Best CFA Study Material

The chartered financial analyst® (CFA) exam is made up of three exams. The CFA designation requires a significant amount of study time with candidates averaging around 300 hours of time devoted to each level of the CFA exam. 

CFA exam pass rates are typically in the 40-50% level. A CFA prep course is a good investment if you want to pass on the first attempt.

The CFA designation is the gold standard in the finance industry and can help accelerate any career. CFA  exam prep courses are a great way to study as they will help save candidates time and study hours, while also achieving a passing score for each level of the CFA exam.

Table of Contents

  1. Our Picks for Best CFA Exam Study Material
  2. Comparison Table
  3. Who Needs a CFA Exam Prep Course
  4. Princeton Review
  5. Kaplan Schweser Review
  6. Wiley
  7. Bloomberg CFA
  8. Uworld Finance

Our Picks for Best CFA Exam Study Material

Best CFA Exam Study Material Reviews (2020)

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CFA Exam Prep Princeton Review Kaplan Schweser Wiley Bloomberg Uworld Finance
  Princeton Review logo Kaplan Schweser Logo Wiley Logo Bloomberg logo Uworld Finance logo
Rating 
T-G Recommended
Pricing $599 $499
Get Discount
$1099 $995 $699 $299
Subscription Length 12 months 12 months Until you pass Until you take test 12 months
Levels 1 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3 1
Guarantee 
Practice Exams 2 4 2 6 Unlimited
Practice Questions
Videos - 50+ hours - 40+ hours - 90+ hours
Study Plan
Best Feature Only 120 Study Hours Diagnostic Exam Hybrid Learning Style Adaptive learning software Compare Results
Summary  Review Review Review Review Review
Learn More GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!

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Who Needs a CFA Exam Prep Course?

The CFA  exam is a coveted designation for finance professionals. The CFA exam (similar to the CPA exam) is challenging and pass rates are low. Finding your best approach to preparing for the CFA exam can be challenging. CFA  exam prep courses can be time-consuming and expensive. Do you need a CFA prep course? The answer depends on several factors.

Factors to Consider

  • Study discipline – if you routinely have trouble maintaining a study schedule, you’ll find that a prep course is worth it.
  • Improvement needed – take a free CFA exam practice test to see where you stand. If your score needs improvement, an CFA prep course may be a good option.
  • Budget – CFA prep courses can get expensive. If money is tight, consider our best value recommendation, or self-study with CFA prep books.
  • Learning style – if you have a history of successfully studying with books, a self-study approach with a good CFA exam prep book may be your best plan.

Benefits of an CFA Prep Course

  • Simulates actual test – the online exams included in an CFA prep course do a great job of simulating the real CFA. 
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses – the best CFA prep courses offer advanced diagnostics to identify the topics you need to focus on.
  • Comprehensive study plans – CFA exam prep courses will help you craft, and stick to, a customized study schedule that works for you.
  • Pass rates - CFA exam pass rates are typically in the 40-50% range. If passing on your first attempt is critical, you should try a CFA prep course.

CFA Exam Pass Rates

Source: cfainstitute.org

Why an CFA Prep Course May Not Be Your Only Option

  • Expensive – some CFA exam prep courses may be over $1,000.
  • Time-consuming – prep courses often require significant study/prep time.
  • DIY alternative - self-study using prep books may be a cost-effective alternative.

Bottom Line - If you need to pass the CFA exam and have the budget, a top CFA prep course is a great option.

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CFA Exam Study Material Reviews 

The Princeton Review CFA Review

Princeton Review logo

  • Test-Guide Rating:  T-G Recommended
  • Price: Starting at $499
  • Discounts: Available Here

Visit Princeton Review CFA

Princeton Review Feature Summary

  • Price

  • Great price for content received in the course.
  • Guarantee

  • Money back guarantee offered.
  • Content

  • 50+ hours of video lectures and 900 slides of comprehensive study notes.
  • Questions

  • 1500+ practice questions and 2 practice exams.

Princeton Review Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Subscription length
  • Notes included in course
  • Video lectures
  • Cons

  • Light on the number of practice exams
  • -
  • -

Princeton Review Summary

The Princeton Review offer their online self-paced course for $499 and candidates get access for 12 months. The course includes 900 slides of comprehensive study notes, 50+ hours of video lectures, over 1500 practice questions, and 2 mock CFA level I exams. This review course covers all 10 subjects that will be seen on the CFA level I exam. Experts picked the most important topics that will be tested and created the 900+ slides for candidates to study. 

