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FREE CFA® Level 1 Study Materials

December 14th, 2009
A typical CFA Candidates desktop

I thought I was finished with the CFA® program and I can honestly say I have not profited in all senses of the words from doing the CFA program or my MBA. I’m too honest and apparently too generous as once again I’ve made study materials available for free. My career is mostly non-existent so I spend way too many evenings and weekends studying or trying to study for the CFA exams.

There is no guarantee of accuracy or that the materials I’ve posted are even part of the curriculum anymore, the questions do deal with material that was part of the CFA Level 1 learning statements at one time.

I don’t have, nor will I give you, digital copies of copyrighted material such as official or unofficial CFA Books. I’ve skirted around copyright laws enough in assembling and making available on this blog my personal study material not to mention reposting silly images I’ve found online. There are definitely scanned copies of textbooks online, finding them shouldn’t be that that difficult. No matter how much study material you acquired it won’t help you pass the exam unless you learn the material and do hundreds of practice problems such as the ones I provided in these two MS Excel files:

Update August, 2017

This post and most anything I’ve blogged about the CFA program remains popular, well popular for my blog. I actually passed the CFA Level 1 Exam. It took several more years of effort and sacrifice but I managed to pass the CFA Level 2 Exam as well.

Update July 7th, 2012

I’ve updated my study materials several times since this post was originally published. I’ve also typed out hundreds of flashcards which are now available at WordPress.com.

Update March 22, 2012

The CFA Code of Conduct now specifically mentions online discussion boards and self publishing. You’re not allowed to talk about what material was actually tested on a specific exam. Since I’ve had blog posts online for a number of years, specifically this one which does reasonably well in search engines and deals with the CFA program either I have not violated the Code of Conduct or I wasn’t worth going after in 2012, but by 2016 I must have been popular enough to receive their attention.

To make it clear these are study materials based on sample questions that appeared in practice exams or in other study materials that I put into Excel for the purpose of practicing for the CFA Level 1 Exam. There is no guarantee these questions or even these style of questions will appear on an actual future exam or that a question like this appeared on past exams. The curriculum does change and you should always refer to the most recent CFA Institute published materials for what needs to be learned in order to successfully complete the CFA Level 1 exam, do not rely entirely on stuff you downloaded from the Internet.

Material Covered

Astute readers will notice these are the same two Excel spreadsheets I’d previously uploaded. They’ve been expanded and improved. My question set now contains 100 categorized multiple choice questions dealing with the following subject matter:

  1. Quantifying Cash Flows
  2. Weighted Average Shares Issued
  3. Retained Earnings
  4. Valuing Inventory
  5. Cost of Equity
  6. WACC
  7. NPV & IRR
  8. NPV & IRR
  9. Bond Equivalent Yield
  10. WACC
  11. Required Rate of Return
  12. Pure Play Method
  13. Operating Cycle
  14. Trade Credit
  15. Stock Market Types
  16. Margin Calls
  17. ROI
  18. Abnormal Return
  19. HHI
  20. Dividend Growth Rate
  21. Stock Valuation
  22. PE Ratio
  23. Bond Duration
  24. Tax Equivalent Bond Yield
  25. Bond Valuation
  26. Bond Valuation Zero Coupon
  27. T-Bill Yield
  28. Bond Dirty Price
  29. Spot Rate Curve
  30. Portfolio Duration
  31. Free Cash Flow
  32. Accounting for Bonds
  33. Diluted Earnings Per Share
  34. Percentage of Completion
  35. Comprehensive Income
  36. Accounting for Lease Expenses
  37. Expected Return
  38. Expected Return and STD
  39. Over/Under Valued
  40. After Tax Cash Flow
  41. Continuously Compounded Return
  42. Standard Error of Sample Mean
  43. EPS
  44. Lease Expenses
  45. Operating Leverage
  46. Bond Yield
  47. Bond Yield
  48. FRA
  49. STD Portfolio
  50. Correlation of Returns
  51. HHI
  52. EPS
  53. Profitability Index
  54. Stock Valuation
  55. Stock Valuation
  56. Yield to Worst
  57. BPS Shift
  58. Gold Futures
  59. Exotic Options
  60. Beta
  61. Net Cash Provided By
  62. Degrees of Freedom
  63. Inventory Turnover
  64. Comprehensive Income
  65. Sustainable Growth Rate
  66. Market Value of Index
  67. Bond Valuation
  68. Deferred Tax Liability
  69. ROE
  70. Market Weighted Index
  71. P/E Estimate
  72. Valuing Calls
  73. Significance Level
  74. Accounting for Inventory
  75. Margin Return
  76. Portfolio STD
  77. Equity Risk Premium
  78. FRA
  79. EPS Compound Annual Rate
  80. Weighted Average Shares Issued
  81. WACC
  82. Stock Valuation
  83. Bond Valuation with Forward Rates
  84. Currency Swap
  85. Beta
  86. T-Bill Effective Annual Yield
  87. Probability
  88. Covariance Matrix
  89. FSA
  90. FSA
  91. Weighted Average Shares Issued
  92. After Tax Cost of Debt
  93. Income Tax Expense
  94. Average Investment in Receivables
  95. Estimated Inventory Days
  96. Implied P/E Ratio
  97. Market Value of Index
  98. Future Forward Rate
  99. Swaps
  100. Cash Flows

