The Best CFA Prep Books and Guides of 2022

If you want to pass the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, you definitely need the best CFA preparation books and study materials to prepare you. CFA prep books are a cheaper alternative to CFA exam assessment courses or in-person classes, but they are still a valid approach to CFA exam study prep.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the best CFA prep books on the market today. It also includes a list of free CFA prep books and information on CFA prep sections. These books provide detailed instructions on the CFA curriculum along with practice questions, step-by-step guides, and a detailed explanation of financial analysis concepts.

Should I take the CFA?

Yes, you must take the CFA if you want to become a chartered financial analyst. The CFA exam is a standardized exam that tests knowledge of investment tools, quantitative methods, wealth planning, portfolio management, and asset valuation.

CFA certification provides you with the analytical skills and expertise to land a wide variety of positions at top companies that hire financial analysts in a variety of fields, including trading, research analysis, brokerage, corporate finance, financial advisory, financial reporting, personal investments, and more. CFAs are considered the gold standard in corporate finance.

According to the CFA Institute’s CFA Program Candidate Survey, each candidate spends approximately 323 hours preparing for the CFA exam that focuses on a variety of finance topics. However, there are CFA requirements that must be met before registering for the exam process.

The CFA Institute requires exam candidates to hold a valid passport and either have a bachelor’s degree, be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree or have a minimum of four years of professional work experience in any field.

Common CFA Sections You Should Prepare for

  • Ethical and Professional Standards. This portion of the CFA curriculum tests candidates’ knowledge of ethics, ethical behavior challenges, and the importance of ethics and professionalism to the investment industry.
  • Quantitative methods. This section focuses on quantitative concepts and techniques for financial analysis and investment decisions. It has no weight in the Level III exam.
  • Economy. This part assesses the candidates’ understanding of the fundamental concept of supply and demand, market structure and macroeconomic concepts and principles.
  • Analysis of financial statements. The financial analysis section tests candidates’ knowledge of financial reporting procedures and standards. This component does not count in the Level III exam.
  • Corporate issuers. This topic contains questions about corporate governance, investment and financing decisions, and the impact of environmental and social considerations on investments. It also does not count in the Level III exam.
  • Equity investments. This section examines the characteristics of equity investments, securities markets, stock valuation models and indexes.
  • Fixed income. The portion of the curriculum tests the candidates’ knowledge of fixed income securities, markets, valuation measures, returns, fundamentals of bond returns and risks, and the basics of credit analysis.
  • derivatives. The section contains topics on basic derivatives and the derivatives markets, such as forwards, swaps and contingent receivables.
  • Alternative investments. The alternative investments section covers topics such as hedge funds, real estate, infrastructure, commodities and private equity.
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning. In this section, candidates are tested on risk and portfolio management concepts, such as return and risk measurement, portfolio planning and construction.

The 10 Best CFA Prep Books To Prepare

1. CFA Institute: CFA Program Curriculum Level I Volumes 1-6

  • Best for: Students who want a comprehensive review of the entire curriculum.

This was developed by the CFA Institute and is considered the official preparation book for the CFA exam. It is a six-part CFA study guide for all 10 sections of the exam and provides essential learning resources for students. Each section contains a statement about learning outcomes that a student can use to build their study session and improve their performance. It also provides sample questions, quizzes, and practice tests that are similar to the actual exam.

This resource is great study material for in-depth study. The best thing about this prep book is that it is free and ideal for those on a budget. You get full access to the full curriculum when you pay your exam fee.

2. Level I SchweserNotes™ & QuickSheet

  • Best for: CFA test candidates seeking a structured learning approach.

Kaplan Schweser’s curriculum helps students learn key topics by leveraging exam-focused CFA study notes that cover all areas of content. The study work is broken down into bite-sized lessons that make it easier to understand. It also includes practice quizzes, step-by-step examples, and practice questions explaining the correct answer.

A great feature of this pack from this preparatory course provider is that those who purchase this book also get access to Kaplan Schweser’s online learning platform and a formula sheet for a quick refresher.

3. Wiley’s Level I CFA Program Study Guide 2022

  • Best for: Students seeking a high-level summary of the CFA curriculum.

This preparation book provides essential knowledge of difficult concepts at the first exam level. The exam preparation courses also provide in-depth strategies and exam tips for approaching each section. This study plan comes with a learning outcomes tracker to track personal progress and find information professionals may need for a more in-depth assessment.

