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Kaplan Schweser CFA Review

Full review of the Kaplan Schweser CFA course and study materials after using this program for Level I

Kaplan Schweser is one of the most popular courses on the market for CFA prep. Of the 190,000 CFA charterholders worldwide, roughly half have used Kaplan to study. That is an incredible market share. But with more prep providers popping up each year, is Kaplan Schweser still worth it for CFA prep? We answer that question directly after purchasing, using, and reviewing this course.

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Kaplan Schweser

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Our Score


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  • SchweserNotes are the gold standard of study material in CFA prep
  • Fantastic CFA review workshops for quick hit cramming before exam
  • Masterclass lectures are highly engaging and effective
  • Realistic practice problems with 6 full-length mock exams
  • Answer solutions and explanations are insightful and actionable
  • Loved the organization and structure of this course
  • Some of the reading assignments felt heavy-handed
  • End of chapter video recaps were dry
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Article Outline

As this is a detailed and lengthy post, we’ve included handy jump-to links above to get where you want to go fast.

Video Review: Kaplan CFA Prep

In the above video, team member John breaks down the Kaplan Schweser CFA review course in detail, including thoughts on what we liked and didn’t like about it. Please keep reading for more info.

How The Course Works & Our Evaluation

I think the best way to attack this review is to simply explain how the Kaplan Schweser course works and provide my thoughts along the way about what I like and don’t like about the program.

Also for reference, this is a review of the Level I course, not Levels II or III. Most everything we found with their Level I prep program will apply to Levels II and III, as their teaching methodology and learning platform doesn’t change between levels, but in any event, this review is geared towards Level I.

So here’s how the Kaplan Schweser course works. When you login to the course, you land on the dashboard. On the left side you will see your assignments, and on the right side, Kaplan gives you a progress tracker and some high level performance data. The assignment section on the left side is the most important aspect and where you’ll spend a lot of time.

Kaplan Schweser CFA Masterclass
Kaplan Schweser CFA class recording

This is where Kaplan tells you exactly what you need to study and when. There are a couple of different ways to view it. The suggested method is the Activity Feed, which gives you an item-by-item breakdown of exactly what you need to be working for a particular week. In essence, you start ticking off assignments and work your way down the list until you’re done for the week.

Alternatively, there is also a calendar view, where you can see everything you need to do on a daily basis within a monthly viewport. The two views are really just two sides of the same coin, and show the same assignments, but I’ll just say that we preferred the Activity Feed.

It’s intuitive and direct, and tells you how many activities you have left for the week, as well as the estimated amount of time to complete them. It was just simple and straightforward to follow, which I liked.

Plus, as a side note here, Kaplan also gives you the ability to shift around the order of topics you see. Their default is to start with Quantitative Methods, but if you’d rather start with Equity Investments, you can just drag and drop, and flip them around on the schedule. That was a nice function as well.

The SchweserNotes are a highlight

Or, if you would rather just disregard Kaplan’s recommended path through the materials altogether, you can always just hit the Study Tools button at the top, where you’ll get a drop down of all the materials in the course. You can jump in and start studying directly from there. Though to be honest, I would not recommend that, as Kaplan has done a pretty good job of integrating all of the different facets of the course into a pretty intentionally sequenced and easy-to-follow schedule.

Next, let’s discuss the substance of what’s actually in the Activity Feed. Kaplan uses a pretty traditional but effective overarching framework of Learn ➡️ Practice ➡️ Assess.

In other words, you learn about a given topic in a module, put what you learned to use with a few practice questions in the next module, and then periodically assess your knowledge with a practice problem set assignment or exam.

Kaplan Schweser CFA Performance Data
Kaplan Schweser’s performance data is excellent

You’ll find that is the flow of the Kaplan suggested study plan in the Activity Feed. The modules are stacked in a pretty predictable order, focusing on “study” modules and quizzes, with the occasional Masterclass or other assignment mixed in.

Let me explain those individual elements. The “study” modules (as Kaplan labels them) are assigned readings from the SchweserNotes. You all know the SchweserNotes and they’re probably a big reason why you’re considering going with Kaplan for your prep.

