Who should attend
To study the CFA Program, you must have a Bachelor's degree, or be completing the final year of your degree. Alternatively, you could have four years of relevant qualified work experience, or have a combination of work and university experience from the last four years.
Additionally, you must meet the CFA Program professional conduct admission criteria, have a valid passport and be able to take your exams in English.
Eligibility must be checked with the CFA Institute launch.
About the course
The CFA Program curriculum is focused on ten key topics which increase in complexity at each of the three levels: ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, portfolio management and wealth planning.
Level 1 focuses on understanding the tools and concepts related to investment valuation and portfolio management.
Level 1 of the CFA exam consists of 240 equally weighted questions which are mandatory and examined by a paper-and-pencil, multiple choice exam. The questions are split equally among two three-hour sessions taking place on the same day.
Below is a syllabus overview detailing each topic and their approximate exam weighting.
Level 1 topic Approximate exam weight
- Ethical and Professional Standards 15%
- Quantitative Methods 10%
- Economics 10%
- Financial Reporting and Analysis 15%
- Corporate Finance 10%
- Equity Investments 11%
- Fixed Income 11%
- Derivatives 6%
- Alternative Investments 6%
- Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 6%
Ethical and Professional Standards
You’ll be introduced to the role of ethics in the investment profession and be presented with a framework to support ethical decision-making. You’ll explore the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS).
- Basic Concepts: learn about basic quantitative concepts and techniques used in financial analysis and investment decision. These include: the time value of money, discounted cash flow applications, statistical concepts and market returns and probability concepts.
- Application: introduces you to the common probability distributions used to describe the behavior of random variables, such as asset prices and returns. It also explores sampling and estimation, hypothesis testing and technical analysis.
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics: learn fundamental concepts of demand and supply analysis for individual consumers and firms, the firm and market structures, aggregate output, prices and economic growth and how to understand business cycles.
- Monetary and Fiscal Policy, International Trade, and Currency Exchange Rates: explore monetary and fiscal policy, including how central banks and governments use them, as well as international trade, capital flows, and currency exchange rates.
Financial Reporting and Analysis
- An Introduction: learn about the main information sources used to evaluate a company’s financial performance, and financial reporting mechanics and standards.
- Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements: this subject addresses the three major financial statements; the income statement, the balance sheet and cash flow statement and examines financial analysis techniques.
- Inventories, Long-lived Assets, Income Taxes, and Non-current Liabilities: learn about financial reporting for specific categories of assets and liabilities. Inventories, long-lived assets, income taxes and non-current liabilities are reviewed in more detail because of their effect on financial statements and reported measures of profitability, liquidity, and solvency.
- Financial Reporting Quality and Financial Statement Analysis: introduces the concept of financial reporting quality, warning signs of poor or low quality reporting and applications to analyse financial reporting so you can make future forecasts.
- Corporate Governance, Capital Budgeting, and Cost of Capital: understand the basics of corporate governance and investing and financing decisions, such as capital budgeting and the cost of capital.
- Leverage and Working Capital Management: examine how companies make use of leverage and manage their working capital to meet short-term operational needs. Multiple types of leverage (operating, financial, total), measures of leverage, and how leverage affects a company’s earnings and financial ratios are discussed.
- Market Organization, Market Indexes, and Market Efficiency: this session provides a structural overview of financial markets and their operating characteristics, laying the foundations for Levels 2 and 3.
- Equity Analysis and Valuation: building from the previous session, you’ll focus on the characteristics, analysis, and valuation of equity securities. You’ll learn multiple industry classification approaches for global equities and useful frameworks for conducting industry and individual company analysis. Present value, multiplier, and asset based equities are examined in detail.
- Basic Concepts: introduces the qualities of fixed-income securities, fixed-income markets, and provides introductions to fixed-income valuation and asset-backed securities.
- Analysis of Risk: examine the fundamental elements underlying bond returns and risks with a specific focus on interest rate and credit risk.
This session builds the conceptual framework for understanding the basic derivatives and derivative markets. Essential features and valuation concepts for forward commitments such as forwards, futures, and swaps and contingent claims such as options are also introduced.
Gain an overview of the more widely used alternative investments, including hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities, and infrastructure investment.
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
This session provides an overview of portfolio management in regards to investments. It also explores risk management and the risks associated with portfolios and returns, and teaches you the basics of portfolio planning and construction.
Why study Level 1 with Kaplan?
Over 25 years of experience
We have over 25 years of teaching experience with the largest global network of tutors who are CFA® Charterholders and know the syllabus inside out.
Flexible study options
Our study tools are flexible enough to fit around your lifestyle. From online to classroom, we give you all the support and materials you need to succeed.
Pass commitment assurance
We know the exams are tough but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Should you need a second chance we’ll put you back on track with our pass commitment.
1000s of practice questions
Get exam confident with testing at every stage of your studies, including 1000s of practice questions and mock exams that will help you feel prepared for the real exam.
Because of COVID-19, many providers are cancelling or postponing in-person programs or providing online participation options.
We are happy to help you find a suitable online alternative.