The question generator creates questions in over twenty different styles using random numbers, you need to re-randomize every time you want to re-attempt the set of questions.

Hopefully random strangers on the Internet are more appreciative of my efforts than my MBA classmates


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  • Omkar

    hi, how do u download the free cfa material which you have distributed ?

  • Click on “My Question Set” and “The question generator” above for direct links to the Excel files.

    Good luck.

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  • Parvez

    Thanks for uploading the Questions set…….

  • Yah, I think they’ve benefited others more than me. I’ve actually got some minor edits to upload, just fixing typos and wording mostly. There are a lot more CFA materials online than there was in 2005-6 or even 2007. There are companies like Kaplan, but also sites like Investorpedia which seems to have made a guide to Level 1 which I’ve been meaning to read and link to. I may try to add some new questions too, a lot of material online is uploaded by folks who don’t have the intellectual property rights. My study materials are derivative of questions I saw on practice exams and study materials, but since I reworded most everything and changed all the numbers, not to mention tried to explain the answers in my own words, I may be legal. I’m certainly more legal than folks who have scanned in material then uploaded it to various places… :-D

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  • Jan

    Really appreciate you taking the time to post this! I’m not sure yet if I should bother with a CFA, but seems potentially useful. 

  • Some people get their employer to pay for the whole thing including extra study material. There is a whole industry around these standardized tests. I did things the old fashioned way, by myself, late at night. I’m not sure I’ll finish it, I need to find a new job and no one really cares if you pass the first test, supposedly the second test is the new hardest test…

  • Speaking of which, I had an idea that I would offer myself to a company, in some financial capacity, with the caveat that I am taking the CFA and if they would help me, they would end up with a chatered member.

    Would a company go for this?

  • I doubt it. Maybe in a different economy. I was an unemployed CFA Candidate and I’m still an unemployed CFA Candidate. I thought it would help if I registered, it does let you see a few more job postings and go to yet more networking events. However I can’t say it helped me get a job. I also thought passing some of the exams might entice employers to give me a try, but most finance postings want you to already have completed the CFA program if they mention it at all. Some few jobs do state that they expect you to enroll in the program should they hire you and I had the request made of me several times after I finished my MBA but those firms didn’t end up hiring me, so I started the program on my own. I’ve even completed the first exam successfully but I’m still unemployed so I have to say, you’re probably better off doing a shorter program or one of the accounting designations. Accountants always seem to be in demand.

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  • LucyBerliner

    I really don’t know how to thank you. You must be Saint, because I don’t see anybody doing so much work for free just to help others. I’m still speechless and there are no words that can described how much I appreciate your hard work and willingness for no compensation to help others. I would love to ask you a question that has been in my head puzzling for quite a while. What you think how much really can help you to get a job or promotion by getting at least level 1. Is it worth all that money and effort?? It just blows my mind if all that buzz and ridicules rules by CFA Institute was created to give people false sense of importance to become CFA member. What would be your advice, would you give more importance to good MBA program or go for CFA. I’m just lost with my carrier and everyone has different opinion. I really respect your work, I wish I can help you anyhow for all this material you create for us, Once again thank you!!! GOD BLESS YOU!!

