Let Me Find the Right CFA Course for You!
I want to help you find the best CFA prep course for you, so I've provided my analysis of the most popular choices for the best CFA study material. I've also incorporated into this comparison the experience of my readers and comments from financial analyst forums.
Best CFA Review Courses Content
CFA Review Course Comparison Disclosure
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Finding the Best CFA Study Material for You!
There is no one "best CFA course." Different CFA study materials suit different candidates according to their backgrounds and learning styles. With such a wide range of CFA prep courses to choose from, there is certain to be one that is suited to your individual needs. We break down the best CFA prep material below!
CFA Prep Courses
Schweser CFA Review
Fitch CFA Review
Wiley CFA Review
CFA Exam Unlimited
Full Classroom Package
Level I: $599
Level II: $699
Level I: $1,299+;
Levels II & III: $1,499+
Level I: $1,070; Level II: $1,200; Level III: $1,340*
Levels I, II, & II: $1,395 each; all levels: $2,850
# of Video Instruction Hours
Level I: 50+; Level II: 65+
Level I: 90+
Level II: 90+
Level III: 50+
# of Practice Questions
Level I: 1,500+; Level II: 1,500+
Level I: 3,500+
Level II: 3,000+
Level III: 1,700+
Level I: 4,000+
Level II: 1,100+
Level III: 800+
# of Mock Exams
Level I: 2
Up to 5 (unconfirmed)
3, including 11th hour mock exam
Level II: Professor Q&A
Instructor Helpdesk, live classes
Professional online mentoring
Access Until You Pass
*Fitch is an international company, and they provide prices in pounds sterling. These are the approximate December 2020 currency conversions for £795, £895, and £995.
Detailed CFA Prep Course Comparison + CFA Black Friday Discounts (Cyber Monday, too)!
AnalystPrep CFA is a relative newcomer, as it was first offered in 2014. Despite its lack of longevity, this company packs a lot of value into its affordable CFA Exam prep courses. And it has spent the years since its introduction expanding its offerings. These days, it is not only the most affordable course, but it also offers features no one else does. That’s why we give it our recommendation for the best CFA program.
Most mock exams
Taking mock exams is the best way to prepare for the actual experience of the CFA exam, and AnalystPrep offers 6 full tests. That’s more exams than any other course offers.
The AnalystPrep course has one of the lowest price points around. Because the course is good quality, this means you're getting a real deal, not sub-par prep. For less than $500, you’ll get not only CFA Level 1 curriculum, but CFA Level 2 study materials and self-study CFA Level 3 classes as well.
Amazingly, the low-priced AnalystPrep packages even include access to tutors. Although you won’t get one-on-one sessions, you’ll be able to ask real tutors questions over live chat with the Unlimited Package.
Although it’s not as sophisticated as some other programs (at much higher price points), AnalystPrep’s software does allow you to track your performance to identify and target your weaknesses.
No mobile app
As of right now, AnalystPrep does not have an app for mobile devices. However, you can still access all CFA Exam materials on your mobile device, so this barely counts as a weakness. It’s only a slight inconvenience.
Because of its superb price point, AnalystPrep is a great choice for any budget. Its materials are straightforward and easy to follow, and the large number of practice questions and mock exams make it a thorough CFA preparation course. Therefore, we recommend AnalystPrep as the best CFA review course available today.
Princeton Review CFA is relatively affordable, and its value is unmatched by any other CFA course. Unfortunately, it only includes courses for Levels 1 and 2 of the exam.
Plenty of Value for CFA Candidates
With video lectures, a Qbank, mock exams, and more, candidates can receive comprehensive Level 1 and 2 CFA review materials without spending a fortune. It’s also the only budget-friendly course that includes live online instruction.
Princeton Review CFA has a team of expert CFA instructors to help you pass the CFA exam. You can trust that you're in good hands, especially from a brand that is widely-renowned in education as one of the best.
