Their latest initiative is the CFA Institute Practice Pack – a package of mocks and practice questions made available to CFA Level 1 May 2024 candidates since their registration opened in August. Currently, the CFA Practice Pack is only available to Level 1 candidates.
What is CFA Institute’s Practice Pack?
CFA Institute’s Practice Pack is an additional, optional purchase currently offered to CFA Level 1 candidates for $299. With the Practice Pack, you get:
- 5 practice mock exams
- One exam-simulation mock exam
- 1,000+ practice questions
- Downloadable CFA curriculum as PDFs or eBook format
These mock exams and practice questions will be in addition to the standard mocks and practice questions you get with your exam registration.
5 exam-quality mock exams
With the Practice Pack, you get five additional ‘exam-quality’ mock exams, and one exam-simulation mock exam delivered via the Prometric interface, just like exam day.
One of the most consistent advice we’ve always given candidates is to always make sure you attempt your free CFA Institute mock. Not only because it’s already included in your exam fee, but because CFA Institute mocks would be the closest thing to the actual exam as you’re going to get.
So getting 6 more mocks would be getting a lot of high-quality practice. CFA Institute has given us access to these mocks to thoroughly test. We’ve included our walkthrough, review and thoughts below.
CFA Institute have assured us that these mock exams mimic the difficulty, length and topics of the actual CFA exam. The questions are created through the same processes and same people who write the actual CFA exam questions.
In fact, we learnt that even the questions writers aren’t aware, when writing the questions, whether the specific questions they’re writing will end up in the Practice Pack or the actual exam!
Once you purchase the Practice Pack, the 5 additional mock exams will appear in the ‘Mock Exams’ tab of your CFA Digital Learning Ecosystem.
When you’re ready to take a mock exam, just click through the mock you’ve chosen. Each mock has 90 multiple-choice questions. It’s a timed mock, and you have 2 hours 15 minutes to complete the exam.
If you’re stumped, questions can be skipped to be answered later. If you’re unsure about a particular answer, you can also mark it to be reviewed later.
You can also mark your questions with a confidence level (low, medium, high) as you go along. They don’t affect your answers or score, but they’re useful to refer to when reviewing your questions and answers.
How difficult are Practice Pack’s mock exam questions? Feedback from candidates is that the difficulty is about average, or slightly above average. Some candidates find the mocks consistently easier, and some find it more difficult. I believe whether or not you find it easier or harder depends on your study style and how you understand the CFA curriculum.
My own observation is that from the perspective of testable material, the CFA Institute mock exams tend to test a wider range of material, so you might get some left-field questions to which you may not have remember studying about.
But on the whole, I found that I needed less time to answer CFA Institute mock exam questions compared to third-party providers.
When you’re happy with your answers, you can submit your answers. Upon finalizing and submitting your answers, you’ll immediately get a score in the next screen. You can then proceed to review your answers as well.
You can review each question individually – in the review screen you’re given:
- The question
- Answer options
- The correct solution + reason why the answer is correct
- The incorrect answer options + reasons why those are incorrect
- Your confidence level that you marked for this question
This is a great, comprehensive review option, allowing the user to review the question and learn thoroughly from it. The review screen from the Prometric Exam Day Simulation mock was significantly different.
Prometric exam day simulation mock exam: Where to get this exam-day experience, and what we thought of it
In addition to the 5 practice mock exams, you also get an exam-accurate mock, delivered via Prometric – the exact exam software you use on exam day. The theory is that you’ll be able to take a dry-run that’s as close to CFA exam day as possible.
You’ll receive grading and feedback by topic area immediately after completing the exam – an advantage over the actual exam day!
The Prometric exam day simulation mock is accessed separately from the other five mocks. To access the exam day simulation mock, navigate to:
My Account > Study Tools > CFA Program Practice Pack > Exam Day Mock Exam Experience
When you click through and confirm your details, you’re immediately launched into the Prometric exam interface. This is identical to what you’ll be seeing on the actual exam day. After reading through the exam instructions and a short demo of the interface, you’ll be able to click ‘Start the Test’ and the Prometric mock will begin.