4. Wiley’s Level I CFA Program 11th Hour Assessment Guide and Test Bench

  • Best for: Students who want to review CFA concepts.

This book was created to serve as a ‘summary summary’. It collects all the crucial concepts, formulas, and rules for the CFA exam in one study guide, making it easy for students who want a quick refresher course without rereading all the CFA books from cover to cover. It is best used as a supplemental preparation book.

5. CFA Level 1 – 25th HOUR COMMENTS

  • Best for: Students in the final stage of preparation.

This CFA Level 1 study guide helps students prepare for their exams. It contains a summary of essential concepts, key formulas and points from this difficult exam. It’s a great book to use for the final stages of your comprehensive preparation for your CFA, to help you review what you may have forgotten from the early stages.

It is very affordable and costs only $14.99. Another great feature is that it comes with a money back guarantee for those who are not happy with the quality.

6. CFA Level 1 Calculation Workbook

  • Best for: Students who want to practice math questions.

This is a great exam prep book to practice math questions for the CFA Level I exam. It contains 300 practice questions and detailed solutions on critical topics such as alternative investments, financial statement analysis, financial reporting and analysis, quantitative methods, economic analysis, equities and fixed income and derivatives.

7. Chartered Financial Analyst Exam: 2020 CFA Level 1 Question Bank – Volume 2

  • Best for: Polishing test strategies and final pre-exam concept tunings.

This is another CFA preparation book from Havels Learning System that provides a comprehensive question-and-answer guide to help students prepare for the CFA Level 1 exam. It includes 19 study sessions on critical topics from the CFA curriculum and provides over 1,000 relevant exam questions with comprehensive answer explanations for students.

8. CFA confidential

  • Best for: Students who want to learn the dos and don’ts of the CFA world.

This is a book by current CFA charter holder Greg Campion on what it takes to become a chartered financial analyst. It provides a detailed overview of everything it takes to pass the CFA exam, cope with the stress of preparation, and manage exam day anxiety. This book does not deal directly with CFA concepts. However, it is a great supplemental study guide.

9. Kaplan Level III SchweserNotes & QuickSheet

  • Best for: CFA test candidates seeking a structured learning approach.

As the name implies, this is a complete guide for students preparing for the Level 3 exam. It provides a detailed overview of the Level 3 CFA curriculum, with lessons delivered in short study sessions that make it easier to remember crucial information. It includes practice quizzes, comprehensive study notes, and a QuickSheet summarizing formulas, basic concepts, and definitions.

10. CFA Exam Study Guide! Level 1

  • Best for: Busy students who don’t have much study time.

Author Travis Brody tries to make it easier for students to prepare for the CFA test with this study guide. It contains a complete overview of essential concepts in the CFA curriculum and practice exam questions. Each section is broken down into smaller microlessons to ensure that all aspects of the exams are covered.

Free CFA Books and Resources to Prepare

  • Free CFA Level 1 Mock Exam
  • saline solutions
  • UWorld Finance CFA® Level 1 Exam
  • Bloomberg exam preparation
  • IFT’s 101 Concepts for Level 1

FAQs on the Best CFA Prep Books

Which book should I study for CFA Level 1?

The best CFA preparation books for Level 1 exams are the CFA Institute’s CFA Program Curriculum, Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide, and Kaplan’s SchweserNotes. All of the Level 1 preparation books listed in this article are great assessment materials for Level 1 of your CFA exam.

Which study materials are best for the CFA exams?

The best study materials for the CFA exams are Kaplan Schweser, Princeton Review, Fitch Learning, Analyst Prep, and Wiley CFA Review. You can use this assessment material if you want to improve your learning experience. We recommend that you choose the relevant exam program according to your most preferred learning style.

Can I self study for the CFA exams?

Yes, you can self study for the CFA exams. While the content of this exam may be difficult and the pass rates may be low, you can still achieve high scores by using the best CFA prep books, study materials, and study techniques for your exam prep.

Is a CFA Certification Better Than Earning an MBA?

No, the CFA is usually no better than an MBA, although it depends on your personal goals. If you prefer to build a career as an investment professional, the CFA designation is more suitable for you. An MBA degree is a better option for those interested in general management and executive leadership.

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