If you want to have a successful level 1 CFA exam prep, there are some universal principles you’ll always need to follow, no matter how long you’re going to prepare for your CFA exam. When you start your prep, make sure your learning strategy takes into account:
The 20 Recommendations for Effective Level 1 CFA Exam Study Plan
Here is a list of 20 universal principles of an effective level 1 study plan.
If you want to pass your level 1 CFA exam make sure to:
- plan your CFA exam study schedule carefully,
- take into account your job, friends, and family obligations,
- analyze your weak points,
- divide your whole CFA exam prep into: (i) core study schedule and (ii) final review time,
- divide your core study schedule into: learning, practicing, and testing knowledge,
- set up deadlines for topics but also your weekly tasks,
- consider topics difficulty when setting your topics deadlines,
- count how many study hours you need to spend doing each of the topics,
- develop your daily study routine,
- control your study plan on a weekly basis and hold yourself accountable,
- stick to your schedule but be flexible when needed,
- apply passive and active learning techniques,
- study systematically reading after reading,
- review regularly for better knowledge retention,
- monitor your progress regularly and react if needed,
- practice using exam-type questions,
- focus on conscious learning – understand, don’t just memorize!
- reward yourself when you follow your study schedule & be more demanding when you fall behind it,
- take as many mock exams as possible during your final review period,
- sleep well before your exam day and stay confident – if you have learned effectively, you're bound to pass!
In this blog post, we focus on how to plan your CFA exam study schedule. We also give you a 5-month level 1 study plan for your MAY 2023 CFA exam. It’s just a sample study schedule, which you’ll be able to personalize when you use our CFA Exam Study Planner.
Looking for a specific study schedule?
Choose your 2023 CFA Exam Study Plan:
Looking for a specific study schedule? Choose your 2023 CFA Exam Study Plan:
- 8-month L1 Study Plan
- 7-month L1 Study Plan
- 6-month L1 Study Plan
- 5-month L1 Study Plan
- 5-month L2 Study Plan
- 4.5-month L1 Study+Review Plan
- 4-month L1 Study Plan
- 4-month L2 Study Plan
- 3-month L1 Study Plan
- 2-month L1 Study Plan
Plan Your CFA Exam Study Schedule Carefully
Let’s explore the first rule in more detail.
Proper planning is more than just a list of topic deadlines. Why? Because when you divide your CFA exam prep into topics (which BTW is the first and most natural step), you create a perfect model that would work in an ideal world. It doesn’t allow for real life, though.
In real life, no two weeks are the same. Sometimes, you won’t be able to study enough to meet your deadline. How are you going to catch up if something goes wrong? With deadlines just for topics, you’re likely to find out too late that you haven’t been studying enough.
Moreover, when you have your topic deadlines – all you know is that you work to a strict deadline a couple of weeks away. If your deadline’s still far away, you are likely to procrastinate. If you postpone studying too often, there’s quite a serious threat you won’t make it.
That’s why – apart from topic deadlines – you need your topic readings (modules) scheduled into consecutive weeks. Weekly schedules allow you to control your prep. When you know what readings to do each week and how much time you’ll need on average to complete them, it’s much easier. You can make it from day to day and react if things do not go as planned.
Weekly schedules also enable you to be flexible, where flexibility means sound management which doesn’t pose a threat to your study plan and exam prep. Using our free study planner, you can easily drag & drop your scheduled CFA exam readings/modules between weeks (go to the PLAN tab).
So, when planning your CFA exam prep, you need to have:
- your topics deadlines,
- weekly schedules (exact topic readings/modules included in consecutive weeks),
- estimated amount of time you need to spend studying each week to meet your deadlines.
To execute your CFA exam study plan, it’s best if you have some means to hold yourself accountable and control your prep (and a bit of flexibility, too).
When we devised our CFA Exam Study Planner, we took it all into account. Your CFA exam study plan has 4 views:
- STUDY – where you can focus on your weekly lessons and watch videos, do questions, check off your lessons as done or star them, as well as see your benchmark study times for both the whole week and separate readings (modules),
- PLAN – where each week has an exact number of readings you should cover and that you can easily drag&drop if need be (apart from drag&dropping readings, you can also personalize your study plan bigtime, e.g., set your START DATE or EXAM DATE or adjust your topic sequence),
- PROGRESS – where you can see your progress in topics and your Chance-to-Pass growing each week,
- REVIEW – where you can easily browse for the study content you want to review, e.g., Quantitative Methods videos, Derivative Investments formulas, given sections of Ethics study lessons, or even whole study lessons for your chosen topics.
