While there currently is no technology that I know of to replace studying (now there’s a dream!), there are some apps and resources that make studying for CFA exams easier.
I am going to share some of my favorite CFA apps with you that will help you prepare for the CFA exam rather than procrastinate.
First, a comparison of all CFA apps
I’ll kick off with a really quick comparison table.
The table below does a basic comparison of all the CFA study apps we’ve reviewed so far.
Worth noting that there are details and nuances that aren’t covered in the table – if you’re interested in a particular app, make sure you read our detailed reviews below.
CFA Learning Ecosystem App – Overview
CFA Institute’s Learning Ecosystem app is made by third-party developers. So instead of ‘CFA Institute’, you’ll find it listed under the developers ‘Watermelon Express’ and ‘BenchPrep’ for iOS and Android respectively. It covers not just the CFA exams, but also CIPM and Investment Foundations, if you’re enrolled in these programs.
The app is free, but you’ll need to be enrolled in the CFA program to be able to access the content, and likewise for CIPM and Investment Foundations.
CFA Learning Ecosystem App – Features
- Full CFA content available: The complete CFA curriculum is accessible through the app. There are also additional features like a progress tracker to help you monitor your progress. Highlighting is NOT available on the app though, which is a shame.
- Mock Exams: CFA Institute mock exams are also accessible through the app. Progress in mock exams sync up across your devices. In practice, I found that I much prefer taking the mock exams on my laptop. The point of a mock is to simulate an exam setting, and I find that taking bite-sized questions on my mobile defeats the point of a mock exam.
- Practice Questions: Practice questions and quizzes is a format very well-suited for mobile. I found that with practice questions on the CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem app, getting additional practice on the go was quite easy. CFA Institute has also promised user-generated practice quizzes are coming soon to the app, so that would be another great feature to have for practice.
- Games: I originally found the idea of CFA-based games to be, well, somewhat lame, but I’m happy to report that I found them much more useful than I expected. When you’re bored of practice questions and quizzes, this is a good way to continue brushing up on your knowledge but mix the format up a bit.
- Flashcards: Flashcards are another format that translates very well to mobile. In the CFA Institute Learning app, you can access pre-made flashcard sets, create your own, and even share your sets with others. There is also an option to print them out for some real-world use.
- Discussion: Just like the online Ecosystem, the CFA Learning Ecosystem app also includes access to discussion boards. You can search conversations and filter to find specific topics and questions.
CFA Learning Ecosystem App – Usability, UI/UX
Clunky login, and logout issues: To access your content, you have to log in with your CFA Institute ID and password. Alternative mobile logins such as fingerprint, FaceID etc are not accessible, which makes login a little clunky. This would not be much of an issue usually, except there have been a lot of reports by frustrated users on issues with being logged out randomly. I did get logged out once myself when testing the app.
Crashing when switching apps: The CFA Institute’s app also apparently does not seem to like it when you don’t give it your full attention. Users have reported that if you switch apps or have a system interruption (like getting a call or text), the app tends to crash. Yikes.
Where to download the CFA Learning Ecosystem App
Kaplan Schweser App – Overview
The Kaplan Schweser app supports both CFA and FRM Kaplan Schweser packages. The mobile app focuses on offering an “on-the-go experience”, which includes access to QBank, SchweserNotes, Flashcards and Secret Sauce.
The app itself is free, although you would be required to have purchased the relevant Kaplan Schweser package to enable access to the content. If you’ve yet to purchase one, make sure you see if there are any offers available in our Offers section.
Kaplan Schweser App – Features
- SchweserNotes: Your SchweserNotes are accessible through the app. This however is only available online. Kaplan Schweser have stated that offline access is one of the future features being worked on.
- QBank: Practice questions and quizzes is a format very well-suited for mobile, and QBank is one of the more useful aspects of the Kaplan Schweser app. Full explanations are shown after you’ve answered, so you can quickly learn from any mistakes. The app uses a ‘one-tap’ answer system, which means it accepts your first tap as the answer, with no option to change it if you change your mind.
- Flashcards: Flashcards are another format that translates very well to mobile. In the Kaplan Schweser app, you can:
- Access pre-made flashcard sets, identical to the ones you receive in print format. These cover all the CFA LOSes.
- There isn’t functionality to create your own flashcards or download, but as mentioned, candidates should already have a full set of printed flashcards when they purchased their Kaplan Schweser package.
Kaplan Schweser App – Usability, UI/UX
The Kaplan Schweser app, unfortunately, is currently poorly rated on both iOS and Android. A lot of the harsh reviews seem to be around unavailability during the 2021 CFA exams, but recent reviews still highlight issues around crashing and login issues.
Similar to the CFA Institute’s Learning Ecosystem app, logins are frequently needed with your Kaplan Schweser details, and alternative mobile logins such as fingerprint, FaceID etc are not available.
Kaplan Schweser, to their credit, is responsive to complaints and is addressing issues and adding features according to feedback. They are continuing to update the app, most recently with an activity feed which allows users to more seamlessly move between their online program and app while studying. According to Kaplan Schweser, “early reviews of these updates with our beta testers have been overwhelmingly positive”.
