Picking out the best CFA® study materials and courses to help you pass the chartered financial analyst exam isn’t as easy as it seems. There are many different test prep companies that all claim they’re the best at helping you prepare for the exam, but how can you know for sure which is the best CFA® course for YOU?
There’s only one way: closely examine each one and compare how well they will function for you.
Despite the claims of each company, there is no single greatest CFA® prep course. There are a number of different study guides and practice exams out there that all have their benefits and downsides, meaning that they function excellently for some people and aren’t as effective for others.
Therefore, it’s important to read through the sales pitch and the hyperbole present in each course. Ultimately, your primary goal should be to ascertain if it matches your learning style, study schedule, and budget.
It’s pretty common that most CFA® study guides recommend at least 300 hours of studying in order to pass all three exam levels. This statistic assumes that you are efficient with your study time and the review course is actually helpful.
If you have a set of monotonous, mundane CFA® exam prep books that don’t enable you to focus on their educational material, you’ll probably waste excessive time studying things that don’t sink in. Consequently, this could add hours of additional studying for each level. The primary aspect you need to think about is obtaining a course that works for you, maintains your focus, and actually prepares you for exam day.
We know how difficult it is to decide which course is ideal with the limited information out there. That’s why I personally tested and evaluated all the top-rated CFA® exam prep materials on the market and reviewed them below. Furthermore, we will walk through some of the benefits and disadvantages of each platform, along with their unique characteristics. This means you don’t have to rack your brain about which course to use and can simply start focusing on taking the exam.
Here is a ranking of the best CFA® study materials on the market right now. Check it out and determine which one will work best for you!
Top 5 Best CFA Prep Courses & Study Materials
1. Runner-up Best CFA® Study Materials: Top Rated: Analyst Prep CFA® Review
2. Best Live Online Options: Kaplan Schweser
3. Runner-up Best CFA® Study Materials: Salt Solutions CFA Prep Course
4. Best Value CFA® Exam Prep: The Princeton Review CFA® Study Materials
5. CFA® Prep Course for 2023: Wiley CFA® Review
6. Best CFA® Practice Tests: Bloomberg CFA® Review Course
7. CFA® Test Prep Course: Illumeo CFA® Study Materials
Here are the best CFA® study materials to help you pass the exam on your first try and become a Chartered Financial Analyst!
1. AnalystPrep CFA® Study Materials
AnalystPrep is a company that offers a uniquely streamlined online education platform. CFA® students who are tired of slow, outdated online classes will definitely want to see what this company has to offer.
From the beginning, this CFA® review course saves you time by allowing you instant access via your Google or Facebook account. There’s no need to add all your personal information or include some form of payment— with one click, you’re instantly given access to their platform with some free study materials.
For a long time it was Kaplan or nothing, but now there are a lot of prep providers, and many with different approaches for people with different learning styles. Find something that makes you comfortable, that works for you.
– Reddit User CartographerNew5406
From here, it’s easy to sign up for specific courses that meet your needs. All of AnalystPrep’s CFA® study materials are designed and taught by qualified experts. Additionally, there’s a strong community aspect to all their content; you can ask for help on specific content areas through their forum and even vote on the quality of specific practice questions.
Reasons AnalystPrep Stands Out for CFA® Exam Prep:
- Holistic Online Learning Experience: Emphasizes both content quality and user experience, ensuring an optimal online learning environment for CFA® aspirants.
- Instant Access: Allows immediate access through a Google or Facebook login, removing the hassle of lengthy sign-ups.
- Complimentary Study Materials: Immediate access to select free study resources upon login.
- Community Engagement: Offers a robust forum for discussions, doubt-clearance, and feedback, promoting peer learning.
Pros of Analyst Prep
Pro – Interactive Feedback: Feedback is a two-way street with AnalystPrep. Not only can students receive input on their performance, but they also have the power to vote on the effectiveness of specific practice questions. This interactive model ensures that the platform remains dynamic, always striving for improved content based on user feedback.
