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Wiley CFA Review (Level 1-2-3)

Our comprehensive review of the Wiley CFA exam review course

With a robust curriculum that provides well over the necessary 300 hours of prep work, Wiley gets a lot of hype and word of mouth marketing. Some people even call it the best in the industry. But does a comprehensive study plan justify the price tag of this review course? (The short answer: no). We take a close look at the Wiley CFA prep course in this detailed review guide, and share our thoughts and experiences. 

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Wiley CFA

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  • Video lessons are a little dry, but extremely informative
  • Live classes with CFA instructors are solid
  • Their software adapts the difficulty of problems as you progress
  • Realistic CFA practice tests
  • Courses are somewhat pricey
  • Practice problem explanations are thin (not enough detail)
  • Video lessons could be improved (not engaging)
  • Their written materials are not as good as Kaplan Schweser's
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Outline: Wiley CFA Review

As this is a fairly lengthy review that covers a number of topics, above is a helpful jump-to table of contents for easy navigation.

👉 Be sure to read our reviews of other top-rated CFA courses before purchasing

Wiley CFA Prep Pricing & Course Options

Wiley provides three different packages to choose from. Their entry level course is the Core package, which retails for $499. That contains essential material only.

Then there is the Advanced package, which runs for $799. That includes live instruction.

Lastly, there is the Elite package, which retails for $1,400. That includes everything they offer, including coaching.

Wiley CFA dashboard
A look inside the Wiley CFA prep course

For reference, Wiley is slightly more expensive than Kaplan Schweser. Also, if you are unsure of where to start, you can always try their course for free through a free trial. We’d recommend that before buying.

👉 Wiley Too Expensive? Check out our review of AnalystPrep for a top-rated CFA review course that costs less than $400.

Wiley CFA Course Curriculum & Lessons

Most every CFA candidate seeking their charter has heard that it takes roughly 300 hours of study time to adequately prep for each level of the exam. As such, it is critical that the course you take provide this level of work and then some. And after taking the Wiley course, I can say that they deliver.

Wiley provides one of the more robust curriculums in the CFA exam prep space that I’ve seen. With somewhere between 50 and 100 hours of prerecorded video lectures (depending on the level), 24 to 48 hours of live class sessions (again, depending on the level), thousands of problems, detailed study guides and mock exams, they easily clear the 300 hour mark.

Wiley CFA prep lecture
Wiley CFA video lecture

In fact, I would say the total study time if you did every last bit of work is somewhere closer to 500 hours.

Though sometimes you will speed through lessons and skip reading sections when you’ve already shown that you have mastered the material (whether through work or school).

The course is structured generally by study session. No matter which level you are on, there will be a series of study sessions that you must work through to complete your prep. For reference, there are around 20 for Level I.

Within each study session, there are a number of lessons, which are followed at the end by some practice questions and a quiz.

Each lesson consists of a quick overview, a video lecture, a corresponding text lesson and a notes function.

The video and text portions are generally aligned with each other and go hand-in-hand. And while this may sound like a lot, the lessons actually go pretty quickly. They are designed by Wiley to only take 30 to 45 minutes per lesson.

Wiley CFA prep lesson
Another Wiley CFA lesson example

I found that the lessons generally took more like 45 minutes to an hour (when you pause the video to take notes and read the entire written portion of the lesson). Most folks studying for the CFA are busy, working professionals and don’t have time for 3-hour study blocks.

These bite-sized lessons not only break up study sessions and allow for more efficient studying, but the short nature generally improves comprehension and retention as well. I was very happy with the digestible lesson chunks.

At the heart of these lessons are the video lectures. These video lessons are led by one of Wiley’s instructors. Wiley employees a handful of industry experts, mostly university professors and CFA’s, to teach the video lectures and live classes. I found the instructors to be just alright. Most are kind of boring, though knowledgeable.

