Keep reading to learn some of the most important factors in preparing for the Level I exam, plus get expert tips that will help you prepare for exam day.

How to Study for CFA Level I Quick Facts

  • CFA Level I exam pass rates are at around 26% and historically around 42%.
  • Ethics and Financial Reporting & Analysis make up approximately 35% of the CFA Level I exam.
  • CFA candidates should begin to study at least six months before their exam date.
  • Successful candidates employ a study plan that is consistent and balanced to avoid burnout.
  • Practice questions, video lectures, and mock exams are some of the most important study methods to prepare for the Level I exam.

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candidates who are serious about becoming a chartered financial analyst.

Plan Your Study for CFA Level I

Use the following information and expert tips on how to study for the Level I CFA exam to set yourself up for success on exam day.

How Much to Study for CFA Exam Level I

According to the CFA Institute, candidates that received a passing grade on the Level I exam studied for an average of 300 hours. This means you’ll need to study for about 13 hours per week if you start your exam preparation six months before your exam date.

How to Study Reading Material for CFA Level I

There is a ton of reading material on the CFA Level I exam. With this in mind, you should plan for around 4 months of reading. As you read, be sure to highlight, and re-read when something isn’t quite clear.

Break down the material with the weight of the exam topic areas in mind and be sure to prioritize the topics that don’t come as naturally to you or that you don’t have as much experience with. We also strongly recommend using guided video lectures when studying for the Level I exam because they can help you absorb the concepts more effectively.

Topics that are heavily weighted include Financial Reporting & Analysis and Ethics.

Next on the priority list is Quantitative Methods, Fixed Income, and Corporate Finance. And don’t forget about Portfolio Management, Derivatives, Economics, and Alternative Investments.

Learn more about CFA Level I Topic Weights.

How to Study End-of-Chapter Questions CFA Level I

The end-of-chapter questions are another important part of how to study for the CFA Level I exam. These questions will provide an overview of the topic areas to help you prioritize your areas of study. The questions will also shed light on your areas of weakness, giving you areas to focus on during each study session.

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How to Practice Taking the CFA Level I Exam

Once you’ve worked through some of the reading material, you’ll want to work on lots of practice questions and practice exams. Since the CFA Level I exam is packed with multiple-choice questions, it’s a good idea to use CFA Level I flashcards to help you refine your knowledge.

Joining a study group is another excellent option, as successful CFA candidates report that groups help with memory, discipline, and motivation and can even help you absorb more material than when you study alone. Wiley offers a wide range of study materials to help during this process, whether you’re studying alone or with others.

Compare Wiley’s CFA Level I study materials.

How to Pace Yourself for CFA Level I Exam

The Level I exam can change from year to year but was most recently made up of 180 multiple-choice questions split between two 135-minute sessions. To ensure you have enough time during the exam, you can break this down with a target of taking on average 90 seconds on each question during the actual exam. And be sure to pay close attention to time management.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare, so pace yourself throughout, with plenty of scheduled breaks. Your last month of studying should exclusively be for practice and review.

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How to Study for CFA Level I – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how to study for the Level I CFA exam.

  • The CFA Institute reports that it will take, on average, 300 hours spread across at least six months to prepare for the CFA Level I exam.
  • With a 300-hour goal, you’ll need to allot around 13 hours per week studying for the CFA Level I exam.
  • Most consider the CFA Level I exam to be less difficult than the Level II and Level III exams, but it is still a significant challenge. This makes preparing early and how you study incredibly important.