Pro – Flexible Course Selection: One size doesn’t fit all, especially in exam preparation. Recognizing this, AnalystPrep provides a range of tailored courses. Whether a student needs comprehensive coverage or targeted revision on specific topics, there’s likely a course or resource on their platform to suit.
Pro – Generous Free Samples: AnalystPrep believes in giving students a taste before they fully commit. By offering a range of free samples, students can familiarize themselves with the platform’s style and quality without any financial outlay, ensuring they’re making an informed decision when they choose to invest further.
Bottom Line: AnalystPrep offers a modern, streamlined online platform tailored for today’s CFA® students. By seamlessly integrating instant access, expert-designed materials, and a vibrant community forum, they have created an educational experience that is both efficient and engaging. For those seeking a refreshing and interactive approach to CFA® preparation, AnalystPrep stands out as a top choice.
2. Kaplan Schweser CFA® Prep Course
If you’re looking for study materials to help you pass the CFA® exam, another excellent resource is Kaplan Schweser. Also sometimes referred to as Schweser CFA®, this is a long-standing educational company that works with over 1,000 school districts and 10,000 businesses to help millions of students pass their exams at the undergrad and graduate levels.
Although they’re mostly known for other tests, Kaplan Schweser offers pretty good study materials for the CFA® exam in a variety of formats and packages.
- If you want to learn through self-paced independent study, their Essential package offers an affordable collection of practice questions, practice exams, SchweserNotes, and assessment resources.
- For extra instruction in a live classroom environment, Kaplan Schweser also offers Premium packages for all three levels of the CFA® exam. These include all the same features as their Essential package, plus the option for an online or in-person class.
- Finally, students who want the most comprehensive study experience possible can opt for PremiumPlus. Also available for all three CFA® exam levels, this course includes the content from the other tiers as well as an extra Review Workshop for additional test prep.
Pros and Cons of Kaplan CFA®:
Pro – Comprehensive Content Coverage: Kaplan Schweser’s materials are known for their thorough and in-depth coverage of the CFA® curriculum, ensuring students have access to all the information they need to succeed on the exams.
Pro – Diverse Learning Formats: Catering to different learning styles, Kaplan Schweser offers a variety of formats, from self-paced study resources to live online and in-person classes, allowing students to choose the method that best aligns with their study habits and preferences.
Con – Limited Customizability: While Kaplan Schweser provides structured study materials for CFA® prep, some students feel that their platform lacks flexibility in customizing study plans based on individual needs and strengths. This can be a challenge for those who prefer a more tailored approach to their exam preparation.
Bottom Line: Kaplan Schweser is a respected name in the educational sector, offering a range of CFA® exam prep materials to cater to every student’s needs. From their Essential self-study package to the comprehensive PremiumPlus with added workshops, they ensure quality across the board. While they’re prominent for other test preps, their CFA® offerings stand out, making them a viable choice for aspiring finance professionals.
3. Salt Solutions CFA® Review Course
Salt Solutions CFA® is a one-stop shop for CFA® exam prep. It allows students to prepare for each level of the CFA® test and offers intuitive video lectures that are head and shoulders above most other offerings in this arena.
Although Salt Solutions CFA® used to charge for their CFA® Level I course, they’ve recently changed their pricing. Salt Solutions is now offering the first level of their CFA® exam prep completely free of charge!
You read that right. You can get access to one of the best CFA® Level I review courses at no cost at all.
Salt Solutions offers a lot of quality exam prep materials to students. These include many hours of video lectures, most of which come with quality animated graphics to help break down and anchor the discussed materials, as well as mock exams and multiple-choice test questions with detailed answers contained within. Students can study for the entire CFA® exam or just one level, depending on their preferences.
Salt Solutions CFA® Course Features
- Nearly 4500 multiple-choice test questions
- Over 160 hours of video lectures
- Nine practice exams in total
- Note-taking, test review, and performance analytics tools
- Set weekly goals and track tasks with the CheckPoints Dashboard
- Multiple types of study materials are available
Salt Solutions CFA® Pros and Cons
Pro – Specialized Focus: Unlike some providers that spread their resources across a wide range of exam preps, Salt Solutions’ dedicated focus on the CFA® exam means they’re deeply invested in the specific needs of CFA® candidates. This could lead to more tailored and effective resources.