Despite being a top-notch choice and brand, at this time, Princeton Review only provides 1,500 practice questions for Level I and 1,500 for Level 2. However, this shouldn't be a problem if you use it as a supplement to the CFAI materials.
Levels 1 and 2 Only
Candidates looking for a comprehensive course that includes the best CFA Level 3 prep course will have to look elsewhere.
If you're on a budget and love the prestige and quality that comes with the Princeton Review courses, you may do very well with it. However, please note that Princeton Review only offers materials for Levels 1 and 2 right now. That is subject to change in the future, of course, so pay attention to updates to Princeton’s CFA study packages.
Illumeo is company that specializes in online finance education in general. It’s a recent addition to the world of CFA Exam classes, even newer than AnalystPrep. However, its extremely low price will make it very appealing to CFA candidates on a budget.
At just under $300, Illumeo is by far the least expensive CFA course material on our list. If you’re a subscriber to Illumeo’s other offerings, you’ll pay even less for the CFA course. You can even watch the first lesson for free to see if it appeals to you.
Illumeo offers a single course for CFA candidates: CFA Level 1 Preparation. It consists of 9.5 hours of video lectures across 11 lessons, most of which are taught by a single instructor.
With Illumeo’s low price, you’re only paying for video lectures, and only lectures for a CFA Level 1 course. There are no extra features, no one-on-one help, and no practice questions or exams. Nor are there materials for Levels 2 and 3 of the exam.
For those on a strict budget or those who only want a video lecture supplement to the provided CFAI, Illumeo may be a good choice. However, if you need more complete CFA Exam prep materials, pick another option on our list of best CFA prep courses.
Schweser CFA Review
Schweser CFA, which is part of the Kaplan family of educational products, is one of the most established brands for CFA test prep in the industry. While the company is often viewed as the best CFA training provider, Schweser isn't for everyone.
Schweser's CFA study material fully integrates its lectures with notes. Additionally, the course includes a highly regarded Qbank (practice questions), videos, mock exams, and access to lecturers.
The Schweser notes are clear and concise. And their summary is just the right length and depth for most candidates, regardless of finance background.
Most mock exams
This course includes the most practice questions of any of the providers we examined. With so many questions and four mock exams available, you can get comfortable with the format and functionality of the exam before you actually have to take it.
Even beyond Schweser’s live or on-demand class options, with the Premium Plus package, you can ask questions of an expert CFA instructor and receive answers.
While the Schweser course has a lot going for it, it also has the highest price tag on the market. Additionally, the price can climb even higher depending on what add-ons you include (in-person classes, WindsorWeek, etc.). Because this course also doesn't have the best policies or guarantees, it may be hard to justify such a large expense.
The notes and video content, while relatively easy to understand, teach the concepts at a very high level. Therefore, some candidates may not have enough granular information to really learn the basics of the material.
The Schweser course isn't the most gracious. Recently, the policy has changed to allow for a free 5-day trial. And if you fail the exam, Schweser will give you one more years’ worth of classes if you meet their criteria. However, other courses in a similar price range will give you extended access to their CFA online material until you pass.
Schweser CFA is ideal for busy candidates who have a decent knowledge of finance and prefer to study concepts at a high level. It is also only for candidates who have substantial room in the budget.
Fitch CFA Review
Formerly 7City Learning, Fitch CFA offers a variety of different add-ons and options for candidates. So if you need an in-person CFA review class or CFA online learning, this option has you covered. (Note: as of late 2020, presumably because of COVID-19, the in-person course options have been suspended in favor of virtual classrooms. Fitch has not specified if or when in-person instruction might resume.)
We found that the Fitch videos were helpful for breaking down the concepts in an understandable and engaging way. So Fitch videos may be a better option for some candidates than the ones included in the Schweser course. However, the Fitch website doesn’t say for sure how much video content is available. The estimate of 120+ hours comes from third parties.
Free online learning until you pass
Although Fitch no longer offers its No Pass, No Pay guarantee, you can still receive 50% off future purchases if you fail the exam. More importantly, however, customers who purchase any Fitch CFA course can obtain continued access to the online learning portal until they pass.