  • An MBA program at a top school costs way more than the CFA program. One private American Ivy league school wanted to interview me after I scored OK on the GMAT there tuition at the time was 60,000 US per year so 120,000 US for the degree plus cost of living, plus books, etc. etc. The CFA program costs considerably less, the barrier to entry is also lower. Anyone with any bachelor degree, doesn’t matter the subject, doesn’t matter the GPA, doesn’t even really matter the school, can enter the CFA program. To compensate for that and to make it a very profitable enterprise the CFA Institute charges for each exam and fails approximately 70% of test writers each year. So it is possible to get a CFA charter for lets say 3000 US dollars it will cost about 200,000 US dollars to get an MBA from a top US program. There are of course scholarships, but generally the people who win those are few. The CFA program published a stat many years ago now where the average charter holder with 10 years experience made $120,000 US dollars per year so the ROI of the CFA Charter is solid, the problem is most people underestimate the difficulty. I never underestimated the difficulty. I struggled perhaps more then most, passed the level 1 exam then have yet to register for the level 2. It is a major commitment to do the CFA perhaps even more than an MBA because you are expected to work full time. MBA programs do not fail 70% of their students. They want their students to pass, some schools might reject most applicants but I don’t even think Harvard rejects 70% of their applicants. It has been a long time since I looked at MBA stats. I do know my MBA from the Sauder School of Business, AKA the University of British Columbia was not worth the price I paid.

  • Lucy Berliner

    Andrew thank you so much for your detailed answer. I spoke to my partner since I have been so impressed with you and I have some business proposal I would like to discuss with you. How and when would be good time to contact you. All the best!!!

  • I’m gainfully employed full-time on a contract basis (for a change). The best way to contact me is probably via email. My address can be found on this website, say by clicking the little envelope icon in the sidebar.

  • Thomas Kelly

    Andrew I am truly grateful for your gratuitous contribution. I see you put in countless hours and to share them with strangers, is truly admirable. The world could use more people such as yourself. Thank You

  • Kshiteej Tiwari

    hi, thanku so much for your help. I am a chemical engineer in India.
    Just wanted to ask you does giving cfa exam really helps me get into finance and a secured future ??

  • Just passing the Level 1 CFA exam won’t help much. You’d be better off doing an MBA specializing in Finance. If you can complete the whole charter, 3 exams and the work experience it counts for a lot, most people give up. The exams are really hard, not just math, but time management, memorization, written comprehension. Level 2 is much harder than Level 1.

  • Kshiteej Tiwari

    Thanku so much, i am grateful for your help and advice, i am gathering information’s before starting my preparation,
    your advice is admirable.

  • Pat

    I was once a former accountancy student and now a finance student. And as you know the accounting field also have a board exam to become a licensed professional. Certified public accountant is the title an accounting student could have. My question is, is the three level exams of CFA worth having than having to just pass only one board exam Like the CPA board? do you think these three CfA levels is as equal as one CPA board exam?

  • I know people who have done the CA or CGA in addition to the CFA and the CFA is much harder to complete. You not only have to pass three exams but complete the work experience. I also know people who have dropped out of the CFA program and have done an accounting certification instead. Because of the difficulty in achieving it, the CFA Charter is a much rarer qualification than any accounting designation or MBA. If you want to be an accountant, than by all means do an accounting certification, but don’t think passing one accounting exam is the equivalent of passing three CFA exams.

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  • Aram

    My friend, thank you so much for all your uploads. There are super useful. May I ask you a question. How useful do you find material of Kaplan Schweser? More specifically I mean their scoop of questions. Thank you in advance .

  • I paid for a lot of stuff once and did hardly any of the Question Bank questions. I think the CFA Institute gives way more questions out online than they used to, but in general the more questions you do the better. So if you have access to lots of practice exams or problems and actually sit down and do 100s of problems that is best. If you pay lots of money and don’t even read all the books you get, then you probably didn’t get good value for your money. There is lots of material online but if Internet access is crappy where you live like it is in China, having questions in a book or that you can download to your laptop when you do have good Internet access is better than relying that you can get to a website at the exact time you need to.

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