Why Your Ethics Score Matters

CFA exam / Results / Ethics Adjustment

It’s common knowledge: CFA Institute puts emphasis on Ethics. What it means is that your Ethics score may effectively influence your final CFA exam result. And it’s true for every exam level.

What Is CFA Ethics Adjustment?

Ethics adjustment may have either a positive or a negative impact on your exam: it makes you either PASS or FAIL if your total exam score borders the minimum passing score (MPS) set for your exam.


if your total score is slightly below the MPS

high score in Ethics may cause you PASS the exam

if your total score is slightly above the MPS

low score in Ethics may cause you FAIL the exam

That’s theory.

What if we tried to use a more practical measure to illustrate the problem?

It’s purely hypothetical but let’s assume that the MPS set for an exam is 69%. As a rule, you pass if you reach the MPS and fail if not. However, your Ethics score is in a position to adjust the rule. How? Take a look:

Assume you’re a CFA level 1 candidate. There are 240 questions in the level 1 exam. We know that all questions are given equal importance. If each question is scored 1 point, we get the total of 240 points. MPS of 69% gives exactly 165,6 points. However, there are no half points in the exam because you either get a question wrong or right.

To illustrate the Ethics adjustment, we assume you scored either 165 or 166 points in your exam:

165 points you’re below the MPS
but if your Ethics performance is strong you may still PASS

166 points you’re above the MPS
but if your Ethics performance is weak you may still FAIL

See why we believe the MPS is slightly below 70%

If you happen to be a borderline candidate, Ethics adjustment works either in your favor or against you. Having this knowledge you can deliberately decide how to go about Ethics during your CFA exam prep. Our way is to take it seriously. That’s why in our CFA Study Planner we encourage you to begin and end your preparation with Ethics. To make sure it sinks in, you'll also have short review of ethical standards arranged in between other topics. Deal with Ethics our way (as scheduled inside your FREE study plan ) and score high in your exam Ethics questions!

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Top Secrets That Make A Difference

CFA Institute never:

discloses the exact MPS set for a given exam or how it is established,
releases any specific information on the Ethics adjustment:
neither the Ethics score required for the adjustment to be applied,
nor to whom it is applied,
nor how it exactly works.

You will never know if you were a borderline candidate or not, but it’s better to act as if you could be one. The net result is that the Ethics adjustment has had a positive effect on candidates’ scores, and exam pass rates, ever since it was introduced.

Free Ethics Videos inside Free Study Planner

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