Last updated: December 16, 2021

CFA exam / Curriculum

2022 CFA Curriculum Explained

2022 CFA Exam Curriculum Changes

The curriculum for the 2022 CFA exams changes, which is nothing extraordinary. As a rule, the CFA Program curriculum changes every year for all levels of the exam. The updates are usully small to moderate. Sometimes some bigger chunks of selected topics change.

The 2022 changes to the CFA exam curriculum should be compared against the 2020 curriculum. That's because there were no changes to the CFA Program curriculum in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent exam postponements.

The most recent curriculum changes include some minor changes inside readings, but also some readings additions and readings removals (details below). Moreover, Ethics has finally been moved from the first to the last book for all the 3 levels. Also, two level 1 & level 2 topics were renamed. FRA is now known as Financial Statement Analysis, or FSA for short, and Corporate Finance as Corporate Issuers.




CFA Program Curriculum:
Richly Detailed Source of Knowledge

CFA Program curriculum is a richly detailed source of knowledge. There’s a separate curriculum for each of the 3 levels of the CFA exam.

The curriculum is aimed at developing the key skills and abilities that investment professionals need to possess. Every level of the exam focuses on different skills and abilities and covers different areas of essential knowledge:

  • level 1 CFA exam knowledge of investment tools (comprehension)
  • level 2 CFA exam asset classes, their analysis & valuation (application)
  • level 3 CFA exam wealth planning and portfolio management (synthesis/evaluation)

2022 CFA Program Curriculum in Numbers

books

topics

study sessions

readings

LEVEL 1

6

10

19

60

LEVEL 2

6

10

17

47

LEVEL 3

6

7

16

33

LEVEL 1

6 volumes

10 topics

19 study sessions

60 readings


LEVEL 2

6 volumes

10 topics

17 study sessions

47 readings


LEVEL 3

6 volumes

7 topics

16 study sessions

33 readings



Read on for more detailed info about level 1 & level 2 CFA exam books . Level 3 candidate? Perhaps you'd like to see our post about the level 3 CFA exam .


Digital vs Print CFA Exam Curriculum

A digital version of your CFA exam curriculum will be available to you after you register for the exam you're about to take (all levels). You can also buy a print version of the curriculum. Then, for an additional payment (meaning in addition to your exam registration fee), you will get a pack of traditional books. Naturally, the digital curriculum is also divided into books (volumes).

Note that if you want a print version of your CFA exam curriculum, you can order it online but the price is rather high. The print curriculum costs even $299 + shipping fees. Access to the digital curriculum is included in the exam registration fee.


How Many Books for Level 1 CFA Exam?

There are 6 level 1 CFA exam books. The reason why the CFA Program curriculum is divided into books is its length. Each level 1 CFA exam book is from almost 600 to over 700 pages long, which makes it more than 3000 pages total.

Each book includes 1 to 4 topics. There are 10 level 1 topics. The way that the topics are divided across the books is not too student-friendly, namely more than one topic is covered in two different books.

The first level 1 CFA exam book includes Quantitative Methods (QM). The next book is Economics and Financial Statement Analysis (FSA). In the third book, FSA continues and Corporate Issuers (CI) begins. The fourth book is Corporate Issuers, Equity, and Fixed Income (FI). The fifth book is Fixed Income, Derivatives, Alternative Investments, and Portfolio Management (PM). The last sixth volume covers PM and Ethics.

Note that Financial Reporting and Analysis, FRA for short, changes its name to Financial Statement Analysis and Corporate Finance to Corporate Issuers.


Level 1 & Level 2 CFA Exam Books & Topics

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Volume 6

LEVEL 1 Curriculum

Quantitative Methods

Economics + Financial Statement Analysis

Financial Statement Analysis + Corporate Issuers

Corporate Issuers + Equity + Fixed Income

Fixed Income + Derivatives + Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management

Portfolio Management + Ethical and Professional Standards

LEVEL 2 Curriculum

Quantitative Methods + Economics

Financial Statement Analysis

Corporate Issuers + Equity

Equity + Fixed Income

Derivatives + Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management

Portfolio Management + Ethical and Professional Standards

LEVEL 1 Curriculum

Volume 1: Quantitative Methods

Volume 2: Economics + Financial Statement Analysis

Volume 3: Financial Statement Analysis + Corporate Issuers

Volume 4: Corporate Issuers + Equity + Fixed Income

Volume 5: Fixed Income + Derivatives + Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management

