The Best CFA Level 1 Prep Books of 2019

By September 20, 2019 October 16th, 2019 Financial & Professional Book Reviews
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Are you thinking of pursuing a career in the financial investments world? If yes, then you are about to enter a potentially lucrative career. The only problem is that, to be considered one of the best investments analysts in the entire world, you have to be a Chartered Financial Analyst or a CFA. To get there, you’ll need the best CFA Level 1 prep books.

There are three levels to pass through for you to become a CFA. The CFA Level 1 exam might be the first stop on your quest to become a CFA but it is not the easiest. It takes experience, discipline, and extensive preparation for you to even have a chance of passing that test. In that sense, preparing for it will never be an easy task for even the most competent financial analysts.

But, if you want to have the best chances of passing through the first step to becoming a CFA, you need only the best materials the market has to offer you. As such, we have listed for you the best CFA Level 1 prep books you can find today.

Our Favorite for Best Overall CFA Level 1 Study Guide (the best out of the bunch)

CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 Volumes 1-6 Box Set by CFA Institute

In most, if not all exams, you should always get as close to the source as possible because those who wrote the test know its contents better than anyone else. As such, you might want to choose the boxed set CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 because it was written by the same people (CFA Institute) responsible for the CFA.

This CFA Level 1 study guide is not your simple review material, in case you are wondering. It is an entire volume that contains the official curricula you need to know and study to get a chance at passing the CFA Level 1 exam. In that regard, it virtually contains all of the information and concepts you need to know.

As you might have already suspected, this volume is as comprehensive as any set of books can be. It is the most detailed CFA Level 1 study materials you can find on the market. It has almost 4,000 pages of content and really demands a lot of time and dedication on your part. So long as you are willing to do your part, you will end up with everything you need to get a passing score in the CFA Level 1 test.

Despite how long this CFA Level 1 study material is, it can be very easy to understand. It uses visual aids that break the monotony of reading through six books. The charts, diagrams, and the figures are all easy to understand and they make learning the topics covered by the CFA Level 1 test a bit more fun to do.

Overall, since preparing for the CFA Level 1 test involves a lot of dedication on your part to learn everything almost from scratch, you have to use the most comprehensive and complete study materials that are straight from the source of the CFA Level 1 exam itself. Using this volume set might need you to really dedicate a lot of your time but it will all be worth the effort.

What makes it unique:

  • It was written by the people behind the CFA Level 1 test itself.
  • It is not a single CFA Level 1 review book but is an entire volume set containing six different books.

Why choose this book:

  • There is not another book or volume that is as close to being comprehensive as this CFA Level 1 study guide is.
  • As mentioned, you might want to be as close to the source of the test as possible because the ones behind the CFA Level 1 test know what you need to pass it.


Wiley Study Guide for Level 1 CFA Exam by Wiley

If one boxed set was not enough, then here is another one. However, unlike the CFA Institute’s books, Wiley Study Guide for Level 1 CFA Exam was specifically written not to help you learn the CFA Level 1 topics and concepts from scratch but to give you a volume of books designed for review purposes. In that sense, it seems more like a summary of the CFA Institute’s books.

However, although it is seen as a summarized version of the topics covered by the CFA Level 1 test, it is actually is still comprehensive enough to cover all of the concepts. It is a third of the length of CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 and is long enough to provide you with a thorough summary that can be useful for your review purposes.

Because it was meant to be a CFA Level 1 review book in the strictest sense, this study guide is actually pretty well-written. The information is laid out in such a way that it makes things more attractive for readers and prospective CFA candidates. There are even certain topics that are made easier for you to digest because of how well they used charts and diagrams to help you understand concepts that are otherwise so difficult to synthesize. As such, reading through the books will not feel like such a drag.

These books contain tips and strategies that pertain to each section of the CFA Level 1 exam. The problem-solving examples can also help give you insight on how to better tackle certain questions you will most certainly encounter in the exam. And, of course, there are CFA Level 1 practice questions that are designed to test your progress and how well you were able to grasp the concepts.

Overall, this is as complete as any CFA Level 1 review material can be. It might simply be a study or review guide but it serves its purpose well by providing you with straight-to-the-point yet thorough and high-quality summaries of the topics and concepts you should have already learned in the past.

What makes it unique:

  • It is a volume set of CFA Level 1 review books.
  • The books were written from the point of view of experts that are Chartered Financial Analysts themselves.

Why choose this book:

  • If you have already done your part and learned all of the topics covered by the CFA Level 1 exam, then these review books are what you need to prepare for the test itself.
  • Unlike other CFA Level 1 study guides, this one is actually very easy to understand and digest even though the volume is about 1,300 pages long.


The Runners-Up for Best CFA Level 1 Exam Prep Books (still good but a little lacking)

CFA Level 1 by Kaplan Schweser

Kaplan Schweser is arguably the most popular name when it comes to materials made specifically for the CFA exams, and there is a good reason for that. CFA Level 1 BY Kaplan Schweser are seven guides rolled into one package to provide you with some of the best CFA Level 1 study materials you can find on the market.

The SchweserNotes you can find in this volume are CFA Level 1 notes meant for you to use for review purposes. The topics covered by the CFA Level 1 exam were condensed really well into those books to provide you with a concise review experience that is very easy to follow.

The notes were also meant for those who are dedicated to reviewing for the CFA Level 1 test but are a bit too busy with work to put all of their time and energy into studying. As such, they were written in a way that summarizes what you can find in the CFA Institute’s books but still does not sacrifice quality and content. They all cover all of the important areas so that you do not have to go through the CFA Institute books all over again if you want to focus on certain topics.