Pro – Modern Platform: As a newer entrant to the market, Salt Solutions might benefit from leveraging the latest online education technologies and methodologies, offering students a more intuitive and user-friendly learning experience compared to older platforms.
Con – Newer Provider: Being a newer player in the CFA prep market, Salt Solutions might not have the same level of track record or established reputation as some of the long-standing providers like Kaplan Schweser.
Con – Narrow Focus: While specializing exclusively in CFA prep might be seen as a strength, some learners prefer platforms that offer resources for a broader range of financial exams, allowing for integrated learning or crossover topics.
Bottom Line: Salt Solutions provides a tailored approach to CFA preparation, delivering fresh perspectives and methodologies. Though they don’t have the lengthy track record of some peers, their innovative tools are noteworthy. Candidates should consider this mix of uniqueness and relative novelty when making their choice.
4. The Princeton Review CFA® Exam Prep Materials
The Princeton Review CFA® is a company with a rich history of high-quality test prep study materials for a wide range of trades and professional disciplines. Although this is their first foray into CFA® test prep, you wouldn’t know it at first sight because they’ve done an incredible job.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of their prep.
Princeton Review CFA Pors and Cons
Based on the information provided, here’s a list of pros and cons for the Princeton Review’s CFA prep program:
Pro – Comprehensive Coverage with Assurance: With over 3,000 practice questions, 50+ hours of video lectures, 6 mock exams, and more, the program offers extensive coverage of the exam content. Furthermore, the ‘Pass Assurance’ feature indicates confidence in their material, promising a refund if students don’t pass the Level I CFA exam.
Pro – Expert Instruction: The program’s instructors are not only knowledgeable in their respective fields, but they’re also skilled in breaking down complex topics in a digestible manner. Their expertise enhances the quality and efficacy of the instruction.
Con – Potential for Overwhelming Information: The sheer volume of slides (900) and video content might be overwhelming for some students, especially those looking for a more concise review.
Con – Limited Flexibility with Flashcards: The program offers only 50 key definition flashcards, which might not be comprehensive enough for some learners who rely heavily on flashcards for revision.
Con – Errors in Content: Some user feedback points out occasional inaccuracies in explanatory notes for drill questions, which could potentially hinder understanding or introduce misconceptions.
Bottom Line: The Princeton Review’s CFA prep boasts expert-led content and a ‘Pass Assurance’. However, users have pointed out occasional content inaccuracies and the limited flashcard offering might not suit everyone. Ensure you consider these aspects before diving in.
5. Wiley CFA® Prep Course Review
Following Wiley CFA’s acquisition by UWorld, known for its medical test prep, there’s now an element of uncertainty regarding Wiley’s future trajectory. While previously a top pick for CFA preparation, this shift has given us pause. Until more clarity emerges, we’re hesitant to fully endorse them and suggest that prospective users stay informed about Wiley CFA updates and announcements.
Financial analysis requires a strong understanding of modern technology since it plays a substantial role in gathering and processing vast amounts of data. Because of this, Wiley’s approach to preparing students for the CFA exam is a great way to start becoming familiar with modern forms of data analysis.
For example, Wiley’s Score Predictor activates after you’ve completed more than half of the material in a specific section. This shows you a rough estimate of your CFA exam score if you took it that day. You can increase this score by answering questions correctly, viewing more lectures, and reading more of the study text. The ability to access and synchronize progress with all your study materials no matter where you are is a huge benefit for busy students and working professionals.
How do you rate Wiley CFA Review Courses?
Finally, Wiley offers traditional academic tutoring to supplement all the tech-heavy features included in their CFA review course. This means you can sit in on live lectures taught by one of Wiley’s highly experienced professors and ask follow-up questions with fast response times.
6. Bloomberg CFA® Exam Prep
Bloomberg CFA® exam prep offers training and instruction from some of the most respected and knowledgeable people in the industry. You can rest assured that if you decide to go with Bloomberg CFA®, you will be getting instructions from the best out there.
