CFA Curriculum – I Can’t Believe I Read the Entire Thing

I wrote yesterday about the importance of reading the entire CFA curriculum and that too many candidates miss out of valuable points due to only relying on study guides. If my inbox is any indication,

many candidates are still skeptical that they can get through the curriculum in their limited time available and much less with their sanity intact.
Aziz from Turkey writes, “I understand the importance of CFA curriculum and know deep down that I should read it but just cannot find the time. What if I read a study guide two or three times in the same time it takes for CFA curriculum? Is that not better?”
Vikas in India points to another problem many candidates have when he writes, “CFA curriculum is SO BORING! Some of the information is interesting but too much academic writing makes it impossible to get past.”
I completely understand both of these points. I worked a full-time job throughout my CFA studies and was married while studying for the final test. Throw in a social life and who has the time to get through thousands of pages of material?
If you want to pass the CFA exams, then you have to make time. It can be difficult to sacrifice a little more time for studying but we are all investors here and I guarantee you the return you realize for that extra time will be well worth it. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, you must commit to the official curriculum if you want the max points possible. Studying only the study guides is a sure way to miss important information that is left out. Studying these guides three or four times isn’t going to help if the material is not in there.

CFA curriculum – Information you do not see in study guides

I did get some positive feedback from a few candidates on yesterday’s post. Mark from St. Louis writes, “I tried for two years to pass the Level I CFA Exam with only study guides. I tried two different providers but failed the exam each year. On the third attempt, I committed to reading the entire curriculum and finally made it through. Can’t say that it was only because of the curriculum but I can say that there was information in the books that I don’t remember seeing in the study guides.”

CFA curriculum – Making it through without falling asleep

Making it through the curriculum is one thing, making it through the curriculum without falling asleep every couple of hours is another thing. I agree that the curriculum can be a little boring at times. Think of it as exercise for all those company reports you will need to read as an analyst. If you thought 2,500 pages of the CFA curriculum is tough to get through in six months then you have a rude awakening coming as an analyst.
Reading through the curriculum translates to about 400 pages a month. As an analyst, I read through that just about every week! You will constantly be looking through annual and quarterly reports, trade journals and other analyst’s commentary in your daily work routine. Not all of it is going to be compelling material and you just have to learn to push through it. Taking quick notes in the margin of the page helps to stay focused and there’s nothing wrong with a little help from Mr. Coffee.
No one said it would be easy working through the entire CFA curriculum but it is definitely worth your time. It takes determination and sacrifice but those traits will serve you well that first Saturday of June and for the rest of your life. Good luck.
‘til next time, happy studying
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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