Adaptive study resource
Called Fitch Learning Cognition, this component of the online portal affords candidates a truly adaptive learning experience. FLC assesses your strengths and weaknesses and steers you toward the topics you need to work on.
Lack of in-depth materials
Fitch's CFA prep suffers from the same problem as Schweser –it can, at times, be too high level and not present the granular details needed to learn the concepts.
Limited (and currently suspended) in-person classes
Although in-person classes may be helpful for many students, only those who live near a handful of big cities have access to them. In the US, that only includes New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. And, obviously, the in-person classes aren’t available right now. Additionally, there have reportedly been instances in which classes are canceled last-minute due to low enrollment.
To be honest, I can't really think of a specific reason to recommend Fitch. The FLC component sounds promising, but I don’t have personal experience with it. However, the company does offer a free trial of its CFA online study material, so it may be worth exploring.
In 2012, Wiley acquired Elan CFA Guides, which were then integrated into the state-of-the-art Wiley CFA learning material. The Platinum package uses practice questions, mock exams, videos, and virtual courses to teach the content. Additionally, candidates will appreciate the “11th Hour” condensed CFA cram course to review material in the days leading up to the actual exam.
The Wiley videos are very well done. These videos feature star instructors Peter Olinto and Basit Shajani.
The Wiley CFA practice questions are tougher than most. Therefore, they will prepare you well for any curveballs you may experience on the real exam.
For candidates with a background in finance, the extensive CFA training material presented in the Wiley course may seem like overkill. However, depending on how thoroughly you would like to review the content, this may end up being a benefit.
Wiley CFA Review is a decent choice for candidates who need a more comprehensive CFA study program. However, it is a bit expensive, especially if you consider that Wiley isn’t a prominent CFA brand.
My General CFA Study Material Recommendation
The CFA Exam is one of the most (if not the most) daunting professional finance exams. On top of that, the knowledge required builds from Level 1 to Level 3, so candidates have to make sure they understand all concepts.
Most candidates likely would agree that Princeton Review CFA has some of the best videos, notes, and practice questions for Levels 1 and 2. Additionally, the study material combines these top-notch CFA Exam resources all in a nice, neat package. We can't recommend spending an additional $1k+ on your CFA materials, especially after you go through the expense of paying for the CFA exam (which, by the way, provides you with some free CFA study materials).
Realistically, though, you're going to need another resource outside of the CFAI materials, and choosing Princeton means you’ll have to depend on the CFAI materials completely for Level 3.
Luckily, you can purchase all three levels of prep material from AnalystPrep for less than $500. In fact, AnalystPrep is a solid choice if Princeton Review is out of your price range. Given the unlimited access guarantee and performance tracking, it would make a good first choice for all budgets. So, in the spirit of saving you money and recommending a solid course, we highly recommend AnalystPrep CFA.
Luckily, both Princeton and AnalystPrep offer some basic prep materials for free, so you can try both and see which you prefer.
Best CFA Test Video Lectures
For many of us, watching a video to study just sounds wrong. After all, we traditionally associate videos with entertainment. Yet the CFA video lectures you’ll find in many CFA online prep courses can actually help you learn a lot of important exam content. CFA video lectures also enable you to process information faster and retain it longer. You will deepen your understanding of the material, engage with concepts more enjoyably, and have more convenient study sessions. Therefore, CFA course video lectures are an invaluable study resource. And thankfully, every CFA review course we’ve looked at includes them.
CFA Prep Material
# of Video Lecture Hours
Level I: 90+ hours
Level II: 90+ hours
Level III: 50+ hours
120+ hours (unconfirmed)
Level I: 50+ hours
Level II: 65+ hours
As you can see, the number of video lecture hours varies greatly. And while quantity does not always go hand-in-hand with quality, in this case, it does. Not only do the best CFA video lectures on the market come with plenty of hours, but they also offer exceptional content coverage and professional production. That’s because Wiley CFA Review is the producer of the best CFA course video lectures.
