cfa level 1 tips

10 Best CFA Level 1 Tips for Passing The Exam in 2024

Facing the CFA Level 1 exam can be overwhelming. But you’re not alone as we are here to give you several CFA Level 1 tips and help you pass the exam with ease.

Updated at May 16, 2022

Are you ready to take the CFA exam?  Have you registered for the CFA Level 1 exam and are wondering how much effort you’ll have to put in? What should you learn, how often should you study, and where should you start? There are a lot of questions, but keep in mind that there are over 150.000 chart holders who have gone down the same path as you. We’ve compiled a list of golden CFA Level 1 tips based on their experience to help you pass the first exam efficiently and smoothly.

How to Study for The CFA Level 1 Exam

cfa level 1 tips

You’re getting ready to take the CFA Program exam after a year of disruptions. Your study plans have been frequently disrupted by deferrals and cancellations. We believe that most candidates who pass the exam spend around 300 hours studying, but if you were deferred, you may have already spent that much time studying. Don’t assume you remember everything!

So, how should you conduct an assessment of your CFA curriculum?

General Study:

  • Every day, set aside at least some time for yourselves. Cramming is inefficient. Even if you study on a regular schedule, it is more effective to study a little every day than to study for a long period of time every weekend.
  • Start studying as soon as possible.
  • Allow at least four weeks for review at the end, and more if possible.
  • The assigned CFA curriculum provided by CFA Institute upon registration is the only source of material for exam questions. To help you prepare, use the learning outcome statements, practice questions, and problems in each lesson.

Let’s get started with our free CFA Level 1 Mock Exam to enhance your chance of passing your actual exam with a high score on your first attempt.


  • Make extensive use of the Learning Ecosystem’s practice problems, but don’t depend only on practice examinations for drilling. Evaluate how the practice problems exhibit different approaches to applying concepts and techniques in different contexts.
  • Pay attention to both strengths and weaknesses in terms of content. Focus on your weak areas the all-time.
  • Use the adaptive plan in the Learning Ecosystem if you haven’t already. The tool is designed to evaluate your current knowledge and assist you in focusing on your areas of weakness.
  • Use the adaptive plan in the Learning Ecosystem if you haven’t already. The tool is designed to evaluate your current knowledge and assist you in focusing on your areas of weakness.
  • Candidates can “Rate Your Confidence” with concepts using a tool in the Learning Ecosystem. Regardless of whether you use the structured or adaptive study plan, this tool can help you track where you are feeling strong or weak.
  • Use the practice exam to assess your overall preparation and to practice pacing yourself.

If you are stuck:

  • If you’re stuck, think about joining a study group, contacting your society for candidate resources, or paying for a prep service.
  • Consider purchasing a prep course if you’ve already taken the official mock examinations and want to access some new mock exams.
  • Many prep providers have good question banks that can be used to freshen your studies if you’ve gone through all of the official curriculum questions.
  • Switching prep providers might let you see the curriculum and questions with fresh eyes, which can help you stay focused.

On exam day:

  • Read each question thoroughly to ensure that you understand the knowledge or skill being tested. Before evaluating a multiple-choice item, read all of the answer options carefully. Incorrect answer choices are intended to appear plausible to a candidate who is unprepared, but not ambiguous to a candidate who is prepared.
  • Each question can be answered solely based on the data provided. Make no unnecessary assumptions or offer extraneous information.
  • Answer all questions honestly; there are no consequences for wrong answers.

CFA Level 1 Tips for Passing Your Exam

cfa level 1 tips

You may wonder how to pass CFA level 1, follow this part to find the beneficial answer, we provide you with 10 golden CFA Level 1 exam tips.

1. The amount of time you need for the CFA exam is important.

According to the CFA Institute, successful candidates studied for more than 300 hours on average before passing the exam. If you aren’t a golden child (a partner at Goldman at the age of 25), make sure you can spend at least 300 hours to studying to improve your chances of success. In general, it is advised to start studying 6 months prior to the exam date (recommend January 1 if you are planning for the June exam, and in June if you are going for the December exam). However, beginning a little early than the given dates would not be a disadvantage.

2. Schedule your CFA exam schedule carefully

Planning is also a critical part of achieving a “PASS” on the exam. Use a study calendar, either from a prep provider or from the internet. Write down your hours and the LOSs you’re having trouble with so you can practice them closer to the exam. Using a planning tool will also guarantee that you do not forget important topics, spend too much time on one topic, or put in too little time, providing you with inadequate time to complete all of the material.

It is extremely recommended that you hire a CFA prep provider to maximize your efficiency. It will both give you summarized notes to supplement the CFA curriculum notes. The curriculum can then be used to reread difficult portions and pass the EOC (end of chapter questions). More material on CFA Prep providers can be found here.

You should attempt to finish all of the material 2 to 1.5 months before the exam. This will allow you to complete many mock exams and practice your weak areas.

3. There are no stupid questions.

You will have 6 hours to answer 240 multiple choice questions on the actual exam. What could be more helpful than practicing with real questions? You may have read on several forums about candidates who passed the exam by just doing practice questions. This is not advised, but it explains the educational significance of questions. So don’t skip practice questions, and try to complete as many as you can, concentrating on the EOC, CFA Website, and the resources available in your study guide. You could learn more about how a CFA prep service can provide you with plenty of questions here.

