Schweser vs. Wiley/Elan on June 2015

Hi everyone - fingers crossed for all of you on level II. I was looking for feedback from people on Schweser vs. Wiley/Elan and how well you felt they prepared you for the exam (notes, mock exams, etc.) I’m piggybacking a little on Magician’s post I know, but I used Schweser for level I last December and thought it was excellent but am leaning towards using Wiley/Elan for level II based on that post and others from previous years. Was hoping for feedback while everything was fresh in everyone’s mind.

Any thoughts appreciated.


Hey there.

Schweser & Wiley are both good.

I used Schweser for Level I. There’s no way I could have passed the exam without it. I was sure I passed Level I when I walked out of the exam. I did flounder around a bit on a few of the Schweser readings and had to read quite a few of the CFAI sessions before some of the topics clicked for me so I decided to go with Wiley for Level II. Wiley explained things in a way that made more sense to me. I didn’t do any of the CFAI readings, except for a couple of the softer subjects like Porter’s Five Forces + Ethics which I read twice. I did all the EOCs and a lot of the BB’s.

I’ve never been much for videos but I did watch the Peter Olinto (Wiley) FRA ones since everyone was raving about them. Honestly, I thought they were going to be a waste of time since I’m a CPA but they were good. Seriously good. And the Quant video taught by another instructor was good too. I finally understand Quant.

In hindsight I probably really benefited from doing Schweser Qbank questions. - if for no other reason to not get stale on any particular topic area. This year, by the time I got done with all of the readings I couldn’t remember anything I had read back in Jan/Febr. Yeah, I could reread the sections a lot faster the second/third time around but eventually I ran out of time to keep relearning subjects. Next year, I’m definitely signing up for Qbank.

I think Schweser is better with their material delivery dates than Wiley. Scheduling and customer service issues seem to have been a sore spot for some candidates.

I’d definitely go with the Wiley 11th Hour Guide over Secret Sauce the last month of study. It’s more in depth. That said, I flipped through SS the day before the exam and picked up a couple of easy points.

If you’re not big on note cards, I’d invest in the Wiley Formula Sheet or FinQuiz’s formula sheet which is just as good and less expensive.

Just about everyone does Schweser mocks, so if you have time after doing the CFAI topic assessments and CFAI mock, get the Schweser mocks.

You’ve got to go to financialexamhelp123, which is currently free and indispensable.

Plus stay active on AF.

I think schweser is lacking although some of the concepts are explained more easily. The book doesn’t have all the material. Wiley I thought was also lacking but for the exam Wiley questions were more helpful and Schweser mock questions are unncessarily hard.

Schweser all the way. Always go for the biggest and best provider in the business. And that’s Schweser.

What is the point of asking this question… Unless you get a bunch of people who used both materials you will only ever get biased answers… For what its worth, I used schweser and I think its the dogs bollocks… I also looked at Wiley and their stuff looked quite amateurish with all those ridiculous colours and whatnot… Their formula sheets that they charge for also sucked compared to schweser that gives them for free…

Thanks all for the responses.

Biased how? Positively? Negatively? Are you implying that everyone either hated or loved their prep materials? If people told me why they felt that way, it would be helpful…

band 8 with schweser in 2014. 2015 was only cfai + schweser live mock… watch this space…

I used scheweser for level I and got a band 10 the first time. Used Elan second time for level I got over 70 all topics.

I feel scheweser doesn’t do a good job of explaining everything.

But if you have a great finance foundation of knowledge already then you should probably go with scheweser as it is better of a refresher to teach you everything you learned already from your Finance degree you got in college or from a masters.

Another plus side is the number of mocks they give you which is far and above the number Elan can provide you. Also the q bank is a great way to refresh your memory if you are an active learner and need to do problems.

That being said…the videos from Scheweser is absolutely horrible…they add no value overall.


Main reason you go with Elan is to watch the Peter olinto videos. That man dumbs down finance and makes learning the actual CFA topics fun. You could sit all day and watch his videos and not feel overburderned or feel that learning this stuff is torture.

The books are good because they actually follow the LOS’s to try to teach you the stuff. Their 11th hour is quite nice as well but it’s really not an 11th hour…in terms of 1 week before the exam…you should be doing other stuff rather than reading a 350 page book. The 11th hour probably should be read during the 2 month period when you start doing your Mocks and stuff.