Again, this will be exactly the same as what you’ll be getting on exam day, so once you start the test, you have to complete it! I wouldn’t get too stressed out about it though – you’re allowed as many re-attempts as you need.
Just like the actual exam interface, you can move back and forth between questions and flag questions for later review. After completing the test and submitting your answers, you’ll immediately get a grade and a ‘score report’.
The score report shows up after you’ve finished your mock exam. This shows all the correct answers, as well as your answers. Clicking on the individual answers would bring you back to the question itself in the mock exam interface, allowing you to review the question and all answer options.
Unlike the ‘regular’ mocks in the Practice Pack, there wasn’t any detailed answers included in the score report.
The score report is also only accessible the one time, and immediately after the mock. You can’t review your scores later – if you logged into the Prometric mock later, it’ll just prompt you to take the exam again.
Despite the shortcomings, which I hope will be addressed in future development, overall this provided an invaluable trial run of the actual exam.
1,000 exam quality CFA practice questions: How to get them, and what we thought
So far, with the CFA Practice Pack we’ve looked at five regular mock exams and one Prometric platform mock exam, totalling 900 questions.
But with the Practice Pack there’s more – 1,000 additional practice questions, which you can access through the Practice tab in the CFA Digital Learning Ecosystem.
When you click through to the Practice tab in the CFA Digital Learning Ecosystem, candidates will see their usual practice questions by topic area and reading. If you’ve purchased the Practice Pack, you’ll be able to see an additional item under every topic area showing additional questions.
For example, with the Practice Pack purchased, there would be an additional item under Quantitative Methods labelled Quantitative Methods: Practice Pack, under Economics there would be an item labelled Economics: Practice Pack, and so on.
The additional questions add up to exactly 1,000, representing more than a 60% increase in practice questions compared to the standard questions included with exam registration. Practice Pack questions in each topic area roughly matches the weightings used in the actual exam, so you’ll get proportionate practice.
What about the quality of the practice questions? Again, these questions are created through the same processes as the actual exam questions, so these would represent practice that’s closest to actual CFA exam questions in terms of format and difficulty.
How difficult did we find it? My personal experience of the questions was that the difficulty was quite varied. Some questions were quite straightforward, but that also mean that I would either know the answer outright, or completely have no clue. I found the questions to be less tricky compared to most third-party providers.
The questions felt similar to the mocks, but obviously this would be different if it was Level 2 or Level 3, since the mocks would be based around vignettes rather than stand-alone questions.
Access to Level I curriculum PDF files
All candidates have access to the curriculum, but to download it, CFA Institute offers them separately for USD49 in downloadable format.
However, when you purchase the Practice Pack, you get this downloadable access included with the purchase price.
To access the downloadable curriculum, navigate to:
My Account > Study Tools > CFA Program Practice Pack > Downloadable Curriculum
When you click through, you’ll be able to access the curriculum books, prerequisite readings and glossaries in PDF and eBook format.
CFA Practice Pack: Pricing
The CFA Institute Practice Pack is offered at USD299, although this might change in the future. You can check the latest pricing here.
Is it good value?
USD299 for 6 mock exams and 1,000 practice questions is pretty great value.
However, this being CFA Institute, the natural question would always be whether this could have been included as part of the exam registration fee. We put this question to CFA Institute, who responded that while that does have a logic to it, producing this extra material does come at extra cost. The realistic options for CFA Institute would be:
- Charge for the Practice Pack
- Include it with the exam registration fee but raise the registration fee
- Scrap the project altogether and not offer it at all
Option 2 would basically make the ‘purchase’ of the Practice Pack compulsory for all candidates, and Option 3 would mean those who would want the Practice Pack would miss out.
Opinions on this? Or suggestions for CFA Institute? Let us know in the comments below.
