Best methods of studying for level 1

Hello guys

So i am planning to take the CAIA level 1 in march and have some questions. I have an MBA in finance but my knowledge about alternative investments is not that much lets say i have basic knowledge. How long do you think it takes to prepare for the exam for beginners.? I plan to study in about 2 weeks so that will take me about 4 months.

2- also what is the best studying techniques? Should i read the book first then do the problems with kaplan or upper mark. Or should i ignore the book and go with the kaplan or upper mark study materials.?

3- which is better Kaplan or upper mark? And are there online lectures helpful or not?

The exam and its materials cost alot so i want make sure i am on the right path before starting

Thank you in advance

Aziz -

I just passed L1. I also have an MBA in finance, but am also a CFA charterholder. With my background, I found a lot of the first 1/3 of the material to be review, but the last 2/3 of the material was pretty much brand new to me.

I think 4 months is a good time to start studying. I started around late May for the Sept cycle, although to be honest, I probably could have studied for the whole thing in about 3 months. I probably put in ~130 hours of study.

I used Uppermark exclusively (Study Materials and their Test Bank). I didn’t find the extra $100 for the Practice Exam and Final Review to be particularly helpful.

My results were pretty good (I got 5 stronger, 1 higher, and 1 comparable in my score categories), so I think the Uppermark materials worked for me.

As I only used Uppermark, I can’t speak to the quality of Kaplan, or, for that matter, the source Wiley material.

Good luck!

Am I correct in thinking the L1 CAIA syllabus hasnt changed since 2015, therefore using kaplan 2016 materials for the 2017 exam is ok?

The curriculum has been extensively revamped for March 16 exam. Since I passed March 16 exam, I did not keep track of any changes afterwards. In any case make sure that the curriculum in your third party papers is the same as the current official book.

I would also recommend a Q-Bank (I used Upppermark). You have to buy that new anyway.


I wouldn’t recommend Uppermark as I had a better time with Kaplan.

I passed Level 1 with Kaplan first time but failed Level 2 when i switched to Uppermark.

Kaplan all the way for me.

Kaplan is great

Thanks guys for all your help and info

for the ethics part, is the standard of practice is the one we should study for it?

also I think I will go with Kaplan and decided to get this package

"The University Essential Self Study Package is an excellent choice for candidates who want a comprehensive CAIA® study program, but would prefer to prepare , practice , and perform on their own. With the help of SchweserNotes™ and our easy-to-use online tools, you can master the difficult CAIA curriculum at your own pace. The University Essential Self Study Package inlcudes:

  • SchweserNotes™ (eBooks)
  • Schweser’s QuickSheet (eBook)
  • Practice Exams (online)
  • Schweser Study Calendar
  • SchweserPro™ QBank
  • Instructor Support: Instructor-Led Office Hours"

do you guys recommend this package?

thanks again

For me, I read the book and took uppermark exams. Last 2 weeks I went all in on uppermark and used the kaplan secret sauce. I don’t really think I came close to 200 hours but I passed pretty easily, despite wishing I had a little more time to read.

Honestly I wouldnt overthink it too much. Basic textbook plus uppermark qbank plus secret sauce was economical and got the job done for me.

What is Kaplan secret sauce? The flash cards?

^no…it’s an edible sauce that you put on your food a week before the exam to help you remember concepts. Kaplan holds the patent.