These notes are the gold standard in the CFA world, and they’re definitely the highlight of the Kaplan Schweser package. They’re detailed, full of examples, and cover every LOS in a very organized manner. They’re simply the best in the industry.

Thus, when Kaplan assigns you a “study” module, in reality this is just a reading assignment from the SchweserNotes. The cool thing though is that you can tackle that assignment a few different ways.

You get the Kaplan CFA notes in digital form (in chunks in each module), in a full eBook, or through the old school way in print. You attack your reading through whichever medium you like best.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to read, Kaplan now also has videos of each reading assignment at the end of every chapter. These summarize everything from the text above.

Kaplan Schweser CFA live class
Kaplan Schweser CFA live class

In my opinion, they’re a little dry, but if you are more of a visual person and don’t want to burn out your eyes reading, I think they’re a good alternative. However, between the two, I found more value in the reading, as the videos seemed a little more condensed in terms of info.

That said, I think either medium will get you there. To be clear, however, Kaplan suggests you do just one or the other—either read the chapter or watch the video, but not both.

In any event, after you finish the reading, you move on to the quiz modules. Each of these modules is essentially a handful of practice questions that tests you on the material you just read about. There are usually just 2 to 6 problems, and you review your answers when you’re done.

These quiz modules tend to move a lot quicker than the study modules because there are usually just a few questions, and the material is fresh in your mind, so the review goes pretty fast.

On a related note, most modules in the Kaplan program are just 15 to 30 minutes long, which is great if you have a busy schedule. If you use the Activity Feed, which groups assignments on a weekly basis, you can flex around your assignments day-by-day.

Therefore, if  you only have 30 minutes on Tuesday night after work to study, you can just knock out a quick module or two. Then on Wednesday night, when you have 3 hours, you can blast out a whole bunch of modules. The short module length and flexible Activity Feed together are a really good combo.

The “study” modules and quiz modules make the up the vast majority of assignments; however, every so often you’ll get a Qbank assignment. This is an assigned set of practice problems from the Qbank on the topics you just covered.

Kaplan Schweser CFA Mock Exam
Mock exam with Prometric-style interface

These act more like assessments to make sure you’re on track and understanding material on a deeper level. However, the Qbank assignments aren’t massive practice sets. They’re usually just 6 to 10 questions each, and take around a half hour to work the problems and review.

In this way, you can kind of see the flow of the Kaplan course that I noted: learn, then practice, then assess periodically.

Occasionally, however, Kaplan will layer in some different assignments, with their Masterclass being the biggest wild card. “Masterclass” is a series of classes which you can participate in live online, or watch on demand after the fact.

These classes are sprinkled into your schedule in the Activity Feed, and are meant to really drive home what you learn in each unit, but with more of a strategy approach.

You get your direct hard content review through the SchweserNotes, and then these Masterclasses recap the highest-yield concepts (which you absolutely need to know), and teach you how to apply what you learn on the exam. I would say that the biggest focus of these classes is application.

The instructors frequently work sample problems and teach you how to take what you’ve learned in the SchweserNotes readings and apply it in real practice on the exam. I believe there is roughly 50 hours of total Masterclass content, and it is worth every minute of watch time.

With the recaps of high-yield subject matter, the focus on application, and the instructor advice, it is worth its weight in gold.

Kaplan Schweser CFA practice problems
Kaplan Schweser CFA practice problem

Everything covered thus far (the “study” modules, quizzes, Qbank assignments, and Master Class series), is just the first half of the Kaplan Schweser course.

As you get into the second half of the program, what you’ll see is that the Activity Feed and nature of assignments begins to change. It becomes less about teaching and more about preparing for the exam.

The assignment types you’re used to will fall off, and everything will be replaced by different types of assignments, including mock exams, readings from Schweser’s Secret Sauce series, and the final review workshop series.

This makes sense, as you don’t want to be learning new content right up until exam day. Kaplan front loads all of the new material in the front half of the course, and then changes gears to focus on reviewing and preparing for the real thing in the second half.

I will break down those elements which you’ll find in the second half of the program. The first is Schweser’s Secret Sauce. This book is a distilled down version of all the SchweserNotes, not unlike a cheat sheet.