And if you never read through the entire curriculum, this can be your saving grace as it is only 1,100 pages long. While there is no guarantee that you would pass the CFA Level 1 test, it still beats not being able to study especially if you are too busy to read the CFA Institute books. And for some with no financial background whatsoever, you may even stand a chance at passing the CFA Level 1 test by using this study guide.

If you are always on the go, you do not have to worry because this volume includes six quicksheets that are meant for you to read through in case you do not have the time or luxury to bring all of the CFA Level 1 review books with you. The quicksheets contain important concepts and formulas you need to memorize and familiarize. All of them are in compact summarized forms so that you can easily read through them whenever you are on the go.

The six practice exams you can find in this CFA Level 1 prep material were specifically designed for you to know where your weak areas are instead of just simply giving you an avenue to practice out your skills and knowledge of the topics. That means that, by answering the practice tests, you will be able to identify and focus on improving your weak areas in preparation for the actual CFA Level 1 test.

What makes it unique:

  • The notes in this volume are condensed form of the CFA Level 1 curriculum.
  • Its practice tests were designed to pinpoint your weak areas.

Why choose this book:

  • If you do not have time to go over the entire CFA Level 1 curriculum again or even for the first time, this study material will be more than enough for you to have a chance at passing the test.
  • The quicksheets are pretty handy to have especially if you are extra busy and are always traveling around.


11th Hour Guide Level 1 CFA by Wiley

If there was a summary to a summary, this is it. As the name suggests, this is a CFA Level 1 study guide you use when you are already at the 11th hour and cramming for the exam. This literally does not mean you only have an hour left as this CFA Level 1 prep book is best used when you only have a few weeks or even days left before the big test. In that kind of a situation, going over a CFA Level 1 study guide with over a thousand pages can take up your time.

Everything you need to know from all of the other CFA Level 1 prep books was compressed into a material that barely has 500 pages. It does a good job at helping you recall the concepts you have already learned and read during your preparation for the CFA Level 1 exam. In doing so, this CFA Level 1 study material goes directly to the point and is more like a tool you use to help your retention instead of something you use to learn or re-learn the topics.

Everything you see in this CFA Level 1 review book is very readable in the sense that you can practically go over the concepts quickly. And if you are looking to focus on certain areas (especially your weaknesses), you can easily pinpoint those topics.

That said, this CFA Level 1 study material was meant to be used if you are already in the final leg of your preparation for the big test. It was not meant to be your main CFA Level 1 prep book but is more like something you read to make sure you do not forget anything important.

What makes it unique:

  • It is the summary of the summary books.
  • The concepts are so condensed and were summarized in very readable formats.

Why choose this book:

  • As mentioned, choose this CFA Level 1 prep book if you are in the final stages of your review.
  • It is something you use if you already know the important concepts and if you are already confident in your knowledge of the topics.


The Best Value for Your Money for an CFA Level 1 Study Guide (good and affordable)

25th Hour Notes by Havels Learning System

25th Hour Notes is the CFA Level 1 study guide you are looking for not only if you are short on cash but also if you are looking for a book that allows you to review in the most concise way possible. That said, it is a very affordable CFA Level 1 prep book that summarizes the summaries of the most vital concepts you can find in most study guides you can see on the market.

Meant to be a CFA Level 1 study guide that you use when you are already in the final stages of your preparation, this book allows you to recall and retain the concepts and topics you learned during the earlier stages of your review. In that sense, it addresses a common problem among CFA candidates because most of them often forget the topics they learned during the first few days of their preparation.

Because of how concise and straight to the point this CFA Level 1 prep book is, it works best when it comes to reinforcing your memory. Overall, that makes it a really useful material especially if you are looking for a book that you can use during the final minute of your preparation.

What makes it unique:

  • The book is very affordable and fits anyone’s budget.
  • It is the summarized version of the summarized CFA Level 1 test prep books.

Why choose this book:

  • Go for this CFA Level 1 study guide not only if you are looking for something affordable but also if you want a quick review material.
  • The name suggests that you should choose this CFA Level 1 prep book if you are finally doing the finishing touches of your review for the exam.


Summary of the Best CFA Level 1 Prep Books

Putting everything together, in this guide we reviewed the following:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
CFA Program Curriculum 2019 Level I Volumes 1-6 Box Set $299.00 3712
Wiley Study Guide for 2019 Level I CFA Exam $235.00 N/A
2019 CFA Level 1 Kaplan Schweser Notes N/A N/A
Wiley 11th Hour Guide for 2019 Level I CFA Exam $125.00 464
2018 CFA Level 1 - 25th HOUR NOTES $14.99 300

The CFA Level 1 exam may only be the first part of your journey as a CFA candidate but it was meant for weeding out candidates early. In the past 10 years, only 40% of those who took the CFA Level 1 test was able to pass and move on to Level 2. And, in 2018, only 43% passed the test. That means that it is a very difficult exam even for the most qualified candidate.

If you want to be one of the 40% who successfully moved on to CFA Level 2, you need to be dedicated from start to finish. Most of the successful candidates had at least 300 hours of preparation. But even if you put in the necessary time and effort, there still is no guarantee. As such, you also need the best tools in the market to succeed in this endeavor. And if you use one of the books we believe are best suited to help you pass the CFA Level 1 exam, you are giving yourself the best chances of moving up to Level 2.


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