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Best CFA Level 1 Books 2018: CFA Curriculum, Schweser or Wiley?


Are you looking for affordable and effective CFA Level 1 books? Here is a list for your comparison:

Here are the Best CFA Level 1 Books in 2018

CFA Institute
Level 1 Book
kaplan schweser cfa level 1 books wiley cfa level 1 books Wiley 11th Hour Guide
Overall Quality 5-star 5-star 5-star 4-star
Format Printed (paperback) Printed (paperback) Printed or ebook Printed or ebook
Practice questions? tick tick tick cross
No. of pages  3,824  1,100+ 1,300+ 464
Discounted pricing $150 – $200 Varies (~$300) $235  $95
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New Second hand New  New

Detailed CFA Level 1 Books Comparison

There are different considerations depending on your background, learning style and budget.

1. The Official CFA Curriculum

First of all, you need to know that the electronic version of this CFA curriculum is included in your CFA Level 1 registration. In other words, you do NOT need to buy this unless you specifically want a printed version.


In terms of the quality, it is very comprehensive and the most detailed you can ever get for your CFA journey.

This is great for those who really want to learn about finance and investment, together with the background fundamentals such as financial accounting, economics, statistics and ethics.


If you plan to read the book solely for the purpose of passing CFA Level 1, I’ve got to warn you that this set of books has 6 volume and altogether 3,824 pages. Many candidates prefer to take the short-cut by getting one of the alternatives below.

Our Suggestion

You must decide whether to get the printed books when you register for the CFA Level 1 exam. If you miss it but want to get a copy later on, you can get the same set at Amazon:

2. Kaplan Schweser CFA Level 1 Books

Better known as the Schweser Notes, these are text books aggressively summarized for candidates who don’t have time to read the 3 thousand plus pages of the official curriculum books.


It’s the “establishment” — the default CFA level books that has been around for the longest time.


It is the most expensive. Also, if you want the online test prep, video instruction and instructor help, you need to get the full CFA review course, either from Schweser or others.

Our Suggestion

Kaplan Schweser does not sell text books separately, but you can get hold of second hands here:

3. Wiley CFA Level 1 Books

This is another much condensed version. With only 1,300 pages, it is 1/3 of the CFAI curriculum in terms of number of pages.


As you can imagine, this book does not intend to go through each concept in detail. In other words, it is not for absolute beginner of finance, but good enough if the candidate has some background or that he/she is willing to refer to the CFAI curriculum when necessary.

As in other Wiley products, the books are well organized with user-friendly formatting.


Similar to the Kaplan Schweser text book, this is the version without the online test prep and other study tools.

Check out the CFA L1 Study Guide under supplements

For a more complete set, please check out the Wiley CFA Review page.

4. Wiley 11th Hour Guide

Originally created by Elan Guides, this is the “summary of the summary” for the final review. It doesn’t have examples, so it is more for reminding key concepts that you may have forgotten, rather than a text book to study from.


It can also be used for those who are overwhelmed by the curriculum book to give a overall, big-picture view of the study units.


There is not sufficient information as the major learning tool.

Our Suggestion

We have got positive feedback on the Wiley 11th hour review course which includes video lectures, condensed notes and mock exams.

If you only want the text book, you can check out the latest version at Amazon:

Our Recommendations

Unless you are very tight on budget, we recommend you get the full, integrated CFA review course. With the best tool on hand, you have a much higher chance to pass on your first try, saving not only money, but the priceless time and effort in the event of a retake.

Click to compare these CFA review courses now!



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