CFA Institute Practice Pack: Pros and cons
- Lots of questions – 6 mocks and 1,000 practice questions
- Exam-accurate in quality and difficulty
- Exam-accurate Prometric interface available
- Very thorough mock exam answer review
- Prometric mock grading does not allow easy review of questions and answers
- Practice questions only accessible by topic (unable to create custom tests like say a question bank)
CFA Institute has created a compelling practice package of mocks and questions that are as exam-accurate as possible. Although not included with the exam fee, the USD299 price is pretty reasonable for what you get.
Frequently asked questions
Why are CFA Institute releasing this Practice Pack?
CFA Institute did some studies a while back, and (no surprise) concluded that candidates that lacked practice were less likely to pass. Providing a Practice Pack as a revision tool would help candidates better prepare for the exam.
Should I get the CFA Institute Practice Pack?
After more than a decade advising readers to make sure they don’t skip the CFA Institute mock exams, it’s probably no surprise that we would recommend it to anyone who can afford it.
But money is still money, so consider your situation, what you would benefit from, and make your choice. If you need any specific advice for your situation, drop them in the comments below.
Why don’t they make it free to all candidates?
This was one of our burning questions to CFA Institute as well.
As mentioned earlier, CFA Institute’s response was that ultimately there is a cost to producing and administering all this extra material.
The option for CFA Institute was to either make it available to all registered candidates at the expense of raising the exam registration fee, or make it optional at an extra cost.
They chose to make it optional, and we do think that’s a sensible choice. Candidates do get quite a lot of practice with the standard registration fee – two mock exams and thousands of practice questions (although we would still advise more for the average candidate.)
How would this affect third-party providers of CFA materials?
The intention of the Practice Pack is not to compete with 3rd party provider materials, but rather complement the existing ecosystem of materials available to candidates.
The Practice Pack is an enhancement to the usual practice and mocks already offered by CFA Institute with exam registration. Third-party providers would still continue to offer value to candidates as before – study notes, classroom instruction, convenience, adaptive learning, clear explanations, additional practice, and so on.
Given the availability of exam-quality CFA Institute practice questions, we believe over time this will also allow prep providers to fine-tune their own practice questions to accurately match the standards set by the CFA exam, ultimately resulting in additional benefit to candidates.
Are the questions exam-quality?
As mentioned earlier, the Practice Pack questions are written by the same writers that write questions for the actual CFA exam. In fact, they aren’t aware whether the questions they write will be used in the exam or the Practice Pack. In other words, the Practice Pack and the actual CFA exam draws from the same ‘pool’ of questions.
So the questions are as close to actual exam questions as you can get.
Can I download the questions to complete them offline?
You can’t download them as a printout, but you can use the CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem offline from a web browser or from the mobile app.
Should I still buy materials from third-party providers?
I don’t think our recommendation here has been changed by the introduction of the Practice Pack. The aim, as always, is to maximize your pass chances while spending time and money as wisely as you can.
Study notes from third-party providers can save you a lot of time as they are designed to be summarized and focused on what is likely to be tested in the CFA exam. Third-party provider material, quizzes and mocks also may include more advanced features like adaptive learning and coach your weak areas, which you may benefit from. If you benefit from direct instruction and discussion, you’ll also find third-party providers helpful.
If it was me doing the CFA exams again and decided to self-study, I would definitely still get study notes at the very least, and purchase more practice if needed. Having also experienced a classroom-instructed course, I can also recommend that as it makes learning less stressful, since you’re being guided through the course.
The final choice is of course up to you. If you need any specific advice on your situation, just drop them in the comments below.
Are there Practice Packs for all CFA levels?
The CFA Institute Practice Pack is currently only available to CFA Level 1 candidates.
CFA Institute is in planning stages for rolling out the Practice Pack for CFA Level 2 and Level 3. Based on how things go with Level 1, they plan to make Level 2 available for the 2025 exam cycle — so this would be available for purchase later in 2024.
And then based on how things go for Level 2, they plan to do the same for the 2026 exam cycle — so availability beginning in 2025.
Hope you found the guide above useful! For more info, check out CFA Institute’s Practice Pack here.