Winner: Wiley CFA
The video lectures Wiley CFA has created are simply the most successful. These videos feature Peter Olinto and Basit Shajani, some of the biggest names in accounting and financial certification exam prep. Furthermore, they cover the CFA exam content extensively. Wiley CFA Review tends to go overboard with content coverage, but packing so much into the video CFA lectures is great for auditory and visual learners, so the coverage levels are a positive in this case.
With such educational lectures available, you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying a video during your CFA exam study sessions.
Best CFA Exam QBanks
The CFA exam covers an incredibly broad range of topics, and it can seem almost daunting to learn so much material. There are hundreds of questions about hundreds of topics, and the exam could ask you about anything relating to those topics. The best way to ensure you know the concepts well is practice, practice, and practice! That's why we love the CFA Qbank.
A Qbank is a collection of practice questions that represent those you may see on the CFA exam as realistically as possible. (Qbanks usually include questions from previous CFA exams.) Using a Qbank provides you with more exposure to the CFA exam material, opportunities to improve weak areas, and familiarity with the testing environment. With a large Qbank, you can also decrease the chances of encountering repeated questions.
CFA Study Material
# of Practice Questions
Schweser CFA Review
L1: 3,500+; L2: 3,000+; L3: 1,700+
Wiley CFA Review
L1: 4,000+; L2: 1,100+; L3: 800+
Fitch CFA Review
L1: 1,500+; L2: 1,500+
Qbank size varies significantly among CFA review courses, but you’ll find the Qbank in Schweser’s CFA Review is the largest.
Going by size alone, Schweser has the largest Qbank, with more than 8,300 total questions. Wiley comes in second with more than 5,900 questions, plus a reputation for questions that recreate the difficulty level of the CFA exam questions better than any other. For the best value, AnalystPrep gives you more than 3,000 questions for less than $500, which is hard to beat.
Remember that these test prep companies do allow you to purchase Qbanks separately from full course packages. However, buying individual Qbanks for all three levels does get expensive.
Best CFA Mock Exam
If you have never taken a CFA examination before, you may be scratching your head trying to figure out the format and how the test operates. So if you don’t know how the exam works, feeling 100% ready for the first exam can be tricky. Thankfully, CFA course mock exams help you reach that level of readiness by introducing you to the exam format and functionality before you sit for it. With mock exams, you can be totally familiar with the L1 CFA exam ahead of time.
CFA Study Material
# of Mock Exams
Fitch CFA Review
Up to 5 (unconfirmed)
Schweser CFA Review
Wiley CFA Review
3 (including 11th Hour mock exam)
Failing the first exam can set your CFA certification dreams back a few months, you want as many mock exams as you can get your hands on before exam day. And while the quality of the mock exams found in each CFA review course is comparable, the amount differs noticeably. Therefore, the best source of CFA course mock exams is AnalystPrep CFA Review.
When it comes to mock exams, AnalystPrep has got you covered. AnalystPrep supplies more CFA course mock exams than any other provider. The reasonably-priced Unlimited Package comes with 6 full exams, Levels 1-3. That offers plenty of opportunity to work out any jitters or technical issues. While Fitch does reportedly provide up to 5 exams, it’s unclear what packages and options you have to choose in order to receive that many.
Failing to take a mock exam before the CFA exam is a bad strategy. Taking as many mock exams as you can before the CFA exam is a good strategy, and AnalystPrep CFA Review has the most mock exams of any course.
Best CFA Course Performance Tracking
The best way to pass the CFA exam is to use your study time effectively, and you can do this by monitoring how productive you are. With CFA course performance tracking, you can monitor your study progress all the way up until exam day. You can keep track of your weak areas so you can strengthen them as you go. And finally, you can be absolutely sure that you’ll be ready for your exam in time. With performance tracking, you don’t have to leave any part of your exam preparations to chance, and you can make every study session more effective.
