CFA Level 1’s 2023 curriculum includes 73 Learning Modules (LMs, or mini readings) spread across 10 topics. Should you, however, study the topics in order? Is there a best CFA Level 1 study order?
1st: Quantitative Methods (1st part, 8-12% exam weight)
Learning Modules (LM) 1-3 form the absolute foundation of the CFA Level 1 syllabus in this first section. Topics include the Time Value of Money (TVM), Present and Future Values, and Annuities. A solid understanding of these topics will pay off later in areas like asset valuation and portfolio management.
2nd: Financial Reporting and Analysis (13-17% exam weight)
As an analyst, the ability to interpret company accounts and economic capacity is critical, so this is an important part of your education. Inventory costing (LIFO/FIFO), depreciation, intangible assets, deferred taxes, leasing, and bond accounting are all covered.
3rd: Fixed Income (10-12% exam weight)
Now we’ll look at the Asset Classes readings, which I recommend beginning with Fixed Income (LM 42-47). You will be well-positioned to understand the topics covered in this session if you have mastered the concept of TVM in Quantitative Methods.
4th: Equity (10-12% exam weight)
LM 36-38 focuses on equity security analysis, valuation, and characteristics. Once again, your understanding of TVM will come in handy as you transition from understanding equity securities to valuing the equity itself.
5th: Alternative Investments (5-8% exam weight)
This reading is broken down into bite-sized Learning Modules (LMs) that can be completed in an evening of study in 2023. This is a relatively straightforward topic area, covering topics such as real estate and private equity. It’s a topic you can’t avoid because it has a relatively high topic weight in relation to the number of readings.
6th: Derivatives (5-8% exam weight)
These readings will ensure you are competent in your understanding of these different financial instruments, which form a foundation for future levels by building the conceptual framework for the understanding of basic derivative securities, forwards, future options, and swaps.
7th: Corporate Issuers (8-12% exam weight)
While there is some overlap in this study session with the accounting section of the syllabus, notably Financial Analysis Techniques, as well as Net Present Value and Internal Rates of Return in Quantitative Methods, the foundations of this study session are topics such as Capital Structure, Cost of Capital, and Measures of Leverage.
8th: Quantitative Methods (8-12% exam weight)
When introducing concepts such as sampling, estimation, and hypothesis, keep in mind that the perceived difficulty of these topics may slow the pace of your studies. You should therefore schedule enough time to complete this session.
9th: Portfolio Management (5-8% exam weight)
Furthermore, the concept of diversification is introduced, and previously covered statistical concepts such as standard deviation are applied in the context of Portfolio Management.
10th: Economics (8-12% exam weight)
Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Analysis (LM 8-11): These readings introduce the basic concept of supply and demand, which is especially important if you are new to the world of Economics. Once you understand this, you can broaden your knowledge to include output and costs.
Monetary and Fiscal Policy, International Trade, Geopolitics, and Currency Exchange Rates (LM 12-15): This study session discusses the movement of goods and services, as well as physical and financial capital, across countries. It also includes an introduction to geopolitics and an overview of currency market fundamentals.