Best 5 CFA Level 1 Prep Books

The 5 Best CFA Level 1 Prep Books

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The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) program is a three-part examination aiming to certify individuals interested in excelling in the finance and investment industry by testing applicants on necessary topics and terminology. These topics include knowledge of investment tools, wealth planning, valuing assets, managing a portfolio, ethics in a professional setting, and more. If you are looking to pursue a career in investment, having a CFA certification is a major consideration in most companies’ hiring process. Additionally, this certification can be helpful to students or professionals in business, economics, accounting, or other finance fields. If you are a current student or employee in any of these industries—or if you want to change career paths—you will likely wish to take the three-part exam and earn the certification. Although the first step is deciding to apply to the CFA program, you also must have or be in the process of earning a bachelor’s degree, have work experience (if you are not a student), and meet other professional requirements of the CFA Institute.

Once you are certain that you want to take the exam, you will have to begin with the first of the three sections: Level 1. The first level of the exam serves as a broad introduction to the financial concepts and tools you will take a deeper look at in Levels 2 and 3, making it an essential foundation for the remainder of the CFA program. You have four chances every year to take the Level 1 exam, and many applicants use this time to study or take courses in preparation. If you want to pass the exam your first time around to move onto Levels 2 and 3, it is vital to come ready on test day. One way to do this is to find a solid prep book that you can use both on your own or in a supplementary course to test your skills ahead of time. If you do not know where to start, look no further! This article has researched and compiled five of the best CFA Level 1 prep books to help you ace the test on your first go.

The 5 Best CFA Level 1 Prep Books

1. 2023 CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 Box Set by CFA Institute

The updated CFA Level 1 box set that is put out by the CFA Institute yearly is one of the best methods of reviewing the content that will be on the exam while also getting feedback and advice from the organization producing the test itself. This set of six prep books covers all the material a learner is required to know for the exam, from quantitative methods to economics to financial tools. Related topics are grouped together in each book, making the curriculum easy to follow and understand. In addition to the exam content itself, each prep book contains a multitude of review resources for the study to tackle. This includes mock exams, practice questions, flashcards, suggested study plans, advice for finding outside resources, discussion centers, and more. By providing the learner with both the material and proper guidance, it makes the process of exam preparation feel like much less of a daunting task.

Pros

  • Provides an in-depth presentation of material that covers all ten of the overarching topics the CFA Level 1 exam is based on
  • Multiple formats of the prep books exist for the convenience of the learner, including paperback and Kindle editions
  • Organization is logical, and topics are grouped together by theme to help the learner navigate the content easily
  • Learners can simulate taking the exam with the realistic and helpful mock exams and practice problems included throughout the books
  • Additional resources are readily available for the learner to help them create an effective study plan for the exam

Cons

  • Books are not sold separately, so the box set is the only means of gaining access to all six
  • Amount of information included in all six books can be helpful but also overwhelming for new learners to the CFA program
  • Language is highly academic and requires learners to be very familiar with the subject matter of the program

2. CFA Level 1 Calculation Workbook: 300 Calculations to Prepare for the CFA Level 1 Exam by Coventry House Publishing

The CFA Level 1 Calculation Workbook by Coventry House Publishing is an exam prep book that focuses on drilling learners with the types of questions they may encounter on the Level 1 exam. It includes 300 questions divided across six main topics: Quantitative Methods, Economic Analysis, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Finance and Portfolio Management, Equity and Fixed Income Investments, and finally, Derivatives and Alternative Investments. The types of questions vary from calculations to definitions, and they are all multiple-choice. If the learner wishes to check their work once done to learn what they need to study further, answer keys are included at the end of each chapter that shows the work necessary to reach the correct answer. In addition to the large number of questions that learners can work through, this prep book also includes all the required formulas to succeed on the exam. By focusing on honing the application of skills the student learned from other CFA resources, they will get sufficient practice with the problem-solving expectations of the Level 1 exam.

