Best CFA® Study Materials – Top 8 Courses

Best CFA Study Materials
Best CFA Study Materials

Choosing the best CFA® exam study material is the single most important decision you will make on your journey towards becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.

A good CFA review course needs to be as comprehensive and versatile as the professionals who hold this certification. Since CFAs often work in industries ranging from portfolio management and risk analysis to research and strategy1, you’ll want to be an expert in these subjects when you sit for the exam.

But in order to become an expert, you’ll need to devote hundreds of hours to studying— so it’s crucial to find the CFA prep course that best fits your learning style and background.

Here’s the good news: 

We have researched and reviewed every major online CFA exam prep course on the market so you don’t have to! The comparison chart below will help you determine which course best fits your needs.

These are the Top 7 Best CFA® Prep Courses & Study Materials for June 2021 :

  1. AnalystPrep
  2. The Princeton Review CFA®
  3. Bloomberg CFA® Exam Prep
  4. Fitch Learning
  5. Kaplan Schweser
  6. Illumeo CFA® Review

This chart reflects the features from the CFA® Level 1 online course offerings from each company.

Analyst Prep CFA® Prep Course


Easy To Use: In order to provide CFA® candidates with an efficient and stress-free online experience, AnalystPrep added several quality of life features to their course dashboard. This includes being able to login with one click through your Google or Facebook account, and being able to access their video lectures outside of your dashboard through YouTube playlists.
Tracks Your Progress: AnalystPrep also incorporates some handy features that ensure you stay on track to pass your exams. This includes a stat tracking component that helps you compare progress with other students while working on your practice exams and questions. Additionally, this is synchronized with a calendar to help you stay organized.
Continuous Updates: The top priority for AnalystPrep is improving and updating their educational content. That’s why all their practice questions, simulated exams, and video lectures are continually updated to match developments in the industry and changes to the exam structure and/or content.

Multitasking: Although AnalystPrep offers an intuitive and calming interface, it does come with some limitations. The most notable of these is the inability to multitask— you can’t play videos next to text passages or compare community forum posts to practice tests.

Bottom Line: There are so many reasons to choose AnalystPrep as your CFA® review course. Whether you’re trying to relieve pre-exam anxiety or you just want the most up-to-date learning materials possible, this is the best possible choice!



The Princeton Review CFA® Study Materials

Best CFA Study Materials - The Princeton Review CFA 


Versatility: Any well-made self-study course is going to need a variety of materials for students to learn from in order to keep them motivated. Fortunately, The Princeton Review provides this versatility to all their CFA® Level I candidates. With study note-filled slideshows, several hours of video lectures, and some mock exams, there’s enough for students to work with that they won’t feel bored.

Teachers With Experience: The Princeton Review has always prided themselves for having excellent instructors who really grasp the material they teach. With their CFA® Level I exam prep course, this is no exception. The six instructors highlighted on their course page are all professionally certified and experienced CFAs®; in fact, many of them actually have several finance-related certifications under their belts!

Fantastic Price: With a name as prestigious as The Princeton Review, you’re probably expecting their services to have price tags in the range of thousands. However, that’s far from the case, especially when it comes to their CFA® prep course! Candidates will only need to pay a fraction of the cost that they otherwise would have to in order to enroll in most other courses on this list.

Limited Curriculum: With so much to love about this prep course, there’s one major omission that’s cause for concern. The Princeton Review currently only offers review materials for students looking to pass Level I of their CFA® exams. This means that any students looking to take their education and financial expertise to higher levels will need to supplement with additional courses from other companies.

Bottom Line:  If you have the discipline and motivation to complete a self-study course and want to save as much time and money as possible without sacrificing quality, The Princeton Review is an excellent choice. They may not offer all the bells and whistles that other courses do, but they’re still a fantastic option and will only get better as they add updates to their test prep library!


Bloomberg CFA® Study Materials

Bloomberg CFA study material logo 


Top-Rated Instructors: The instructors with this course are top-rated and extremely knowledgeable. Because of this expertise, everything you’re going to learn is in line with the latest tips and tricks that are available to anyone studying for the CFA®. The tutoring services that Bloomberg provides are what puts this course over the top, as it’s something that many other companies do not offer.
Two-Week Trial: While some test prep companies pat themselves on the back for a one-week trial, or even just three days, Bloomberg CFA® grants you two-week access to their course. This is an exceptionally long trial period, as you should be able to determine whether or not this content lines up with your learning type within that period.
Adaptive Learning Technology: Bloomberg uses state-of-the-art technology to give you a great learning experience. After an initial assessment period, the course will figure out which of the areas are troubling you, and adjust your study plan accordingly. While other courses may have adjustment mechanisms, Bloomberg’s is among the best in this regard.
Dashboard: Because Bloomberg has resources that aren’t available to many prep companies, its technology is above and beyond that of any of its competition. The dashboard in this CFA® review course is unparalleled, as it comes with an aesthetically pleasing home page, great web design throughout, and easy-to-navigate headers and dropdown menus.

No Final Review: There are many excellent study tools available to students who enroll in one of Bloomberg’s CFA® exam review courses. However, something that is conspicuously absent from all of them is a final review cram course. Although you can definitely live without it, the lack of any cram materials can leave some Bloomberg students with pre-exam anxiety.

Bottom Line: Bloomberg’s CFA® prep course provides an intuitive dashboard and adaptive learning technology.


