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Study tips for CAIA exam success

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Studying CAIA but want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to pass the exams? We have some great tips for studying, and retaining all the information you need to succeed.

1. Start as soon as you can

Time is not your friend when it comes to the CAIA exam. It takes, on average, 200 hours of study per level to get to grips with the whole curriculum. If you delay, or overestimate your ability to retain information, then you might find yourself in an uphill battle.

Start studying as soon as you can, that way you give yourself plenty of time to fully understand the material, get some exam practice in, and feel confident going into your exams.

2. Structure your study

Don’t just jump in, or switch from one topic to another, make a study plan and stick to it. You’ll find it much easier to concentrate on one topic at a time, for a structured amount of time, rather than trying to fit it in around everything else you do.

Plan for study time, don’t rely on it just ‘happening’.

3. Do practice questions, but don’t rely on them

It can be very tempting to just go over and over practice questions, until you’re getting the majority of them right, but it’s important to read and understand the underlying materials and concepts.

Make sure you back up your learning with some exam question practice, but it’s essential to attend classes, if that’s how you’re learning, or get stuck in to your books in your own time. Make sure you really understand what the questions are asking - not just the top level information.

4. Concentrate on your weaker areas

We all do it. It’s easier to work on things we know and understand, and push the harder bits to one side. Unfortunately you can’t do this with CAIA. The exams will cover everything - the bits you like, and the bits you don’t.

It’s important to put extra effort into the areas of the curriculum that you don’t feel comfortable with, or don’t find interesting. You don’t want to miss out on vital marks in the exam.

5. Know the format and weighting of your exam

You need to make sure you put in the appropriate amount of study for each area of the curriculum, depending on their exam weighting. Both CAIA level exams are multiple choice - 200 questions for Level 1 and 100 for Level 2, plus an essay portion.

Level 1

The Level 1 multiple choice exam is made made up of seven topics, with the following weighting:

  • Professional Standards and Ethics: 15 - 25%
  • Introduction to Alternative Investments: 20 - 28%
  • Private Equity: 12 - 20%
  • Real Assets: 11 - 17%
  • Hedge Funds: 11 - 17%
  • Structured Products: 10 - 14%

Level 2

The Level 2 exam has 100 multiple choice questions that make up 70% of the exam weight. The other 30% is made up of three essay questions, also called constructed response. The weighting is:

CAIA Level 2 Topic Multiple Choice Weight Constructed Response Weight
Emerging Topics 0% 10%
Ethics, Regulation, and ESG 0% 10%
Models 8-12% 0-10%
Institutional Asset Owners and Investment Policies 8-12% 0-10%
Risk and Risk Management 8-12% 0-10%
Methods for Alternative Investing 8-12% 0-10%
Accessing Alternative Investments 8-12% 0-10%
Due Diligence and Selecting Strategies 8-12% 0-10%
Volatility and Complex Strategies 8-12% 0-10%

Final thoughts

You’ll do well in the CAIA exams if you prepare thoroughly, learn the underlying concepts, set aside structured study time, and practice the exam questions. Don’t forget, we’re here to support you if you have any questions or problems.

Just get in touch with the Student Service team if you need any help (020 7920 3060 or We also offer extra support to give the best chance of passing - with two days of classroom revision.

Best of luck!