Best CFA Study Materials & Top 2018 Prep Course Comparison

Compare the Best CFA Study Materials and Review CoursesPicking the best CFA study materials to pass the chartered financial analyst exam isn’t easy. There are a lot CFA prep courses on the market that all claim to be the top study, so how can you tell which one will help you pass the exam the fastest?

You need to look at each study guide individually to see how it fits your personal studying style. Not everyone learns the same way and the last thing you want is a study material book that won’t hold your attention and make you reread things over and over. Let’s face it. You are going to spend hundreds of hours studying for the exam as it is. You want a course that will cut time off of that—not add more on.

That’s why we demoed the five top-rated courses and reviewed them for you. We show you the pros and cons of each CFA study guide, as well as, suggestions on which one we think will work out best for you, so you can narrow down your decision making process and get to studying.

Let’s take a look at what each CFA exam prep offers.

Quick look at the Best CFA Study Materials available Today:

  • Wiley CFA Review
  • AdaptPrep CFA Review
  • Apptuto CFA Review
  • Kaplan Schweser CFA
  • Bloomberg CFA Review
  • Fitch Learning CFA

Start Comparing Each CFA Review Course Below:

Wiley CFA Review


#1 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Unlimited Access

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing any online study course is the expiration date. How long to do you to use it? The Wiley course has unlimited access, so you can you it as long as you want until you pass. Plus, you get free updates forever!

Bite-Sized Learning

Wiley Publishing’s revolutionary concept of bite-sized learning breaks down the huge amount of material on the CFA exam into small pieces that can be easily studied and retained. Each lecture and lesson is short, so you don’t lose focus and you learn more faster!

Take Me to Wiley CFA

Adapt Prep CFA Review

adapt-prep-cfa-review#2 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Adaptive Technology

The thing that sets Adapt prep apart from other study courses is their adaptive technology. As you go through the course and answer questions, the guide will understand what you know and what you don’t know by analyzing your answers. Then it will actively create a custom study guide for you based on what your strengths and weaknesses.

Very Affordable

Adapt Prep is the least expensive study guide out of the top five. It’s extremely affordable for anyone to get. You might be thinking that it’s cheap because it’s not good. That isn’t the case at all. It’s full of top-quality prep materials. You’ll get the most for you money with Adapt Prep.

Take Me to AdaptPrep


AppTuto-cfa-review#3 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Best Analytics

The Apptuto test prep has the best and most in depth question analytics section. It allows you to look at your course progress, rankings among other users, and how far along you should in the materials based on your exam date.

Test Bank and Live Classes

Apptuto has one of the biggest test banks and is coupled with their new live online training classes. These classes let you talk with coaches and instructors about level I, level II, and level III books. It’s a great resource.

See Our Review of Apptuto

Kaplan Schweser

Kaplan-Schweser-CFA#4 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Most Questions and Exams

Kaplan has the biggest CFA test bank with over 4,000 questions in it. That’s pretty of questions, so you don’t have to worry about seeing the same ones over and over again. They also offer the most Mock Exams as well.

No Unlimited Access or Guarantee

Kaplan is one of the most recognizable companies on the list, but it doesn’t mean they make the best product. One of the biggest drawbacks to this CFA program is that there’s an expiration date. If you don’t pass your first time with Kaplan, you will have to pay for it again to retake the exam. 🙁

See Our Review of Kaplan

Fitch Learning CFA

FitchLearningCFA-review#5 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Video Lectures

Fitch offers the most video lectures out of any review company. This is a great resource for people who learn best by listening and watch than by reading. The lectures are professional and informational. They can be a little dry at times, but they are really good.


Fitch does a really good job at support. They have international instructors that are available 24/7 all over the globe to help you understand your materials and pass the exam. Their mentoring program allows you to choose a mentor who can check in with you regularly to see if you’ve reached the proper milestones by your deadline.

