Both of these exams are difficult and require extensive time and effort in order to pass. I passed all four sections of the CPA exam and level I & II of the CFA exam on my first attempt, but it took a lot of studying and I had to make a lot of sacrifices. This blog can hopefully give you guidance and insight into either the exam. This is simply a forum for others to learn from my experience, view my notes and ask questions.

Half the battle is applying, paying and scheduling either exam. It takes a lot of research to understand what you need to do in order to be prepared. I assume that you have a familiarity with your respective exam but if you don't start here
For the CPA - read through the CPA Candidate Bulletin
For the CFA - visit the CFA Institute

My Timeline

Early Sept..... Start Master's in Accounting Program
End of Nov..... Apply for CPA NTS (BEC & FAR)
[For NY it usually takes longer to process NTS]


Mid Jan..... Receive NTS, schedule BEC and FAR exam,
purchase Becker CPA Review through PwC
End of Feb..... Start studying for BEC
Early April..... Take BEC exam, after exam start studying for FAR
Late April..... Apply and pay fees to sit for CFA level I in December,
purchase Stalla CFA Level I Review
Mid May..... Take FAR exam, after exam apply for NTS (AUD & REG)
Late May..... Receive NTS, schedule AUD & REG, start studying for AUD
Mid June..... Receive BEC and FAR scores
Mid July..... Take AUD exam, start studying for REG
Mid Aug...... Take REG, start studying for CFA level I
End of Sept..... Receive AUD and REG scores
Early Dec..... Take CFA Level I Exam


End of Jan..... Receive CFA score, apply and pay fees for Level II,
purchase Schweser CFA level II Review materials
Early Feb..... Start studying for CFA level II
Early June..... Take level II of CFA exam, then Party Party Party
Mid August..... Receive CFA score, then Party Party Party
Mid September..... Sign up and pay fees for Level III

Early Feb..... Start studying for CFA level III
Early June..... Take level III of CFA exam, then Party Party Party
Early Aug..... Receive level III CFA exam results, then Curse and Cry

Early Feb..... Start studying again for CFA level III
Early June..... Take level III of CFA exam again, then Party Party Party

Hopefully my timeline indicates how meticulous I was in planning for the exams. If you want to be successful you have to plan 6 to 18 months in advance. Anticipate future school, work or life events that will impact your ability to study. The last thing you want is to pay $X and not be able to take the exam or, even worse, not be able to adequately prepare and fail. For the last 3 years all I've done is study, work-out and, very rarely, party. I wasn't able to spend enough time with the people I cared for. I sacrificed a lot and you'll probably have to do the same.


Anonymous said...

I am planning to take the BEC exam by the end of november.I am done with the first 3 chapters in Becker.I think i am spending more time on the lectures than working the multiple choice questions. How much should I be scoring on the Becker home work and practice multiple choice questions in order to pass the exam?
Thank you

cpacfa said...

Hi Rami,

When are you taking the BEC exam? I highly recommend going through all the lectures and highlight/take notes. Then consolidate your notes. After that, you should be practicing as many problems as possible.

It is difficult to say what exact score you need on the practice tests to pass the exam. However, I always made sure I knew every practice question. That means when I got a practice problem incorrect, I marked the question then wrote down the underlying concept or topic (so I wouldn't get it wrong again).

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your advice.I will be taking the exam in the last week of november.Thanx again

Anonymous said...

Can you please post sample questions on any category. . .please

cpacfa said...

unfortunately, I no longer have sample questions. Isn't your firm paying for you to take the exam? If not, go on craigslist and post a wanted ad to buy old Becker materials. I'm sure if you put a little work in you can find old materials.

dharani said...

what year text book did u use to prepare this notes

Anonymous said...

these notes are really very helpful. thanks for doing this!

Sam said...


Thank you for the timeline and advice on what to expect. I am currently working full-time in Beverly Hills, planning to take CFA I in June and start reviewing for CPA afterwards. Like you, I plan to get both licenses in one try, as I'm a very good test-taker.

Seemed like you didn't work while studying for all these exams, what are you planning to do for the job experience requirement for the CPA/CFA licenses?

Sam said...

My apologies for underestimating you..I just on another post that you work 70hr/week, whoa! I live with my girlfriend and was only expecting 40hrs work +10 hr studying for 3 months. Just out of curiosity, what kind of job do you do and where did you get your degree?

Anonymous said...

hi there,

are we allowed to use a calculator for BEC?

cpacfa said...


