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AnalystPrep CFA Review
Our expert team’s in-depth and comprehensive review of the CFA prep course from AnalystPrep
In the last couple of years, upstart prep company AnalystPrep has made some serious waves in the CFA exam prep industry with a modern, streamlined approach to prep at a fraction of the cost. With a full package of study notes, video lessons, practice questions and mock exams, this study program has instant appeal – especially with a price tag under $350. But at this budget cost, CFA candidates naturally start to wonder just how effective this prep program really is. We answer just that question and more in this detailed review.
Our Evaluation of AnalystPrep’s CFA Study Materials
AnalystPrep has designed its standard prep package around four core elements: video lessons, written study notes, a question bank, and mock exams. This of course assumes you opt for the flagship “Learn + Practice” package and not just the practice-only package, but more on this below.
From a high-level, AnalystPrep’s study program is simple. You access each of these four study tools from the navigation bar on the left, and you can bounce back and forth between them as you want, always coming back to the main dashboard.
The “Learn” component of your prep work is comprised of the video lessons and study notes, and though they’re housed under different tabs, the two work in tandem to cover the 10 topics covered on the Level I exam. (For purposes of this review, I’ll be referencing Level I, but know that Level II and Level III prep packages are roughly the same).
Let’s start with the written study notes. The notes are presented in a digital notebook-style interface made to look like binder paper, and generally tackle each LOS step-by-step. In my opinion, the binder paper interface is really cool and easy to read. But much more importantly, I like the style and length of these written notes.
If you’ve ever seen the Kaplan Schweser notes, these are similar, but much more streamlined. These notes are concise, written in plain English, and do a great job breaking down concepts and providing content review, without too much fluff.
In my opinion, sometimes the Kaplan Schweser notes go into too much detail, covering stuff that’s very unlikely going to be tested on the exam. By contrast, I like that AnalystPrep keeps their notes concise and on point. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not overly brief by any means.
The notes for all 10 topics are offered in printable PDF format, and for one of the modules I printed them out, with the packet coming to 170 pages. So not exactly summary recaps, but definitely still thinner and more streamlined than Kaplan’s.
Bottom line, I really like these written study notes from AnalystPrep. The digital interface they’re presented in is clean and modern, you can optionally print them out if that’s your jam, and there’s nice comment and flag functions to circle back to topics you struggle with. All in all, I was a big fan.
Beyond the study notes, the other half of the “Learn” component is the video lessons. The video lessons generally track with and supplement the written notes. In other words, they basically take the study note material and put it in video format. This is great for visual learners who struggle to stay focused and on track when given a lengthy reading assignment.
And like the study notes, I was also a big fan of these video lectures. Each is presented by Professor James Forjan, who’s been teaching CFA exam prep for close to 25 years. In short, the guy gets it. He seems to find a nice balance between keeping the lessons moving quickly, while still making them engaging and holding your attention. I think he’s a great communicator and does an excellent job delivering some very dry material.
The format of these video lessons is also fantastic. You get to see your instructor right on screen in the upper corner, while also seeing the digital whiteboard where he covers lesson points and works sample problems. Plus, he’ll frequently bust out a financial calculator right onscreen and show you how to solve problems on your old TI calculator. It’s pretty cool.
In my opinion, these videos have all the right elements – instructor onscreen for nonverbal communication cues and engagement, digital whiteboard for notes and problems, and a calculator onscreen to see how it’s done in real time.
I think Wiley’s videos may have slightly better production value, but these are dang close, which is actually very surprising given the price disparity.
As you move through your content review in the “Learn” portion of the prep work, you will mix in the other half of the study equation: practice. You can access AnalystPrep’s practice work three ways – through the question bank, a custom quiz generator, or mock exams.
The question bank allows you to drill down to problems on a certain topic and sort of tracks with the written study notes and video lessons. The videos, notes and question bank problems are all labeled and organized the same, so you can quickly jump back and forth between them as you tackle learning modules within the greater topics.
And as for the questions themselves, I thought they were very good. They closely match the difficulty, length and content of real CFA exam questions. Plus, the interface that they’re presented in is really cool. It’s sleek and responsive, and as you answer problems, you’ve given the answer explanations right there onscreen.
