How To Create a CFA Level 1 Exam Study Plan

a CFA candidate creating a study plan for the CFA Level 1 Exam

Preparing for any CFA exam level requires creating – and sticking to – an organized study plan. A feasible study schedule allows candidates to put in the hours needed to pass the exam while at the same time leaving themselves time to take care of other needs.

Start the study process by creating a daily schedule. The schedule may look something like the one below:

6:00 AMWake up
6:00 – 8:00 AMWork through Financial Statement Analysis flashcards
8:00 – 8:30 AMGet ready for work 
9:00 – 12:00 PMWork
12:00 – 1:00 PMLunch/Create a customizable exam
1:00 – 6:00 PMWork
7:00 – 10:00 PM
Study a specific exam topic
10:00 – 11:00 PMRelax/Unwind
11:00 PM Go to bed 

The key to creating a successful study plan is to ensure that all work, study, and leisure activities are listed. Once you’ve recorded an entire day’s activities and responsibilities in order of priority, you’ll find it easier to stick with your study schedule. Without accounting for all your time, you’re likely to put off studying until you have a free minute, which can be disastrous as you get closer to the test date.

Yes, the CFA Exam is a test of endurance and discipline, but it certainly doesn’t require you to sacrifice all forms of social life while preparing for the exam. A study schedule leaves room for social activities because you can see just how much time you’ve set aside for studying, work, and your personal life. It’s okay to plan dinner with friends on a Saturday or date night with your partner as long as you are still putting in the required study hours and sticking to the schedule.

CFA Level 1 Study Plan

The CFA Institute states that the average successful CFA candidate spends a little over 300 hours studying for the Level 1 exam, and, on average, it takes 4-5 years to pass all three CFA exam levels. However, please note that this is an average, and the number of hours will vary for each CFA candidate, especially since the CFA Level 1 Exam is self-paced.

You also need to consider how long you have before you take your exam and tailor your study plan accordingly. There are many factors to consider when planning your study plan, such as:

  • the number of flashcards you work through in a day,
  • how many mock exams you take and pass, and
  • how quickly you can grasp some of the more difficult CFA exam topics.

CFA candidates lacking a solid background in some of the CFA Exam topics will require more time to learn the subject matter. 

Topic Areas for CFA Level 1 Exam Study Plan

The following are the weights for each of the topic areas covered in the CFA Level 1 Exam. These should also be considered when creating your study plan. The weights will help you determine the amount of time needed to be spent on those topics.

Image courtesy of CFA Institute

CFA Level 1 Exam Study Plan Timeline

Four-to-Six Months Before the CFA Level 1 Exam
First create your schedule, then implement it into your final study plan. We recommend giving yourself four to six months to study for the exam. Items to review during this period before the exam include:

  • CFA Institute chapters and readings
  • Corresponding UWorld QBank sections and flashcards
  • Repeat until you’ve completed all the content

Two Months Before the CFA Level 1 Exam
When you are two months away from your scheduled CFA Level 1 Exam, we recommend studying the following items:

One Month Before the CFA Level 1 Exam
One month before you take the exam, start focusing on taking mock exams by taking them multiple times. If you are using our UWorld CFA Level 1 Learning Platform, be sure to take these exams after completing our QBank and within one month of your actual test date. This will also give you enough time to take the mock exams provided in the CFA Institute materials. You want to make sure you maximize your chances for success by using all the tools that help you get a feel for the actual exam.

One significant benefit of taking the UWorld mock exams is that they help you assess your progress, painting a clear picture of where you stand. By taking our mock exams after completing our QBank, you’ll feel confident in your preparation and ready to take the CFA Exam.

At UWorld, we are committed to optimizing how candidates prepare for the CFA Level 1 Exam. Our innovative platform helps you master difficult CFA Exam topics on a deeper level so that you can truly understand the material — ensuring that you excel not just on the exam but also in your career.


If you want to optimize your chances of success in the CFA Exam, click here for a FREE trial of our CFA Level 1 Exam Learning Platform.

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