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When did you start studying for Level 1?

Registered for June. I thought starting around now would be a good idea, but now people at work are telling me 'just start at around 3 months before'. Then I read guides online and they advice 4-6 months (including 300 hours).

I worked in finance for a while so I do have some base knowledge, but I have no background in finance. CFA would be my first finance-related qualification.

Thoughts? Many thanks in advance. 🙏


  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,547 Sr Partner

    This was a while ago - I started studying in Nov/Dec I think. Like you, I wasn't finance-educated, and I just started in my job so I didn't even have much financial knowledge. I started early mainly because I was interested to get started.

    The burnout came later.

  • Analyst0719Analyst0719 United StatesPosts: 19 Associate

    4-6 months is a good guideline. A lot of people think just because you work in finance you have a huge edge, not true. CFA curriculum is very academic and a lot of the things you learn in the finance work world are different.

  • djriv81djriv81 Dallas,TXPosts: 17 Associate

    @lucygao Registered for June as well and have already started studying with the CFAI books and Mark Meldrum. However I have a blended family of three girls ranging from 7-16 so I know that time will be scarce. Just depends a lot on your personal life and other time commitments.

  • Thanks everyone - much appreciated!

    @djriv81 Have 2 children under 4, not sure if that's more work, but it sure doesn't seem like it can get worse! Will check out Mark Meldrum tonight, thanks for the recommendation.

  • Depending on your personal life, I think the earlier you start studying, the better prepared you will be.

    Many of the concepts covered on Level 1 are rather complex and without an educational background in finance, it may take a bit more time to develop a thorough understanding of the content covered on the exam. I spent about 20 hours per week for six months to prepare, and having sufficient time will help you retain the information and understand the reasoning behind the more advanced topics.

    Best of luck in your preparation!

  • LisaLisa ZimbabwePosts: 1 Associate

    Hi Everyone, not really new here but finally registered. Taking L1 the 2nd time. 😅

    First time around underestimated the volume of work and nearly died beneath that pile of books. Definately gonna make it this time around. Looking for 2 to 3 or more accountability study partners either on whatsapp or telegram or email. Excited to be part of the team.

  • Analyst0719Analyst0719 United StatesPosts: 19 Associate

    Really depends on your experience. I think staring in Jan for the June exam is fairly good rule of thumb. People who start later than that usually succeed if they already have some industry experience.

  • momo1997momo1997 BelgiumPosts: 5 Associate

    It all depends on your prior knowledge and you availability during your preparation for the exam. For example, I started studying about a month before the exam since I’m a grad student in Quantitative Business & Finance and had basically nothing to do so could devote the whole day to studying. Evidently, if you working or from a different background this won’t be possible.

    Rule of thumb: 250-450 hours for CFA1

    The range starting from 250 if you have prior knowledge (I’m talking more about educational knowledge and not work experience) in quants AND accounting. Towards 450 when you have zero prior knowledge about both these topics.

    This is a general guideline. I recommend calculating you required study time by setting you deadline at least some days/weeks before the actual exam to not have such stressful days as I had the days before the exam.

    Good luck!

  • TylerTX2000TylerTX2000 HoustonPosts: 1 Associate

    All depends on lifestyle really. If your a full-time, with family, etc. you might need to start 5-6 months out. Anything less than that - 3-4. It also depends whether your going to learn on a DIY basis, or classroom basis. Last, I am just not a big risk taker when i comes to my time and money - so I will tend to start studying early on exams.

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