Level I FAQs

What is included in your 2016 Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop for the Level I exam?

The Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop reviews all the required topics on the exam. It includes 15 classes, each class 3 hours long. You get a live instructor, Ron Quintero, CFA, CPA, CMA. You also receive ten SharpNotes® that summarize all the assigned study material and contain many exercises. At the end, you are offered a free, three-hour in-class Practice Exam, a 16th class.

Many prep providers distribute "Notes" in their courses, but these are often hard copies of PowerPoint® slides shown in class. Their students have to pay $395+ extra for real notes - a survey of the assigned material along with practice questions. SharpNotes® are not hard copies of PPT slides, rather they present critical details of the assigned material plus thousands of exercises to test learning and understanding, and are provided at NO EXTRA COST for candidates in our Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop.

Do I have to signup separately with CFA Institute for the exam?

Yes, you need to go to their website to register for the exam. You are encouraged to signup early, not only to pay a lower fee but also to start your studies sooner.

Is SHARP SEMINARS a member of CFA Institute's Approved Prep Provider Program?

Yes. SHARP SEMINARS is committed to communicating the value and educational rigor of the CFA Program. (Further information on this program is available on the CFA Institute website.)

How long has SHARP SEMINARS been around?

SHARP SEMINARS has been giving CFA exam preparation courses in New York City for the past 25 years. We are the longest running CFA exam prep course in New York City.

Where is your course given?

Our training is given at the Madison Towers Hotel on East 38th Street and Madison Ave. The Madison Towers Hotel is a short walk from Grand Central and a longer walk from Pennsylvania Station and the 33rd Street PATH. If bad weather, take either the M4 or Q32 bus from West 32nd Street just in from Seventh Ave. These busses stop in front of the hotel.

What is the format of your class?

Slightly more than half of the class is a review of the assigned material for each topic on the exam. However, the rest of the class is devoted to problem solving. Remember, the Level I exam involves working 240 problems in six hours. Developing problem solving skills is key to passing.

Do I have to pay extra for your notes if I signup for your Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop?

No, ten SharpNotes® for Level I are included as part of the Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop at NO EXTRA COST.

I have an MBA from a major B-school. Level I looks doable for self study. What is the advantage of a prep course?

True, the material for Level I is basic, but there is a lot of this basic material, and the global pass rate is low. Level I sets the foundation for Levels II and III. Taking our prep course sets a solid foundation critical to passing Level I and higher levels. Our course keeps your study program on track through all the assigned topics for the CFA exam. With much material to review, it is easy to fall behind and end up falling short on exam day.

I have heard that the pass rate on Level I is low, around 40% for the last few exams. What can your course do to help me pass?

You are right! Many candidates underestimate the difficulty of the exam, and fail. If you want to pass, you have to step up your game. That is where Sharp Seminars comes in. Our Level I course will provide you with a comprehensive review of all the assigned topics, thousands of practice problems, help with financial calculators, and suggestions on test taking strategies. We have weekly Take-Home Quizzes that help to keep you from falling behind. Attend all our classes plus study and review at home and you will be much better prepared and more likely to pass.

Do you offer a Pass or Money Back Guarantee?

Yes, click on the Guarantee button on the left of the home page for details including terms and conditions.

Do you offer a crash or intensive course?

No, there is too much material to grasp in a short course. One candidate commented about another provider's crash course that it was a PowerPoint death march. The instructor had too much material to cover in a short course and kept going through slides despite students' inability to absorb the material. Crash courses in our opinion do not work in most cases.

Is your Sample Questions Review a crash course?

No, that is a problem solving class only. There are no lectures on the assigned material. We provide students with problems that we have developed to test the assigned material. We ask students to work problems in class, then we discuss the solution. This problem solving helps students prepare for the CFA exam coming very soon and helps identify weak areas.

How large are your classes?

We try to keep our classes to a maximum of around 20 students. We want to have a class where students can interact with the instructor. Some CFA prep providers have classes in excess of 100. We believe these turn into dull lectures with the instructor unable to respond to students. You might as well stay home a watch a recorded course on a DVD or on the Internet.

What do I do with the CFA Program curriculum?

Going through the SharpNotes® and answering the Problems and Exercises will require considerable time and effort. After that, study the CFA Program curriculum. Candidates are especially urged to read carefully the assigned material on Ethics, the GIPS®, and Corporate Governance.

My employer will reimburse me for a review course. Can I get a receipt?

Yes, phone us or indicate on your application that you need a receipt.

What is the pass rate of your prior students?

SHARP SEMINARS as a participant in CFA Institute's Approved Prep Provider Program has agreed not to publish pass rate information other than the overall global results. In the last few years, the global pass rate for Level I has been around 40%.

In our experience teaching Level I for many years, we have observed that students who attend class, review the material on a regular basis, and work lots of problems in our SharpNotes® usually pass. Others who let their studies slide for various reasons usually do not pass.

CFA Institute recommends a minimum of about 300 hours of study to pass Level I. Is that much study really required?

Yes, the exam is difficult. Many topics are covered. A heavy-duty study effort spanning several months is required to pass. A last week cram or all-nighter that might have worked for a college final will not work here. That old college gameplan has expired. CFA exams are more difficult than most college exams, and are much more difficult than a Series 7 exam.

Which financial calculator should I obtain, the HP-12C or the TI-BAII PLUS™?

The HP-12C calculator is widely used in the investment field. Professor Sharp has developed some special HP-12C calculator procedures that he believes make the HP-12C easier to use than the TI calculator for some types of time value of money problems. Two HP-12C calculators are available: a traditional gold model and a newer platinum model with some additional features. For the CFA exam, the gold model is adequate. The manual with the HP calculator contains some informative examples.

The TI calculator tends to be easy to use for simple problems, but difficult to use for difficult problems. Some complex discounted cash flow problems on the TI calculator require careful study of the manual to learn the required sequence of key strokes. Two versions of the TI calculator are available. The Professional model is recommended because of its positive key action and rubber feet on the bottom so the calculator does not slide around on a desk top.

Whichever calculator you prefer, master how to use it.

Is e-mail help available if I am stuck on a problem or have a question?

Yes, certainly. We generally respond promptly to e-mails.

Do you offer in-house classes or group discounts?

Yes, phone us to discuss arrangements.

I am ready to signup. What do I need to do?

Complete the application. (See the navigation buttons on our home page for Application.) Then fax, scan and e-mail, or send by regular mail to us. We need your signature if you are paying by credit card. After you fax to us, please phone us to verify that we have received a readable copy.

I am still unsure about taking your Comprehensive Lecture/Workshop. What do you recommend?

Phone us at 212-427-6546 and discuss your situation and concerns. Based on our experience, we may have some suggestions.

Return to the top of the page.