CFA® Economics

Summary, Syllabus, Topics, and Sample Questions (L1, L2, L3)

The CFA Economics 2023 curriculum focuses on economic theories and frameworks which provide a foundation for the various analyses found throughout the CFA curricula. About 60-70% of the information covered by the CFA Economics curriculum is covered in typical macro and/or micro college-level introductory courses.

The novel 30-40% of the material covers a wide range of topics, including schools of economic thought, price indexes, business cycles, currency markets, exchange rates, and more. Economics maintains a similar topic exam weighting through each level of the CFA exam cycle. Building a strong foundation in micro- and macroeconomic principles will pay dividends as candidates advance through the CFA curriculum and encounter more complex financial concepts.

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Study Tips for CFA Economics

  1. Avoid memorizing formulae and instead, bank on logic

    Candidates preparing for Economics should avoid merely memorizing formulae and instead understand the theories and logic of economic principles. As you are learning, try to apply your knowledge to real-world questions (e.g., “Why is rent cheaper in Texas than in California?”) as well as to your study materials.

  2. Increase your familiarity with graphs

    Successful candidates will gain the ability to intuit the story behind the graphs. While graphs themselves aren't frequently seen on the exam, the scenarios that they illustrate are. Consider the graphs to be a graphic depiction of a real-life situation.

  3. QBanks and taking mock exams

    Practicing QBanks is the best method to monitor your current understanding of the content. Use them to find where your weak spots are and then bear down on those areas of the curriculum. And then, repeat.

  4. Embrace the theory

    Growth, government regulation, commerce, GDP, and balance of payments could all require some simple mathematical calculations, but it's critical to understand the theories and rationales as well.

  5. Put special effort into learning currency exchange

    Currency exchange is often less intuitive and, therefore, more difficult for candidates to grasp. Plan to put effort into learning the applications demonstrated, such as the carry trade and no-arbitrage exchange rates. An understanding of currencies is a necessity for investment analysts and portfolio managers.

For more information, visit our CFA Level 1 Study Guide and Level 2 Study Guide

SimpleSheets are your easy access to Level 1 and Level 2 Formulas!
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Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you have a finance or economics background, Economics is a central topic on all three levels of the CFA examinations that demands some attention to learn, notably the exchange rate segment!

Building a good foundation in CFA Level 1 Economics is critical to improving your prospects of passing CFA Levels 2 and 3, as it pervades all other topics.

  • Be flexible with your expectations: there are a lot of things that need to be clarified and discussed. Once you’ve grasped the concepts, you’ll notice several recurring motifs in various situations.
  • Aim to Understand the Logic: This is not a topic for memorizing.
  • Study the Graphs: While graphs aren’t usually on the exam, their reasoning is. Consider the graphs as a visual representation of a real-world situation.
  • Practice Applying Concepts in Different Situations with Practice Questions: This is a crucial stage in the learning process that must be completed at the end of each study session.
We now know that one of the most effective ways to prepare for the CFA tests is to practice. Always review the MCQs at the end of each learning module of the CFAI. UWorld’s all-digital learning platform is designed to assist students in passing the CFA exams by offering practice problems with detailed rationales for all answer alternatives, step-by-step problem-solving instructions, and realistic, professionally-produced graphics.
It is critical to understand the steps involved in creating a formula, as this will aid in memorizing the formulas. When we understand the full explanations or method behind a math formula, it becomes much easier to remember since it makes more sense. UWorld’s SimpleSheets provide you with the formulas you need to pass the exam in a simple, intuitive layout right at your fingertips. Formulas are also pre-filled in our ReadyDeck flashcards that come included with all of our products. Check out our CFA L1 Formula sheet to download.

Economics is a central topic on all three levels of the CFA examinations that requires some effort to study, particularly the exchange rate segment, whether you have a finance or economics background.

Because it penetrates all other areas, a strong foundation in CFA Level 1-2 Economics is crucial to enhancing your chances of passing CFA Level 3.

  • Expect a lot of topics to be explained and discussed, so be flexible with your expectations. You’ll notice several recurring motifs in various scenarios once you’ve comprehended the fundamentals.
  • Attempt to comprehend the logic: this is not a topic to try and just memorize.
  • Examine the Graphs: While graphs themselves aren’t frequently on the exam, the reasoning behind them is. Consider the graphs to be a graphic depiction of a real-life situation.
  • Applying Concepts in a Variety of Situations with Practice Questions: This is an important step in the learning process that must be performed at the end of each study session.

While the first two levels revolved around basic financial knowledge, investment valuation, and the application of both, the CFA Level III exam focuses on portfolio management and wealth planning. The CFA Level 3 difficulty is comparable to a Master’s degree by most comparisons. The Economics portion of Level 3 is part of the Portfolio Management section and builds on the content from L1 and L2.

Other CFA Exam Topics

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