Earning the CFA charter requires a tremendous amount of time and effort. On average, candidates needed at least 300 hours of prep time to pass each level of the exam.
The CFA level I exam includes 240 multiple choice questions tested in two 3 hour sessions. In order to prepare yourself for this mental endurance, you need to regularly take mock exams to build your stamina.
This article explains the value of practice tests and how to choose the best CFA mock exams for your learning style.
How to Prepare for CFA level I
When you sit down on test day, you will have just 1.5 minutes to answer each multiple choice question on the exam.
While that may seem overwhelming, the key to meeting the challenge is by regularly practicing test questions.
Value of the Right Practice Questions
When I studied for the CFA exam, I used a large database of CFA exam test bank questions for two important reasons. The first reason was to test my knowledge level of a particular subject.
For example, I could see where I stood on Quantitative Methods by taking a 20 question practice test using just a random sample of Quantitative Method practice questions.
If I scored high, it was a decent indicator that I had a good handle on the material. If I scored low, I knew that I needed to go back and spend more time reading the core CFA exam books.
After spending more time reading the original text book sections, I could back and re-take more practice questions to see how well I could retain the new material in my memory.
Reinforce the Study Material Topics
The other important reason to regularly use mock exams with your study plan is to build your attention and focus to remain sharp throughout a 6 hour exam.
When you start studying for the CFA exam, you will find it difficult to keep your mind focused on the multiple choice questions for a long period of time.
The best way to build your test taking endurance is by regularly practicing with sample tests that have the same number of questions you will see on exam day. You can also adjust the questions to match the CFA topic weights.
That means you want to periodically create mock exams with 120 multiple choice questions and give yourself an uninterrupted 3 hour window of time to take the exam. I found the best time to do this was on a Saturday or Sunday a few times each month.
Preparing for the CFA exam is a major undertaking. Everyone needs to spend time considering if the CFA exam is worth it based on your own personal situation.
In my case, earning the CFA charter made a major difference for my career.
What to Consider When Selecting Mock Exams
CFA mock exams are available from a number of CFA exam study material providers. The key consideration you need to keep in mind include:
- CFA Institute Approved Provider – The CFA Institute maintains a list of prep course providers that maintain minimum standards of quality.
- Product Options – Most prep courses offer a choice of a bundle or a standalone product. The bundle option packages a variety of study material together. The bundles typically provide a small discount compared to the cost of purchasing each product included in the bundle individually.
- Number of Mock Exams – Keep an eye out for the number of full length mock exams that are provided with your purchase. Taking a full length practice exam is much different than periodically practicing a smaller number of practice questions. Access to extra full length mock exams can make a big difference in your preparation.
- Size of the Practice Question Database – If your question universe is small, you run the risk of seeing the same questions repeated. When you see the same questions, your brain recognizes the answer rather than understanding the subject material.
- Brand Recognition – The larger and more well known prep courses charge a premium for their brand name. By selecting a less well known option, you can save a significant amount of money. This can make a real difference if you are not being reimbursed from your employer.
Top CFA Mock Exam Options
All included mock exam options are listed in the CFA Institute Approved Provider list.
Wiley is a global provider of prep course products. Their CFA review course options include resources and advanced technology to help you study and retain the most important topics on the exam.
Wiley offers 4 primary course options to match your learning style. You can easily compare Wiley’s courses based on your preferences. We have included the two most popular options below:
Self Study Course
This option is designed for the highly motivated candidates that prefer to set their own study schedule and have the self discipline to follow through. The course includes the following features:
- 2 full length mock exams.
- Access to print or ebook study notes that cover all Learning Outcome Statements.
- Access to a comprehensive test bank with over 4,000 practice questions.
The platinum course represents Wiley’s flagship CFA prep course product. The course includes all the core study material provided with the self study course as well as enhanced video lectures, 11th hour review access, and personalized mentoring.
- Includes all core study material.
- Video lectures and on demand virtual classes.
- 11th hour final review product.
- Professional online mentoring feature.
For more information, see our full Wiley CFA review article.
AdaptPrep offers a comprehensive online prep course at a highly competitive price point. The online course includes access to video lectures, a comprehensive test question bank, and an unlimited number of mock exams.
Students have the choice of three main product options:
The Practice course includes the core test bank product and detailed analytics to measure your progress. The specific features include:
- Over 2,500 practice test questions.
- 50 test question solution videos.
- Predictive analytics to measure your strengths and weaknesses in real time.
- Access to the community question forum where questions are answered by instructors.
- Available for $149.
The Practice course is a great option for students looking for an extra practice question database to supplement their study program, but don’t want to pay a premium for the questions.
- Click here for more information about the Practice course.
The Learn course includes all the features from the Practice course as well as over 40 hours of video lectures covering each section of the exam, and access to study notes covering all ten core subjects on the exam.
- Includes all features from the Practice course.
- Study notes broken into 60 sections that cover all 10 topic areas of the exam.
- Over 225 video lectures that span over 40 hours.
- Available for $199.
The Learn course makes a great choice for students looking for additional study material and video lectures to round out their study plan.
- Click here for more information about the Learn course.
The Complete course includes all features included in the Learn course but includes one free course renewal in the event you don’t pass the exam.
This is an important consideration because the pass rates for Level I are less than 50%. By purchasing the Complete course, AdaptPrep gives you one extra renewal at a 50% discount from the regular cost.
- Click here for more information about the Complete course.
You can read our full AdaptPrep CFA review article for more course details.
Bloomberg Exam Prep
Candidates that are interested in comprehensive study material with an innovative technological platform may prefer Bloomberg’s CFA prep course.
This course includes comprehensive study material with an adaptive learning platform that incorporates your individual mastery of the material to design a highly efficient personalized study program.
The benefits of the algorithm can be significant. Rather than spending time reviewing all the material in full, you can be more efficient by using your time to focus on your weakest subjects.
When holding down a full time job and studying for the CFA exam, saving extra time by being more efficient can make your life more balanced.
Bloomberg organizes its product packages based on the number of mock exams and the number of ask a tutor questions. Each product package includes the core study material, video lectures, and advanced adaptive learning platform.
The following features are included with Bloomberg’s Essential course:
- All core study material and video content.
- Question test bank includes 13,000 practice questions.
- 20 ask a tutor questions.
- 6 full length mock exams.
- Course access for $599.
Bloomberg also offers more premium course features that include access to up to 10 mock exams and 2 private tutoring sessions. For more information about Bloomberg’s CFA course, click here.
Kaplan Schweser represents the market leader in the CFA prep course industry. However, keep in mind that the brand name carries a premium product cost.
Schweser offers students a range of comprehensive bundled courses as well as the ability to purchase individual products such as the test question bank.
Schweser’s mock exams are available as part of the higher priced comprehensive course bundles. When you purchase a bundle course, you receive access to four full length mock exams.
Schweser’s Essential course includes the following features:
- Access to the Schweser app.
- Practice Question bank with 3,800 questions.
- 4 full length mock exams.
- 5 volumes of comprehensive study notes.
- Quicksheet formula sheet with the most important formulas to memorize.
- Available for $649.
For more information, see our Schweser CFA review course article.
Analyst Prep offers students tremendous value. Rather than offering multiple options, Analyst Prep keeps it simple with one single, comprehensive course offering.
The company’s primary plan includes the following features:
- Comprehensive study notes.
- Question bank with 3,000 questions.
- 4 mock exams.
- Detailed analytics.
- Available for just $129.
Keep in mind that Analyst Prep does not offer video lectures with their course.
However, if you’re looking for access to extra test questions and mock exams at a lower price point, Analyst Prep makes a great option.