Is Using Just the CFA Institute® Curriculum Enough?

Study for CFA Level 1

The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exam is notoriously challenging, so this answer will depend on a person’s circumstances. Here are some considerations.

The CFA curriculum is comprehensive and covers the topics adequately. The CFA Institute® Candidate Survey reports that the most commonly used study material was the CFA Institute curriculum (75%). That makes sense since the CFA Institute includes these materials when a candidate registers for the exam. But remember, in recent years, pass rates for the first two levels are well below 50%. The 10-year weighted average CFA® exam pass rate for Level 1 is 38%.   

In this same survey, more than 60% of the candidates stated that they used non-CFA Institute preparatory materials. This rate goes up 6% year over year. The CFA is not in the business of exam preparation outside the CFA exam, so professional prep companies offer a tremendous advantage. Because of their experience and knowledge in providing other high-stakes exams, you can prepare thoroughly.

Prep providers are effective at streamlining the material to the specific information required. Also, they offer many platforms for consuming the content in a manner that best suits an individual’s study habits or lifestyle. Many candidates report the CFA curriculum is extensive, but not as readable compared to third-party materials. They state that it usually takes too much time to go through the content, and yet they end up not having covered enough of the syllabus by exam day to pass.


If you’re serious about wanting to pass using the best resources available, consider using a third-party prep provider plus the CFA Institute® curriculum. 

CFA Institute does not endorse, promote, or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by UWorld Finance. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.

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