CAIA® Exam Study Materials: Self-Prep vs. Guided Instruction

By: Kaplan Schweser
April 7, 2021
Two choices presented to CAIA candidates to prepare for the exam alone or with guided instruction.

The CAIA® exam requires a significant commitment of your valuable time and your financial resources. So the first decision you have to make (after you decide to sign up for the CAIA exam and use the services of an exam prep provider like Kaplan Schweser) is how you are going to make it through 240+ hours of study over a period of 6 to 9 months and give yourself the best chance of success.

That means deciding whether you are going to utilize expert instruction, or go it alone, so to speak. So, let’s explore the main differences between self-study and guided instruction.

CAIA® Exam Preparation: Self-Study

Going at it alone, or self-study means you will prepare, practice, and perform without the help of an experienced instructor to guide you. You will:

  • Create your own 240-hour (or longer) study plan for the next 6 to 9 months

  • Read the curriculum, study notes, or both

  • Utilize practice questions in a question bank or other source

  • Take mock exams

  • Identify and remediate your weak areas

  • Develop a test-taking strategy that will give you the best chance of success …all on your own.

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Self-study takes a lot of motivation, persistence, patience, confidence, self-awareness, and some expertise in learning to do it on your own. Some people have what it takes to do it this way. They tend to be highly motivated self-starters who have the mettle to put in the hard work day after day and be successful on exam day.

So the first thing you have to do is take an honest, unflinching look at yourself and your own history of learning. Ask yourself the tough question, “Do I have what it takes to do this on my own?” Think back to your time in college or university. Could you have made it through and graduated without the help of teachers and mentors?

Were you ever successful in a class where the professor walked into the classroom the first day, dropped a big stack of books on your desk, said “the final is in 15 weeks…good luck,” and walked out of the room? For most people, this approach is likely not the answer. Instead, most CAIA candidates who want to pass the first time will need help from the experts.

CAIA Exam Preparation: Guided Instruction

For those who need guidance, Kaplan Schweser has a very long track record of helping candidates succeed on the CAIA exams. So what exactly does the additional investment (it is more expensive) do for you?

  • You get a CAIA expert to guide you through the curriculum and help you learn the material so you are fully prepared for exam day.

  • It will motivate you by giving you a structure to your studies, as well as a mentor who can pat you on the back when things are going great or keep you accountable when you need it.

  • You will get regular, expert feedback on your weak areas, suggestions for how to improve, and guidance on where to get more practice.

  • You’ll have a guide and mentor to ask for help with challenging material.

  • The class will provide focus to your study efforts and enable you to use your 240+ hours of study time in the most efficient and effective manner.

  • You’ll receive guidance on test-taking strategies to make the task of tackling hundreds of questions in 4 hours a bit less daunting.

So here is the decision you have to make: Do you save some money and rely on your inherent personal strengths of motivation, persistence, and learning expertise; or do you make the extra monetary investment in guided instruction? It’s up to you.


If you have decided on self-study or guided instruction, check out Kaplan Schweser CAIA study materials to get started on your exam prep today.

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