The CFA program is a rigorous set of exams that not only stretches a wide range of topics, but also challenges the test taker on the intricate details of each - it’s a mile wide, and a mile deep.
The topic areas include: ethics, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, portfolio management, equity investments, fixed income investments, derivatives, and alternative investments. Once you decide to enroll in the CFA program, the CFA institute will mail you a stack of books that is almost more overwhelming than the exam itself. It is not uncommon for students to use the CFA program’s material to prepare for the exam, however, many students will purchase additional third party software. The software is expensive, so I recommend reaching our to your employer or another sponsor to see if they will purchase it for you. The main benefit of having third party software is the question bank that comes with it. The CFA curriculum comes with about 200 questions and a few practice exams, third party software will come with 3,000 – 4,500 questions (depending on the level) and several practice exams. It’s really important to get through as many practice questions as possible, which is why I strongly recommend purchasing third party software. An additional benefit of purchasing third party software is they will also provide CFA review material that is a condensed version of the CFA curriculum. This is a more efficient way of getting through the material. Anyway, without further ado, here is a quick guide to preparing for each level (with the exception of the written portion of level 3):