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CFA Exam Preparation

Since 2005, the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies has partnered with award-winning instructor and CBC Business Commentator Michael Hlinka to offer Passing the CFA® preparation courses, designed to prepare participants for the CFA® Level I, II and III Examinations. Our participants have been extremely successful, achieving pass rates that regularly surpass by a wide margin the pass rates of the industry. Our commitment is to ensure that this is the best CFA® preparation course in the market.

The 2018 CFA Exams Pass Rates

Our pass rates for students who completed our series of Passing the CFA workshops and successfully passed the CFA Certification Exam.

CFA Our Pass Rates (%) Industry Pass Rates (%)
Level I 81 43
Level II 82 45
Level III TBA TBA

The globally recognized Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation defines professional excellence within the global investment community. Passing the CFA® Level I Exam is the first step towards achieving this designation.


The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation defines professional excellence within the international investment community.

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After working for seven years as a full-time instructor, Michael Hlinka has developed a proven and specific approach to teaching. It is a unique and customized methodology designed to meet the special needs of busy professionals who are balancing full time career responsibilities with the challenge of pursuing their CFA Charter.

Each class consists of a three hour lecture and a week before each class, you will be given an audio Pre-lesson approximately thirty minutes in length that covers the key concepts and that talks you through the most difficult material in the forthcoming study session.

You are encouraged to listen to the Pre-lesson twice –the first time just to get an over-all sense of the material. You should then listen to it again and follow the references to the study notes and source material as directed on the Pre-lesson.

During the three hour lecture, Michael will focus on the most difficult concepts. He will very clearly lay out what you are responsible for knowing – and also identify those areas that are less likely to be tested.

After the lecture, you must read the CFA source material as directed by Professor Hlinka, with an aim to mastering its contents.

This should be followed by your weekly self-test that is designed to help you evaluate your mastery of that session’s study materials.

If there are any concepts or questions that do not make sense to you, it is imperative that you seek help as you proceed – either by meeting with Professor Hlinka during his regularly scheduled office hours, or contacting him by e-mail or through the telephone.

Finally, each week you must take time to review the key concepts from your previous Study Sessions.

By following this study method, you will greatly enhance your chances of success. If you do not follow this recommended methodology, there is a good chance that you will not pass.

“The most enthusiastic instructor I’ve ever had! [Michael] takes this very seriously, acts as if his life depended on it. [Michael is] very knowledgeable, always goes the extra-extra-mile.”
“[Michael is an] excellent teacher; very knowledgeable and makes material very interesting. Notes and handouts are great!
I will definitely take his class again.”
“I am a lawyer and have completed many continuing education courses. This is by far the best course I have taken. The instructor’s enthusiasm and commitment to the students’ learning is surpassed by none! I highly recommend it to whoever would like to pass the CFA exam or whoever has a desire to learn about the world of finance.
If I pass the exam (which I believe I will), it would not have been possible without this course and, in particular, Michael Hlinka. If I fail, it will be my fault alone!
Thank you.”
“ [I] enrolled in the course to help pass the CFA Level I exam. [I] would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in writing the CFA. Michael is one of the best instructors/professors I’ve ever had. Incredibly knowledgeable. [He] has great energy and very motivational. ”
“ Michael’s enthusiasm is fantastic. He is very practical about the commitment required from students. If you fail the CFA Level I exam after taking Michael’s course, it will not be due to Michael’s fault. ”
“The course experience was excellent! Among other things, the course has taught that a good discipline is the key to success! Lectures were very helpful. The instructor had innovative teaching methods which helped to engrave key concepts into students’ minds.”
“ Michael is a fabulous teacher who taught our class with great enthusiasm. His knowledge of the world of investment banking is huge! I would never have been able to pass the CFA exam without Michael’s teaching, explanations, tutorials and the extra “push” that he gave me. ”

“Michael was awesome and a tough instructor – holding the class to a very high standard – which was excellent. Michael is a great instructor and I learned a lot in the class.If I pass the exam on June 7, I will join the Level II course next year.Kudos!”

“ Michael is beyond any measure, the most engaging and energetic professor I have come across in my academic history. His passion for the material and honest desire to impart his wisdom is refreshing. I wish he had taught my undergraduate degree in its entirety. ”
“Michael cuts directly to the key items in the curriculum, highlighting the critical learning statements, and simplifying complex aspects into easy to recognize and answer elements. I would recommend this course for its high degree of organization and its focus on only the material required to pass the all critical exam.”

About Michael Hlinka

Born in Toronto, Michael Hlinka received his MBA from the University of Toronto in 1986. After developing property for several years, Michael entered the world of financial services and spent nearly a decade with companies like Standard Life, TD Waterhouse, RBC Dominion Securities and HSBC Securities.He has been twice awarded the student-nominated, prestigious Golden Apple Award for his teaching excellence. In 2003, he received his CFA Charter and for several years worked with Canadian Academics as a CFA instructor, specializing in Quantitative Methods, Derivatives, Bonds and Portfolio Management. In addition, Michael is a regular commentator with CBC Radio.

A charismatic and enthusiastic instructor, Michael is dedicated to the success of his students. He has had tremendous success delivering a wide range of financial industry preparatory courses, and attributes his teaching success to an ability to identify and explain key concepts in a manner and a language that is clear and easily understood.

Last year, sixty-three Passing the Level I CFA® students completed the student questionnaire, evaluating among other things, Michael’s “performance overall”. Fifteen students described him as “very good” and Forty-seven others rated him as “outstanding” – the highest ranking on the scale!

A Letter From Michael

Dear CFA Candidates,I was thrilled when, in 2005, the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto approached me to develop a program to help students pass their CFA® Exams.

Because of my own experience as an industry professional, I was firmly committed to developing courses that were based on sound learning methods – courses designed specifically to help you pass your exams — the first time you wrote them.

All the courses in my CFA® program are built around four very simple pillars:

  • Getting an early start
  • Reliance on source material
  • Instructor accessibility
  • Questions, questions, questions

 

Let me take each one in turn.

Most CFA Prep courses start in January. It is my belief that there is simply too much material to absorb in five months. All the courses in our Passing the CFA® Exam Program commence in late October – these extra ten weeks provide a significant competitive advantage (and make no mistake about it – these are competitive examinations) to those who take these courses.

Most candidates study from, and rely on notes. I think this is a mistake. To a greater extent than any other provider that I know, we work with and rely on the CFA materials. Supplemented by audio pre-lessons for each Study Session and notes I have prepared, I believe that you have all the materials you need to succeed.

Let me tell you how I’m going to start the first lecture: by putting my personal e-mail, work telephone number… and home telephone number on the board. If you need help, you find me and you get it. To make it even easier for you, there are four hours of Office Hours every Saturday built into the program… you have the opportunity to get the assistance you need in order to understand what are often very trick concepts. Once you understand the material, it’s your responsibility to review it a sufficient number of times until you “own” it. It’s that simple.

Finally, there are weekly quizzes, three Tests throughout the twenty-two weeks, and a Half Exam and then Mock Exam exactly one month before the CFA Examination in June, the one that counts. The results are sent out to all students – anonymously – so you know how you’re doing compared to your peers in the class. This means that you’re getting all the meaningful feedback you need to know if you’re doing the work that’s necessary to succeed.

As they say in Hollywood, let’s cut to the chase. This will be the tenth year of Passing the CFA Courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. It is my good faith belief, based on past results and feedback I’ve received from former students (many of whom are familiar with other programs and providers), that there simply is no better preparatory course for the CFA Examinations.
Michael Hlinka, CFA
July 2015