4. Understanding the CFA Ethics is essential for success

Ethics carries a high weight on the exam (15%) which is often the only subject that candidates haven’t studied in university whether they studied finance or economics. An unsuccessful candidate’s normal procedure is to put off reading the ethics section until the last few days before the exam, which is a terrible idea. Instead, concentrate on the topic, reading it several times if required, and memorizing it.

It’s a good idea to start with ethics as your first subject to read, but make sure to go back and re-read it before focusing on mock exams and rehearsals.

Due to the CFA Institute’s “ethics adjustments,” the Ethics chapter can also be a deal-breaker. Depending on their ethical score, candidates who are close to the MPS (minimum passing score) may be changed upwards or downwards.

5. Make the calculator your friend

It is crucial to have a good understanding of your calculator because it has numerous functions that can help you save time on exam day. CFA allows two different calculators on the exam (we recommend Texas Instrument BA II Plus), and regardless of which one you use, make sure you spend some time studying the functions at the start of your studies. You will eventually face such difficult questions that the only solution is to use the calculator’s functions; why not begin by learning what the calculator can accomplish right from the beginning of your studies? It will definitely save you time and effort.

6. Take Practice Exams

We stated previously that you should finish your reading materials 1.5–2 months prior to the exam and complete a large number of practice questions along the way. Practice exams should not be ignored. Mock exams from CFA Institute and your chosen prep provider will both educate you and allow you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in an exam-like situation. Many students are worried that the exam time limit (180 minutes per session) will not be sufficient. Mock exams will show you if time is an issue for you (if it is, don’t be worried). Aim to take all of the CFA Institute’s and your prep provider’s mock exams.

7. Set lofty goals with low expectations.

Of course, you should aim for the highest possible result on both practice questions and the exam, but don’t get too worked up if you don’t get above 70%. The minimum passing score for the exams has never been announced by the CFA Institute. However, based on statistical analysis, we can conclude that if you get a score of more than 70% on the exam, you will most probably pass. If you get a low score on your first mock exam, don’t panic; they normally improve over time. Also, it is not stated that if you receive less than 70%, you would fail.

8. Don’t be worried about the CFA exam; instead, stay focused.

After a bad mark on a mock exam, you may feel tired, upset, or freaked out, and the only thing you want to do is skip the entire CFA studying. What’s more? Everyone who has taken the CFA exams has probably felt the same way. Take the evening or weekend off if this has happened to you (or when it does), and reset your thoughts (but make it an infrequent event so you don’t get behind schedule).

9. Exam optimization

As you know, the CFA Level I test consists of 240 multiple choice questions to be completed in 6 hours. Let’s face it, you’re not going to obtain a high score on the exam. You will be asked many questions for which you have no idea what to answer or are unsure. When you get these types of questions, answer them as soon as you can and write the question number on a bit of paper before moving on. Spend such little time as possible on questions about which you are unsure. Because you still don’t know the answer after reading the questions once, it’s probably not worth your time to read the question twice.

When you have any tricky question that you are uncertain about, focus on excluding some of the alternatives since that will increase the chance if you guess the answer.

10. Take it easy before the CFA; everyone is nervous.

Try to relax the day before the exam. Don’t study late at night. It’s healthy to be nervous, and believe us, everyone feels nervous after spending so much time studying for the exam. You will be nervous on exam day as well, but the same principle applies. You have done everything you could to prepare for the exam if you put forth the effort and time. Just keep in mind that the CFA examination rules are extremely strict. Don’t give them any reason to accuse you of failing to follow it.

FAQs – CFA Level 1 Exam

cfa level 1 tips

Is Level 1 CFA easy?

CFA tests are difficult, and Level 1 is only the start. CFA Level 1 is comparable to a diploma level and gets harder from there. It is commonly considered as one of the world’s most difficult tests.

How long does it take to pass CFA Level 1?

A comprehensive study plan is required to pass the CFA Level I exam, which has a 42% pass rate over the last decade. Successful Level I candidates study for the exam for about 300 hours. To finish all of the reading material, set aside at least four months (about 17 weeks).

What should I focus on CFA Level 1?

The 3 most important CFA Level 1 exam topics are:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA),
  • Ethical & Professional Standards (Ethics),
  • Ethics,
  • Quantitative Methods (QM).

Is 3 months enough for CFA Level 1?

CFA candidates usually start studying 6 to 4 months before the exam. This is not to claim that three months is insufficient. What’s more essential is that you’ll have to study nearly every day! The CFA level 1 exam takes roughly 300 hours of study hours on average.

Is 6 months enough for CFA Level 1?

6 months is more than enough time to prepare for your CFA Level 1 exam. During your test prep, you can easily prepare for 400 hours of studying in 6 months.


The key to preparing for the CFA Level I exam, according to these CFA Level 1 tips, is to study in a structured way for at least 300 hours. Hopefully, after studying for the exam in a disciplined way, you will have no trouble passing it.

Don’t forget to take our free CFA practice test to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the CFA exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!