The Princeton Review takes pride in the fact that this course will save candidates 165 hours of study time for their CFA level I exam. The industry average in terms of study time is 285 hours – Princeton Review says that their students will only need to study for 120 hours to pass the CFA level I exam. 

The Princeton Review backs up their study hour claim with their money back guarantee. If students do not pass level I of the CFA, the Princeton Review will refund the money used to purchase the course. While Princeton Review only offers prep materials for level I of the CFA, this course is a great combination of price and value. 

Best features of Princeton Review – Efficient study hours and money back guarantee.

Princeton Review logo

Rating:

T-G Recommended

Bottom Line

Combination of price, content, and features makes this a great course.

Visit Princeton Review CFA

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Kaplan Schweser CFA Prep Review 

Kaplan Schweser Logo

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $649
  • Discounts: Available Here

Visit Kaplan Schweser CFA

Kaplan Schweser Feature Summary

  • Price

  • Most expensive course we reviewed.
  • Guarantee

  • Pass guarantee offered.
  • Content

  • Most comprehensive course we reviewed. Option of both online and in-person classrooms. Books, eBooks, and online tools.
  • Questions

  • Diagnostic exams, checkpoint exams, practice questions, and practice exams all included.

Kaplan Schweser Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Diagnostic exams
  • Weekly instruction
  • Cons

  • Price
  • Classroom option only for limited cities

Kaplan Schweser Summary

Kaplan Schweser has a couple of different options available for their CFA prep courses. They offer their essential self-study package for $649, their premium online class for $1099, and their premium plus package which ranges from $1499-$2598. All are great options, but we will be taking a look at the premium online class available for $1099. 

The premium online class is led by CFA charterholders and includes study notes, diagnostic exams, quizzes, customizable question banks, practice exams and key formulas. One unique feature of this course is that candidates can participate in live in-person classes or completely online. If candidates are located in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Toronto, or Washington D.C. they can attend live classroom sessions – if you are not located in one of these cities, everything will be recorded and made available on-demand. 

All courses by Kaplan Schweser come with a pass guarantee. If candidates do not pass the exam, the next study package will be made available free of charge. The availability to attend live classes or on-demand lectures is a cool feature and caters to a variety of different candidates. The diagnostic exams are another cool feature that will save CFA candidates plenty of time by pinpointing what material needs to be studied the most. 

Best features of Kaplan Schweser – Variety of course offerings and diagnostic exams.

Kaplan Schweser Logo

Rating:

Bottom Line

Very comprehensive course. If candidates can afford this option, this is a great option to pass all levels of the CFA exam.

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Wiley CFA Review

Wiley Logo

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $995
  • Discounts: Available Here

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Wiley Feature Summary

  • Price

  • On the higher end of pricing.
  • Guarantee

  • Continued access until you pass.
  • Content

  • Hybrid learning style with live and on-demand videos is nice.
  • Questions

  • Exam style practice questions and 2 full-length practice exams included.

Wiley Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • On-demand videos and live videos
  • Access until you pass
  • Cons

  • Price
  • -

Wiley Summary

Wiley offers a suite of test prep products for all 3 levels of the CFA exam. For the CFA level I exam, Wiley offers products ranging from $445 to $1395. For this review, we will be focusing on the CFA Program Gold Course which is available to candidates for $995. 

The CFA gold course includes 90+ hours of video lectures, personalized study schedules, print or eBooks to help learn material, 1000s of practice questions, and 2 full-length practice exams. The course is unique in that they offer 14-17 weeks of live online virtual classes where students can attend live lectures about different CFA topics – if students cannot make the lectures, they can watch them on-demand on their own time. 

The course also gets material across via bite-sized lessons that are designed to keep the attention of the students and increase retention levels. Candidates get access to the course until they pass their desired CFA level. With Wiley, candidates get the pass guarantee – partner until you pass your CFA which includes updates and upgrades. 

Best Feature of Wiley – Hybrid learning style and access until you pass.

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Rating:

 

Bottom Line

Good range of products offered for CFA exam takers. Hybrid learning style caters to all styles of learning.

