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Study Plan for a newbie?

Hi everyone,

I am a college student, currently pursuing a Bachelors undergrad program in Business Administration - 3 year course. I am entering my 3rd year now, and plan on writing the CFA Level 1 on Dec 02, which gives me approximately 6 months of preparation (With 1 month just for review/revision and Question Banks). I am a full time student, so I can put in 2 hours daily, and 4 hours on the weekends on average, give or take 3 to 4 hours a week.

I know the basics of accounting - Journal, Ledger, P/L, B/S, Cash Flow etc, which is pretty much the extent of my knowledge in this departmnet.

My dilemna here is the study material and approach I should follow, keeping my profile in mind. I've looked this up a lot, which probably just left me even more confused.

1. From what I've seen, some people claim that the CFAI material is thorough, and the best for building a strong conceptual foundation, especially for Level 2 and 3, whereas others claim its exceedingly long and fruitless, especially with Schweser providing concise notes.

Being from a non finance background, and keeping in mind my study hours, should I use the CFAI material or Schweser? I'm an average student, in the sense that I need to go through all the stages of study, i.e. Reading, reading again, reviewing, practicing etc. (I cant retain much with one reading).

While I'm inclined towards the CFAI curriculum, will I have time to study enough to pass the Level 1? I'm aiming for >70% in a maximum number of subjects. Just to note, I'm looking at this from a learning perspective, and pricing, while steep, is not a factor for consideration for my education.

PS There is another option available, i.e. of using both. I know ethics is a must from CFAI, whereas quant need not be. Could anyone advise me on such a composition for other subjects?

2. Mark Meldrum seems to have a comprehensive list of videos, which I could complement with my studying, but once again, the time factor comes under question. Any suggestions?

3. There is a wide range of material within CFAI and Schweser itself, such as Secret Sauce, Mind Maps, etc etc. which has left me very confused as to what I should do in order to prepare.
Am i right in going with - a. CFAI/Schweser reading b. Questions from the end from both books after every chapter. c. After finishing the syllabus once, question banks.

Do I need to constantly keep revising what I studied, say, a week before, or just keep going on?

In addition, do I need to make notes, or will that be too much of a writing process, and hence, unnecessary time waste, especially keeping in mind the mindmaps, review notes etc. that are available?

I know these questions seem like easy google searches, but seeing the huge amount of contradictory information I've gone through, I'm utterly confused as to which to use. I would really appreciate any suggestions as to what I should do, keeping my profile in mind.

Thanks a lot!


  • Hi @DeadLock

    1. Suggest to use Schweser - it does save valuable time. If cost is a concern, get the bare-bones self study notes package without the extras.

    2. Mark Meldrum is highly recommended, but videos take time to get through. Suggest to keep those for topics you need more help with, rather than going through every video.

    3. Your plan sounds good, but I would finish with mocks, not q banks. Mocks have a more 'accurate' level of difficulty and the right topic mix. Like I said in point 1 I wouldn't bother with the extra bells and whistles if you're short on time and money, but secret sauce might be worth it for revision.
  • Agree with @hairyfairy. I'd add that you need to be constantly revising a few weeks before the exam, not just one week before.
  • Your study plan doesn't have to be that complicated. Just get the schweser basics, start early aiming to finish the curriculum about 1 month before, practice and review for the last month, and you'll do fine. Grade your mock exams to see where you are, aim for more than 70%.
  • Passed L1 this June using CFAI + Schweser material and listening to audio from Mark Meldrum videos while working out. I'd say definitely focus on the CFAI EOC and CFA mock exams. Given your stated academic background, you may want to take some serious time on FRA given its weight (as well as Ethics)--content is more extensive than what you're describing. Econ and certain sections of Quant (recalling hypothesis testing...
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