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Which one is better for beginners without Accounting backgrounds, CFA official or Schweser?

I am a Software Engineer with years of work experience and UK BEng/Msc. I want to take the exam on June 2016. I want to find out which study material is best for me who has little account and finance backgrounds.

1 has fewer page (1200), might be just enough for beginner without accounting backgrounds.
2 is more clear
3 comes with two books of practice exam

1 is more expensive ($649 for essential plus shipping+customs+VAT)

CFA official
1 more detailed, might be more than enough for beginner without accounting backgrounds
2. Cheaper ($150+$20shipping)

1 has more pages (3000), thus needs more time.

The most important thing is to spend less time to learn and pass the exam, while has good foundation to the next 2 levels.


  • mikestormmikestorm Boston AreaPosts: 4 Associate
    edited September 2015
    My two cents, but spring for the Schweser.  If accounting and finance are foreign to you, you'll find yourself staring at a wall of text in the CFAI book, downtrodden that even after reading it a third time, you're still not better off understanding what the heck they're talking about.

    I've been using Schweser, and for the more complex readings, I've been doing this:

    1) Watch the video.  This enables me to grasp the very low hanging fruit right out of the gate, and provides valuable context to the more complex info.
    2) Read Schweser Notes entirely.
    3) Answer EOC questions for Schweser
    4) If I score over 80% I move to the CFAI text, and only read the blue sections (examples and example questions).
    5) Answer EOC questions for CFAI
    4) For any areas where I didn't do well, I read just those sections in full CFAI text to crystallize concepts. 

    I'm older (40) and my brain's ability to learn definitely peaks in the morning. So, whenever I can, I keep the videos for afternoon/evening study, to maximize my cognitive faculties to the curriculum.  If I had just CFAI, I don't think I'd be able to do nearly as well in understanding concepts as I currently am (just finishing up Econ for Lvl 1).

    IF you go for the Schweser, don't bother with the physical texts for CFAI..eBook is fine.  I bought the physical texts, and given the relatively small amount of time I'm in them..essentially bought something to place in my bookcase to impress guests.

    FYI I have a BS in Finance...bestowed in 1997.  Since then, I've worked in DBA and I can relate to your plight.

    EDIT Spelling and grammar
  • mikestormmikestorm Boston AreaPosts: 4 Associate
    Apparently I can't count to 6.  I think this underscores my point.
  • pingping LondonPosts: 3 Associate
    @mikestorm Thank you for sharing your experience.

    What is the video you mentioned in 1)? Sorry, I am new.

    I checked briefly Financial Statement Analysis book from CFAI to see if it suits me. It provides more explanation. It seems it is more suitable for beginner based on this. But the book has double the size of Schweser.

    When will take your Level 1 exam?

    I am coming to 40 in a few years. My BEng is in 2002, and have been in IT ever since.
  • pingping LondonPosts: 3 Associate
    @mikestorm What is your reason to take CFA? Mine is because I am interested in equity investment, and CFA program might help. Since most of the program seems useful, I rather take the exam as well.
  • Hi Mikestorm, 
    I like your strategy of using Schweser video and notes to build a foundation and then going to CFA notes (briefly if score >80% or fully in other cases). Can you tell us which package in Schweser you bought? Premium, Essential or Notes package? The premium one seems expensive, while notes is affordable. 
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