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There are No Shortcuts to Passing the CFA L1



There are no shortcuts to passing the CFA Exams. It is a daunting challenge. You will make sacrifices with your time, there will be opportunity costs. It will take years. 

And there are no prizes for being stuck as a CFA Level II or III Candidate.

So for your own sake you should be mentally prepared for that grind before you start Level 1. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and spend your time on something else.

Most Candidates who embark on this journey know this and have come to terms with the reality of their choice. But even once they've signed up for the exam and spent hundreds or thousands of dollars they slow down. Starting to study, especially for new Candidates, poses a major mental hurdle.

In fact, the hardest part of the CFA Level 1 process may just be getting started (here's how to avoid that trap).

It’s also the most important part.

The CFA Level 1 material is long (2,500+ pages for level 1 alone). It is detailed. It will take time to learn the material, understand the types of problems you’ll need to know how to answer, and then practice over and over until you get comfortable (for a full outline of L1 see this post).

This simple fact is true even if you’ve worked in finance for 30 years.  It's true if you are a true genius. There are no real shortcuts.

How to Study for the CFA

The gospel is that the average Candidate needs to study 300 hours to pass the test. It could be more or less for you, but if you can't commit to at least that amount of time per level you are setting yourself up for an uphill battle.

Now our job here at GoStudy is to make sure you learn everything you need to pass the test while minimizing that time commitment.  It's why our notes are condensed (we wrote about the philosophy of our notes here), why we have hundreds of free notecards and a free newsletter.

Still, efficiency has limits.

One of the realities you have to embrace as a CFA Level 1 Candidate is that you are committing yourself to a multi-year challenge. By definition, this entails opportunity costs.

So you have to "macro-manage" your life in order to maximize your chances of success. The importance of discipline and time management should be no surprise, after all, time is money.

We wrote in an earlier post that there are 3 simple keys to succeed as a CFA Candidate, and this idea of hacking your habits and managing your time figures prominently in two of these three. 

The third idea is that its not enough to read the CFA material. It's not even enough to know it well. You need to do hundreds of practice problems, spend time in exam like conditions, and consistently review and attack your weaknesses. We can help you along the way because we've done this journey ourselves, and we've helped hundreds of Candidates do it as well. From deciding on using the CFA Institute material to the order of the readings to tackle we can offer our perspective and expertise.

But ultimately you need to provide the will to get there.

Is the CFA Worth it?

The CFA curriculum will teach you something new. Its community is powerful, its designation recognized throughout the world. It can help open doors.

But we can't tell you if it will be worth it to you. Are you in a profession or company that the designation will increase your pay? Will you win more clients? Be a happier, more intrinsically fulfilled person? I don't know. 

Sometimes it can be fun to learn this material (we hope that's true for you), but we know goal #1 is earning the charter. If that's where you are, and if you're committed to doing that, drop us a line and we'll help you through it.