Kaplan Schweser CFA is the most established brand in the CFA prep course market. For years, candidates could either use the CFAI textbook alone or CFAI plus Kaplan Schweser. Nothing else was available… until recently when real competition finally showed up.
So given the number of other CFA reviews available now, is Kaplan Schweser really that good? Should you stick with the biggest name in the industry, or is there a better product on the market? Let’s find out.
Kaplan Schweser has several packages at different pricing levels. However, you can expect the following features:
|1. SchweserNotes||The 5-volume SchweserNotes are well known for being clear and concise, with practice questions at the end of each topic.|
|2. QuickSheet||A flashcard equivalent summarizing key formulas, definitions, and concepts.|
|3. Practice Exams||Kaplan Schweser 6 full-length practice exams featuring online performance tracking to compare your scores to those of other candidates.|
|4. Study Calendar||A detailed study planner.|
|5. QBank||A test bank with thousands of multiple-choice questions with answer explanations. You can access the QBank online or offline.|
The following components are available to Premium and PremiumPlus customers only:
|1. Candidate Resource Library||Videos for your reference and for learning core concepts.|
|2. InstructorLink (Ask Your Instructor)||Questions are answered within 24 hours.|
|3. Live Online Classes||Live online CFA classes are available with the PremiumPlus package for an additional fee.|
|4. Schweser’s Secret Sauce®||A concise review of the CFA exam content that is available in a compact book or an ebook or users can read it online.|
Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of this CFA review course.
After going through a series of acquisitions (Kaplan, Schweser, and Stalla), Schweser pretty much consolidated all major players on the market to become the de facto monopoly as Kaplan Schweser CFA.
In recent years, promising competition has popped up (such as Wiley, who acquired Elan) but the Kaplan Schweser brand name is still so strong that many candidates don’t bother to consider other providers. And honestly, I understand why. If you know that a CFA course is the best, why not just go with that one? After all, Kaplan Schweser is #1 for a reason. For instance, the PremiumPlus course gives you an entire suite of learning tools, from books to review workshops to sample CFA questions and mock exams.
Although some CFA courses come with heavy books that feel impossible to read through, Kaplan Schweser has chosen to go with “notes” instead of longer CFA books. The SchweserNotes are written for busy candidates looking for efficiency. Furthermore, the notes are much more precise than the CFAI textbook. If you are familiar with a topic but need a nice summary of what is covered in the CFAI book, these notes are very helpful. Many candidates appreciate the brevity of the Kaplan Schweser notes, which makes studying more manageable.
The SchweserNote Videos cover important content areas that get a full review in the SchweserNotes. They don’t mean to teach you concepts from scratch, but rather, they are more of a recap you can come to once you’ve finished a reading unit. Some people find the videos useful, while others don’t. Your appreciation for them depends on your learning style.
Kaplan Schweser gives you 4 full-length mock exams for every level of the CFA exam. Plus, you also receive 3 “Checkpoint Exams” that have questions that replicate the format and difficulty of the ones you’ll see on exam day.
Taking practice exams is one of the best ways to study for the CFA exam. After all, one of the big challenges of long exams is keeping your focus throughout the entire process. Therefore, I recommend taking as many practice exams as you can before your CFA exam date. That way, you can rehearse the pacing of the exam and truly know when you’re ready to pass.
In the past, some of my readers complained that Kaplan Schweser tended to gloss over some details. This was especially so in the toughest readings, which left out certain important points that were otherwise well-covered in the curriculum.
However, remember that Kaplan Schweser has undergone many changes over the years. Therefore, some of the old reviews you may come across online probably don’t apply anymore. Our team has reviewed the current version of the company’s CFA materials, and we are happy with the high quality.
It is not surprising that Kaplan Schweser demands a higher price for its courses than budget courses, given its dominant position in the market. But still, Kaplan Schweser has top-rate CFA study materials, and their full courses give you plenty of personal support and instructor interaction. And since the CFA exam has such a low pass rate and retakes are expensive, it’s best to study from day 1 with the best CFA course you can afford. Plus, discounts are sometimes available, and I always post them on my CFA discount page.
As a customer, I want to see how things work before I buy them. Unfortunately, Kaplan Schweser doesn’t offer a free trial. But still, the Kaplan Schweser website does have some free CFA materials, and from those resources, you can get a sense of the course layout.
The Kaplan Schweser CFA prep guide is a solid offer with a full set of CFA review notes, educational videos, and sample questions. Plus, the company has created many opportunities for its users to get personal support and instructor interaction through live online classes and review workshops, the InstructorLink feature, and a CFA community forum. And by taking advantage of the performance tracker and mock CFA exams, users will know when they’re ready to pass the CFA exam. As a result, Kaplan Schweser tops our list of the best CFA review courses and is our #1-rated CFA test prep.