Volume 6: Portfolio Management + Ethical and Professional Standards


LEVEL 2 Curriculum

Volume 1: Quantitative Methods + Economics

Volume 2: Financial Statement Analysis

Volume 3: Corporate Issuers + Equity

Volume 4: Equity + Fixed Income

Volume 5: Derivatives + Alternative Investments + Portfolio Management

Volume 6: Portfolio Management + Ethical and Professional Standards


Level 2 CFA Exam Books

For level 2, there are also 6 books and 10 topics. Level 2 topics are the same as level 1 topics and their order is identical. However, they are divided into books differenty as shown in the table above. Each level 2 book covers 1 to 3 topics. Note that level 2 Ethics no longer include the GIPSes.


Both level 1 & level 2 CFA exam books are then further divided into smaller portions:

books (volumes) topics study sessions readings


2022 Study Sessions & CFA Exam Readings

L1 & L2 Topics L1 Study Sessions L1 Readings L2 Study Sessions L2 Readings
Quantitative Methods 2 7 2 5
Economics 2 7 1 3
Financial Statement Analysis 4 12 2 6
Corporate Issuers 2 6 2 5
Equity 2 6 3 8
Fixed Income 2 6 2 5
Derivatives 1 2 1 2
Alternative Investments 1 1 1 3
Portfolio Management 2 8 2 7
Ethics 1 5 1 3


STUDY SESSIONS

Each level 1 and level 2 topic has its study sessions which are further divided into readings.

In your 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.


CFA EXAM READINGS

For every CFA exam reading, there is also a more detailed list of things you should be able to do when you’re through with the reading. These are the so-called learning outcomes (LOS) – note the command words used to define the skills and abilities you should acquire, e.g., describe, explain, or identify.

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 LOS.


CHANGES to 2022 CFA EXAM READING LIST

There are 60 readings in 2022 level 1 CFA exam curriculum (vs 57 in 2020/2021). Five readings were removed and eight readings were added. Also, 16 readings include minor changes. Corporate Issuers include the biggest number of new readings and the Alternative Investments reading is the biggest update (we are preparing some notes for you on these major updates!)


2022 vs 2020/2021 Level 1 Reading List

  • 5 old readings removed
    • Reading 5 (Ethics) – Global Investment Performance Standards
    • Reading 7 (Quantitative Methods) – Statistical Concepts & Market Returns
    • Reading 32 (Corporate Finance) – Capital Budgeting
    • Reading 33 (Corporate Finance) – Cost of Capital
    • Reading 35 (Corporate Finance) – Working Capital Management
  • 8 new readings added
    • Reading 2 (Quantitative Methods) – Organizing, Visualizing, and Describing Data
    • Reading 7 (Quantitative Methods) – Introduction to Linear Regression
    • Reading 28 (Corporate Issuers) – Uses of Capital
    • Reading 29 (Corporate Issuers) – Sources of Capital
    • Reading 30 (Corporate Issuers) – Cost of Capital – Foundational Topics
    • Reading 31 (Corporate Issuers) – Capital Structure
    • Reading 52 (Portfolio Management) – The Behavioral Biases of Individuals
    • Reading 60 (Ethics) – Ethics Application
  • 16 readings updated

There are 47 readings in 2022 level 2 CFA exam curriculum (vs 48 in 2020/2021). Three readings were removed and two readings were added. Also, 14 readings include minor updates, except for a Derivatives reading on Pricing & Valuation of Forward Commitments and a Corporate Issuers reading on Mergers and Acquisitions.