How to Prepare for CFA Exam in 5 Months
This sample 5-month MAY 2023 level 1 CFA exam study plan starts on 12 Dec 2022 and ends on 15 May 2023. The last month should be devoted to revision and mock exams in countless numbers. The first 4 months are divided into 5 Study Blocks with a weekly break meanwhile. The break has 2 functions. On the one hand, it allows you to recharge batteries in the middle of your exam preparation. On the other hand, it motivates you to work hard on the first few topics. It’s like an award for those who follow the plan!
START on 12 DEC 2022
1st Study Block (12/Dec – 4/Jan)
- Quantitative Methods
- Portfolio Management
- QM+PM Review
2nd Study Block (5/Jan – 5/Feb)
- Financial Statement Analysis*
- Corporate Issuers*
- FSA+CI Review
- QM+PM Review
suggested dates: 6 – 12 Feb
3rd Study Block (13/Feb – 12/March)
- Fixed Income
- Equity Investments
- FI+EI Review
- QM+PM+FSA+CI Review
4th Study Block (13/March – 23/March)
- Alternative Investments
- DER+AI Review
- QM+PM+FSA+CI+FI+EI Review
5th Study Block (24/March – 16/Apr)
- ECO+ETH Review
FINAL REVIEW (17 Apr – 15 May)
END on 15 MAY 2023
There’s a special topic sequence applied to help you focus on the more challenging topics such as QM or FSA and facilitate the uptake of related topics (that’s why, for instance, Portfolio Management follows Quantitative Methods). But you can easily personalize your topic sequence using your Study Plan options in the PLAN tab!
The time scheduled for each topic has been estimated by our expert and depends on the topic’s difficulty understood as the number of pages in the CFA Program Curriculum, topic weight in the exam (MAY 2023 CFA exam weights applied), and the share of math and calculations in the topic (but you can further customize topics difficulty using our study planner).
The chart gives you the estimated number of days you will most likely spend studying (and reviewing) each topic. It totals up to 117 study days. Note that the period of Final Review just before your exam is excluded for the estimation. Also, we left out the week of holidays proposed in this schedule.
With a 5-month CFA exam study plan, it is calculated that you should study approx. 15 hours a week. Assuming roughly 140-150 days of studying and review, you'll get a bit over 300 study hours if you follow this study plan (which is the average study time recommended for each CFA exam level).
Regular Revision = Effective Execution
What’s quite exceptional for this study plan is spaced revision. Review sessions are scheduled all throughout your exam prep:
- Topics Review and Final Review – available as given above in your CFA Exam Study Plan,
- regular weekly review – since topic and final review are not enough – available in our PAID PLAN as part of Proper Review-ON SystemTM to help you fully overcome your forgetting curve.
All the revision sessions arranged inside your study plan give you plenty of space to practice and review what you’ve learned. Bear in mind regular review is an important prerequisite to successful and productive learning!
5-Month MAY 2023 Level 1 CFA Exam Study Plan
Topic Deadlines Timetabled
|Level 1 CFA Exam Topics||MAY 2023 Exam:
|Quantitative Methods||25 Dec 2022|
|Portfolio Management||3 Jan 2023|
|QM+PM Review||4 Jan 2023|
|Financial Statement Analysis*||28 Jan 2023|
|Corporate Issuers*||3 Feb 2023|
|FSA+CI Review||5 Feb 2023|
|QM+PM Review||5 Feb 2023|
|*HOLIDAYS*||12 Feb 2023|
|Fixed Income||28 Feb 2023|
|Equity Investments||8 March 2023|
|FI+EI Review||12 March 2023|
|QM+PM+FSA+CI Review||12 March 2023|
|Derivatives||17 March 2023|
|Alternative Investments||19 March 2023|
|DER+AI Review||23 March 2023|
|QM+PM+FSA+CI+FI+EI Review||23 March 2023|
|Economics||3 Apr 2023|
|Ethics||15 Apr 2023|
|ECO+ETH Review||16 Apr 2023|
|Final Review||15 May 2023|
* Before 2022, CFA Program curriculum referred to Financial Statement Analysis as Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA for short) and to Corporate Issuers as Corporate Finance.
*HOLIDAYS* – suggested dates :)
If you set up your personalized study plan,
the deadlines will get adjusted.
These are the topic deadlines for your 5-month level 1 study schedule with 1 week off studying in between. The deadlines take MAY 2023 topic weights into account. As soon as you create your personalized study plan, the deadlines will get adjusted to your preferences (e.g. start date, topics sequence, topic difficulty, number of weeks without studying, etc.). Also, you’ll get concrete topic readings (modules) assigned to consecutive study weeks to ensure better control and successful execution of your study plan.
Updated: Nov 17, 2022