Fitch CFA Review
FLC adaptive study portal
CFA Preparation Platform
Wiley CFA Review
Dashboard and Performance Metrics
Schweser CFA Review
Adaptive activity feed
Courses that offer adaptive technology take performance tracking to the next level. Adaptive technology means that the course adjusts to your learning style and study progress. If you’re failing to comprehend a concept using one particular study material, the course will recommend an alternative resource to aid your understanding. And as you answer practice questions, the course will serve you harder questions on topics you’ve mastered or easier questions on topics you’re struggling with. AnalystPrep CFA Review offers all this and more, so it delivers the best CFA course performance tracking.
Winners: Fitch and AnalystPrep
For this section, we’ve crowned a winner at each end of the pricing spectrum. Fitch, with its learning cognition software and adaptive study material, has the most sophisticated performance tracking. The online learning portal will automatically guide you toward studying in your areas of weakness, making sure your knowledge is well-rounded. However, you’ll pay a premium for this feature.
A better deal is AnalystPrep’s analytics software, which keeps track of your performance and compares it to class averages. That way, you’ll still be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Though you’ll have to adjust your studies accordingly on your own, you’ll still get excellent performance tracking at a much lower price.
Best CFA Pass Rate Guarantees and Access Lengths
CFA pass rates have historically been quite low. Because the CFA exam is such a challenge, you might fail a level. Or, because testing appointment time is so limited, you might take longer to pass than you’d planned. No matter the reason, if you need more time with your CFA review course, you’ll want your course to come with extended access and regular updates – at no extra cost. To let you know whether or not they can meet your wishes, CFA study course providers enhance their courses with certain policies and guarantees.Usually, these break down into pass guarantees and access guarantees. If a course offers a “pass guarantee,” that means if you study with them and meet certain requirements (like completing a certain amount of the online study materials, you will receive either a refund or a discount if you take and fail the exam. On the other hand, an access-until-you-pass guarantee means that you will continue to have access to up-to-date CFA study materials until you pass the exam. In other words, you won’t need to purchase the course a second (or third, etc.) time if you don’t pass on the first try.
CFA Review Course
Access Until You Pass
Yes (full refund)
Wiley CFA Review
Fitch CFA Review
Schweser CFA Review
As most CFA review courses do include some kind of pass guarantee and access until you pass, getting more specific helps us narrow down the best course circumstances. Some CFA course providers require candidates to meet a certain set of conditions before the providers follow through on their guarantees. Usually, these conditions are not too hard to meet, so candidates should just keep track of these conditions and check them all off before taking the exam, just in case.
However, other CFA course providers have limitations on their guarantees, such as only extending course access one time. As candidates can’t control these limitations and may be greatly inhibited by them, these limitations merit more hesitation when recommending such courses. Therefore, Princeton Review has the best pass guarantee and AnalystPrep has the greatest access length.
Winners: AnalystPrep and Princeton
Princeton is the only company we’ve reviewed that offers a full refund if you take their course and fail the exam. The full conditions of this guarantee are listed on the company’s website, and they include watching all course videos, completing at least 1,400 drill questions and two mock exams, and taking the test within 45 days of finishing the course. If you do any serious studying with Princeton, you’ll meet these qualifications easily.
Unfortunately, Princeton only offers 12-month access to its study materials. On the other hand, with AnalystPrep’s Unlimited Package, you earn lifetime access to updated course materials. That’s an access-until-you-pass guarantee that only Wiley matches, but for less than half the price of Wiley. Once again, AnalystPrep offers a great deal of value for your money.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the CFA Exam?
To become a chartered financial analyst, a candidate must meet a number of qualifications, including passing the CFA exam. This is not a single test, but rather a series of three exams usually taken over a period of 3-4 years. Each level of the exam, which is given by the CFA Institute (CFAI), takes about six hours to complete. The CFA Institute also produces the curriculum that the exams cover.
How Hard is the CFA Exam?
