Best CAIA Exam Prep Courses

Kaplan Schweser is the most comprehensive and cost-effective course

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The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Charter is a professional credential recognized globally for individuals who work with alternative investments (e.g., derivatives or hedge funds). The Level I and II CAIA exams are available in March and September each year. CAIA exam prep courses can help ensure you’re focusing on the topics covered in the exam.

The best CAIA exam prep courses are updated for the current exam and include various study tools (e.g., test banks, videos, reference guides). If you want one-on-one support, enroll in a CAIA exam prep course that offers live sessions or opt for private tutoring. If you’re someone who learns best by on your own pace, then a self-paced course might be right for you.

Best CAIA Exam Prep Courses of 2021

Best Overall : Kaplan Schweser


Kaplan Schweser

  Kaplan Schweser

  • Price: $499 to $1,129 per level
  • Platform: Online
  • Guarantee: Free second study attempt
Why We Chose It

With the CAIA exam prep course offered by Kaplan Schweser, you’ll get access to many online, self-paced study materials as well as personal instruction. Plus, if you don’t pass the CAIA exam on the first try, you can take the course a second time for free, an affordability factor that makes it stand out from the competition.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Includes online reference videos and exams

  • Higher-cost packages include live online classes

  • Build custom exams to quiz yourself

Cons
  • Highest cost package is expensive

  • No live classes with lower-cost packages

  • Only comes with one free second study attempt

Overview

We chose Kaplan Schweser as the overall best CAIA exam prep course because it includes the widest variety of study resources and includes a good pass guarantee. Although this course is expensive, ranging from $499 to $1,129 for each CAIA exam level, the pricing aligns with the competition. Plus, Kaplan Schweser was the only provider we saw that published typical exam pass rates, which range from 52% to 65% (to put this in perspective, CFA pass rates are only 43% to 47%). 

If you opt for Kaplan’s least costly CAIA exam prep package, you’ll get self-study resources, such as online videos, practice exams, a build-your-own exam question test bank, study guides, and quick reference tools. With its costlier packages, you’ll also be able to ask your instructor questions and can attend up to 10 weekly lively sessions. Plus, you can review recordings of the live sessions on demand.  

You can access the Kaplan Schweser CAIA exam prep materials from the time you enroll until you take the exam. This is generally about four to six months. Plus, if you don’t pass the CAIA exam on the first try, you’ll get full access to all the course materials for another cycle. This way, you can keep studying and try to pass the exam the next time it’s available (e.g., in March if you failed the exam in September). This guarantee is amongst the best of the courses we reviewed.

As with all CAIA exam prep courses, ensure you meet the CAIA Charter requirements before enrolling. You’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree plus one year of professional experience or four years of professional experience to qualify for the charter. Professional experience can be in alternative investment analysis, or it can be in a related field, like banking or finance. 

A review of a wide variety of sources suggests people are generally satisfied with the services provided by Kaplan Schweser.

Best for Study Materials : UpperMark


Kaplan Schweser

 Kaplan Schweser

  • Price: $499 to $1,029 per level
  • Platform: Online
  • Guarantee: Up to 50% retake discount if you don’t pass
Why We Chose It

All of the UpperMark CAIA exam prep packages include study handbooks, formula sheets, and test bank software. Plus, you can customize UpperMark’s CAIA exam prep packages to get the study materials that are right for you (e.g., printed materials, eBooks, digital downloads), making the CAIA exam prep course best for study materials.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Study materials can be customized

  • Live classes not available in all packages

  • Flashcards are available for purchase

Cons
  • Instructor support not available in all packages

  • Exam pass rates aren’t published

  • No free course retake if you don’t pass

Overview

What makes UpperMark’s CAIA exam prep course stand out from the competition is how easily you can customize the study materials to fit your needs. UpperMark’s CAIA exam prep packages offered range from $499 to $1,029. However, you can add-on or remove study materials from each package at an added or reduced cost to fit your needs (e.g., you’ll save money if you only get an ebook versus a printed one). 

You can also customize your package by topic. This is especially nice if you know you need to tailor your study to a specific exam topic (e.g., you failed only one section of the CAIA exam the last time you took it). Plus, if you don’t pass the CAIA exam after using UpperMark’s materials, you can get a 50% discount off the price of any package, or you can get a 25% discount if you just want to purchase its test bank. 