Now the negatives-

I don’t know if they’ll record new videos for Elan after they got bought out. They are using the same videos from 2013 to teach some of the stuff. So if CFAI decides to restructure some of their topics in the future a lot of it will be obsolete. The new professor who taught the restructured material…Daren Mcgraph or whatever his name is…is just horrible absolutely horrible and it’s worst than the videos provided by schweser.

They also have a bad reputation of getting you the materials on time…thus making the overall process really stressful for you.

They don’t correct their Errata in their materials at all. They were 3 to 5 major errors on their formula sheet this year and they failed to change it. The main one being the SSE one and a few more where they should have used plus signs instead of minus signs.

Also the 11th hour intensive videos…I have no idea why you couldn’t release it earlier if

  1. They were made in 2013

  2. The only section yo needed to record with a new prof was the Fixed income(The intensive reviews longer than the actual review videos!?!?!? what the hell is this?)

  3. You aren’t even going to bother to make edits on the videos when the professor makes a mistake with an equation. Go look at the swaps intesive review. Basit makes a huge error with calculating swaps.

Basically…I don’t know…if Elan will be better in scweser in the future. If Basit and Olinto or no longer with the Wiley team then …I would suggest schweser 1000 times over if you are looking for 3rd party study material.

In the end I think for level 2 and above your best bet is to use the CFAI materials.

But lets say you’re rich and you have money to spend on all these resources.

This is what I feel you need and is my opinion.

CFAI blue boxes and end of chapter questions.

CFAI mocks.

Schweser mocks and Q bank.

11th hour intensive review course videos.

11th hour review.

Elan videos regarding any of the olinto videos. For basit you just need to read from their books…because that’s what he just does.

Your own formula sheet from reading the CFAI.

I had a good experience with Elan for Level 1 in 2014, so decided to go with them for 2015 as well. Some of the issues I had with them:

  1. Ebook-only to begin with. Printout quality was awful. Font size was inconsistent between chapters. Formulas were duplicated when printing (one stacked on top of another). I got in contact with Wiley/Elan about this and they passed me onto the vitalsource tech support. CFAI prints fine from Vitalsource so I don’t know why there was a problem with the Elan notes.

  2. Some of the topics were available from 2014 (when I first purchased) but other topics were only availabe way into 2015.

Contrasting that with Schweser, their books were printed and available from 2014. So I ended up buying those too because I found the Elan printouts too distracting to study from. Schweser shipped their notes to me in November, no drama.

Either way, I do hope that Elan get their act together for 2016 as far as publishing is concerned because I do think there is value in their approach and their questions.

Well, I can’t compare directly for Level II, but I used Schweser for Level I last December and Wiley/Elan for Level II. Here are my thoughts on the winners in some categories:

Study guide book presentatation/editing: Schweser

I found Schweser’s books to simply be of higher quality and were edited more thoroughly. I also liked the Schweser “tips from the instructor” a bit more than Elan’s “side box comments”. That said, Elan’s side comments were usually really good. There are some grammatical errors/typos in the Elan guides and even some typos in a formula here and there which definitely lowers the opinion of them a bit. But cosmetics are only so important. In the end, it’s the content, and how it’s laid out and presented, that matters most. Still, in terms of the overall quality of the books themselves, Schweser is better. Whether that matters to someone or not is up to the individual.

Study guide book content and teaching flow: Wiley/Elan

Elan’s books are great. They move the LOSs around some in ways that helps the topics flow better through a reading. Their calculation examples are fantastic and there are a lot of them, which somewhat mimics CFAI blue boxes. They also have several tables that summarize how ratios are affected by changes in certain concepts which are great. I felt like they had very good coverage of all areas and were written very well. Elan get’s the nod here, but of course I can’t directly compare to Schweser’s Level II books, only what I found in their Level I content.