Fitch Learning CFA® Review Course

Fitch Learning Study Material Logo


Online Learning Portal: With Fitch Learning CFA®, you get access to a great learning portal that features more than 120 hours of recorded video lessons, progress tests, and progress tracking that determines strengths and weaknesses. A study planner helps guide you through the course. Practice questions for Levels 1,2,3 are 3,800+, 3,700+, 2,200+, respectively.
Instructor Support: International faculty around the globe and 24/7 access to the help desk guarantees that you will receive prompt answers to your questions, regardless of time zone. Mentors also regularly check in with you to ask how the course is going.
Money-Back Guarantee: Fitch Learning offers a 100% money back guarantee if you do not pass the exam after meeting certain milestones. Only CFA® Level I students are eligible for the guarantee, so be sure to check out the full list of requirements on their website.
Mobile App: A mobile app allows you to access key course features on the go. It is available in both the iTunes and Google Play stores. Course content can be searched and downloaded in advance for offline studying. This allows busy professionals to study for the CFA® exam anywhere they go from their smartphone or tablet, whenever they have a few minutes.

Limited Live Classroom Availability: Fitch Learning’s live Classroom Review Courses are an excellent way to learn important CFA® exam concepts and test-taking strategies. However, their availability is extremely limited to any students who don’t live near New York or Toronto. 

Bottom Line: Fitch Learning ensures students truly understand the material included in their program with the aid of expert instructors and over 120 hours of video content. And if you’re still not satisfied, they offer a forgiving return policy.


Kaplan Schweser CFA® Review Course

Kaplan Schweser CFA study material logo


Practice Tests: Kaplan Schweser offers 6 full practice exams and 4,000 practice questions that are very similar to those on the exam. Practice exams are great for gauging your progress and this course gives you numerous opportunities to put in a lot of practice before test day.
Updated Content: This course is updated every year as the CFA® continues to evolve, which means that course materials will closely match what you see on the exam. You won’t waste your time on material or questions that may not appear on this year’s exams.
Instructor Support: Even with the Kaplan Schweser Self-Study package, you are not left to fend for yourself if you have questions about the material or need additional clarification. You can connect with a CFA® instructor during specific office hours and receive guidance on more difficult concepts.
Price: Premium packages cost upwards of $1,799, which is considerably more than other CFA® courses on the market. If you are on a tight budget, Kaplan is not going to cut it, even though this course comes with some pretty cool study tools, like the live person support.
No Free Trial: Kaplan’s CFA® review course comes with a hefty price tag, which can intimidate many students with tight budgets. And while their materials are worth the price, there’s no option to try them before making a purchase. The addition of a free trial would make it much easier for prospective students to come to a decision.

Bottom Line: With regular updates and instructor support, students who enroll in Kaplan Schweser’s CFA® review course can rest assured that they will receive a comprehensive and up-to-date education.


Illumeo CFA® Prep Course


Extra Credit: When you pay for one of Illumeo’s courses, you pay for them all. This means you can get a lot more content when you sign up for their CFA® Level 1 course. In fact, it’s a great continuing education tool for this exact reason.
Simple Structure: The majority of this course’s content is made up of video lectures recorded by its single instructor. These videos are simply organized and easy to follow— but you can also follow up with the instructor via email at any point. This structure is stress-free and won’t waste any of your valuable time.
Affordable: This is the least expensive course on our list, which can be helpful if you’re on a tight study budget. While it means you’re not getting the same experience as a more expensive course, it’s still fully capable of preparing you for Level 1 of the CFA® exam.

Limited Content: As I previously mentioned, there’s a reason this is the most affordable option on this list. You’ll only have materials that cover Level 1 of the exam— bad news if you’re planning to take the next two levels after. Also, they don’t offer nearly as much content as AnalystPrep’s course.

Bottom Line:  If you’ve already got other certifications, Illumeo can help you earn CPE credits while preparing to take the Level 1 CFA® exam. This is just one of the many ways it offers you a stress-free study experience!



Which CFA® Prep Course Is The Best?

Currently, the best review course for aspiring Chartered Financial Analysts can be found at AnalystPrep. This is because their team of highly qualified instructors provide a well-made and conveniently accessible curriculum of practice questions, video lectures, and mock exams.

What Is the Best Way To Prepare for CFA® Level 1?

The answer to this question will depend on your preferred learning style. If you’re interested in live instruction, Kaplan’s CFA® Level 1 study packages will be your best bet. But if you prefer learning independently through rigorous practice, AnalystPrep’s CFA® Level One Mock Exams will be your most effective resource.

Can CFA® Be Done By Self-Study?

Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to take the Chartered Financial Analyst exam on your own. You’ll need to have the test administered to you at a CFA® Institute-approved testing center. However, you can certainly study for the exam on your own with extremely positive results; just check out our list of the best CFA exam prep courses!

Additional Resources to Get You On the Right Track

Still can’t decide which course is right for you? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! I’ve created some invaluable resources for selecting the best CFA® review course. Check out my comparison articles:

Wiley vs. Kaplan CFA® and Wiley vs. Fitch CFA®.

For information on why you should become a CFA®, click here.

And if you have any specific CFA® questions, just drop a comment below and I’ll personally help you find the right course for you!

Compare other professional finance and accounting certifications below:

CFA® vs. CPA

Enrolled Agent

Certified Public Accountant

Certified Internal Auditor

Why should I become a CFA?

Although you don’t need to become CFA certified to work as a financial analyst, there are several benefits to certification that make it worthwhile. For example, you can make significantly more money— CFAs earn around $90,000 a year on average2, whereas ordinary financial analysts have an average annual salary of $60,000.3

Article Sources

Crush the CFA® Exam requires writers support their work by using primary sources.  These include the exam’s governing body, white papers, government data, and interviews with leading experts in the field. You can learn more about the standards we follow by checking out our editorial guidelines.


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