The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam is notoriously difficult and challenging, so this answer will be subjective based on personal circumstances. However, here are some considerations:
- The CFA curriculum is very extensive and does cover the topics adequately.
- The CFA Institute Candidate Survey (CFACS) reports that the most commonly used study material was the CFA Institute curriculum (75%). While this makes sense considering the CFA Institute provides these materials when a candidate registers for the exam, remember that in recent years, pass rates for the first two levels are well below 50%. The 10-year weighted average CFA exam pass rate for Level 1 is 38%.
- In CFACS, more than 60% of the candidates said they used non-CFA Institute preparatory materials. This rate goes up 6% year over year. The CFA is not in the business of exam preparation outside the CFA exam, so professional prep companies offer a tremendous advantage. Because of their experience and knowledge in providing other high-stakes exams, you can prepare thoroughly.
- Prep providers are effective at streamlining the material to the specific information required. They offer many more platforms for consuming the content in a manner that best suits an individual’s study habits or lifestyle.
- Many candidates report the CFA curriculum is extensive, but not as readable compared to third-party materials. They feel that it takes too much time to go through the content, and yet they end up not having covered enough of the syllabus by exam day to pass (prep providers do this work for you so you can focus on what's important).
Technically, it IS enough. BUT we don't recommend it. A prep provider will cut down a tremendous amount of work for you and help you focus on your studies and practice for the big day.
Ultimately, you're in the best position yourself to decide what works best for you. Do your research. Scour more blogs and articles. Cross-analyse and come up with resources that you think will work best. Trust your own judgement. Factor in your circumstances and study as efficiently as you can. We'll always be here to help you however we can!