Schweser Notes – Complements or Subtitutes to CFAI books?

It is a common question and an understandable one I would say. Why is everyone so high on Schweser notes if the material is covered in the CFAI books? Do candidates really end up reading and studying both? First, just to clarify, the CFAI books have certainly improved quite a bit in recent years as they used to represent several times the amount of material covered by Schweser notes which did mean there was a lot of “useless” material. It is not as much the case nowadays, in big part thanks to Schweser in my opinion. I don’t think there is any clear answer, it really does depend on each candidate but here are the main guidelines in my opinion.

You should:

Study Only the CFAI books if:

You have a average to good financial background and want to make the best use of your time while studying the entire material. Reading these notes implies that you will not see 100% of the material but you will end up seeing 95% of what is considered critical material. That may or may not be good enough for you.

Study Only the Schweser Notes if:

You do not have a strong financial background, have a lot of time to study early on. You are someone that prefers to get the entire picture (detailed explanation, analysis, more examples, etc). Another reason would be to save on the cost of the Schweser material. If that is your reason, I would strongly urge you to consider everything that you are already investing into the exam.  Also consider the fact that buying access to the Schweser qbank would be very important no matter if you intend to use their notes or not.

Study Both:

Almost never. Honestly, the only way I would use both is when I do not understand specific notions in the Schweser notes and want to get more detailed, differently worded readings about that same notion. Both can be used at times but in general I would stick to one or the other. Reading and studying the material is only one of the ways to learn the material, do not forget about qbanks, learning by heart, mock exams, etc.

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