Video lessons: Wiley/Elan

For me, there’s no contest. Elan’s videos are hands down better than Schweser’s videos. If you’ve never seen/heard Peter Olinto in action you’re missing out (YOU READY? ALRIGHTY?). His FRA and Derivitives videos are incredible. Basit does Quant, Econ and some other content, and his lessons are good as well, albiet a little more dry and far more detailed and longer. Basit loves to show formula derivation to prove theory which some people may really like but my brain doesn’t always work that way. He also writes a lot which can slow things down and hurt the attention span (for me). However, the fixed income videos leave a lot to be desired when compared to the other content in my opinion (no offense Darren … it is hard to compete with the likes of Peter). I hope they consider revising them for next year.

Online Study Tracker / Mocks: Schweser

I actually didn’t use either of their interactive study planners, so I can’t comment there, but I did use each of their online mock exam programs, and Schweser’s is flat out better. Wiley/Elan’s mocks had some errors, and their web test program did not provide any feedback on how well you did in each subject area, only an overall score for the session. Also, if you breached the 3 hour timer the exam just closed which I didn’t like. Yeah it’s meant to simulate the actual exam, but it’s also about working problems, and to get back to them you have to take the entire exam again. Overall I wasn’t too happy with Wiley/Elan’s mock exam experience. The exams themselves were okay overall I think, but can use improvement.

Other thoughts: Formula sheets are tough for me to compare, because L1 is more about single forumulas and L2 has less formulas and more theory. I thought Elan’s formula book was pretty good, albiet with typos (I found typos across all of your content guys … this can be improved). I bought Elan’s 11th hour guide for Level I and had it with my Level II package and it’s excellent. Well worth the standalone purchase if you didn’t buy a Wiley/Elan package.

TLDR summary of winners (my opinion):

Study Guide books: Wiley/Elan

Video lessons: Wiley/Elan (with the exception of Fixed Income)

Mock exams: Schweser

In my opinion Schweser did a good job of teaching you the main topics from a high level but they didn’t dig deep into the topics to the level you need to to pass the exam. With that said you could easily buy schweser and then get the finer details from using the CFAI books afterwards. I used schweser last year and Elan this year. I thought the Elan materials were great. Their customer service is crap but the materials are great. If only Peter Olinto did every video you would be a CFA master by the end of them all. If I had to choose one or the other I would take Elan. I also recommend the 11th hour guide. I studied along with it and used it to put my notes into as I worked through the readings and I thought it was good value for the money.

Thanks for all the great responses - I think this is valuable information for a lot of people.

Much appreciated and keep them coming!

I purchased the Wiley package.

Peter and Basit were AWESOME, especially Peter. I actually looked forward to the video lecture.

Notes were very helpful too.

Darren, I’m sure he’s good for some candidates, but, I personally didn’t like his videos. Just my opinion.

In short:

* I used Wiley for Level 2: Study Guide, Practice Questions, 11th Hour Guide and Formula Sheet

* 11th Hour Guide: Absolutely great! Very useful, very condensed. I used it for the last two to three weeks before the exam. Absolutely worth the price.

* Study Guide: I liked it. Understandable, good examples, but only available as an e-Book (unless you are willing to pay about 150 USD for shipping costs to Europe). Print outs are not that good since you can only print 20 pages at a time, the font size is too big, formulas are always shown twice.

* Practice Questions: Not as useful as I thought, questions are not as complex as CFAI questions. I think it is sufficient to work through the CFAI questions.

* Formula Sheet: I haven’t really used it. I thought it is a good idea to have it, but I had to find out that the “Sheet” has 92 pages and was therefore not much of a help - at least for me.

To sum it up: I can strongly recommend the 11th Hour Guide (it’s printed!!) and the Study Guide with the exceptions mentioned.

One important thing about Wiley is (but that was already mentioned here) that Wiley is not very reliable with respect to their own time plan. If I remember correctly all Readings were available as late as February (especially the Readings that CFAI had updated).

Schweser mock exams can not be beat. But, when you go back to review the question, review the entire section. So when a question in that area shows up! You will have practice and be familiar with that whole READING.

Think of it like this, there are 60 Readings in the curriculum! Imagine writing 6 mock exams which is 2 Schwesers volumes. You would have covered the material 3-4 times over. No, way you could miss the boat enough to fail.

Although, in the actual exam I thought I saw a questions written in upsidedown ancient Japanese.

Study all you want, but practice questions is key.