Where to download the Kaplan Schweser App
UWorld CFA App – Overview
UWorld’s CFA products are fully online, so it’s not surprising that an app forms part of the product experience.
The app is free, but you will need an activated UWorld account to access the content. Having said that, UWorld are currently offering free 90-day full access to their Level 1 package, so you can get it all for free, for the moment.
UWorld CFA App – Features
- User-friendly online exam interface: UWorld are very proud of their user interface efforts, which includes an option for dark mode, which is a much-requested feature among CFA study apps.
- 1,700+ instructive questions, unlimited customizable practice tests: UWorld’s product is a question bank, and you get access to their full range of questions through the app. These can be taken by creating practice tests that are fully customizable by topic, difficulty and history (e.g. repeated questions vs new questions).
- Detailed rationales for all answer choices: Another point that UWorld is particularly proud of is the thoroughness of their answer choices. UWorld provides reasonings for all answer choices rather than just the right one “like some other providers”.
- Digital flashcards to customize study sets: CFA apps shine when it comes to flashcards. In UWorld’s app, you can create flashcards as you answer questions and assign them to a deck to be reviewed later.
- Content monitored and updated daily: UWorld claims to constantly monitor and update their content, so your content will be updated with additions or corrections as you go.
UWorld CFA App – Usability, UI/UX
I found the UWorld app quite easy to use. You can cross out answer choices, highlight question text, add notes and create flashcards from snippets of questions.
You can also choose from a variety of color modes: regular (white), dark, gray and a beige-y one.
There is also a handy toolbar with things like calculator tips and currency codes, which could be useful to some candidates.
Setting up a test took no time at all, and I didn’t experience any lag or crash issues. Once I finished my test, this synced up immediately in my online account.
Overall the app felt well-built and fast. The app does offer less content than others – UWorld only offers questions and flashcards, so study notes and video lectures are not available (either through app nor online).
Where to download the UWorld CFA App
IFT CFA Exam Prep
IFT CFA Exam Prep App – Overview
IFT has grown a lot since they started in 2011. Their app launched in 2019 and they have been iterating it since.
As with the other providers, you’ll need a paid purchase to access premium videos. IFT’s does say that you can watch “free IFT videos” too, however in practice this is one general ‘exam advice’ video per CFA level.
But if you have purchased an IFT package, you will have access to study notes, formula sheets and all paid videos available for download and offline use.
IFT CFA Exam Prep App – Features
- IFT videos for all 3 CFA Levels: If you’re a premium IFT subscriber, you will be able to access all your video lessons on the app. Offline video is also available, so you can offline your videos to view when you’re away from WiFi.
- All study notes & documents: The study notes and key summary slides from video lectures are also all accessible through the app.
- Resume video where you left off: Netflix-style, the IFT app will play your videos from when you stopped viewing – a feature that sounds like it’s not much, but in reality saves you a lot of time when you need to jump right back into it.
- English subtitles: Currently live for L1, and coming soon for L2 and L3.
IFT CFA Exam Prep App – Usability, UI/UX
The IFT app has garnered great review ratings across iOS and Android, and it shows. The app is smooth, fast, responsive and accessing content is easy.
If you look at user reviews you do see sporadic reports of bugs, but I didn’t experience any while testing the app, and overall I felt the app was exceedingly well built.
Where to download the IFT CFA Exam Prep App
Wiley Efficient Learning
Wiley Efficient Learning App – Overview
John Wiley & Sons entered the CFA space by acquiring Elan Guides in January 2014, renaming it Efficient Learning and expanding their offering to cover all three CFA levels.
Their app has been active for a few years now, offering support not just for the CFA exams, but for similar qualifications such as CIA, CPA, CMA and GMAT.
As with most offerings, a valid purchase is needed to access content on the app, so no freebies unfortunately.
Wiley Efficient Learning App – Features
The Wiley Efficient Learning app functions as a video lessons, quizzing and flashcard tool:
- Video lessons: Can be streamed online or downloaded for offline access.
- Custom Test Bank quizzes: Create quizzes with your own custom filters, comes with full answer explanations.
- Custom Flash Card decks: As with the UWorld app, you can create custom flash card decks
- Content Recommendations based on your quiz results: Available for CPA, CFA, and CMA courses – study content will be recommended depending on your performance in individual topic areas.
Overall, the app’s functionality is very similar to UWorld’s offering, and given that UWorld gives you free 90-day access, it would worth giving UWorld’s app a shot before forking out some cash.
Wiley Efficient Learning App – Usability, UI/UX
Overall, the UX seems good, but not as smooth as say IFT’s app. There are some small annoyances with unintended taps (which can be important when answering quizzes), scrolling, and swiping.
There are also user complaints that iPad and tablet support are fairly basic, with no custom version that takes advantage of the extra screen estate on tablets.
But it works well – there were no big issues when using the app, and it’s well rated in both Apple App Store and Google Play
Where to download the Wiley Efficient Learning App
Hope you found the above useful for your CFA study preparations. If you have any recommendations, let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to this list!
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