How to Pass CFA Level 1 in First Attempt

Charted Fiancia Analyst
Financial Analyst

Clearing the CFA level 1 exam on the first attempt is a significant milestone every finance aspirant aims to achieve. A blend of dedication, strategic preparation, and the right resources can elevate your chances of achieving this. This article delves deep into actionable strategies to enhance your practice for CFA level 1 first attempt success.

Why Clearing CFA Level 1 in the First Go Matters

Achieving success in the CFA level 1 first attempt saves time and resources and boosts confidence. The momentum gained from this initial success can be channeled into the subsequent levels of the CFA examination.


  • Cost savings: Reducing the number of attempts translates to saving on exam fees.
  • Time-efficiency: Clearing in the first attempt gives aspirants more time to prepare for the following levels.
  • Enhanced morale: Acing the first attempt is a significant morale booster.

The Roadmap to CFA Level 1 First Attempt Success

CFA Level 1

Strategic planning and execution are pivotal. Below is a comprehensive roadmap tailored to guide aspirants toward CFA level 1 first attempt victory.

Comprehensive Understanding of the Curriculum

Before diving into rigorous preparation, thoroughly understand the CFA level 1 curriculum. The syllabus is vast, spanning topics from corporate finance to ethical standards. Familiarizing yourself with the entire spectrum will help streamline your preparation.

Early Start

The early bird gets the worm, which couldn’t be more accurate for CFA preparation. Starting your study sessions months in advance offers the luxury of pacing your preparation, ensuring every topic receives attention.

Quality Study Material

While abundant study materials are available, choosing the right ones can make all the difference. Quality over quantity should be the mantra. Institutes like Positive Alpha provide meticulously crafted study materials that align perfectly with the CFA curriculum, ensuring aspirants are well-equipped to face the examination.

Effective Time Management

Time is of the essence. Chart out a realistic study schedule, dedicating specific hours to different topics. Regular breaks are also crucial to ensure you don’t burn out. Allocate more time to complex subjects and provide regular revision intervals.

Practice Makes Perfect

More than merely reading through the study material is required. Constantly test your understanding by attempting practice questions. The more you practice, the better you get. Mock exams simulate the real exam environment, helping you gauge your preparation and adjust accordingly.

Stay Updated

The financial world is ever-evolving. Ensure you stay updated with the latest developments, which can often be integrated into the examination.

Overcoming Potential Hurdles

Every journey has its set of challenges. Anticipating these and having strategies to overcome them can make your path to CFA level 1 first attempt success smoother.

Avoid Procrastination

One of the primary adversaries of adequate preparation is procrastination. Set daily goals, stick to your schedule, and reward yourself upon completing milestones.

Healthy Lifestyle

A sound body fosters a sound mind. Exercise, a balanced diet, and sleep are crucial during your preparation months. Physical well-being significantly impacts cognitive functions, concentration, and memory.

Maintain a Positive Mindset

While the rigors of CFA preparation can be daunting, maintaining a positive and determined mindset is paramount. Surround yourself with positivity, engage in stress-relieving activities, and always remember the end goal.

Delving Deep into Each Subject Area

The CFA Level 1 examination tests candidates across a broad spectrum of subjects, each having its importance. A systematic approach to each topic can significantly enhance the odds of clearing the CFA level 1 on the first attempt.

Ethical and Professional Standards

  • Importance: This area forms the bedrock of the entire CFA program. Adherence to ethical standards is of paramount significance in the finance world.
  • Approach: Given its weightage and relevance across all three levels, candidates should spend ample time grasping the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Using real-world scenarios to understand the application of these standards can be beneficial.

Quantitative Methods

  • Importance: This section lays the foundation for many other topics in the CFA curriculum.
  • Approach: Engage in active learning. Instead of passively reading formulas, work through problems and ensure you understand the underlying concepts.


  • Importance: A firm understanding of economics is crucial, as it underpins many other areas of finance.
  • Approach: Focus on macroeconomic concepts and currency exchange rate determinants. Use current global economic events to grasp theoretical concepts better.

Financial Reporting and Analysis

  • Importance: This area tests candidates’ ability to interpret financial reports. It is vital for anyone looking to work in equity research or portfolio management.
  • Approach: Delve deep into the income, balance, and cash flow statements. Understand interrelationships and the impact of adjustments.

Corporate Finance

  • Importance: It’s all about decision-making regarding how businesses finance their operations and capital expenditures.
  • Approach: Understand concepts like cost of capital, capital budgeting, and working capital management. Practically apply these concepts by analyzing real-world businesses.

Portfolio Management

  • Importance: Central to the work of many CFA charter holders, this segment is about managing investment portfolios to meet specific objectives.
  • Approach: Begin with the basics of the risk-return tradeoff and diversification. Use tools like Excel or other software to visualize portfolio combinations.

Asset Classes

  • Importance: This dives into various asset classes like equity, fixed income, derivatives, and alternative investments.
  • Approach: Focus on valuation techniques for each asset class. Staying updated with current market conditions can aid in better understanding.

Building a Support System

No endeavor is entirely a solo journey. Building a robust support system can be pivotal in your quest to clear the CFA level 1 first attempt.


Seeking guidance from someone who has already cleared the CFA exams can be invaluable. Their insights into preparation strategies, managing exam stress, and time management can provide an added advantage.

Forums and Online Communities

The internet is a treasure of resources. Participating in forums like AnalystForum or the CFA subreddit can be immensely beneficial. You can get your queries addressed, gain access to various resources, and stay motivated.

In the End!

Embarking on the CFA journey is undoubtedly demanding, but with the right strategies, it is entirely feasible to clear the CFA level 1 first attempt. By mastering each subject area, harnessing the power of a supportive community, and employing continuous feedback, candidates position themselves for success. Many professionals, including those associated with Positive Alpha, have leveraged these tactics to excel in their CFA examinations. With commitment and perseverance, you can set yourself on the path to achieving the CFA designation, a hallmark of excellence in finance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much study time is generally recommended for CFA Level 1?

Dedicating at least 300 hours of study time for thorough preparation is advised.

Is joining a coaching institute like Positive Alpha for CFA Level 1 necessary?

While self-study is viable, coaching institutes offer structured programs, mentorship, and resources to enhance preparation.

Which is the most challenging subject area in CFA Level 1?

It varies per individual. Some find ‘Financial Reporting and Analysis’ intricate, while others might struggle with ‘Quantitative Methods.’

Can I rely solely on the official CFA curriculum books?

The official books are comprehensive, but incorporating multiple resources, like those offered by renowned institutes, can provide diverse perspectives and practice.

Is the CFA Level 1 exam more theoretical or numerical?

The exam combines both; however, a strong grasp of theoretical concepts is essential to tackle numerical problems.

“Wait, I don’t even know What CFA is”

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→ Yes , Jobs as a Research Analyst/ Derivatives Analyst / P&L Analyst are suitable. Further, it depends on undergrad + other relevant skills such as Financial Modelling.

→ CFA L2 is often considered to the toughest hurdle of the CFA program. It digs deep into every concept studied at L1, exposing any weaknesses or loopholes in a specific topic. At Positive Alpha, we ensure a quality foundation at CFA L1 for CFA L2 & L3.

→ We would provide a session on basic accounting (optional session), which would help the engineers and non-commerce background students to grasp the basics of accounting.

→ No, there is no sectional cutoff or negative marking. Only total marks are evaluated.