Passing The CFA Level One Exam – Study Plan and Notes

My compilation of short articles has been a bit short of articles lately as a result of me beginning a new job and study for the CFA (Chartered Financial Anaylst) level one exam in December.

Firstly, I am working for a stock market research publication known as Intelligent Investor which applies value investing principles to analysis of Australian listed companies. For those out there that invest in Australian equities, either contact me or fill out the form below and I will organise a free trial of the service for you. It is regularly around $600 a year so there is some value here for the readers of my blog.

Now onto my plan for passing the CFA level one exam without a finance background. The following is a somewhat ordered plan of what I will do to pass the CFA level one exam (I found analyst forum very useful here and particularly thank saurya_s for his guidance):

  1. Overview - Watch the Schweser videos for each of the course modules with the course notes open on my second monitor at the same time. This will take approximately 48 hours by my estimation but will give me a solid introductory overview to what the whole course is about. I must ensure to cross reference the CFA learning outcome statements during this process. I need to have this done by the end of August 2008.
  2. Order of Study - Whilst I am most looking forward to a few key areas, I have been advised that following the order of Quantitative methods, Economics and then Financial Statement Analysis at first will be most beneficial as the course is cumulative. During my study, I plan to read each section and then devote at least a few hours afterwards to revise whatever I have just learned.
  3. Get familiar with financial Calculator – I have chosen to use either the Texas Instruments BA II plus or the BA II plus pro. Getting familiar with all the new functions will be important early.
  4. Identify and Read Schweser Notes - Identify strong and weak areas and begin reading and annotating the Schweser course notes (books 1-5). During this process, if i get stuck, I will refer to the CFAI texts if necessary or ask someone for help. I am lucky enough to work at a place with a bunch of very intelligent analysts so this should be fine. I estimate this part to take approximately 4 minutes per page as an average or somewhere around 80 hours.
  5. Listen – As odd as it may be, I plan to listen to audio tapes explaining the material on my way to work. Again, I will listen to the Schweser material that I have got my hands on.
  6. Complete Concept Checkers – Either whilst I am annotating the notes when I read through them or after completing my first read through, I will attack the concept checkers at the end fo each module in each book. I expect this to take approximately an hour per module or 16 hours. I will try to ensure my understanding on the concepts is spot on at this point but also be conscious of getting my time per question down to less than 60-70 seconds as time will be a factor in the exam.
  7. Reinforcement and Flashcards- If time permits, I will read through the Schweser CFA level one course notes one more time making reference to my annotations. I will then make flashcards to help me remember key parts of the course.
  8. Read Schweser Secret Sauce – This is a condensed 220 page version of the course. I will read through this once I am fairly comfortable with it all and use it to reinforce key concepts. I expect this to take 7-10 hours.
  9. Exam practice - practice exams, end of each book questions, Schweser question bank, and Schweser books 6 and 7 that are full of questions. The aim is to do so under time and to get above 80% in each of the more difficult Schweser practice exams. After I have done each question, I will think about what was tested and focus on the concept it is getting at.
  10. Exam strategy - Identify strong areas and weak areas.  I will not spend time on questions intended to throw me in the exam, it is well reported that this sends many candidates to their demise. Do the Volume 6 and 7 exams after you have finished all material. You should aim to get 75%. Schweser tests are difficult but if you crack 75% you will surely get at least that much in the real exam which is far more conceptual. By working with maths, you will know how things are affected.
  11. Things to remember about the CFA Level one exam - I need to get 70% in the real exam to guarantee a pass.The real exam is less numerical and more conceptual than the practice questions. Constantly revising and keeping tons of key messages in my mind will be crucial.

I may add to this plan over the coming months and write blogs as to my progress. It is August 10 now, I have 120 odd days left.

Updates: CFA Blog Level One reflections Part One. Another great link for CFA study advice. Contact me below if you need help locating any of the materials I mentioned above.

18 thoughts on “Passing The CFA Level One Exam – Study Plan and Notes”

  1. Not yet, but I guess I would be happy to bet…

    they class it into <50, 50<70, and 70+ per subect area. The course content looks the equivalent of about 1-1.5 university degrees to be known off by heart for a six hour exam. Place your bets.

  2. Dude,
    FOA thanks a ton for sharing your ensights ..
    Can I ask you how do i locate CFA videos and audio tapes on internet.

  3. Sorry dude. But this is so LAME!!!! You have no financial background and yet you post here a link to a company that hires you to recommend stocks??? How should I trust such recommendation….

  4. Hi,
    Came across your blog while searching for CFA study plan/advices on the web. I want to do CFA Level 1(December 2011) as well. I am completely from a Computer Science academic and professional background so was curious to know if there are any body out there with similar profiles. Have you registered for any class room sessions at Schweser/7City etc. or are you planing to study all by yourself?

    Any advice/suggestion/recommendation is welcome.

    Thanks for the post and all the best!


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