Passing the CFA® exam is the most important step in becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®). It will make or break your career, so it’s essential that you pass it quickly and easily.
In order to do that, you’ll need some help in the form of great study materials. But how can you be sure that the ones you’ve chosen are the best ones for you?
Each review course and set of materials caters to different study styles. Hence, there is a wide range to choose from that can be difficult to parse through. Luckily for you, we’ve already done most of the hard work!
Keep reading to check out what we’ve found to be the best CFA® level 1 study materials currently on offer. Each of these have strong emphasis on different learning styles, so at least one of them should be perfect for you.
So take a look to find out which one you’ll like best!
Top 6 Best Certified Financial Advisor (CFA®) Exam Review Courses: 2021 Comparison Guide
#1 Wiley CFA® Review
Our #1 pick is Wiley’s CFA review course. Here’s why:
Wiley is a 200-year old company that has helped half a million students earn their credentials as professional accountants, financial analysts, and brokers. The instructors who have organized all the study content included in this program have contributed to educational resources for over 300 universities. What this means for you is that Wiley offers a level of education that’s virtually indistinguishable from an Ivy-League college course.
However, this doesn’t mean you’re enrolling in a standard college class when you sign up for this prep course. It’s significantly different in several ways:
First is the full compatibility with iPads, iPhones, and Android devices through the companion mobile app. You can use this app to watch video lectures, flashcards, and practice questions online or offline. Basically, this means you’re no longer stuck to your computer at home— you can study on a plane, at a coffee shop, or some other remote workspace.
Finally, there’s a score predictor that activates once you’ve finished more than 50% of a lesson plan. This is updated in real time using FocusMeTechnology, using adaptive learning to estimate the score you’ll earn when you take the CFA exam.
All you have to do is complete the content organized by your Ivy League instructors, either at home or on your iPad, until the software predicts you’ll earn the score you want!
#2 Analyst Prep CFA® Exam Prep
Our top pick is Analyst Prep’s CFA® Level I course. Here’s why:
This service focuses primarily on practice tests combined with one-on-one support in order to mimic a tutoring experience. Consequently, this provides students with a more personalized study experience and increases their performance on the tests. By offering this multifaceted approach, it’s a fantastic option for candidates who like the process of self study but also appreciate a guiding hand.
A performance tracker is included with all of Analyst Prep’s self-study packages that organizes your performance levels for each question. This chart can be adapted to show scores by chapter, day-to-day progress, comparisons with other students, and much more. Basically, using this powerful CFA® course tool allows you to easily identify your strengths and weaknesses as you work through your material.
What if you encounter an issue with your study plan and you need extra assistance?
Each course comes with excellent support options— most commonly in the form of one on one tutoring, although there are other options. Additionally, tutoring is available via Skype over the course of 5 hours. Each tutor is a registered CFA® charterholder, so you can rest assured that you’re working with a professional. In addition to tutoring, you can also email course coaches for support on any material that you’re having trouble with.
All of these aspects and more make Analyst Prep’s CFA® prep course a viable option for passing the CFA® exam. And if you need to take additional exams in the future, you can return to their robust educational catalog for even more help later!
#3 The Princeton Review CFA® Exam Prep
The Princeton Review’s approach to test prep is one of the most versatile on this list. This is because they’ve made it their mission to cater to a wide range of learning styles so every student can learn effectively. As a result their self study courses come with plenty of options based on the different ways that students like to prepare for their exams.
One of the many ways that you can prepare with The Princeton Review is through their excellent study note slideshows. These walk you through difficult concepts by breaking them down into easy-to-manage segments and showing you how to understand them step by step. Consequently, this creates a great emphasis on learning without forcing you into a high-pressure environment.
In addition to the guided notes are a series of video lectures and mock exams. These are for anyone interested in a more traditional classroom learning experience. In order to create that atmosphere, these two learning tools go hand in hand, with lectures leading into exam content. As a result, you’ll be able to easily pass the CFA® exam after putting your time in with Princeton Review!
#4 Bloomberg CFA® Exam Prep Course
Last but not least on our list is Bloomberg CFA®. Bloomberg’s big claim to fame is their use of adaptive technology— similar to AdaptPrep, but not quite as impressive. These features allow more tech-savvy students a greater understanding and control over their education. As a result, they always know what they need to be working on and how close they are to being ready for the exam.
But how exactly does this adaptive learning CFA® program work? Here’s the gist:
Bloomberg’s software is designed to map your performance and focus on areas in which you’re struggling. Consequently, you’ll find yourself circling back to topics down the line that you may not have understood at the time. This ensures that you get enough of a break from each question bank to avoid burnout, but still put in enough time so you retain the knowledge you need. Combine that with the increased levels of customization based on how long you’ve used the service, and you have a highly personalized service on your hands!
Thanks to this innovative system, Bloomberg presents a uniquely specialized role among CFA® review courses. However, novelty alone doesn’t make it a better option than the others on this list. Ultimately, I’d recommend Bloomberg CFA® Level I Review to students who didn’t pass on their first try and would like to take a different approach to their study plan.
#5 Kaplan CFA® Study Materials
If you’re looking for study materials to help you pass the CFA® exam, another excellent resource is Kaplan Schweser. Also sometimes referred to as Schweser CFA®, this is a long-standing educational company that works with over 1,000 school districts and 10,000 businesses to help millions of students pass their exams at an undergrad and graduate level.
Although they’re mostly known for other tests, Kaplan Schweser offers excellent study materials for the CFA® exam in a variety of formats and packages.
- If you want to learn through self-paced independent study, their Essential package offers an affordable collection of practice questions, practice exams, SchweserNotes, and assessment resources.
- For extra instruction in a live classroom environment, Kaplan Schweser also offers Premium packages for all three levels of the CFA® exam. These include all the same features as their Essential package plus the option for an online or in-person class.
- Finally, students who want the most comprehensive study experience possible can opt for PremiumPlus. Also available for all three CFA® exam levels, this course includes the content from the other tiers as well as an extra Review Workshop for additional test prep.
Basically, Kaplan CFA® is worth considering if you’re willing to pay top dollar for one of the most well-known educational companies working today. But if you also want to save your money, you can always opt for one of their supplementary study products while working with another course listed above!