CFA® Quantitative Methods
Summary, Syllabus, Topics, and Sample Questions (L1, L2, L3)

CFA Institute’s Quantitative Methods 2023 curriculum introduces analytical tools and concepts such as the Time Value of Money (TVM), and probability concepts. TVM is a foundational principle in the quantitative part of the CFA exam that cascades into many other areas of the curriculum, such as equity investments, fixed income valuation, and corporate issuers. TVM explores the relationship between time and value and how that relationship affects valuing assets or determining rates of return.

CFA Quantitative Methods has a significant role in the Level 1 exam and a slightly smaller role in the Level 2 exam. On the Level 3 exam, these foundational concepts are not tested directly. However, the material has a significant overlap with other topics in the curriculum.

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Study Tips for CFA Quantitative Methods

  1. Create a Solid Foundation

    Because they will come up regularly as you move through the curriculum, Quantitative Methods subjects are fundamental knowledge you need to study closely. Candidates can expect to refer back to these readings for refreshers throughout the exam process.

  2. Lots of Practice and Repetition

    CFA Institute suggests the importance of practice, particularly the CFA quant section. UWorld’s Qbank provides over 425 individual questions and explanations (from Level 1 and Level 2) to help you gain fluency with quantitative concepts and practice. Answering as many questions as possible can significantly aid in your grasp of the concepts and the exam's testing formats.

  3. Start your studies (early) with Quantitative Methods

    The order of topics is a common question with most candidates. It is a good idea to start with Quantitative Methods, or at least learn it early in your preparation. These readings introduce fundamental concepts that make up the Level 1 syllabus and that you must grasp to do well on exam day. Additionally, as you go toward your CFA charter, this content will recur throughout the program at every level.

  4. Prioritize the rationale over memorization of the formula

    You would do well to become very familiar with a number of the equations; you'll probably use your calculator a lot when responding to questions on this subject. However, mastering this content involves more than just crunching numbers. While it is important to apply the concepts, it’ll be easier to recall how to do that if you understand the context as well. In some cases, if you really understand the concepts, you won’t have to rely on your calculator at all.

  5. Level 2 is more conceptual than Level 1, but you’ll still have to do the math

    Level 2 Quantitative Methods is more: more complex models, more variables, more formulae, but also more theory and understanding of why the math works. But you will still have to crunch the numbers.

  6. Put the time in understanding and practicing your itemset/vignette exam technique

    Quant is a great place to misread and misuse numbers, so be sure you have a plan for reading through the vignette and then doubling back to find the necessary data—and to ignore the unnecessary data—as you answer specific questions. Always be aware of what the vignette does and doesn’t give you.

  7. Be sure to master calculator functions

    During the exam, you don’t want to be wishing that you had paid more attention to learning the calculator functions. They can be a huge time saver, keeping you from fumbling and wasting time. And anyways, these are skills that will always come in handy.

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

Quantitative Methods is one of the more difficult topics in the CFA Level 1 and Level 2 curriculum, since it is often the least familiar. Candidates who have not had much exposure to quantitative techniques and concepts may have a harder time with this topic.
The CFA Quant section is the most formula-driven and mathematical. It is also significant in the CFA exam at the first two levels, accounting for 12%of the exam at Level 1 and 5-10% of the Level 2 exam. But the knowledge really carries over into all sections of the curriculum, so candidates must understand the fundamentals of Quantitative Methods at Level 1. People learn quantitative ideas differently, but it’s always best to practice, practice, practice.
The best method, after reviewing the CFA Institute curriculum, is to adopt an active learning approach. But don’t just take our word for it. Give us a try and discover for yourself what it’s like to experience active learning with UWorld’s extensive Level 1 Qbank and with our Level 2 Qbank.

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