In addition to getting a full suite of customizable self-study materials, you can attend 10 to 11 weekly live class sessions and get email support from your professor if you upgrade to one of UpperMark’s most expensive packages. This type of student support compares well to the other CAIA exam prep courses we evaluated. Plus, a review of various sources suggests customers are generally happy with the services provided by UpperMark.

Best Self-Paced Course : Wiley Efficient Learning


Wiley Efficient Learning

Wiley Efficient Learning

  • Price: $495 to $795 per level
  • Platform: Online
  • Guarantee: Access all course materials until you pass
Why We Chose It

Wiley Efficient Learning grants access to its course materials until you pass the exam, no matter how long it takes. This makes it a great option for those who want to study at their own pace or who may need more than one or two tries to pass the exam.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordably priced

  • Access granted until you pass the exam

  • Purchase materials as a package or individually

Cons
  • No live courses

  • Instructor support only included with top plans

  • Feedback to questions can take up to 48 hours

Overview

Wiley Efficient Learning offers Level I and Level II CAIA review courses at a cost ranging from $495 to $795 with unlimited access and updates to its self-paced course materials until you pass the exam. The access until you pass guarantee from Wiley Efficient Learning is the best of the CAIA exam prep courses we reviewed. This guarantee removes the worry that you’ll need to repurchase the materials if you don’t pass and is great for self-paced learners. 

Unlike the CAIA exam materials offered by Kaplan Schweser and UpperMark, Wiley doesn’t offer higher-cost packages with live class sessions. Rather, Wiley’s program is entirely self-paced. However, its top-tier packages allow you to ask your instructor questions when studying for the Level I CAIA exam and send CAIA exam-related questions to a mentor after you’ve taken the Level II CAIA exam (allow up to 48 hours to receive feedback). 

In addition to its CAIA exam prep course packages, you can also buy stand-alone CAIA study supplements from Wiley (e.g., mock exams, study guides, and test banks) at a cost ranging from $75 to $175. These self-paced study materials could be good if you used a different resource to study for the CAIA exam and want to boost your knowledge in a specific area before taking or retaking the exam.

Best for Private Tutoring : Wyzant


Wyzant

Wyzant

  • Price: $70 to $130 per hour
  • Platform: Online tutoring platform or in-person
  • Guarantee: Pay after your tutoring session is complete
Why We Chose It

Wyzant is a well-regarded online tutoring company that makes it easy to find an affordable private tutor to help you study for the CAIA exam. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fees are paid after your tutoring sessions

  • You’ll only pay for the exam prep you need

  • In-person tutoring may be available

Cons
  • Costs vary depending on the tutor you hire

  • Fees could get costly if you need lots of help

  • CAIA exam prep materials aren’t provided

Overview

Wyzant is an online tutoring company that can connect you with a private tutor to help you prepare for the CAIA exam. You won’t have to pay any upfront fees and will only need to pay for the tutoring after you’ve attended each session. Plus, you can attend as few or as many tutoring sessions as you need to prepare for the exam. 

While costs vary, you can likely expect to pay tutoring fees of $70 to $130 per hour, a cost that’s potentially less expensive than what you’ll pay for a full CAIA exam prep course if you only need a limited amount of one-on-one support.

Private tutoring from a Wyzant tutor can be a great option for people needing limited one-on-one support to help them understand a specific CAIA exam topic. Costs will vary depending on the tutor, and you can compare the fees charged by each tutor before signing up for their services. While the website claims the average cost of a tutor ranges from $35 to $60 per hour, our research showed that you’re more likely to pay between $70 to $130 an hour. 

Keep in mind that the CAIA Association recommends that you study for at least 200 hours before taking the CAIA exam. For this reason, you may need to supplement private tutoring with other study materials (e.g., a self-paced CAIA exam prep course) to meet this minimum. 

If you decide private tutoring is for you, you’ll be able to collaborate with your tutor via Wyzant’s online learning platform. Depending on where you live, you might also be able to hire a private CAIA exam prep tutor who can meet with you in person. None of the other CAIA exam prep courses we reviewed offered an in-person study option.

We reviewed many sources to gain insight into how customers feel about Wyzant. While there were some negative reviews from individuals who were banned from the platform for academic integrity concerns, customers are generally satisfied with Wyzant’s services.

Final Verdict

If you want to become a CAIA Charterholder, the best CAIA exam prep course is offered by Kaplan Schweser. Not only are the costs of $499 to $1,129 per level in line with the competition, but the top packages include live online weekly sessions and instructor support. Plus, if you don’t pass the CAIA exam the first time, you’ll get a second study attempt for free. 