It’s all of the must-know material. If there is something in the Secret Sauce assigned reading that you haven’t seen before or don’t know, then you’ve got a problem as it’s really just a recap of essentials.

Kaplan Schweser CFA SchweserNotes video recap
SchweserNotes video recap

After that is the final review workshop series. This is a series of classes, which you can take live or watch later on demand. They review everything you’ve learned, recap the most frequently tested material, cover test taking strategy, and generally act as a capstone to the course to make sure you’re ready for test day.

Lastly, there are the mock exams. In total, you get 6 mock exams with the Kaplan Schweser course (more than Mark Meldrum). They’re all back-weighted in the second half of the program, and some don’t even become available to you until closer to your exam day—they actually gate them.

The mock exams are all full-length, 180-question tests that are delivered in the Prometric interface and meant to get you used to exam-like conditions. Kaplan expects you to take them seriously, and then spend a good chunk of time afterward reviewing all of your answers before jumping into the next task. And frankly, I tend to agree with them.

The tests are very realistic and each one is huge learning opportunity. Plus, one of the cool things about using Kaplan over other providers is that they will actually allow you, if you want, to take the last practice exam in person at a Prometric test center. This is kind of a cool feature if you want a dry run.

Kaplan Schweser CFA Secret Sauce
The Secret Sauce

That is Kaplan Schweser in a nutshell though. Around this main coursework, there are some other features and tools, like performance analytics, the community forum (a cool CFA reddit-like forum), the “ask an instructor” email line, and some other tools. But honestly, that’s sort of it.

Kaplan Schweser Cost & Course Options

Which package you opt for will affect which materials and features that come with your course. I don’t want to get overly detailed here because Schweser offers four different packages, and it would be a lot to compare and contrast each one, but it starts with their Basic package.

This essentials option costs around $330, and from there, it goes all the way up to their Ultimate package, which costs $1,400.

Kaplan Schweser CFA quiz
Kaplan Schweser CFA quiz

The core curriculum in all of these packages is the same—it’s just the features around the core coursework that gets added on as you move up the ladder. This includes the Masterclass series, the ability to attend the Masterclass sessions live, the final review workshop series, getting the SchweserNotes in print form, and a couple other things.

Basically, the further up the ladder of packages you go, the more features you get. I would just mention, however, that those standard prices are a little misleading because Kaplan is very aggressive with sales and special promos, and you’ll rarely pay that full price, so do make sure to check for Kaplan CFA promo codes.

Verdict: Is Kaplan Schweser CFA Prep Worth It?

That about does it for the detail, so time for my final verdict—is Kaplan Schweser worth it? Honestly, I had a really hard time finding negative things to say with this prep program. The couple negatives I could maybe point out are that the chapter videos which replace the SchweserNotes readings are somewhat dry and boring, and some assigned readings are pretty heavy-handed with material.

Otherwise, however, this is a fantastic all-around CFA prep program. Kaplan gives you everything you need to fully prep, including SchweserNotes, tons of practice problems, the Masterclass series, the Secret Sauce book, the final review workshop series, and six mock exams.

It’s an incredibly comprehensive and well-executed package with a reasonable price point. I like the Kaplan Schweser CFA course a lot and give it a very good grade.

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Are the Schweser CFA notes good?

Kaplan’s SchweserNotes are my highest-rated written study materials in CFA prep. They are incredibly comprehensive and in-depth, yet easily readable. They’re my favorite books.

How much does Kaplan Schweser cost?

The Kaplan Schweser CFA prep packages start at just $330, and go all the way up to $1,400. Generally speaking, Kaplan Schweser is reasonably priced compared to others.

Does the Kaplan Schweser CFA course come with books?

Yes, the Kaplan course comes with their legendary SchweserNotes. This is a five-volume set of detailed study notes.

Is Kaplan Schweser best for Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3?

We used Kaplan Schweser for Level I prep and found the program to be very solid. We briefly looked at Levels II and III, and it looked to be the same in terms of methodology and platform, so I would suspect those levels to be good as well.

How many questions are in the Kaplan Schweser Qbank?

Kaplan has around 4,000 practice problems in their question bank. We found their practice material to be fairly realistic of real CFA exam questions.