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How To Stick to a CFA® Exam Study Plan

a student studying according to the cfa study plan

Successful CFA candidates typically spend a minimum of 300 hours studying for each CFA exam level.
However, the CFA Institute states that, on average, it takes four to five years for a CFA candidate to pass all three levels, and suggests the following are more realistic study hours for each level of the CFA Exam:

  • Level 1 Exam: 303 study hours
  • Level 2 Exam: 328 study hours
  • Level 3 Exam: 344 study hours

Studying for and passing the CFA Exam takes a great deal of time and determination. That’s why it is important to create a workable study plan that incorporates both a CFA Exam prep course and the CFA Institute’s various study tools and resources. A typical study plan consists of reading the curriculum, working through flashcards, creating and taking customizable exams,  doing practice questions, taking mock exams, and taking extra time to master topics and material you have difficulty understanding.

Everyone studies differently, so you will also have to determine which study methods and techniques work best for you and adjust your process accordingly. Doing this will set you up for success as the course and your study habits work together to support one another.

Map Out a Study Plan

Knowing approximately the time you will need to commit to your studies, give yourself a realistic timeframe of when to take the exam. Consider your work and life priorities and what you can realistically accomplish each day. Many CFA candidates set themselves up for failure when they develop a study plan too ambitious for their lifestyle. So, take the time in advance to figure out what makes the most sense for your unique circumstances.

Stick to Your Study Plan

Creating a study plan is great, but it means nothing if you don’t stick to it. The CFA Exam is as much a test of discipline as it is a test of intelligence. Half the battle is keeping to your study schedule, which can sometimes be more challenging than learning the actual material. Here are a few ways to make sure you are staying on track to pass the CFA Exam as quickly as possible:

  1. Set small, attainable goals.
  2. When you reach those goals, reward yourself.
  3. If you miss a study session, make it up another time — but sooner is better!
  4. Keep your study environment organized and free from distractions.
  5. Build a support system with family and friends.
  6. Join online CFA Exam forums or organizations. 
  7. Find someone to hold you accountable.

Stick to Your Study Plan

These tips will help you continue pushing forward as you meet your goals. If you put in the time and effort to study correctly, adhere to your study plan, and refrain from procrastinating or deviating from your study schedule, you will pass. Sticking to your study plan ensures that you meet your goal of passing the exam in the timeframe you set for yourself.

The CFA Exam is a considerable investment of your time and energy, so make it count!


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