Compare the Best CAIA Exam Prep Courses

Company Price Platform Guarantee Duration per Level  Pass Rate 
Kaplan Schweser
Best Overall
$499 to $1,129 per level  Online Free second study attempt Up to 10 weekly sessions 52% to 65%
UpperMark
Best for Study Materials 
$499 to $1,029 per level  Online  Up to 50% discount on next attempt  10 to 11 weekly sessions  Not disclosed 
Wiley Efficient Learning
Best Self-Paced Course 
$495 to $795 per level  Online  Access to course until you pass  Not disclosed  Not disclosed 
Wyzant
Best for Private Tutoring 
$70 to $130 per hour  Online or in-Person  Only pay after your lesson is complete  Varies based on your needs  Not applicable 

How to Choose the Best CAIA Exam Prep Course

For professionals working in alternative investment analysis, a way to stand out from the competition is by becoming a CAIA Charterholder, a globally recognized credential. Here’s what to look for when choosing a CAIA exam prep course:

  • Program duration: Many CAIA exam prep courses are offered four to six months before the CAIA exam each year (the exam is held in March and September). If you don’t think you will be finished studying by the exam date, hold off on purchasing the materials until the next exam cycle or buy self-paced study materials that are constantly updated and never expire.
  • Pass guarantees: The CAIA exam is difficult, and many people cannot pass it on the first try. For this reason, look for a CAIA exam prep course that offers some type of pass guarantee. These guarantees typically range from free access to the materials for a second attempt to a discount on your next purchase to unlimited access to updated materials until you pass.
  • Student support: It may be tempting to choose the least expensive CAIA exam prep course available. However, these classes often don’t come with instructor support or live class options. Before signing up, think about how you learn best. If you’re someone who wants to ask your instructor questions or interact during a live session, you may want to upgrade to a higher-cost CAIA exam prep package. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the CAIA Exam? 

The CAIA exam is required for anyone who wants to earn the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Charter, a globally recognized credential for finance professionals who work with alternative investments. Examples of alternative investments include hedge funds, private equity funds, and derivatives. 

The CAIA exam is held in two cycles annually, the first in March and the second in September. To earn the CAIA Charter, you need to pass the Level I and Level II CAIA exams in separate exam cycles (i.e., you can’t take the exam for both levels in the same cycle). Plus, you’ll need to meet the CAIA’s degree and/or professional experience requirements. 

To qualify for the CAIA charter after passing both exams, you’ll need to have:

  1. Earned a bachelor’s degree and have a year of professional experience (e.g., alternative investment analysis experience or related banking, finance, or regulatory experience); or 
  2. At least four years of professional experience; or 
  3. A CFA charter that’s in good standing. 

How Much Do CAIA Exam Prep Courses Cost? 

The CAIA exam is broken into two parts, Level I and Level II, taken at least six months apart. You can expect to pay a fee ranging from $495 to $1,129 for the CAIA exam prep course for each level. The lowest cost CAIA exam prep courses are self-paced. To get one-on-one help from an instructor and access to weekly live sessions, you’ll need to upgrade to a plan towards the upper end of this typical price range.

Are CAIA Exam Prep Courses Worth It? 

The CAIA exam is difficult, with research suggesting that only 60% of people pass the Level I exam. Furthermore, only 40% of those people end up going on to get the CAIA Charter. A way to improve your odds of success is by taking a CAIA exam prep course. You’ll be exposed to the CAIA exam topics, get to take practice exams, and may even be able to get one-on-one help from an instructor. 

When Should I Enroll in a CAIA Exam Prep Course? 

To give yourself enough time to study, make sure to enroll in a CAIA exam prep course about four to six months before the scheduled exam date. By enrolling in a CAIA exam prep course early, you’ll be better equipped to pass each exam on the first try. 

Methodology

When reviewing CAIA exam prep courses, we evaluated all of the major CAIA exam prep course providers in the United States. The CAIA exam is notoriously difficult to pass, so we looked for providers that offer multiple types of study resources and pricing tiers, routinely update their course materials, provide some level of one-on-one support, and offer a pass guarantee in the event you don’t pass the exam on your first try.

Article Sources

  1. CAIA Association. "The CAIA Charter." Accessed May 31, 2021.

  2. Kaplan Schweser. "Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Level I CAIA Exam." Accessed May 31, 2021.