Will I be able to finish studying before the exam? Which is the best CFA study material available? These are some of the questions that plague students wanting to pursue the CFA charter.
CFA Level 1 is not a difficult exam per se – it is just voluminous. Armed with the right CFA study material clearing the level 1 should be relatively easy if not exactly a cake walk. So which is the best CFA study material that you should use? Let’s find out…..
I have personally used and recommend (like many others before me) Kaplan Schweser CFA study notes. Schweser is the oldest and most trusted CFA education provider. Schweser notes effectively summarize the material in the CFA syllabus to present to you just what is necessary to clear the exam. They are precise and concise and clearly convey concepts helping you to cover your portions in the limited time available. Schweser provides graphs and solved examples wherever necessary and also a set of practice questions at the end of every chapter and a question paper at the end of every subject. Many students, including me, can vouch that it is possible to clear the CFA exams studying just from the Schweser notes. Read the review of Kaplan Schweser CFA study notes
However if clearing the exam is not the only item on your agenda and you also want to gain some serious knowledge and understanding of your subject matter, I seriously recommend reading through the CFA Institute books along with Schweser CFA study material. I know they are quite verbose, but you definitely should read them if you have sufficient time on hand before the exam. The books present the most lucid and detailed explanation of the concepts in the CFA curriculum in very simple English. They are the best CFA study material in fact. They are especially very helpful if you do not have a background in finance.
(Even if you are not a CFA candidate, the knowledge shared in the CFA curriculum books would be relevant and of value to anyone who is interested in advancing his understanding of Finance.) Read the CFA Institute Curriculum books review here.
While on the topic of CFA candidates with no financial background, I will suggest also going through the accounting books recommended for Commerce graduate studies for gaining a grasp on subjects like Financial Reporting and Analysis and Quantitative Analysis. MBA books are also recommended for gaining understanding of quants.
Nevertheless, no matter how good your CFA study material is, you can gauge your understanding and grasp of the subject and better it only by testing yourself. For that you need to solve as many practice questions as possible.
Both CFA Institute Books and Schweser CFA study material come with a few practice questions at the end of every chapter. The Schweser notes pack being sold through this site also comes bundled with a CD of few practice questions. However these will not provide adequate practice for cracking the level 1.
If you want the real thing I recommend you try out Analyst Prep Question Banks. They provide more than 3000 CFA level 1 practice questions plus 4 mock exams plus unlimited customizable quizzes for a small fee of $99 minus 10% discount for the readers of this blog. Believe me it would be worth every penny should you decide to buy it. Read the review of Analyst Prep Question Bank.
Use coupon code: AARWIN10 to avail the discount.
Lastly, for solving the problems on the CFA exam you will need to use CFA Institute approved financial calculators only. (See the CFA exam policies here). The two permitted calculators are Texas Instruments BA II plus (including Professional version) and Hewlett Packard 12 C (including Platinum, Prestige and 25th and 30th anniversary editions). Which one is better? I cannot truthfully answer that question as I used only the Texas BA II plus professional for my exams. All I can say and vouch for is that I found it very easy to use. Also Schweser CFA study material is of great help in this regard. Schweser gives you a step by step description of how to use the the calculator for solving the different problems in the syllabus. So if you are using Schweser study notes go in for the BA II plus professional as you’ll have ready help. Read the review of the Texas BA II Plus Professional calculator
That’s all from me guys on the topic of best CFA study material. Hope you found it useful. See you again then and wish you all the best in your pursuit of the CFA charter.
Aarwin’s Guide to CFA recommends only those products that have been personally used by me in the course of my own pursuit of the CFA charter.