The CFA Certificate in ESG Investing from a Successful Candidate's Point of View

By Peter Sullivan posted 10-18-2022 09:16


I recently passed the exam for the CFA Certificate in ESG Investing and thought I would pass along my thoughts to those who are currently studying and to those who are thinking about registering.  The Institute and CFA UK did an excellent job on the curriculum.  The curriculum provides a thorough understanding of the ESG market, as well as analysis, valuation, and integration.  It also provides a context for the various approaches of responsible investment and the related underlying issues.  Finally, the curriculum structure is well thought out and presented effectively. 

Study Thoughts

  • The recommended amount of study time required is 130 Hours. I found that this was about right.  I tend to overstudy and exceeded this amount slightly. 
  • I started seriously studying about two and half months before I took the exam. Plan your time accordingly and book your exam time early.  I found this especially true if you would like to take exam at a local Prometrics location.  In my case, the center near where I live had limited availability in general and few options for the time of day I wanted to take the exam.  Booking the exam early establishes the commitment and provides the motivation to study with a purpose.
  • I considered taking a review course but found them to be quite expensive. I tend to be a disciplined studier, so I decided self-study would be fine for me.  It might have been nice to get more practice questions, but the mock exam and question sets for each chapter sufficed for me.

Study Approach

  • Once registered for the program, you are provided an electronic version of the curriculum. I like to have a hard copy, so I purchased the book version (less than $100 on Amazon).
  • I took the following steps in my regimen:
    • Familiarized myself with the Unit Aims and the Section Learning Objectives.
    • Read the Key Facts section after each of the Sections.
    • Did the first in-depth read of each of the Sections.
    • Copied the Key Facts and Glossary (definition of terms) to periodically review).
    • Read each of the Sections again – this time highlights key items and making noted on the margins.
    • Took the mock exam to determine weaknesses. Focused on weaknesses.
    • Went through each Section and made index cards of key lists. No more than 2-3 for each section.
    • One week before the exam I went through each Section, noting key illustrations. Read over Key Facts and Glossary each day.

Day of Exam

  • Travel lightly. You get only a small cubby locker for your things.  I did not bring any study materials or my phone to the center.  Just do not forget to bring your ID (government issue with a signature) – it is basically all you need.
  • I found that the 2 hours and 20 minutes to take the exam is ample. There should be no need to worry about running out of time.
  • This one sounds obvious but is always a good reminder: read the question carefully.  While the questions highlight words such as least likely and not, it can be easy to select an incorrect answer if you are proceeding through the exam too quickly.

Obtaining the CFA Certificate of ESG Investing was a worthwhile endeavor and expanded my investment knowledge.  I encourage anyone who is contemplating registering for the program to do so!  Good luck!




10-28-2022 10:55

Good show, Peter, and great exam preparation and taking advice for any exam.

10-19-2022 19:21

Thanks Peter for sharing your approach!

10-19-2022 18:52

These are great tips Peter!  I followed a very similar approach in preparing for the certificate exam.  One thing I’d add is that CFAI offers an online proctoring option, so you don’t need to travel to a testing center.  I took the exam in my office, which was very convenient (and gave me the home field advantage)!