The CFA exam is often regarded as one of the most difficult professional finance exams. For the past few years, the pass rate for the first two levels has hovered around 44%, and the rate for Level 3 is about 55%. Only about 10% of candidates pass all three exam levels on their first try. Common wisdom says you need to spend at least 300 hours studying, and this is incredibly difficult for candidates with families and full-time jobs. While passing the CFA exam is certainly possible, it requires a lot of hard work.
What Study Material Do I Need for the CFA Exam? Does CFA Institute Provide Study Material?
The CFA Institute is the organization that creates the CFA exam and awards the CFA designation. The CFAI has established expectations for what candidates should know in order to pass the CFA exam. The CFAI bases the curriculum for the CFA exam off these expectations, known as the Candidate Body of Knowledge.
Once a candidate has registered for the exam, the CFA Institute provides the candidate with online access to the curriculum readings. If you want the print versions, you’ll have to pay $150. If a candidate fails any level of the CFA exam and the CFAI permits that candidate to sit for the exam again in the same year, the CFAI won’t send the candidate another curriculum. However, if the candidate sits for the exam again the next year, the CFA Institute will send the most recent version of the curriculum to the candidate, as the curriculum may have changed.
Because the CFAI supplies candidates with the curriculum, you don’t necessarily need anything else to prepare for the exam. Therefore, some candidates rely solely on the CFA exam curriculum to study. However, many candidates find the curriculum to be a bit overwhelming and fairly boring. Furthermore, the curriculum does not include practice questions, mock exams, or performance tracking. For this reason, 70-80% of all candidates supplement the curriculum with a complete CFA review course so they can study more effectively and efficiently.
Are CFA Study Materials Free?
As outlined above, the CFAI curriculum is free if you access it online. While you can study using only this material, which you don’t need to pay for, most candidates want some sort of CFA study guide or CFA exam prep classes. These materials vary widely in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
What Is a CFA Exam Course?
A CFA course is a comprehensive educational tool used to prepare for the CFA exam. Some courses are a series of live classes you attend in person. However, many CFA courses are online resources that allow candidates to study on their own time and at their own pace. You can use a CFA online course along with the exam curriculum. But CFA courses incorporate the entire curriculum, so you don’t necessarily need to refer back to the CFAI materials.
Do You Need to Take a Course for the CFA Exam?
In theory, no. You could use just the CFA exam curriculum by itself, but with the CFA exam pass rates averaging 44%, it’s not worth the risk. Especially if you’re not familiar with every exam concept, you should supplement with a CFA exam review course. Moreover, if you’d like to ensure that you know the exam content as well as needed, you should use a CFA course. And finally, if you want to preview the testing experience in advance so as to minimize exam day surprises, you must take a CFA exam preparation course complete with mock exams.
Thankfully, to make the purchase of CFA prep classes worth your while, review providers fill their course offerings with a variety of CFA study guides designed to address your learning style and strengthen your weak areas with the exam content. For example, online CFA prep courses almost always include books, whether digital, physical, or both. Most also contain a Qbank, which is full of practice questions replicating those on the real exam. CFA online courses may also have mock exams so you can refine your testing tactics. These days, many CFA online classes even boast performance tracking and/or adaptive technology.
Are CFA Prep Courses Worth It?
If you’ve read this far, you know that the best CFA material can get expensive. Nevertheless, a CFA study prep course is well worth the investment for several reasons. With CFA exam study materials at your fingertips, you can experience the following benefits:
Learn all of the exam content prior to taking the exam.
The CFA exam covers a lot of financial information. And while the CFAI does provide CFA free study materials in the form of the exam curriculum, that curriculum is pretty dull. You should read it, but if you’re not a linguistic learner, you may struggle to get the concepts to stick in your head. You may also get bored with the books very easily. But with a CFA course, you get access to a variety of different study materials, such as videos, books, question banks, mock exams, and more. These CFA exam resources enable you to experience more personalized study sessions that address your learning style.
Furthermore, mixing up your materials helps you focus on your studies and solidify your understanding. Consequently, the more study materials you have available to you, the more chance you have of being totally prepared for each level of the exam and passing the first time.
