CFA Level 1 Exam

How to prepare for CFA level 1 exam


The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is one of the most respected and recognized investment management qualifications globally. Administered by the CFA Institute, the CFA program is rigorous and requires a high level of dedication and preparation. The Level 1 exam is the first of three exams, and it focuses on basic knowledge of investment tools, ethical and professional standards, and portfolio management.

Preparing for the CFA Level 1 exam requires a strategic approach, disciplined study habits, and a thorough understanding of the exam structure. This blog will guide you through the essential steps to effectively prepare for the CFA Level 1 exam, ensuring you maximize your chances of success.

Understanding the CFA Level 1 Exam

Before diving into preparation strategies, it’s important to understand the structure and content of the CFA Level 1 exam. The exam consists of 240 multiple-choice questions, divided into two 3-hour sessions (morning and afternoon). The questions cover 10 topic areas:

  1. Ethical and Professional Standards
  2. Quantitative Methods
  3. Economics
  4. Financial Reporting and Analysis
  5. Corporate Finance
  6. Equity Investments
  7. Fixed Income
  8. Derivatives
  9. Alternative Investments
  10. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

Each topic area has a different weight, with Ethical and Professional Standards and Financial Reporting and Analysis carrying the most weight.

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing for CFA Level 1

1. Develop a Study Plan

Creating a detailed study plan is crucial for managing your time effectively. The CFA Institute recommends dedicating approximately 300 hours of study for the Level 1 exam. Here’s how to structure your study plan:

  • Set a Start Date: Begin your preparation at least 6 months before the exam date.
  • Divide Study Hours: Allocate study hours across the topics based on their weight and your familiarity with the material.
  • Set Milestones: Break down the syllabus into weekly or monthly milestones to track your progress.
  • Review and Revise: Reserve the last month for review and practice exams.

2. Use CFA Institute Curriculum

The CFA Institute provides an official curriculum, which is the most reliable and comprehensive resource for exam preparation. The curriculum covers all the learning outcomes and includes end-of-chapter questions and examples.

  • Read Thoroughly: Go through each reading carefully to understand the concepts.
  • Take Notes: Summarize key points and formulas in your own words to reinforce learning.
  • Answer Questions: Practice end-of-chapter questions to test your understanding.

 3. Supplement with Third-Party Study Materials

While the official curriculum is essential, third-party study materials can offer different perspectives and additional practice questions. Popular providers include Kaplan Schweser, Wiley, and AnalystPrep.

  • Study Notes: Condensed notes can help you review concepts more quickly.
  • Question Banks: Access to a large pool of practice questions is invaluable for exam preparation.
  • Mock Exams: Full-length mock exams simulate the actual exam environment and help build stamina.

4. Focus on Core Topics

Given the weighted distribution of topics, it’s wise to focus more on areas that carry higher weight. Ethical and Professional Standards and Financial Reporting and Analysis are critical for passing the exam.

  • Ethics: Thoroughly understand the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
  • Financial Reporting: Focus on understanding financial statements, ratios, and accounting principles.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Consistent practice is key to success in the CFA Level 1 exam. Try to complete as many practice questions as you can.

  • Daily Practice: Integrate practice questions into your daily study routine.
  • Topic Tests: Take topic-specific tests to gauge your understanding of each area.
  • Mock Exams: Take full-length mock exams under timed conditions to simulate exam day.

6. Review and Revise

Regular revision helps reinforce learning and identify weak areas. Use the last month before the exam for intensive review.

  • Flashcards: Create flashcards for key concepts and formulas.
  • Summary Notes: Review your notes and highlight important points.
  • Practice Exams: Take multiple practice exams to build confidence.

7. Stay Healthy and Manage Stress

Maintaining physical and mental well-being is crucial during your CFA preparation.

  • Healthy Lifestyle: Ensure you eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
  • Stress Management: Use relaxation methods like meditation or yoga.
  • Breaks: Take frequent breaks to prevent burnout and sustain productivity.

Tips for Exam Day

  • Rest Well: Make sure you sleep well the night before the exam.
  • Arrive Early: Arrive at the exam center early to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Stay Calm: Remain calm and focused during the exam. If you come across a challenging question, skip it and come back to it later.
  • Time Management: Keep track of time and ensure you have enough time to answer all questions.

About CICA Institute

CICA Institute is dedicated to providing high-quality coaching for CFA aspirants. With a comprehensive approach to teaching and a focus on practical application, CICA Institute offers both online and offline coaching options to accommodate different learning preferences and schedules.

Online Coaching

For those who prefer flexibility, CICA Institute provide CFA online coaching program is an ideal choice. The online platform offers:

  • Live Interactive Classes: Participate in real-time classes with experienced instructors.
  • Recorded Sessions: Access recorded lectures for convenient review.
  • Online Study Materials: Comprehensive digital study materials available at your fingertips.
  • Practice Questions: Extensive question banks and mock exams to test your knowledge.
  • 24/7 Access: Study at your own pace with round-the-clock access to resources.

Offline Coaching

For students who thrive in a traditional classroom setting, CICA Institute provides CFA offline coaching with several benefits:

  • Classroom Learning: Engage in face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers.
  • Structured Schedule: Follow a structured timetable to stay on track.
  • Study Groups: Form study groups for collaborative learning and peer support.
  • Direct Access to Instructors: Get immediate answers to your questions and personalized guidance.
  • Dedicated Study Environment: Benefit from a distraction-free environment focused on learning.

Why Choose CICA Institute?

CICA Institute stands out for its commitment to student success and comprehensive support throughout the CFA journey. Here are some reasons to choose CICA Institute for your CFA preparation:

  • Experienced Instructors: Learn from seasoned professionals with in-depth industry knowledge.
  • Tailored Study Plans: Receive customized study plans that suit your individual needs.
  • Comprehensive Resources: Access a wealth of study materials, including notes, question banks, and mock exams.
  • Supportive Community: Join a community of like-minded individuals and benefit from peer support.
  • Success Track Record: Benefit from CICA Institute’s proven track record of helping students pass the CFA exam


Getting ready for the CFA Level 1 exam demands a strategic and disciplined method. By developing a comprehensive study plan, utilizing official and third-party materials, focusing on core topics, and practicing extensively, you can maximize your chances of passing the exam. Remember to take care of your physical and mental health throughout your preparation to ensure peak performance on exam day.

CICA Institute offers both online and offline coaching options to cater to your unique learning needs. With experienced instructors, comprehensive resources, and a supportive learning environment, CICA Institute is your partner in achieving CFA success. Enroll today and take the first step towards a rewarding career in finance and investment management.

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