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The CREDO for CFA Study Group Success

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CFA San FranciscoIf done right, participating in a study group is one of the best ways to prepare for the CFA exams. An informal survey of candidates in study groups shows that successful study groups are:

Committed. Study groups only work if people attend consistently and contribute regularly. Meet once a week at a set time and place. So show up to each and every meeting! Agree on an attendance policy and hold members accountable.

Reliable. Come prepared to discuss that week’s topic. All group members should read the curriculum, do associated problems and/or construct practice questions beforehand.

Efficient. Use the CFA Institute study guide as a format to provide structure. Do not intensely study all the assigned material in the readings. The CFA exam covers the LOS and only the LOS. Studying the entire set of readings is not the best use of time.

Diverse. A successful study group needs people with diverse experience and knowledge. If everyone is well versed in the same field, how will you learn the other subjects on the exams?


  • Prepare a study group roster that includes names, emails, and phone numbers.
  • Assign a discussion leader for each session according to their strengths.
  • Assign a note taker for each session. (Hint: Use these notes as study guides and/or make flash cards from them.)
  • Create an online group to send updates, share documents, store session notes, and create discussions. Make sure it’s a private online group.
  • Form subgroups that meet separately for those needing additional study on a particular topic.

Additional benefit: The moral support that successful study groups provide is invaluable.


A number of local CFA societies offer free assistance forming study groups in their geographical location. Let us know if you find more!

–Linda Lam is the associate director of the CFA Review Program at the CFA Society of San Francisco.

CFA Study Groups

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