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12-Month Study Plan for CFA Level I

With pass rates hovering around 40%, why not go the extra mile and study for 12 months instead of the typical 6? From the 300 Hours Exam Insights eBook, the data suggests that "starting earlier does not significantly influence pass rate chances" and that students should begin studying in January for a June exam. But if students were to double their studying to 600 hours, I think this would increase their chances of passing. I come from a non-finance background and want to complete all three levels of the CFA exam in a minimum of 3 years. Any thoughts?


  • I think that studying for 600 hours probably increases your burnout chances. I strongly believe there is a sweet spot somewhere, looking at the distribution of CFA study start dates in the CFA Insights book.

    My thinking is that you want to balance being prepared, as well as avoiding being so burnt out that you're just not in the right mood to take any kind of exam.

    Non-background in finance is not really a barrier - L1 starts right at the beginning, and if you're reasonably bright there won't be much issue, as long as you put in the work.
  • I'm at 500 hrs right now and started studying on November 3rd. Am I burnt out?  (hmmm) I don't think so,  I actually am getting excited that the end is near.  Dragging it out for 12 months is way too extreme though.  Even being as motivated as I am Id start to slow down. 
  • @AtticusFinch, my thought is give it a shot with 6-7 months studying, and if your first attempt isn't a pass make it the full 12 months of prep. In theory it sounds pretty simple to say, "yeah I can study 11 months, 15-20 hours a week and for sure pass," but in practice work/life/class happens and you get busy. Whatever you decide, make a plan and stick to it, building some time in there for days off.

    Also, great username. 
  • Ft. Lauderdale FlPosts: 5 Associate
    I started in January and I regret it, I wish I started sometime in November/ December, I'm actually preparing myself to re take in December right now... By the way beginning in January is not necessarily 6 months of studying time, you shouldn't really count June since the exam is the first few days of June.
  • 221Against221Against United StatesPosts: 7 Associate
    Just beginning the process for December now, and I know I'm a bit "behind" at just under 5 months, but with a total of 21 weeks, squeezing in an average of 16 hours a week of study time over 19 weeks (not including hours spent in final two week review) is not really that hard and I just can't imagine needing more than that. I've got to believe that adding months to a study schedule has to begin to have a diminishing return of some sort and of course the point that it does is probably different for everybody.  I am a huge fan of mixing in everyday life into your study, so long as you can hold yourself accountable to a schedule and kick your ass if/when you begin to fall behind.  

    Personally, I'm a little fortunate in that I have a zero OT job right now, no kids, a CPA (should help some with FRA) and a strong finance education that, while will definitely require some refreshing to be exam ready, won't be starting from scratch.  Plan is to work it something like this:

    Lunch study every day at work (5 hrs)
    Stay late to study at work twice per week (6hrs)
    Sat (4-8hrs..depending on the particular topic that week and how much time is necessary to catch up if behind)

    This allows me:
    2 work nights during the week to take care of laundry/chores, etc.
    Fri nights with friends
    Sat nights and Sun with Girlfriend/family/etc.  

    I'm convinced that the key to passing is to blend studying in with life, but to be prepared (and prepare your loved ones) that the exam can and will take precedence at any given time if needed.  That way studying doesn't feel like you are giving up anything, it's just something else you do in your busy week; while at the same time are't fading on the commitment.

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