The video lectures generally take the form of a digital whiteboard, where your instructor voices the lesson over written material. A section from the relevant study guide is generally the basis of the written material onscreen, and your instructor teaches more or less from the book.

Though sometimes lectures do deviate, and in those cases, you are given a separate handout. But by and large, the portion of the study guide at issue will roll across the screen and your instructor will mark it up with red or blue ink as they talk.

Ideally, I’d like to see some more incorporation of the instructor themselves on screen as you only see them from time to time, but this format is understandable given the very content-heavy nature of CFA exam prep.

The content itself in these lessons isn’t bad. Given that they generally mirror what’s in Wiley’s 5-volume prep book set (more on this below), you know the material is on point, but delivered in a boring way. All in all, these video lessons are informative, and I found them to be mostly useful.

The accompanying text lesson is generally lifted straight from one of Wiley’s study guides. These are boring, but reading through this portion generally goes quicker than the video portion of the lesson and you can wrap up an entire lesson pretty quickly.

I would say the lessons on average generally took me about 45 minutes in total, though often on the longer side (but rarely, if ever, over an hour). Again, I liked that these lessons are quick hit and designed to accommodate working professionals.

Complementing the video lessons, Wiley also offers access to live virtual classes. These classes meet for 3-hour sessions about once a week or so over a few months. You meet in a digital classroom and watch your instructor present a lesson on heavily-tested topics.

The instructors who manage these classes are the same instructors who do the recorded video lessons, and as such, are kind of boring. These are not engaging individuals.

These classes in my opinion are long and intense (with some heavy content review), but are somewhat helpful. If you can keep your mind focused for three hours (with a 15-minute break), you’ll get some beneficial information. The instructors do a decent job keeping otherwise complex and boring material interesting (well, as interesting as it can be).

Beyond the instructional work, within each study session you are prompted to work through practice questions. These practice questions come from Wiley’s massive test bank of questions and generally serve to reinforce the material you just learned. These questions allow you to put what was just covered in the lesson into practice and build a knowledge base.

Wiley CFA prep practice question
Wiley CFA practice question

In addition, even when not directed to work practice questions, you are always free to jump in to the test bank and create custom practice sets yourself. I did this pretty frequently for topics that I found I was weak on. You can personalize a practice session by topic, number of questions, practice mode, and more.

Additionally, Wiley’s “FocusMe” technology will adapt the difficulty of problems as you go. All of the questions in the test bank have different assigned difficulty values, and if you are crushing questions, they will ratchet up the difficulty. Likewise, if you miss a run of questions, they will dial it back so you can build some confidence and work on fundamentals.

Following the lessons and practice work within a study session, you are directed to take an assessment. This assessment tests your knowledge in the area after having learned the material and put it to practice. These assessments aren’t very long – usually just 12 to 25 questions. Once finished, you are given a detailed score report and can review your answers.

Accompanying each problem (in the test bank and assessments) is a written solution. These text explanations demonstrate why the correct answer is correct. For me, these explanations were super lacking.

Reviewing missed problems is usually a big part of the learning process and these solutions are just thin. There’s hardly any good detail. Many of them are just a sentence or two. I would really like to see Wiley flesh these explanations out a bit and add some material around all around answer choices – not just why the correct answer choice was correct.

That is generally how the study plan proceeds until you wrap up all your study sessions within the given level. Overall, I mostly liked this course plan. Given the simple, repetitive nature of lesson, practice and assessment, it is easy to find a groove and plan out your studies through a busy week.

Further, I mostly liked the recorded lectures and practice work. While the text explanations were a little thin, I otherwise had only a handful complaints about the Wiley CFA curriculum.

The Mock Exams

At the end of each level you are given access to take two, full-length mock exams. This pales in comparison to the six that Kaplan Schweser gives you, and I was not happy with the quantity.

These practice tests put everything you’ve learned over the course of a few hundred hours to the test. They are long, stressful and you won’t look forward to it. But the CFA exam itself isn’t pleasant either, and these mock exams do a decent job replicating the real test and conditioning your mind and body.

