Posted by: Derek Burkett, CFA, FRM, CAIA Vice President of Advanced Designations, Kaplan Schweser
Updated: January 4, 2021
The CFA® exam requires a significant commitment of your valuable time and your scarce financial resources. So the first decision you have to make (after you decide to sign up for Level I and use the services of an exam prep provider like Kaplan) is how you are going to make it through 300+ 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.
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:
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 CFA candidates who want to pass the first time will need help from the experts.
In my years in this business, I’ve seen many successful candidates who fit the mold of a motivated self-starter perfectly suited for self-study. But, I’ve seen far more (successful and not) who need help and guidance. Fortunately, for those who need such guidance, Kaplan Schweser has a very long track record of helping candidates succeed on the CFA exams.
So what exactly does the additional investment (it is more expensive) of adding instruction and guidance to your strategy do for you?
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, please visit the Kaplan Schweser website to enroll today.