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How much time did it take for you to complete the official curriculum books for level 1?

Hi. I have a background in engineering. I’m going to start with level 1 targeting Dec 2018 exam. People have suggested to go through the curriculum books as I’m new to finance, and that will also help me develop a strong foundation for the other levels. So could you please suggest, if you completed the books and how did you go about it?

I have ample of time but I know these books can be overwhelming.


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Hi Pratj05,

The first time I registered for the CFA level 1 exam back in 2012 it took me about 5-6 month to complete the entire curriculum. It is overwhelming but try to set a goal for how many pages/readings you will do every week. I believe that you are right in saying that you should use the curriculum given you have no background in finance. The curriculum gives you everything you need to understand the concepts tested on the exam. My suggestion would be to start early and give yourself time to absorb the material. After 1-2 months of study, you will start forgetting things you read at the beginning, try having short review sessions once in a while to make sure you retain stuff (I usually read the end of chapter summaries every few weeks). Complete End of chapter questions after each reading and leverage the CFA Online question bank (you get access when you register). If you feel you need more practice, you can also purchase the Schweser Q bank which provide you with about 3000-4000 more questions and the Schweser mock exam. Try to get your hand on as many mock exam as possible (CFAI provides 3 of them). It all boils down to consistency and practice. Allocate time each day to study and practice as much as you can so that you retain key concepts. 

Don’t read the curriculum bro, for L1 Schweser notes are more than enough. You are aiming at a pass, not 100%.

P.s. I also started with no background in finance, but Schweser notes worked perfect for me for L1/L2. Start to read the curriculum when you are preparing for L3.

It took me about 3 months when I studied.

I skimmed most of the material since I am familiar with much of the material.  I have a background in investments because I studied economics in college and worked as an actuary.

I read the parts of the curriculum that were new to me, including ethics and most of accounting.  I also used material from a provider: AdaptPrep.  The videos taught by Mike Carmody were valuable in helping me learn new topics, especially in accounting.  Concepts such as LIFO/FIFO and leases were completely new to me, so having access to good study tools allowed me to learn much faster.


Keith Lo
Product Manager at AdaptPrep

For Level 1 or Level 2, you don’t to follow the Curriculums. Schweser is enough for you (just need almost 3 months to finish all of them). You can use Schweser is the main book and use Curiculum as dictionary. Except Ethics, you must read ethics in Curriculum and do the practice or mock exams as much as possible. That’s all. 

December. Yes, you do have ample time. Trust me on this, you prep through curriculum you’re just not preparing but gaining some deep knowledge which is highly recommended for you since you lack(assuming) even basics in finance. Not at all trying to market it but curriculum is so nicely designed that even a child would understand and learn from it hence not at all overwhelming.

Schweser is useful, but if you’re looking for knowledge go with curriculum and rest assured you will make through exam easily, provided you have completed the curriculum. 

All the best bud! 

Kunal jani wrote:

curriculum is so nicely designed that even a child would understand and learn from it hence not at all overwhelming.

What curriculum did you read? It was very poorly written.