you a more in-depth understanding. 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.



Detailed Level 1 CFA Exam Study Schedule

Here’s a table with all the topic deadlines for your 8-month Nov 2021 level 1 CFA exam study plan. Given in the table are also the deadlines for topics revision and the Final Review before your exam.

Level 1 CFA Exam Topics Nov 2021 Exam:
Topic Deadlines
Ethics 26 March 2021
Quantitative Methods 15 Apr 2021
Portfolio Management 4 May 2021
QM+PM Review 12 May 2021
Financial Reporting and Analysis 23 June 2021
Corporate Finance 7 July 2021
FRA+CF Review 15 July 2021
QM+PM Review 15 July 2021
Fixed Income 7 Aug 2021
Equity Investments 27 Aug 2021
FI+EI Review 5 Sept 2021
QM+PM+FRA+CF Review 5 Sept 2021
Derivative Investments 12 Sept 2021
Alternative Investments 17 Sept 2021
Economics 9 Oct 2021
DI+AI+ECO Review 17 Oct 2021
Ethics Summary 17 Oct 2021
Final Review 15 Nov 2021

NOTE: If you set up your personalized study plan,
the deadlines will get adjusted.



Your CFA Exam Study Plan: 30+ Weeks, 300+ Study Hours

The topic deadlines given in the table above are based on the 35-week exam prep (8 months). With 8 months to go, you need not study every day. Let's say you study 3 hours 3 days a week + get half an hour of review each week and you get yourself as many as 315 study hours, easily split into study time and review time.

In the paid version of our CFA Exam Study Planner, you can find lots of to-the-point study materials and regular review sessions as weel as get benchmark study times for all topics given on a weekly basis and allocated to every CFA exam reading one by one.


* * * * *
Adjust the Study Schedule to Your Needs!

Using our CFA Exam Study Planner, you can personalize your study schedule. That's what you can do:

  • choose the START DATE of your CFA exam prep (need not be today),
  • choose the EXAM DATE within your CFA exam window,
  • choose the no. of Final Review weeks,
  • choose the topic sequence,
  • 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),
  • check 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 such as benchmark study times or your Chance-to-Pass score,
  • check off and star the lessons listed for each reading in your study plan to develop your own study process,
  • fill in your study plan with study materials & review apps to support the productivity of your work,
  • get your review sessions scheduled (i) weekly, (ii) after topics, and (iii) right before the exam,
  • edit each study week using drag & drop in the PLAN tab.



Here’s a sample level 1 CFA exam study schedule as displayed in our new Study Planner 4.0:

CFA Exam Study Planner: PLAN VIEW

You will find your Study Plan in the PLAN tab View all the weeks of your CFA exam prep, see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you, as well as customize your plan using both your Study Plan personalization options and the DRAG & DROP feature.


CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY VIEW

CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. You will know what to study (left-hand menu) and how much to study (benchmark study times). 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.


Last Update: Feb 17, 2021



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