Bloomberg CFA Review

bloomberg-cfa-study-materials#6 Rated Course

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Biggest Test Bank

Out of all the CFA review courses on the market today, Bloomberg Exam Prep CFA has the most practice exam questions.Reviewing practice questions is one of the best ways to prepare for the exam. That’s why this is such a great feature. It allows you to practice tons of questions without repeating or memorizing questions.

What are the Best CFA Exam Study Materials?

2018’s Top 6 Best CFA Prep Courses Compared

CFA Study MaterialsBest For:
Wiley CFA ReviewBite-sized Learning
AdaptPrep CFAAdaptive Technology
Apptuto CFA MaterialsGreat Value
Kaplan Schweser CFAMost Detailed
Bloomberg CFA ReviewMost Questions
Fitch Learning CFAFree Trial

Now you know how Wiley CFA vs Kaplan Schweser vs Adapt Prep vs Apptuto vs Fitch Learning vs Bloomberg CFA compare with each other.

Common CFA Exam Questions

How Long Should I Study for CFA Level 1?

You should plan on starting to study about 5 to 6 months before you actual exam date. Remember, this exam is more like a marathon than sprint. Give yourself plenty of time and you won’t get burned out. Plan to study 5-6 days a week for about 2-3 per day.

Should I Study Ethics or is it a Waste of Time?

You should definitely take the time to study your ethics materials. Too many Level 1 candidates think they can gloss over this section a few days before the exam. Trust me. You can’t. The ethics adjustment alone will kill your score if you do poorly.

That’s not to say that you can’t pass the CFA exam without studying ethics. You can. You just have to completely ace every other section. So basically, it’s impossible.

How Many Hours Should I Study for CFA Level 1?

It’s a common stat that most people and review courses recommend that you study for at least 300 hours for CFA level I. A study was done back in 2011 that showed the average study time for candidates who passed was 313 hours. The average study time for candidates who failed the exam was 292 hours. That’s not much difference in the big scheme of things. You should plan to study for at least 300 hours just to make sure.

What is a CFA Passing Score?

You should try to get at least a 70 percent on every topic on the exam. You could bump this up on your study guide practice tests just to be safe. If you are scoring 80% or higher on all your review courses tests, you should be fine on your exam day.

Could I Pass the Exam and Still Fail Because of My Behavior on Exam Day?

Yes, this is completely true. The CFA Institute is very strict on behavioral issues. If you act up in the exam session and your proctor decides to report you to the Institute, they may fail you. Believe it or not, candidates fail every year because of this. Don’t let it happen to you.

Is 2 Months Enough Time to Study for CFA Level 1?

Honestly, it depends on your current knowledge and experience. If you’ve already taken the exam and failed it, two months might be plenty of time to brush up on the topics that you are weak on and retake it. If this is your first time taking the exam, I would recommend at least 5 months to study for it. There’s no reason to stress yourself out that much. Take your time and don’t go crazy.

What is the Biggest Reason People Fail the CFA Exam?

The biggest reason why people fail a level of the CFA exam is because they rely on the Institute review courses and materials. These simply aren’t enough to properly prepare for the exam. You should equip yourself with one of the most popular courses that I’ve review above. They are way more detailed and will prepare you much better.

How Long is the CFA Exam?

The level 1 exam is a 6 hour test that includes 240 multiple-choice questions.

What are the Requirements to Become a CFA Member?

In order to qualify to become a CFA, you must have the following three things:

  1. A bachelor’s degree with the relevant business and financial coursework.
  2. A passing score on the CFA level 1 exam.
  3. At least 48 months of qualified work experience.

What are the Requirements to Sit for the CFA Exam?

In order to qualify to take the CFA exam, you must have bachelor’s degree with the relevant business and financial coursework.

What Topics are Covered on the CFA Exam?

The following topics are covered:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Equity
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments

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Best CFA Prep Courses
Written by: Erik Johnson
10 / 10 stars
Last modified: April 16, 2018