Choosing the best CFA books to study is a valid approach for your CFA exam preparation. However, if budget isn’t an issue, we’d highly recommend studying with a fully comprehensive CFA course. In contrast to a book, a full CFA course will include video lectures, test banks with interactive questions, virtual assistance from professors, and more.
You can choose from several different CFA Level 1 books. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order for comparison purposes, but I will go into more detail later about the best CFA L1 book option for most CFA candidates.
All the books on this list have been updated for the 2023 CFA exams.
|CFAI Level I Books||Wiley 11th Hour Guide|
|Format||Available in print||Digital or print options are available||Print or digital options|
|No. of pages||3,8712||1,100+||1,300+||TBD|
|Get it now>>
||CFAI Book||Kaplan Schweser Book||Wiley CFA Book||Wiley Final Review|
If you are looking for the best CFA prep books to study with, know that there are different considerations depending on your background, learning style, and budget.
First, you need to know that the electronic version of the official CFA Level I textbook, also referred to as the 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.
However, I highly recommend purchasing the printed version because active reading will help you pass your exam. Active reading, in this case, means highlighting and taking notes. Plus, you may want to work through some examples and questions directly in the book. Therefore, it is more cost-effective for most people to purchase the printed Official CFA Level 1 Textbook because it would cost a small fortune to print 3,712 pages!
The CFA Curriculum is very comprehensive and the most detailed you will probably get from any CFA book in terms of quality. Therefore, this option is best for candidates who want to get into the minutiae of the exam contents.
Many candidates find that the curriculum is too lengthy (3,712 pages!) and can be hard to digest. If you are looking for the best CFA Level I study material that will cover concepts more broadly, one of the prep books below may be a better option.
As far as books for CFA level I go, we don’t recommend relying solely on the curriculum to prepare. That being said, it is still free when you register and can be great to use as supplemental content if you want a deeper dive into certain topics.
Better known as the Kaplan Schweser Notes, these textbooks are a concise overview of CFA content for candidates who don’t have time to read through the entire CFAI curriculum.
This set includes 7 Level I CFA books and 1 formula sheet. Also, you’ll find 6 practice exams within the set.
In contrast to the lengthy CFAI 3,712 pager, this set includes a mere 1,100 pages (whew)!
The Kaplan Schweser material is considered one of the best CFA books for a reason — it is readable and makes the concepts easy to understand for those that don’t necessarily have a finance background.
These are the most expensive Level I books available. But, if you have a larger budget, it may be more prudent to invest in a full CFA course instead, including a question bank, video instruction, and instructor help.
While these books can be cost-prohibitive for some candidates, many individuals consider them the best book for CFA level I. However, Kaplan Schweser doesn’t sell these books directly, so the best and most cost-effective way to acquire these books is through Amazon.
Similar to Kaplan Schweser, the Wiley CFA books provide a high-level summary of the content presented in the curriculum. In contrast to the CFA curriculum, these CFA books are just 1/3 in terms of the number of pages!
5 books are included in the set, and every single LOS is covered.
Additionally, this set has color coding, making learning the concepts even more streamlined.
Finally, Wiley CFA has a solid team that has been making accounting and finance test prep for over 40 years. Wiley CFA has a large enough team to make consistent updates, and they know how to teach the concepts covered on the CFA exam.
Given the sheer magnitude of material you must know when preparing for your CFA Level I exam, you will want a prep book that can be covered quickly, and these certainly meet those criteria.
As with other Wiley products, this CFA textbook is well organized with user-friendly formatting.
Wiley wins our vote for the very best Level I CFA book because it’s concise but not so much that concepts are glossed over. Additionally, the books are straightforward to read and leave plenty of room for you to take notes.
We have yet to find another book that is as easy to read as this one!
These books are also highly rated by our readers too.
Similar to the Kaplan Schweser textbook, this is the version without online test prep and other study tools.
As you can imagine, this book does not intend for readers to go through each concept in detail. Therefore, it is probably not best for an absolute beginner to finance. Still, the set is great if the candidate has some background and/or if they are willing to refer to the CFA curriculum when necessary.Check out the Wiley CFA Study Guide
Created by Elan Guides, the Wiley CFA 11th Hour Review and Test Bank is the “summary of the summary” for the final review. However, the physical book doesn’t have examples, so it is better used to review key concepts that you may have forgotten rather than as a core textbook to study from.
For those who want a quick refresher of the concepts without re-reading lengthy textbooks, this is a great option and will give an overall, big-picture view of the study units.
There is not sufficient information to use this as your main learning tool.
If you want the textbook, you can check out the latest version on Amazon.
We recommend you get a full, integrated CFA review course for those with a larger budget to spend on CFA test prep. Comprehensive review courses will be the best CFA Level 1 study materials for most CFA candidates and will provide multiple learning components for preparation. Moreover, these full courses will increase the odds of passing on your first try. However, if you are on a limited budget, we recommend combining the CFA curriculum with the AnalystPrep CFA study materials to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the test material.Click to compare these CFA review courses now!