Bloomberg Level I CFA Exam Prep: A Smarter Approach to Study for the Digital Age

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By Sophie

Most of you may know Bloomberg for their financial data software, terminals and colourful keyboards at work.

Today, Bloomberg is extending their brand into the CFA exam preparation market with a new online learning platform. For those who know me (I’m an ancient dinosaur here at 300 Hours who took my CFA exams more than 5 years ago), I can be pretty old school when it comes to learning and creating study schedules, preferring the pen-and-paper approach most of the time.

Having had the whole of last week to try out Bloomberg’s new study platform, not only my initial skepticism evaporated, but it managed to change my view such that the stubborn, old dinosaur in me actually warmed up to the idea of using this instead if I were to take the exams again!

I’m impressed with Bloomberg’s take with how online learning should be, here’s why I think this could be a serious alternative for your Level I CFA exam preparation this year.


What do I like about Bloomberg’s CFA Exam Prep?

#1. A true, online-first approach designed for virtual learning

Online learning platforms’ interfaces can be a bit clunky, laggy and distracting to use, or simply contains video recordings of previous classes.

Bloomberg’s platform takes a completely different approach by organising the CFA syllabus into micro-lessons with a chat-style interface:

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This conversational approach feels more personal, as if you’re interacting with a private tutor 1-on-1. Its minimalist, bite-sized paragraphs breaks down key points you need to learn in tiny, easily digestible pieces, before moving on to the next point.

I felt less overwhelmed and was able to focus on learning, reading and trying out the practice questions thrown at me. Time seems to fly by quickly and I managed to cover quite a lot of topics before requiring a break given the high interaction of the online course.

#2. Adaptive learning that works

This is where I feel Bloomberg’s platform shines.

Based on the practice questions peppered throughout the micro lessons, the platform’s algorithm assesses a student’s grasp of knowledge of a particular topic with 3 data points:

  1. Accuracy (did the student answer the question correctly?)
  2. Speed (how fast did the student select the answer?)
  3. Level of confidence (indicated by the student by along a sliding scale, see below an example question)
Bloomberg's confidence gauge
With this information, the algorithm then adjusts your learning path accordingly to make sure all sections are covered and mastered at a pace that you’re comfortable with. For example, if you’re an expert in Macroeconomics and this is shown through the accuracy, speed and confidence of your answers in the micro lessons, you’ll be taken through this topic faster with less introductory materials, therefore optimising the speed of learning according to your ability.

While there is not much data yet for CFA exam preparation, this adaptive learning method has been very effective for a similar professional exam, reducing study time by 40-60% compared with traditional, one-size-fits-all classroom courses or self study plans with books. Currently, Bloomberg expects a conservative average of 200-250 hours to complete their courses. Of course, this is just as a rough guide – study time will vary across candidates.

Another aspect to this is that the course personalises the lessons based on your choice of calculator too, which you specify in your profile upon the initial 2 minute setup.

#3. High interactivity, active learning style

We all have individual study style and methods that work for us. I have written about 7 tips on how to study effectively previously – it’s scary how Bloomberg’s platform actually took care of 6 out of 7 of my tips there (well, they can’t take care of your wellbeing as per tip #6!).

The chat-style micro lessons has a high level of interactivity compared to passively reading the syllabus and/or viewing video lectures (Bloomberg doesn’t have video lectures at all).  It makes learning just a tad more interesting as results get measured instantly, your study plan adjusted automatically through the little test questions sprinkled throughout the course, just like a game.

If you’ve questions and need more help to clarify your understanding, you can easily use their “Ask-a-Tutor” function and submit a question and discuss with a tutor, with a response expected within 24 hours.
 
#4. Easy-peasy performance measurement

Bloomberg’s exam dashboard is nice and simple at the top, measuring study progress, % test questions you got right so far in your studies, and average time per question. Here’s an example screenshot at the beginning after a couple of micro lessons done:

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What I like about this is that it does all the necessary tracking and performance analysis tasks, so you can focus on learning. 

As you scroll down the dashboard, the data gets more detailed and granular for those who are more statistical minded: e.g. study hours done so far (and per day), with detailed breakdown of scores by topics that you’ve done so far. 

For sample mock exam papers, it also governs the exam by stopping access to the paper once time’s up, with scores, explanations and topic analysis appearing instantly – ready for you to go through right away! Sweet.

What else should you know?

Pricing

Pricing is certainly an important factor for a candidate’s consideration in choice of study material. Here’s a quick snapshot of Bloomberg’s current offering (pricing in USD):

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The Level 1 Essentials package is competitively priced at $599 vs. other providers, providing you a bunch of resources and all you need for the Level 1 exams. In comparison, the Premium tier pricing of $999 (for more practice exams sets and unlimited Ask-a-Tutor guidance) seems to be less worthwhile at that price level.  According to 300 Hours’ data-driven CFA Exam Insights, the right amount of practice papers to do under timed conditions averages around 4-6 sets across 3 levels, so 10 sets is a very comfortable amount!

For those who are shopping around for study materials, I’d recommend checking out their 2 week free trial to experience the platform, and if it is something that suits your study style, the Essentials Package seems to provide the best value option. 

Effectiveness and reputation

As with all shiny new things – and in this case a new provider with a new-ish study method – it is natural to wonder whether it will actually deliver before one entrusts them with the mission of helping with the CFA exams. While there are no assurance here as they are a new provider, here are a couple of points that can provide comfort for your assessment:

  1. Bloomberg is a large, well known organisation, and has clearly invested in their platform to make virtual learning effective and intuitive. It has Pass Insurance at all package levels, do try out the 2 week free trial and see if its suitable for you.
  2. What about Level 2 and Level 3? These should be in the works if their Level 1 launch goes well. With the competitive price point and an easy learning style with active performance measurement, it should be well received by candidates who are digitally inclined.


Over to you…

Have you tried out Bloomberg’s 2 week free trial yet? What do you think? 

I’d love to hear your comments below and discuss it with the 300H community. To learn more about Bloomberg Exam Prep, check out their website here.

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan

 

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