Deepen your knowledge levels and sharpen your skills.
Another benefit of having the best CFA materials at your disposal is the opportunity to take your knowledge and skills to the next level. If you just repeatedly read the curriculum to study, you’ll see the same information over and over again. You won’t be challenged like you would on the exam.
However, with a CFA review course, you can use the practice questions and mock exams to test your comprehension in advance and strengthen your weak areas. With performance tracking and adaptive technology, you can make sure that you’ve mastered the tricky topics and are ready for any question about any subject area. You can also interact with the exam format prior to exam day, which gives your confidence a major boost.
Enjoy exam support in the form of live online CFA classes, instructor help, or study forums.
The CFA exam is long and extensive. Finishing all three parts can take candidates an average of 3-4 years. But you don’t have to go through that entire journey alone. When you purchase a CFA course, you’ll get assistance from your review course provider for as long as your course access lasts.
Some providers offer live online classes that you can join when you need an interactive educational environment. Other providers help you get the student-teacher experience with instructor help. And still others host study forums in which candidates can ask each other questions and use teamwork to understand exam topics. When you’re taking multiple exams over multiple years, such support systems are invaluable for keeping you focused and encouraged.
How Much are Prep Courses for the CFA Exam?
Many popular CFA course providers have a course for each level of the exam. Therefore, you’ll have to buy three courses. The prices vary by course provider and type of course. Typically, providers have a variety of courses available.
The review providers give you the option of purchasing their most basic courses, which usually include study guides, practice questions, mock exams, performance tracking, and occasionally short videos. These courses can cost anywhere from $149-$699.
CFA Study Material
Basic Course Price (1 Exam Level)
Fitch Virtual Classroom Review
$599 - $699
Wiley Self-Study Course
Schweser Essential Package
On the other side of the spectrum, you have complete course packages. These are full of study materials like in-depth video lectures, live webinars, virtual classes, formula sheets, study planners, even more practice questions and mock exams, cram courses, and more. The price range for these packages is $449-$2,099.
CFA Review Provider
Premium Course Price (1 Exam Level)
$999 (Level 1 only)
Wiley Platinum Course
Fitch Virtual Classroom Intensive
Schweser PremiumPlus In-Person Course
$1,898 - $2,099
As mentioned, you have to buy courses for each exam level separately. To get courses for all three levels, you’ll pay somewhere between $449 and $5,895. And that doesn’t include any course supplements you may want to purchase, which can cost as little as $45 to as much as $395.
Clearly, preparing for the CFA exam will end up costing you quite a bit of money. But it can cost you less when you use discounts to get a great deal on your CFA exam prep. Learn more about our CFA course discounts to see how much you can save.
What if I Study for CFA with the Previous Year’s Material?
Unfortunately, you can’t reuse study materials from previous years’ exams. CFAI’s curriculum changes every year. Sometimes the changes are relatively small, but sometimes they’re significant. There may be new readings or new Learning Outcome Statements. Don’t jeopardize your chances to pass the exam by trying to save money with outdated materials.
What Courses Will Prepare Me for the CFA Exam?
All reputable courses will cover the entire CFAI curriculum for a given level of the exam. The more specific answer to this question, however, will depend on where you start. That is, a person with less financial knowledge will need a course that goes into more depth with the material. Luckily, most major course providers allow you a brief free trial of their online self-study material. That way, you can see if a particular course is a good fit for your needs and learning style.
Which CFA Course is Better for Self-Study: AnalystPrep or Illumeo?
AnalystPrep and Illumeo are the least expensive courses on our list, making them very appealing supplements to the free CFAI curriculum. Both offer exclusively self-study options without any kind of live or virtual classroom component, though AnalystPrep allows you to ask questions of a tutor. Which is better for you will depend on your needs and your preferred learning style.