Pros

  • Offers over 300 varied review questions for the learner to use as practice and preparation for the Level 1 exam
  • Review questions are divided by topic to help the student easily navigate the book to practice certain material
  • Questions are created based on the ten overarching topics the learner needs to study for the Level 1 exam
  • Answer keys are included at the end of each chapter that shows the steps to solving the questions and provides the student with the correct answer
  • Prep book comes as both an eBook and a physical book to fit the preferences of any student

Cons

  • This prep book only includes review questions, so it cannot replace other books that cover the content/topics of the Level 1 exam
  • Answer key goes through the steps to solve questions but is not very thorough in explaining concepts
  • Does not include examples of the more complicated questions students may encounter on the Level 1 exam

3. 2022 CFA Level 1: Critical 1000 Questions for 2022 CFA Exams by 25th Hour Prep

The newest edition of the CFA question book by 25th Hour Prep is a comprehensive review guide for the Level 1 exam that covers all possible test material in 1,000 questions. The book itself is divided into sections logically with the exam format in mind by basing the number of questions for each of the 10 topics on the weight that topic holds in the CFA Level 1 exam. In addition to this division of questions, the prep book allocates questions into nineteen smaller sections to delve deeper into exam topics and themes. Each group of questions is based on a reading the student will have to complete to gain a better understanding of the exam material and what is being asked on each page. Once students are finished with their practice, they can check the solutions included in the book to discover if they were correct and, if not, go through the steps of solving the problem with the guidance of the book.

Pros

  • Division of contents takes the exam into account and prepares the learner for the amounts of questions they will see for each topic
  • Provides students with an in-depth review of CFA Level 1 material through 1,000 questions that cover the ten topics and additional sub-topics
  • Questions are thought-provoking and relevant to readings that the learner is provided within the text to strengthen reading comprehension
  • Book is easy to navigate with a detailed table of contents and explanations on the division of contents and questions
  • Solutions can be found within the book so the student can double-check their answers and learn how to solve each problem correctly

Cons

  • Only one format of this prep book is available for purchase with no digital option
  • There is a lack of diversity among the questions, with every one of the 1,000 being multiple-choice
  • Serves as a review and test prep book but not a book to learn the content for the first time

4. Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program 11th Hour Final Review Study Guide

Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program 11th Hour Final Review Study Guide 2022 is an updated prep book that is meant to serve as a review resource in the final weeks leading up to the CFA Level 1 exam. The book is divided into sections based on the ten main topics a learner will need to know for the exam, and each topic includes one or two study sessions. In these study sessions, the most important information for each topic is reviewed to provide a focused and effective review of the material. This information includes formulas, definitions, explanations of concepts, and more. The text is visually appealing and color-coded, allowing learners to easily navigate and absorb the concepts discussed in each study session. The information that is covered in each chapter is chosen based on exam statistics in addition to the material learners would have covered in the months or year leading up to the exam day, so this prep book provides a comprehensive review of material that does not overwhelm the learner.

Pros

  • Review content is well-organized and divided by topic to allow students to easily navigate the prep book to review whatever they wish
  • Each of the ten topics that a learner will encounter on the CFA Level 1 exam is included in this review book
  • Sections within these topics review the most important concepts that students will need to know for the exam
  • Language is clear and easy for any learner to understand as they progress through the prep book
  • Content is visually appealing and easy to take in, allowing for quicker movement through lessons

Cons

  • Is only available in physical formatting, limiting students who prefer digital texts
  • Reviews ideas and topics but does not include any practice problems for the learner to attempt
  • Serves as a good companion but cannot replace a more comprehensive review book

5. Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide and Test Bank

Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide and Test Bank 2020 is a thorough review and study resource for any learner attempting to take the CFA Level 1 exam. This is a large prep book at 1,300 pages, covering a plethora of material related to the exam. The book is organized based on the ten topics students must be familiar with to pass the exam, and each section is visually appealing with well-explained concepts and examples. Wiley’s prep book also utilizes images and graphs to further illustrate and explain complex topics, and important information is color-coded for easy reading and comprehension. In addition to the detailed presentation of CFA Level 1 material, this prep book includes an online Test Bank with over 4,000 multiple choice questions, solution guides, additional tips, and assistance for creating effective study guides. With both this prep book and the online companion, learners can customize their study experience and get the most out of their time.

Pros

  • Provides learners with a comprehensive review of all the concepts and material that may appear on the Level 1 exam
  • Well-organized by topic and easy for the student to follow with its clean visual presentation and color-coded sections
  • Includes additional resources for the learner to reference, including study guides and extra tips and tricks
  • Comes with a digital companion that provides the student with detailed practice problems and solution guides
  • Concepts are explained clearly and concisely, making this an approachable review book for any learner

Cons

  • Getting access to this book may be difficult due to limited production and its format
  • No digital version of this book is available for learners to purchase
  • No updated version for the 2022 exam is available as of now
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