Friday, 23 December 2011

Preparing for Level I Exam - Important Tips

  • Adjust your studying of a topic to the weight it is given in the exam. For example, if ethics is 15% of the exam, try to spend 15% of your time studying ethics
  • Don't ignore ethics. Many people don't cover ethics well enough. If you study properly, this 15% should be a gimme.
  • Be sure to eat properly and exercise. When you're working 50-70 hours each week and then studying an additional 10-20, it's easy to ignore working out and start eating junk food.
  • Do not underestimate the difficulty of the exam. Even though it's considered the easiest of the three CFA exams, it still covers a wide variety of difficult topics.
  • How much you will have to study is going to depend on a variety of factors, including your academic background, work experience, general intelligence, etc. CFAI recommends at least 250 hours, though.
  • Don't use the study hours as your only measure of progress. Some people will pass level 1 by studying 100 hours, while some will need 400 hours to master the curriculum. The key is studying enough to be able to answer any question in under 1.5 minutes. Taking practice exams will give you a good proxy for your progress.
  • Continuously review all of the material you have covered to date. A major concern with candidates is forgetting information that they covered a month or two ago. This is another area where the 3rd party notes come in handy.
  • Track your studying. A simple excel sheet could help you in tracking the number of hours which you've studied.
  • Take Full Practice exams. Practice is the key to success. Once you are done with your readings take mocks. CFA Institute provides 1 mock. Try to appear in as much mocks as you can. Third  party mocks can be purchased online.
  • Start with the topic that interests you the most . If you think that studying derivatives sounds interesting, start with studying derivatives. If you do this, you're more likely to enjoy the reading, rather than having the feeling of being forced to read - much like when you were forced to read the "classic novels" in high school.
  • Sign up early. I suggest signing up at least before the first deadline, if for no other reason than to save some money. This will also ensure that you'll have enough time to properly prepare.


  1. Can the Level I preparation be done starting from June 2012 and appearing in December 2012 exam?..found the above tips quite helpful for the preparations.

  2. Yes that is the best time. There is an other post on this blog referring to when one should start preparing for the exam. It might help you out.

  3. Is there any fix proportion of theory and numerical in exam (Level1).What's the passing criteria.

  4. No fixed proportion. If you are above 70% then you are passed generally. Minimum Passing Score is set every time. For details you can visit CFA Institute Website (

  5. Is a year too much time to prepare?