To answer your first question, I received my CPA work experience while working for PwC in New York. I now work for a small hedge fund in Greenwich, CT. For the CFA, 4 years of relevant work experience is required. Qualifying work activities include being directly involved in the investment decision-making process or engaged in responsibilities that adds value to that process. I will applying the work I currently do now to meet the CFA requirements.

I'm originally from Seattle and went to the University of Washington for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I received a B.A. in Accounting & Finance and Master's in Professional Accounting.

What is your ultimate career goal? I will be posting my thoughts on CPA vs CFA vs MBA. If you want to enhance your current career the CPA and/or CFA may be right for you. However, if you are looking to change career paths get an MBA from a top 10 school. I'll be elaborating on this issue in a new posting soon.

Hope this helps.

cpacfa said...

Calculator Question

The CPA is a computerized exam. There is a four function calculator embedded in the exam which you can use. You will not be able to take in your own calculator. If you take a practice exam you can get familiar with the calculator functionality.

CPAPLAN said...

How helpful is studying Kieso or Hoyle for the FAR portion of the CPA?

cpacfa said...

Everybody studies in different ways. Personally I did not use or ever thought I needed the textbooks for reference. You need be in the mindset of studying for an exam and not a subject. Knowing pension accounting from Kieso may help but in no way is it sufficient to pass the exam. However, if you know very little about pension accounting and master the pension material in CPA review courses (like Becker), you will probably do very well on the exam. There is too much material to comprehensively study from multiple sources.

Kim said...

I am very glad to learn that it is possible to be in an MBA program while studying for / taking the CPA exams. I am about to enter an MBA program and would rather not wait until I finish to begin the CPA exam process. I plan to order Yaeger software. I'm just not sure if there will be enough time to do all of the CPA studying, MBA course-work, CPA testing while working full time and commuting 10 hours/week. I want to believe it is possible.

cpacfa said...


Congrats on being accepted and attending and MBA program. Let me ask though, why do you want to pursue a CPA? If you want to become an accountant, then more power to you. However, if you are taking the CPA exam as a value added measure to get into finance, don't waste your effort and time. The CPA will help you get an accounting job, not a finance job.

Kim said...

Accounting is the field I want to be in so I'm certain about the CPA. The MBA is the value added measure to get a better range of jobs and it will be an additional 34 credits at this point. I do wish I could focus only on the CPA at this time, but I've put all of it off long enough. (I returned to school in '07 after a few years away to complete my undergraduate degree in accounting). I finally have a momentum going and a healthy cumulative GPA. I just don't want to get in over my head. Congratulations on all you've accomplished. It is truly inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Did you complete master's classes while also studying for the CPA exam????

cpareview said...

Hi! I appreciate what your are doing here. Good job!!

Its nice to find people sharing information for free. I too am starting my blog sharing mnemonics and mindmaps for CPA review.

Hope you don't mind me adding it here:

Ryan said...


Not sure if you're checking comments on this blog still, but just wanted to first thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. Amongst other posts, I've found your timeline to be particularly helpful.

I actually decided to sit for both the CPA and CFA around November of 2010 which is when I found your blog and associated timeline. Admittedly, I found the later to be extremely helpful, so much so that I decided to follow it to the "t".

I have completed all four sections of the CPA exam, of which I've passed 3 and am waiting to hear back on the last. Since taking my last exam in early July, I've been studying for level 1 of the CFA.

With that in mind, my question is the following: did you feel that you had adequate time to study for both levels I & 2, in particular level 2? According to your timeline it appears that you began studying for level 1 of the CFA sometime around Mid-August and took the exam in December, which equivocates to 3 1/2 months of studying. Since level 1 scores aren't released until roughly the end of January you presumably couldn't start studying for level 2 until the end of January / beginning of February.

I realize that I'm looking past the mark so to speak in inquiring about level 2 timing when I have not yet passed level 1, let alone taken the exam; however, I would appreciate very much your thoughts / reflections on the amount of time you allotted to level 2. I've read numerous posts recommending at least 6 months of studying for each level and would love to hear your perspective on the matter.


cpacfa said...

Hey Ryan,

As I mentioned, scheduling and the timing of studying is half the battle. You're on the mark by anticipating your preparation so far in advance. Before I answer, can I ask how you found the blog? I have created a new website and I updated all my notes with the new web address.

Is there anyway you can copy and re-post your question there? I'm sorry for the hassle and inconvenience. I'm just trying to manage one blog instead of two. Thanks for understanding.