Tips to clear CFA® level 1 in the first attempt

CFA level 1

Start early preparations

CFA® candidates should study at least 300-400 hours for each level. The candidate should start preparing six months before the CFA® exam. The reason behind starting the preparation early is that you get familiar with the curriculum. Students from non-commerce backgrounds might need some extra time to prepare.

Monthly Schedule

CFA® level 1 preparation requires commitment and efforts to clear it in the first attempt.

Before moving to weekly scheduling -first, prepare your goals for the first four months. If you are from a science background- it will take at least one month to adjust to the curriculum.

Maintain priority list

CFA® candidates are either working professionals or students- sometimes it gets difficult for them to manage both things, so; you can make a weekly planner to balance and manage your commitments. Working professionals can manage their classes on weekends. 1-2 hours on the weekdays will be enough for solving the test series and mock test.

Understand the subjects

How much time the candidate should devote to CFA® level 1 subjects?

  • Ethics - 6 hours
  • Quantitative Methods - 15 hours
  • Economics- 20 hours
  • Financial reporting and analysis- 30 hours
  • Fixed-Income - 20 hours
  • Equity - 20 hours
  • Alternative Investment - 5 hours
  • Portfolio Management- 15 hours
  • Derivatives - 6 hours
  • Corporate Issuers - 14 hours
These are the minimum hours that the candidate should devote to each subject. Depending on your background you might devote some extra time as well.

Subject wise revision

Once you finish with one subject and start with a new one, don't forget to revise the previous subject as it will help you gain confidence.

For example- You finished equity and started with FRA. You can practice 5-10 questions on equity and once you finish FRA you can practice 15-20 questions of FRA and equity and so on.

Until and unless you are not able to score well in your previous subject do not move to next.

Until and unless you are not able to score well in your previous subject do not move to next.

Use Flashcards for concepts

You can create flashcards for various concepts or you can buy these flashcards. This helps in revising the concepts.

Practice Multiple Questions

For clearing the CFA exam you must practice different types of questions. For example - you practice 30 questions per day, you end up doing 5400 questions by the time you sit for the final examination.

Some candidates don't clear the exam just because they haven't done enough practice.

Full-length mock tests

Once you are completed with the CFA® curriculum, start giving a full-length mock test as it will help you know your weak areas.

Aim to attempt at least ten mock tests before sitting for the CFA® exam. A mock test gives you the real-time scenario of what you are going to face in the exam centre.

The CFA® exam is five hours long with a break of 30 minutes after the 2 hours and 30 minutes exam; then again you have to sit for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Final revision

Keep revising all the concepts thoroughly as the CFA® exam is usually 60% knowledge-based and 40% application-based.

Once you are done with your final preparation, complete the exam registration.

Exam Day

Finally, on the exam day follow these:
  • Get your Passport, Pen, Pencil, and calculator.
  • Take proper sleep.
  • Revise broad concepts.
  • Start with easy questions and theories.
  • There is no negative marking, attempt all questions.
  • Use techniques like Odd one out and closest answers.

CFA® exam is now a computer-based exam and CFA® Level 1 exams are held four times a year in February, May, August, and November.

The CFA Institute provides different types of scholarships

  • Access scholarship
  • Women scholarship
  • Student scholarship
  • Professor scholarship
  • Regulator scholarship
You can visit the CFA Institute website for more details. (You can apply for a scholarship only once for each level) Hope these tips will help you in passing CFA level 1 in the first attempt.