There are 3 main sources of CFA exam practice questions:
- 10-30 end-of-chapter (EOC) questions found at the end of each reading in the CFA Institute curriculum books,
- 1-3 sets of CFA mock papers from CFA Institute’s Learning ecosystem, or
- CFA question banks from third party providers like Kaplan Schweser, IFT, UWorld, Wiley, Bloomberg and Salt Solutions.
Which source of practice questions deserves most of your time?
Here’s our advice on which sources to focus on when you’re drilling the practice questions, by CFA Level.
CFA Level 1 practice: Go heavy on CFA question banks from prep providers
I only cracked the CFA Institute books once in CFA Level 1, and then quickly put them away for good.
From that moment forward, I relied exclusively on third party providers to study for Level 1, without a finance background. I passed in the top percentile in every topic, so I believe that this strategy worked well.
The CFA curriculum books’ end-of-chapter (EOC) questions weren’t poorly written or useless. It’s just that there weren’t enough questions.
CFA Level 1 is all about practice and repetition. I drilled practice questions before work, during lunch, after work, on weekends, all the time. The end-of-chapter problems were simply too few and far between. I needed more. Literally thousands more.
So, I turned to third party prep providers instead. They really hit the mark with quality questions that taught me to avoid traps that I eventually saw on the real exam. Using these question banks, I became quite good at spotting trick answers that I could foresee them before I even finished reading a question. You can, too, with enough practice.
I really wouldn’t stress too much about which CFA prep provider to choose either, there’s quite a variety to choose from currently that are all good quality.
I would, however, look for a provider that offers at least 1,000 practice questions in CFA Level 1. Again, practice, practice, practice.
- You can check out CFA Level 1 offers from our recommended providers
- You can also read our popular guides CFA Level 1 Tips and how to prepare and pass CFA Level 1 here.
CFA Level 2 practice: Use a mix of CFA Institute and prep provider’s question bank
CFA Level 2 is a different ballgame due to the vignette question structure.
Basically, the Level 2 exam presents a short “story” that might be a page or two in length, followed by 4-6 questions about the material you just read. To get accustomed to this new structure, I suggest using a mix of end-of-chapter questions and third party providers.
I wish I could go back and give myself this advice. Instead, I repeated the same strategy at Level 2 that worked so well for me in CFA Level 1. I did not open a CFA Institute book in CFA Level 2. Big mistake. I still passed on my first try, but not by much. And it was a constant struggle.
Looking back, I would have mixed the end-of-chapter questions with my study providers’ questions to ensure complete coverage and comfort with the vignette test structure.
- You can check out CFA Level 2 offers from our recommended providers
- You can also read our popular guides CFA Level 2 Tips and how to prepare and pass CFA Level 2 here.
CFA Level 3 practice: Prioritize CFA Curriculum Books’ Questions
Well, I learned from my mistakes and used the curriculum books extensively in CFA Level 3. This prepared me well for both the essay and multiple-choice questions.
In Level 3, the same rules apply as previous Levels. Namely, we must practice, practice, practice.
For the essay questions, the curriculum books tend to have far-ranging, challenging essay questions that will test your will, stamina, and knowledge – exactly what you want a practice question to do.
As a complement, study providers help you to learn the new tricks that might have shown up on recent CFA Level 3 exams (remember, the online question banks are fresher).
Meanwhile, don’t forget about the other half of the CFA Level 3 exam: multiple choice questions. Your third party provider is a great source for this. I managed to pass this exam on my first try, too, but those multiple choice questions gave me a run for my money. They were actually more difficult than the essays.
- You can check out CFA Level 3 offers from our recommended providers
- You can also read our popular guides CFA Level 3 Tips and how to prepare and pass CFA Level 3 here.
Practicing is the key to beating CFA exam’s passing score. Whatever tools and sources you use, practice as much as you can. What is your current CFA practice question strategy? Share that with us via a comment below!