Illumeo’s course covers only Level 1 of the exam and consists entirely of video lectures. If you’re only focusing on Level 1 and you learn well from simple, streamlined videos, Illumeo may be your best choice. However, if you want qbanks, mock exams, study notes, and review summaries in addition to videos, AnalystPrep is the better option. Additionally, it is the only one of the two to offer CFA Level 2 courses and Level 3 courses.
Is Schweser CFA Worth It?
To determine whether Schweser is a good CFA course choice, we must first acknowledge that Schweser is the leader in the CFA review industry. When Kaplan purchased the Schweser Study Program in 1999, the combined company took over the CFA prep course market. In the past, Schweser acquired a few different companies and built a bit of a monopoly, which up and coming competition has only recently challenged.
Then, of course, we must mention that Schweser is the most expensive course on the market. So are you paying for the brand name? Or are you really getting the best CFA review money can buy?
Schweser’s Solid Summaries
Other than a well-known name, Schweser does have a few things going for it. For one, the notes and videos in Schweser’s courses are very precise. They summarize the information in the CFAI curriculum, and for some, this brevity of content makes studying more bearable.
Furthermore, as far as we can tell, Schweser supplies the most practice questions of any course. If you purchase all three levels of Schweser’s courses, you get more than 8,300 total practice exam questions. Having such a large qbank lets you get very familiar with the question format and really refine your testing performance.
Schweser’s Financial Scheme
But sadly, that’s where the pros of the Schweser course end.
One of the first downsides to Schweser is the lack of detail. Well-informed candidates might find the concise notes to be very convenient. On the other hand, candidates who need more basic instruction will find Schweser lacking. Furthermore, Schweser’s video lectures are not the most engaging on the market. The instructors stick to the script and don’t offer any extra insight, so the videos can be a bit dull.
And of course there are the high prices. Paying a lot for a brand name isn’t surprising. But what is surprising is the fact that Schweser doesn’t give candidates very good guarantees to compensate for all the money they paid. If you meet certain conditions and you fail the exam after using some of Schweser’s materials, you can get one free study package for the next year’s materials. This is a large improvement over Schweser’s previous policies. However, less expensive courses like AnalystPrep give you unlimited access to study materials.
Sure, Schweser is a good course for candidates who find the CFAI curriculum overwhelming. But because Schweser uses its big name to gouge candidates’ wallets and deny them the best guarantees, Schweser does not receive our highest recommendation as the best CFA study material. We find other courses (like AnalystPrep and Princeton Review) to be more worthwhile.
Is AnalystPrep Good for CFA Exam Preparation?
AnalystPrep is a fairly new review provider, and it hasn't earned the name as the CFA prep course market leader (yet). Therefore, many candidates rightly ask, “How good is AnalystPrep for CFA Level 1 and beyond?” According to some recent CFA study material reviews, AnalystPrep has a number of satisfied customers. Reviews praise the customizable practice quizzes and the value of the mock exams and qbank for the price. The company even earns 4.6 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, a site that allows customers to rank all kinds of businesses based on quality and customer service.
Of course, AnalystPrep’s courses lack the personal instruction component of more expensive courses. If you prefer more direct or classroom-based instruction, even in a virtual setting, this may not be the best online CFA prep course for you.
Seriously, Though, Which CFA Prep Course is the Best?
We find that AnalystPrep offers the best value for your money. For less than $500, you get self-study materials, a reasonably large qbank, and the most mock exams on the market. Pair that with performance tracking and unlimited access until you pass, and AnalystPrep offers the most bang for your buck. Princeton, with its full refund guarantee, is also a good choice at a slightly lower price point than the other big names. Illumeo is a good option for what it is: a low-cost, minimalist explanation of the Level 1 curriculum.
If you have a lot of room in your budget and want a test prep provider with a well-established name, Wiley is probably your best choice. The Partner Until You Pass guarantee and wealth of videos make Wiley a better deal than Fitch or Schweser. Ultimately, however, the choice of the best CFA study material for you will depend on your preferences.
Still wondering how to study for the CFA Exam? Read our article on how to prep for the CFA Exam.