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CAIA Study Prep: Official CAIA Study Guide vs Uppermark vs Schweser


uppermark vs schweserThe CAIA program is relatively new and understandably there aren’t a lot of choices when it comes to review materials. The Association publishes its own CAIA study prep materials through Wiley, but many candidates uses third-party review providers such as Uppermark or Schweser.

What is the best choice for you?

CAIA Study Prep Materials: An Overview

First of all, you should know that the CAIA Association is now offering its own study guide for the exam. There is a lot more coverage when compared to the Schweser notes. This could be a double-edge sword — if you actually want to learn more about alternative investment products, this is actually a great set of books; if you simply want to pass the exam, it would be an overdose.

Whether you want to stick with their study guide or pick the other providers depends on what you want to achieve from your CAIA journey.

The Official CAIA Study Guide

This is the only CAIA study guide endorsed by the CAIA Association and is published by Wiley. There is one text book for each part of the exam:

  • CAIA Level I: An Introduction to Core Topics in Alternative Investments
  • CAIA Level II: Advanced Core Topics in Alternative Investments (CAIA Knowledge)


1. Comprehensive Textbook on Alternative Investment

The book is substantial and comprehensive with 896 pages for Level 1 and 716 pages for Level 2. If you have genuine interest in the industry, it is an excellent reference book that you want to get regardless of the exam.

Specifically, the Level 1 book introduces the different asset classes within alternative investment, such as real estate, private equity, commodities, hedge funds, structured products as well as risk and portfolio management.

The Level 2 book covers similar topics, but with in much greater depth.

2. Content Organized Based on CAIA Curriculum

The book is generally well-organized, and each section of the book matches with that of the exam. The authors also discuss the same concepts in different perspective in different chapters. This helps reader to grasp the difficult concepts more easily.

3. Always Available on Time

You may take it for granted, but Uppermark had some delivery issues in 2012 that irritated its customers. The official CAIA study guide is available on Amazon any time of the year.


1. Not Enough Practice Questions

The CAIA Association offers Free CAIA sample questions on the website (no need to purchase the study guide to get access), but this is not enough for proper CAIA study prep. Most candidates need to supplement with third-party study materials such as Uppermark and Schweser.


It is most logical for Kaplan Schweser to enter the CAIA market after their big success in the CFA exam preparation market. They have been offering CAIA study prep materials for a few years now.


  • If you used Schweser notes for CFA before, you may be more familiar with their style.
  • The notes are well written and well liked by candidates. The exam content is well summarized and you need less time to study when compared to using the CAIA materials.
  • It comes with a great set of notes and practice questions. If you want to study purely for test taking purposes (vs learn more about alternative investment), reading Schweser notes is a more “efficient” way to get it done.


  • The official CAIA study guide is more affordable and more comprehensive. In other words, the notes condense the material down to an extent that you may miss some small items.
  • Some candidates find the notes too summarized.


Uppermark is one of the leading and most established providers of CAIA study materials. The company prides itself as a pure-play, putting 100% effort on creating review course only for the CAIA exam.


  • Uppermark is the first CAIA study guide, and has been around since the first CAIA exam.
  • Great review from users. The text book is written in a logical, user-friendly manner (for some candidates, easier to read than the CAIA materials).
  • The test prep software (question bank) is very comprehensive with 1000+ questions and is regularly updated.
  • Comes with useful tools e.g. flashcards.


  • Similar to Schweser, the material is summarized down to an extent that you may miss some small items.
  • Uppermark is neither an official or global brand name. In fact, the provider had some issues of delivering text books on time when CAIA changed its curriculum in 2012. This could be a reason why you may want to stick with an institutional review course provider.

Official CAIA Study Prep Materials Currently on Sale!

Here are the discounted CAIA Study Guides through Amazon:

Level 1
(3rd edition)
Level 2
(2nd edition)

For Your Further Reading

Any comments, thoughts and questions on these review course providers? Please drop us a note below.