Wiley CFA problem explanation
Explanation to a Wiley CFA practice question

In my opinion, these mock exams are not as realistic as those from Kaplan Schweser. From the interface to the question content, we found Kaplan’s practice tests to be better.

For me, these almost have more value in terms of just getting you mentally prepared for the rigors of the exam, including the stress of pacing and length of the exam, than the value in the substantive content of the test.

Wiley CFA Review Books

The other core component of your Wiley CFA prep course is the set of study guides. When you sign up with Wiley, you will get a 5-volume set of both print and digital prep books. This CFA book set covers everything on a given level of the exam across a couple thousand pages. These books are thorough and comprehensive.

And fortunately, you don’t have to read them all in detail. Large swaths of the books are covered directly in the video lessons and live classes, so you don’t have to separately read these sections. This cuts down on the study time and makes things more efficient, which I liked.

But if you ever get caught up on a topic or issue, the books are sure to have the answer. These books are crazy detailed. You can always drill down to the particular topic and get what you need.

That all being said, SchweserNotes remain our favorite written CFA prep study materials.

Supplemental Resources

In addition to your core study materials, Wiley tosses in some nice supplemental resource materials to help you prepare. Among these extras, you will get:

  • Detailed performance metrics
  • Downloadable and printable flashcards
  • Instructor email support (they call it “expert mentoring”)
  • 90+ pages of formula sheets

Of these resources, I really liked the performance metrics. Wiley provides some powerful analytics that give you some helpful insights into your performance. You can view your performance by assessment, practice set, mock exam and more.

Wiley allows you to slice up this data so you can zero in on where you are weak, which in turns lets you target those areas through some extra practice. I also like the visual presentation of this data.

Wiley CFA prep metrics
Wiley CFA prep course metrics

Also of note is Wiley’s “expert mentoring.” I am not sure why they label it that way, because there is no real mentoring or tutoring going on, but it is some helpful support. If you ever have a content-related or CFA exam strategy question, you can message the Wiley team through the portal. You can then expect an answer in 24 to 48 hours.

This isn’t exactly lightning quick, but the answers I got were moderately helpful. And to be clear, they generally were closer to 48 hours than 24. But I did like this feature, as you’re not left out in the cold if you get hung up on an issue.

No Money Back Guarantee

Because Wiley grants you unlimited access to their materials until you pass, there is no money back guarantee. In essence, you get a “partner for life” type guarantee, where Wiley promises to stand with you until you get over the hump and pass your given level of the exam.

While I’d like to see them offer a money back guarantee, this isn’t the end of the world. If you fail the first time, you’re very likely to take the exam again anyway, so at least you don’t have to pay for a course twice.

Verdict: Wiley CFA Exam Review Course

On the whole, Wiley offers a good CFA prep course. It is definitely not my favorite, but it isn’t my least favorite either among the courses I’ve taken and reviewed.

The course curriculum is thorough and offers a varied approach to studying that I found beneficial. Between recorded video lectures, live class sessions, detailed study guides, practice problems, and assessments, there is a healthy mix of material for all learning types. And generally speaking, you will never run out of study content.

With that said, I think the problem explanations are too thin and I would like to see more instructor face time in the video lessons. Bottom line, though the Wiley CFA course is alright, I just think there are better CFA prep courses available on the market.


How much does the Wiley CFA exam prep course cost?

Depending on which course option you go with, the Wiley CFA review course costs somewhere around $500 to $1,400. That applies to all three levels of the exam.

Does Wiley have live CFA prep classes?

Yes. Certain Wiley course packages offer students access to live online virtual classes, which take place in three-hour blocks over a few months’ time.

Is the Wiley CFA prep course worth it?

In our team’s opinion, not really. Wiley offers a comprehensive course and some strong features, but our team does give higher grades to other CFA prep courses.