Now, to be clear, these answer explanations are not my favorite. I think they do a serviceable job, but they are a little on the thin side, with generally just 2-3 sentences per answer solution. Many of the Kaplan explanations go much deeper. That said, I think they get the job done and for the problems I missed, I thought the AnalystPrep solutions gave me what I needed to correct my mistakes.
These same practice questions (3,500 total for Level I) are also accessible through AnalystPrep’s quiz generator. This tool allows you to create custom quizzes based on topic, difficulty, and whether you’ve answered the questions before.
Personally, I think when you don’t want to tackle a full-length mock exam, but also don’t want to just work bucketed question bank problems, it’s a nice way to rip off a mixed bag of practice problems, especially under timed conditions.
Then lastly, there is AnalystPrep’s full-length mock exams. These are all computer-based, but you could also print them out if you want. In total, you get 5 simulated tests (including both morning and afternoon components). This is more than you get with any other CFA prep provider – Wiley, Kaplan, Princeton Review, anyone.
Again, this is one of those things that surprised me given the budget pricing with AnalystPrep. But long story short, I really like these mock exams. Like the practice questions in the qbank, I found them to be highly realistic of real CFA exam questions.
I give the AnalystPrep team huge props for the questions they’ve designed. In my opinion, they’re a very close replica of the real thing and do a nice job prepping you for what you’re going to see on test day. And with 5 of these exams, there’s a ton of opportunity for practicing under exam-like conditions.
In summary, the AnalystPrep study program is not complicated. Their program is built around four simple tools that don’t really need to be goosed up with fancy bells and whistles. Apart form some thin problem explanations, I had a really hard time finding things to pick apart. Overall, it’s a straightforward and effective curriculum with awesome tools.
AnalystPrep Pricing & Options
The first thing that jumps out to most people with AnalystPrep is the price tag. There is just no denying that they offer a high-value, approachable price point.
Their Level I practice-only package (which includes mock exams and the question bank) costs just under $200. Their mainstay “Learn + Practice” package runs for around $350. And even their “Unlimited” prep option (which includes full access to all materials for all three levels) costs just $550.
AnalystPrep also offers standalone Level II and Level III packages, and those are even more affordable at around $150.
For reference, other major providers like Kaplan Schweser and Wiley both charge over $1,000 for their full-scope CFA exam prep packages.
In short, AnalystPrep offers insane value for what you get, and in my opinion, is the best bang for your buck in CFA prep.
No matter which package you roll with, you get 12 months of access to AnalystPrep’s content. This is basically the industry standard and should be plenty of time for each level of the exam.
No Live Classes or Books
One of the biggest downsides of the AnalystPrep program is the fact that there is no live instruction. This is a self-paced, on demand study program, plain and simple.
If you’re the type of student that needs live classes to keep you on track and accountable, AnalystPrep is probably not going to be for you. Live instruction just isn’t their jam. But that’s also part of the reason why this course is priced the way it is.
In addition, unlike Kaplan and Wiley, there are no hardcopy books with the AnalystPrep review program. To some this may matter a great deal; to others it may not matter one bit. But to be fair, all of AnalystPrep’s study notes are printable in PDF format.
I actually did print out one set of notes for one of the ten modules, and it was close to 170 pages. So the option is there, though I don’t necessarily recommend it (unless you really want paper notes).
AnalystPrep has a pretty straightforward 7-day refund period. So long as you haven’t gone in and downloaded a bunch of mock exams and study notes, you can return their materials for a full refund, no questions asked. This is pretty standard and I was happy to see this.
Verdict: AnalystPrep CFA Review
After a full review of the AnalystPrep CFA prep program and using this program extensively, I have to admit that I was really impressed. I’ve used Kaplan and Wiley for prep, and honestly, I think AnalystPrep is right up there with them in terms of quality of study materials. And when combined with their value pricing, it makes them one of the best options around.
Between their written study notes, high-quality video lessons, realistic practice questions, and multiple mock exams, there’s just a lot to like. The AnalystPrep program is simple and straightforward, but highly effective. They do a great job cutting out all the fluff and streamlining your content review with essential material, while backstopping it with quality practice work. In short, for those looking for a self-paced CFA prep program, I think AnalystPrep is a rock solid choice.