It all depends on your background, experience and education. There is no consensus as to which CFA Level is the most difficult as students each have varying points of view. Although a large number of candidates find Level III to be quite tough, it is interesting to note that the pass rates for this Level has been higher than the two other levels over the years, perhaps because only the most prepared candidates make it. With the right training partner, success is something you can take in your stride.
Not directly, no. In addition to passing the exam, to earn your CFA Charter, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
• Complete the CFA Program
• Pass all three exam levels
• Pledge to adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct
• Have four years of qualified investment work experience
• Become a regular member of CFA Institute and apply for membership to a local CFA member society.
You’ll need to make sure you have the following items:
a. Valid international travel passport
b. Exam admission ticket
c. One of the two approved calculators, with working batteries
d. Approved writing instruments (pencils for Levels I)
e. Any additional permitted items you may need during the exam such as pencil sharpeners, erasers, loose calculator batteries, lunch or money to purchase lunch, etc.
The CFA exam is only offered in English.
Each level of the CFA exam consists of a total of 6 hours split among two 3-hour sessions (one morning session and one afternoon session). Candidates must attend both sessions.
You’ll find three types of questions tested on the CFA exam:
- Multiple choice questions: Two basic formats are used (sentence completion with three unique choices and questions with three unique choices)
- Item set format (or “mini-cases”): Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette (or case statement) and six multiple choice items (questions)
- Constructed response (essay) question format: One type of essay question requires that you write your answers on the lined page(s) following the question. For these questions, label each part of your answer clearly (A, B, C, or i, ii, iii, etc.). The other type of essay question asks you to provide your answers in a template following the question. Instructions in bold print (immediately preceding the question) direct you to the page number of each template.
The Level I exam consists of 240 multiple choice questions, split among two 3-hour sessions. Candidates must attend both sessions. The Level II exam has a total of 20 item set questions and the Level III exam consists of item set and constructed response (essay) questions.
For more information on the CFA exam, please click here
The CFA Exam’s most recent pass rates are as follows:
June 2014 Exam Pass Rates
- Level I: 42%
- Level II: 46%
- Level III: 54%
December 2013 Exam Pass Rate
- Level I: 43%
Keep in mind that with the right preparation, success is something you can take in your stride!
There is no limit to the number of times you can take each exam. However, it is worth noting that the CFA level I exam is conducted twice a year, in June and December whereas the levels II and III exams are conducted once a year, during the month of June.
The CFA Institute allows candidates to take as much time as necessary to complete all three levels of the CFA program. However, successful candidates take an average of four years to complete the program.
While it’s not essential to be a member to sit for the exam, regular membership is recommended for CFA Program candidates and is required for the award of the CFA charter. For investment professionals who do not plan to pursue the CFA charter, affiliate membership is available.
There are three possible registration deadlines for each CFA exam and fees increase with each subsequent deadline. The key is to register early to save.
Click here to find out the most updated CFA exam registration deadlines and fees.
Your registration fee includes: access to the curriculum eBook for your exam level and supplemental study tools (topic-based practice tests, mock exams, and an interactive study planner).