This course utilizes advanced adaptive learning software that actually learns what you know and what you don’t know as you go through the course. It sounds kind of creepy, but it’s actually pretty cool. As you answer questions, the program keeps track of your wrong answers and retests you on the topics you struggle with most. This way, you aren’t constantly studying the same information that you already know and understand. You only focus on the stuff you don’t know.
As with any adaptive course, it comes with awesome analytics and a sweet dashboard that displays all the features and functions of the course. This course also includes the biggest CFA® test bank in the industry, with more than 8,000 practice questions and 8 full-length mock exams. That’s plenty of stuff to practice. The one big downside to this course is that there are no video lectures, so if you are someone who learns best by watching lectures, this one might not be right for you.
Otherwise, it’s an extremely comprehensive course. You should take it for a test drive with their free trial option to see it for yourself.
7. Illumeo CFA® Test Prep
Although they’re primarily geared towards providing CPE, Illumeo also has a CFA® Level 1 prep course that can be helpful for exam candidates. In fact, it’s one of the least stressful options available to students for a few key reasons.
First, this is one of the most affordable CFA® Level 1 prep courses around. Additionally, it’s structured in several mini-courses, mostly comprised of short video lectures— an easy-to-navigate layout that doesn’t have a lot of extra features.
However, the low cost of Illumeo’s test prep course means you’ll be missing out on tons of helpful resources. For example, this course has nothing compared to AnalystPrep’s community forum or adaptive learning technology. Furthermore, it only covers the first level of the CFA® exam, so you’ll have to look elsewhere to prepare for Level 2 or Level 3.
Basically, this is an option if you want to prepare for Level 1 without spending a lot of money. They even offer the introductory section for free, so you can try it before you buy.
Best CFA® Prep Course Discounts
There’s enough to worry about when studying to become a Chartered Financial Analyst, so why worry about the cost of studying?
That’s why we’ve organized this list of promos and discounts for the most popular CFA® study courses and resources: to help ease your mind as you study with noteworthy educational companies like Wiley CFA® Review and AdaptPrep!
Enjoy 30% Off Analyst Prep CFA & FRM Courses
Get 15% Off Kaplan CFA Review Course
20% Off Analyst Prep CFA & FRM Courses
Check Weekly Offers on Princeton Review CFA Courses
Enjoy 15% Off Kaplan CFA Review Course
Compare the Best CFA® Study Materials on the Market
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CFA® Test Prep Frequently Asked Questions
of different study guides and practice exams out there. Furthermore, they all have their benefits and downsides, meaning that they function excellently for some people and aren’t as effective for others. That said, our overall top-rated course is Analyst Prep CFA® Review.
CFA® Institute offers some study materials for students preparing to take the CFA® exam on their Exam Support page. This includes sample questions and study tips from experts. Additionally, they have a list of CFA® review courses that are approved by the CFA Institute.
While the content and format of the CFA® exam are frequently updated to reflect current changes in the industry, it doesn’t always update each year. For 2022, all three levels of the CFA® exam will be converted into a computer-based format, but the curriculum will remain the same until 2022.
The best way to study for your CFA® exam is to establish a routine and stick to it. A well-designed review course can assist with this. Focus on the different exam weights and core areas. Outcome statements, in particular, are critical. Practice applying concepts to real situations. Spend time in the newly added “Fintech” section. Finally, learn how to best attack the exam structure to understand where your energy and focus need to go.
A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) is a specialist in the area of investment management. An individual is certified by the CFA® Institute as a CFA® charterholder only after that person has undergone a rigorous education and training process. The specific skills that a CFA® possesses include expertise in equity and fixed-income investments, derivatives, alternative investments, and portfolio management.
The best way to study for your CFA® exam is to establish a routine and stick to it. A well-designed review course can assist with this. Focus on the different exam weights and core areas. Outcome statements, in particular, are critical. Practice applying concepts to real-life situations. Spend time in the newly added “Fintech” section. Finally, learn how to best attack the exam structure to understand where your energy and focus need to go.
CFA Institute does not endorse, promote or warrant the accuracy or quality of AIS-CPA.com. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.