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Bloomberg CFA Review

Bloomberg logo

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $399
  • Discounts: Available Here

Visit Bloomberg CFA

Bloomberg CFA Feature Summary

  • Price

  • Middle of the pack in terms of pricing.
  • Guarantee

  • Money back if you complete 95% of course and fail exam.
  • Content

  • Micro-lessons that cover the entire curriculum of the CFA.
  • Questions

  • 6 practice exams and practice questions available.

Bloomberg CFA Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Number of practice exams
  • -
  • Cons

  • Lack of study plan
  •  No video lessons

Bloomberg CFA Summary

Bloomberg offers prep courses for all 3 levels of the CFA exam. Their prep courses range from $699 to $1999. For our purposes, we will be looking at the CFA level I essential prep course which costs $699. Bloomberg classifies their prep courses by date that the candidate will be taking the test so it should be easy for candidates to figure out which course will be best for them. 

The Bloomberg Essential CFA level I course includes practice questions, 6 full-length exams, micro-lessons, and 20 ask-a-tutor questions. All tutors in the Bloomberg system are CFA charterholders. Bloomberg also uses adaptive learning software that analyzes a candidates performance and focuses on target areas – the more a student studies, the more customizable the prep course becomes.

Bloomberg says that 98.2% of their graduates are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the prep course. Bloomberg also boasts that students who complete the course are only spending 179 hours on average, which is much lower than the industry standard. If candidates do not pass their CFA exam, Bloomberg has a money back guarantee set in place. 

Best features of Bloomberg CFA – Adaptive learning software. 

Bloomberg logo

Rating:

 

Bottom Line

Combination of content, practice questions, and practice exams make this a good choice for some candidates.

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Uworld Finance CFA Tutor Review

Uworld Finance logo

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $299
  • Discounts: Available Here

Visit Uworld Finance CFA

Uworld Finance Feature Summary

  • Price

  • One of the cheapest courses we reviewed.
  • Guarantee

  • No guarantee provided.
  • Content

  • Not much content other than practice questions.
  • Questions

  • 1100+ practice questions with answer explanations.

Uworld Finance Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Updated practice questions
  • Can compare with peers
  • -
  • Cons

  • Lack of content
  • No videos
  • No learning modules

Uworld Finance Summary

UWorld Finance offers prep courses for level I of the CFA exam. Their prices range from $199 to $299. We will be taking a look at the elite course that is offered for $299. Candidates will get access to this course for 12 months and will have the option to renew the course if needed after the 12 months expire. 

The elite course includes 1100+ practice questions that follow the exam blueprint. These practice questions are continuously monitored and updated to reflect the most relevant material for level I of the CFA exam. All practice questions include comprehensive answer explanations that show step-by-step guides on how to answer the questions. 

The course comes with customizeable practice exams so candidates can create unlimited practice tests. Performance graphs are also included with the course so candidates can monitor their performance and personal progress. One cool feature of this course is your ability to compare your results with your peers – candidates can see how they stack up against the competition when taking this course.

Best Features of Uworld Finance – Comparative peer feature.

Uworld Finance logo

Rating:

 

Bottom Line

Course for those who want to learn via practice questions.

Visit Uworld Finance CFA

CFA Exam Study Material FAQ

Is CFA really hard?

The CFA is a challenging exam. There are 3 levels and each level requires a lot of study time and dedication. For more information on the CFA, check out our complete guide to the CFA.

What is the best CFA study material?

There are a lot of great CFA study materials out there. After looking at numerous factors, our top picks included Princeton Review and Adapt Prep. Princeton Review and Adapt Prep both provide a great prep course for great value.

Is Princeton Review a good CFA prep course?

Princeton Review came in as one of our top picks. Princeton Review has a very in-depth course that covers level I of the CFA exam. Princeton Review offers their course for $499 and students get access to the course for 12 months.

Are CFA prep courses worth it?

CFA prep courses are a great way to learn new material and refresh yourself on old material. Some factors to consider might be your budget, learning style, and self-discipline. CFA prep courses will help identify strengths and weaknesses, simulate the actual test, and provide a study plan.

What is the best way to study for CFA Level 1?

CFA prep courses can be a very effective way to study for all levels of the CFA. Students should learn what they will be tested on for the CFA level 1 and decide on how to study for it once they are more familiar with the exam.

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