2022 vs 2020/2021 Level 2 Reading List

  • 3 old readings removed
    • Reading 9 (Quantitative Methods) – Excerpt from Probabilistic Approaches
    • Reading 22 (Corporate Finance) – Corporate Governance & Other ESG Considerations in Investment Analysis
    • Reading 40 (Alternative Investments) – Publicly Traded Real Estate Securities
  • 2 new readings added
    • Reading 17 (Corporate Issuers) – Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Considerations in Investment Analysis
    • Reading 41 (Portfolio Management) – Backtesting and Simulation
  • 14 readings updated

CFA Exam Topic Weights

Topics are given different exam weights if you compare level 1 and level 2 CFA exams. It means you will get a different number of questions for a particular topic depending on whether you’re a level 1 or a level 2 candidate (see estimated number of level 1 questions here and level 2 questions here).

CFA exam topic weights for both level 1 and level 2 are given in ranges in the table below:


2022 CFA Exam Weights

Quantitative Methods

Economics

Financial Statement Analysis

Corporate Issuers

Equity

Fixed Income

Derivatives

Alternative Investments

Portfolio Management

Ethics

LEVEL 1 Weights

8-12%

8-12%

13-17%

8-12%

10-12%

10-12%

5-8%

5-8%

5-8%

15-20%

LEVEL 2 Weights

5-10%

5-10%

10-15%

5-10%

10-15%

10-15%

5-10%

5-10%

10-15%

10-15%

LEVEL 1 vs LEVEL 2
WEIGHTS

8-12% vs 5-10%

8-12% vs 5-10%

13-17% vs 10-15%

8-12% vs 5-10%

10-12% vs 10-15%

10-12% vs 10-15%

5-8% vs 5-10%

5-8% vs 5-10%

5-8% vs 10-15%

15-20% vs 10-15%


So, depending on the exam level, the focus is on different topics:

as a level 1 candidate, you should particularly focus on Financial Statement Analysis (FSA) and Ethics. These are the most important level 1 topics. Also, Quantitative Methods, Equity, and Fixed Income are given high weights in the level 1 exam. Moreover, Fixed Income, Derivatives, and FRA are considered to be the 3 most difficult level 1 topics.

as a level 2 candidate, you should put effort into Equity, Financial Statement Analysis (FSA), Fixed Income, and Derivatives. Equity has always been important in the level 2 exam (though its weight got reduced in 2019) and the last 3 topics are the most challenging when their difficulty is taken into account. Also, never ignore Ethics and pay attention to Portfolio Management, which gets particularly significant in the level 3 exam!


Form and Focus of the Exam

most important topics

most difficult topics

focus of the exam

form of the exam

LEVEL 1 CFA Exam

FSA, Ethics, QM, Eq, FI

FI, D, FSA

investment tools (comprehension)

multiple choice questions

LEVEL 2 CFA Exam

Eq, FSA, FI, Ethics, PM

FI, D, FSA

asset valuation (analysis)

item sets (vignettes)

LEVEL 1 CFA Exam

most important topics: FSA, Ethics, QM, Eq, FI

most difficult topics: FI, D, FSA

focus of the exam: investment tools (comprehension)

form of the exam: multiple choice questions


LEVEL 2 CFA Exam

most important topics: Eq, FSA, FI, Ethics, PM

most difficult topics: FI, D, FSA

focus of the exam: asset valuation (analysis)

form of the exam: item sets (vignettes)


When studying your CFA Program curriculum, you will do wisely if at the back of your mind you will remember also about the form and focus of your exam. Both of these aspects should determine the way you prepare:

if you’re a level 1 candidate, be sure you develop the general understanding of investment tools.

if you’re a level 2 candidate, focus on asset valuation and practice your analytical skills.

Also, get accustomed to the form of the exam – test your knowledge as often as possible using exam-type questions to optimize your chances of passing the exam.


You can find exam-type QUESTIONS inside our CFA Exam Study Planner:




CFA Program Curriculum – Summing Up

Let’s state it explicitly: To pass your CFA exam, you must know your curriculum well. So, 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 and study the bolded bits or analyze different examples, practice problems or exhibits.

Many CFA exam candidates find it easier to absorb their curriculum if they can get some help. That's what we're for – to give you compact but comprehensive study materials that can facilitate your studying.

Our printable notes for CFA exam readings and bite-sized videos:

  • give you a solid background for your further detailed study of the curriculum,
  • are easy to digest because they are based on core issues and illustrated with numerous examples,
  • are great for revision time.

You can find NOTES & VIDEOS inside our CFA Exam Study Planner:






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