We started our Level I CFA Program Review post this week with an important message about the curriculum. Candidates studying for the December exam have an extra incentive to do well and move on to the second exam. They are studying from the 2014 curriculum and all levels will change to the 2015 curriculum come June.
If they do not pass in December, they will need to read three new readings in the 2015 curriculum and will have wasted their time with six readings that have been dropped.
That is a pretty big incentive, but what do the curriculum changes mean for other candidates?
More than you may think.
CFA curriculum in flux
While the official CFA curriculum does not normally change much from year to year, the Institute made some sweeping changes this year for the 2015 curriculum. In all, there are 10 new readings across the three exam levels and nineteen readings have been dropped. While some of the readings have shifted from one exam to another, this is still an extremely big change for the curriculum.
But that isn’t even the biggest change. I was surprised to see that the CFA Institute is changing the topic weights in the 2015 curriculum as well. The relative weights for each topic have been the same since before I was a candidate in 2009 and I don’t think anyone saw the change coming. While most of the weights only changed by a few percentage points, if any, it still means a lot on an exam where half the candidates do not pass and you need every point possible.
If you have made it through any of the exams by only reading study guides in prior years, you may want to rethink the strategy if you are taking the exam next summer.
First, there is a lot of new material in the curriculum. The Institute will not say whether it makes a point of testing new curriculum material but the general consensus among candidates is that it is highly testable information. If the Institute thought it was important enough to include the new material, sometimes at the cost of pushing out older information, then it could very well want to highlight it on the exam.
I have been working with third-party providers for more than two years now and can tell you that preparation of study guides after curriculum changes is an insanely detailed and difficult job. Each page of the curriculum has to be reviewed for changing Learning Outcome Statements and changing readings. If some material is missed when preparing study guides during normal years, it is even worse during years where the curriculum has changed so significantly. You absolutely must read the curriculum if you want the opportunity at 100% of the exam material. FinQuiz offers a happy medium with study notes that are designed to complement the curriculum, not replace it.
We went through the changes to the three curriculum levels in prior posts.
Click here for a review of changes to the Level I CFA Program exam.
Click here for a review of changes to the Level II CFA Program exam.
Click here for a review of changes to the Level III CFA Program exam.
We’ll continue next week with our review of the Level I CFA Program for the December exam. For the rest of you, enjoy your break, it will be time to pick up those books again soon enough.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA