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Best CFA Prep Books

A complete guide to the best CFA prep books available to help you nail the CFA exam

As you continue your journey to become a chartered financial analyst, you will need to pass each level of the CFA exam. While each level of the exam is challenging, with ample preparation and some solid CFA prep books to guide you, you will have the means to master this test and earn your charter. But with so many prep options to choose from, how do you know which is best? Our team of test prep gurus has purchased and reviewed almost every book on the market and had their evaluation verified by an industry expert. In this guide, we discuss pricing, effectiveness and overall quality of the various CFA prep books and rank the best ones here.

Overview: Best CFA Prep Books at a Glance

Based on our expert team’s research and review of each, here are the best CFA prep books for each level available today:

CFA Level 1 – CFA Institute CFA Program Curriculum

CFA Level 2 – Wiley’s Level II CFA Program Study Guide

CFA Level 3 – Wiley’s Level III CFA Program Study Guide

Best CFA Level 1 Prep Books

The best CFA Level 1 prep books as determined by our team of experts are as follows:

  1. CFA Institute CFA Program Curriculum
  2. Wiley’s Level 2 CFA Program Study Guide
  3. Wiley’s Level 3 CFA Program Study Guide

Read on for a detailed review of each.

#1. CFA Institute CFA Program Curriculum

Stock up on not just one of the best CFA prep books, but six. This six-volume CFA study guide includes the complete Level 1 CFA curriculum that covers all 10 content areas of the CFA program. With CFA Institute CFA Program Curriculum you will learn the fundamental concepts and challenge your skill set. I personally found added value in the in-depth explanations of cases and real-world scenarios. This prep book offers sample questions and practice quizzes, as well as expert instruction on quantitative analysis, economics, ethical and professional standards, corporate finance, financial reporting and analysis, fixed income, equities, alternative investments, derivatives and portfolio management.

cfa book institute

Each section of this CFA prep book is organized by the learning outcome statements of the CFA exam and features individual sections so you can hone your skills on each content area. I was able to learn the concepts in various ways with the included figures, diagrams, charts, graphs and financial statements. This was helpful for me, as the concepts were illustrated, not just written about for me to read. The CFA practice questions reinforced the important concepts and mimicked the CFA exam questions so that I was able to retain the information and practice test-taking strategies. With this prep book, you will learn practical applications of all concepts with the embedded case studies and additional expert commentary throughout. One clear way to succeed on the CFA exam is to practice, and this six-volume CFA study guide helps you do just that.

Purchase CFA Institute CFA Program Curriculum on Amazon

#2. Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide

Featuring 1,300 pages of study guide text that is available in both an eBook and a print version, Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide gives you all the tools you need to pass the CFA exam. This prep book includes five volumes of textbook materials, providing you every opportunity to gain a better understanding of the content and retain the information needed to pass the CFA exam.

wiley cfa level 1 book

One thing that makes this study guide stand out for me is the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) tracker. Every single learning outcome on the CFA exam and CFA curriculum is covered in an efficient and organized format, making it easy to find relevant concepts and information you might need for more in-depth review. You will feel confident knowing that you have reviewed every single learning outcome. I like that this study guide includes a color-coding feature which makes it easy to review examples and cases, as well as financial statements and explanatory graphs covering economics, portfolio management and fixed income. You will find all the information you need for reviewing the material covered on the CFA exam and prepare more thoroughly with Wiley’s Level 1 prep book. As an additional bonus, this study guide also includes advice from the experts. You will learn about CFA test-taking strategies, time management tips and thoughtful reflections from candidates who mastered the exam in this CFA study guide.

Purchase Wiley’s Level 1 CFA Program Study Guide on Amazon

#3. Kaplan SchweserNotes™ CFA Prep Book

It can be challenging to ensure you are studying all content areas for the CFA exam, but when you’re armed with Kaplan SchweserNotes™ CFA Prep Book, you have a helping hand. As one of the best CFA prep books on the market, you can’t go wrong with this user-friendly study guide that breaks down the information into study notes. This prep book is more than just a textbook. This study guide covers all content areas of the exam and features exam-focused study notes, CFA practice quizzes and detailed examples with explanations focusing on the learning outcome statement.

kaplan Schweser Notes cfa level 1 book

With the purchase of this prep book, you will receive your choice of either a print book or an eBook that is easily accessible on a mobile or tablet device, as well as an online learning platform that contains practice tests that mimic the format of the CFA exam. With each question you answer, you are provided detailed explanations that are designed to help you better learn and retain the material covered on the exam. This prep book comes equipped with real-time performance metrics for each practice quiz and includes some helpful video tutorials. The key difference between this prep book and other CFA study guides is that all content is divided into bite-sized modules. If you are anything like me, you will like being able to study in shorter segments without sacrificing any content areas.

Purchase Kaplan SchweserNotes™ CFA Prep Book

Best CFA Level 2 Prep Books

The best CFA Level 2 prep books as determined by our team of experts are as follows:

  1. Wiley’s Level II CFA Program Study Guide
  2. Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level II CFA Prep Book

Read on for a detailed review of each of the above books.

#1. Wiley’s Level II CFA Program Study Guide

Make sure you’re ready for exam day with Wiley’s Level II CFA Program Study Guide. With this 5-volume Level 2 CFA prep book set, you get to choose between the printed textbook version or an eBook to help you better understand the level 2 program curriculum, retain the instruction and earn a passing score. This study guide includes more than 1,200 pages of instruction, as well as exam tips from the experts. I found this prep book to provide helpful advice on how to approach each type of CFA exam question, as well as tips and test-taking strategies.

wiley cfa level 2 book

This practical CFA study guide outlines where each single learning outcome statement (LOS) is covered within the CFA prep book, which enabled me to hone my skills on my most challenging concepts. Each LOS within the CFA program curriculum is covered in-depth with examples and detailed explanations of the concepts. This full-lesson CFA study guide also includes a color-coding feature so you can quickly reference examples and cases. With sections that cover portfolio management, economics and fixed income, as well as figures and diagrams to help illustrate the content, I found the Wiley’s CFA Study Guide to be a valuable resource while prepping for Level 2 of the CFA exam.

Purchase Wiley’s Level II CFA Program Study Guide from Amazon

#2. Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level II CFA Prep Book

Your CFA study plan needs to include Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level II CFA Prep Book if you want to score well. This guide is a thorough overview of the CFA exam concepts, delivered in short sections to help you better understand the materials. For me, these bite-size sections were especially effective in keeping my attention, which led to better overall retention of the materials. This study guide is more than just a textbook; it’s a necessary resource to help you retain CFA concepts by breaking down the exam information into study notes. This study guide features practice quizzes, practice questions and detailed examples that cover every learning outcome statement on the CFA exam.

kaplan Schweser Notes cfa level 2 book

In addition to the thorough modules within this CFA prep book, you can also access the online learning platform that features real-time performance metrics that help you identify whether or not you’re understanding the concepts. A cheat sheet for the CFA exam questions can be found within the quick reference guide that is included with this prep book. This study guide is available in an eBook so you can study while on the go. While I didn’t use the eBook often, it came in handy and allowed me to fit in some extra study time when I needed it. Having the right resources at your fingertips is important when studying for the CFA exam, and this guide fits the bill.

Purchase Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level II CFA Prep Book

Best CFA Level 3 Prep Books

The best CFA Level 3 prep books as determined by our team of experts are as follows:

  1. Wiley’s Level III CFA Program Study Guide
  2. Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level III CFA Test Prep Book

Read on for a detailed review of each of the Level 3 prep books above.

#1. Wiley’s Level III CFA Program Study Guide

Mastering Level 3 CFA program curriculum will be easier if you include Wiley’s Level III CFA Program Study Guide in your prep plans. Featuring 5 textbook volumes with more than 860 pages, it doesn’t get any more thorough than this. These study guide, which is also available in the form of an eBook (helpful if you are a student who needs to study on the go), gives students the edge they need to master the CFA exam. If you prepped for Level 2 with Wiley’s Level 2 study guide, you will recognize the same types of color-coded sections in this Level 3 guide, which enable quick distinctions between the concepts covered, as well as similar diagrams and figures that illustrate concepts such as portfolio management, economics and fixed income.

wiley cfa level 3 book

This CFA study guide covers every LOS and offers background information to enhance your understanding of the concepts and the CFA curriculum, as well as exam tips from the experts who offer test-taking strategies and practical tips. Each CFA lesson is organized so you can easily find explanations of concepts, examples and case studies.

Purchase Wiley’s Level III CFA Program Study Guide on Amazon

#2. Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level III CFA Test Prep Book

Simplify the process of studying for the CFA exam with Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level III CFA Test Prep Book. Like its Level 2 companion, this CFA test prep book breaks down information into bite-size modules to enhance your understanding of the concepts on the CFA exam. Evolving to help you better prepare for the test, this CFA study guide includes detailed examples and explanations of the CFA concepts, as well as CFA practice tests and quizzes. I liked that I got real-time feedback and scoring while I was using the online learning platform available with this CFA prep book. This study guide features CFA question examples that cover all concepts in the LOS.

kaplan Schweser Notes cfa level 3 book

You have the option of the print version or eBook of these CFA test prep books, and you will have access to the real-time performance metrics to measure how prepared you are for the exam. The user-friendly platform and small modules make it easy to learn a little each day.

Purchase Kaplan SchweserNotes™ Level III CFA Test Prep Book on Amazon

Summary

The CFA is one of the most grueling exams on the planet. With each level of the exam carrying enormous weight, it’s important to arm yourself with the tools you need to succeed, including some the best CFA test prep books on the market. And if prep books alone won’t be enough to get you adequately prepared (as is often the case for many CFA candidates), check out our list of best CFA prep courses here.

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