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How to Review the CFA L3 Exam Material



300 Hours? The Time Commitment of L3

Everyone studying for the CFA allocates a different amount of study time--both in hours spent studying and in the spacing out of those hours. If you've come this far, you already know that despite these differences, the reality is that there are no real shortcuts.

The CFA Institute guidelines suggest that most candidates that pass the exams complete about 300 hours of studying.You could need more or you could need less. The bottom line is that you've come way too far to let insufficient studying derail finishing the CFA exams once and for all. Stay focused and soon you'll be a CFA charter holder!

Creating a Study Plan

So let's talk about breaking down the curriculum into a sensible study plan and then applying timed goals to that plan. In our outlined plan we're taking an "aggressive" approach by providing a study plan that spans only four months. We highly recommend extending that time-line out a month or two if you can.

If you opt for this plan you would need to budget 19 hours a week of studying to hit that 300 hour mark. We are also asking you to cover a lot of study sessions relatively quickly and then spend more time reviewing (rather than being extremely comprehensive on your first pass through of the material). You can condense the order of studying or stretch it out to customize your study plan and learning tendencies. We feel this plan is ambitious yet achievable. The key is discipline and a commitment to maximizing your study hours DURING the week. We recommend this by taking advantage of marginal study time and stealing days to get ahead in areas where you are quite comfortable. You can adjust and manipulate your timeline as you go forward.

Best Practices for Reviewing a CFA Study Session

Covering each Study Session involves these recommended steps:

    • Read our Summary Notes for the given chapter
    • Read the Curriculum or Detailed Third Party Notes. Spend more time on sections you're weak in.
    • Optional: Create notecards as you read OR use our notecards to sneak in study time while commuting or during coffee breaks at work
    • Complete all End of Chapter Questions in the CFA-I curriculum and/or third party notes. Review your answers immediately afterwards. Make a note of the page numbers for these questions and the questions you got wrong or just those that cover very important topics.
    • The following week while advancing on new material use your notes, our summary notes, or notecards to hammer the previous week's concepts

Deciding on the order you study the material

We prefer approaching the L3 exam from a portfolio management perspective first as this mirrors the big building blocks of the exam itself.

The risk with our approach is covering fixed income, equities, risk management and benchmarking techniques relatively late in the study cycle and then having to spend a lot of cram time on them. Some candidates find these areas to be time intensive and difficult.

If you can't start studying earlier, you can mitigate this by reading our summary notes ahead of time or substituting those sections in a bit earlier. Whatever your approach or order, the key is to stick to a time line and being aware of any potential pitfalls to your approach so you can compensate accordingly.

Our order of study worked for us, and we feel it provides a sensible flow through the material. But the curriculum can be tackled in many different ways. For example some test takers recommend starting with more familiar topics--Fixed Income Portfolio Management, then Equity, then Benchmarking, then Alternatives, Currency, and Risk management before jumping into Portfolio Management.

To see our full suggested study plan see the second half of this post: https://gostudy.io/blog/How-to-Cram-for-the-CFA-Level-3-Exam