Looking back on it, L1 seemed really difficult at the time. But after taking L2 (twice) and L3, it really wasn’t that bad.
Of course, YMMV. It depends on whether you were a finance major or an accounting major. If you were an accounting major, the CPA exam should be relatively easier, and if you were a finance major, the CFA L1 should be relatively easier.
It also depends on what order you take them in. EG - If you take CPA first, the acccounting on L1 should be a cake walk.
To answer your questions directly:
I studied about 250 hours for the entire CPA exam. I probably studied about 150 for L1 CFA.
I would rate CFA L1 as a 6/10. I would rate the CPA exams as:
Honestly, I feel that the comparison in terms of the hours is not fair. CPA is a different ball game altogether with a different kind of pressure. You got to pass all sections within 18 months of passing the first section. I have seen people struggling to get credits on all 4 sections within 18 months. With credits expiring for FAR and REG, it can become a total nightmare. With that knowledge, I gave it more time and effort, than probably needed, so I did not count the number of hours I spent studying.
Having passed CPA and yet to appear for L1, I can share my experience on CPA exams with the level of difficulty (relative to each other) as follows:-