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CFA Exam Essentials

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

CFA exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in the world. It requires a lot of hard work and perseverance to sail through. Well, that is what distinguishes the CFA Charterholder’s community and attributes to their social recognition.

When it’s time to hit the study sessions, make sure you have all of the essentials necessary to have a productive, painless, and focused study session.

The list of supplies needed for CFA exams is sometimes overwhelmingly long. The important things have been categorized as "Must-haves" and the rest as "Comforters".


Financial Calculator: You can use only one of the prescribed calculators for your CFA exam. Only 2 calculator models (and their variations) are authorized for the CFA exams:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional), and

  • Hewlett-Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th-anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige).

Texas Instruments calculator is the most prevalent and hence it is recommended. HP calculators are a bit difficult to use and costlier as well.

Buy: Texas Instruments BA II Plus

Buy: Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional

The basic one is priced around INR 3k whereas the Professional version costs around INR 4k. The price difference is because of the build quality and a few extra features like Discounted Payback Period, Net Future value, etc.

The basic version is enough to pass all the three levels of the exam. But if you can afford the professional version, it might save you a few extra minutes in the exam.

§ Highlighters: These are perfect for readings or browsing your CFA notes.

§ Notebooks: Here is a recommendation just to save your time.

§ Pencil, eraser & sharpener: No. 2 or HB pencil is a must for CFA exams.

§ Sticky notes: Sticky notes can be a life-saver when it comes to revision. We all know the weight and thickness of CFA study materials.

§ Planner: Every professional student needs a good planner. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


These will make studying less painful and long. Not all of these things are needed for each candidate, so find out which one would you like and use when you study and adjust accordingly.

§ Noise-canceling headphones: These are awesome if you've got a tough time studying with distractions around you. Usually, these are super expensive but, I just found this one for the best quality and this one as value for money.

§ Snacks: Keep some good snacks available to keep up your energy levels. I personally love this Yoga-bars and Choco-bars.

§ Water bottle: This is something one definitely needs to improve on carrying with oneself. One may have a hard time remembering to drink enough water but if you have a FULL water bottle on hand, then you are much more likely to drink from it.

§ Cozy socks: Okay, you would possibly laugh but cozy socks are what get me through late-night studying. Winter is coming and I'm sure you too can't study with cold feet like me.

§ A good, reusable coffee mug: For the coffee-lovers, it is a good idea to invest in a nice, reusable coffee mug that you can carry with you!

§ Add a clock: Time your studying and allow yourself a break, it’s more effective if you study for an hour and have a 10 minutes’ break, then repeat. Make a cup of coffee, have a stretch, just remember to actually return, and continue to study, even though it’s very tempting to crawl back into bed and have a nap!

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