CFA Level 3 Exam

CFA level 3 is the last exam you need to pass to be able to become a CFA charterholder. You gained enough exam experience getting through your CFA level 1 and 2 exams and the things that remain the same should cause you no problem. But you must know that CFA level 3 differs in some aspects from CFA level 1 and CFA level 2.

To be able to prepare well for the exam, you have to be aware of all the difficulties and challenges you’ll have to face throughout the whole CFA pathway (from registration to results).

How CFA level 3 differs

1. CFA Curriculum contents

In your CFA Curriculum, you will find 7 topics, not 10. You will no longer be tested on Quantitative Methods, Corporate Finance, nor Financial Reporting and Analysis. At this exam level, the major focus is on Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning with the weight of 40-55%.

2. Exam structure (essay questions + item sets)

The morning session of the CFA level 3 exam consists of 8-12 constructed response questions. These are open-ended questions, commonly known as essay questions. Every question begins with a case study which has several parts (e.g. A, B, C). For every part, its command words (in bold) and approximate answer time are given to guide you through the answer process. CFA level 3 essay questions cover specific topic areas and require clear and accurate answers:

Note that all the morning session questions may be devoted to one topic (e.g. in 2014, the morning session of CFA level 3 exam was about different areas of Portfolio Management). Both the partial and total times given for every question are estimated times. The value of total time is the maximum value of points you can get for a given question.

In the afternoon session, there are 10 item set questions (structured like for CFA level 2 exam).

If so far you used CFA Institute Mock Exams to practice before your level 1 and 2 exams, note that CFA Institute Mock Exam for CFA level 3 candidates includes only items set questions. It gives no opportunity for real exam experience regarding open-ended questions.

3. Longer waiting time but higher pass rate

As a CFA level 3 candidate, you’ll have to wait for your results a bit longer than level 1 and level 2 candidates. Usually, it’s about a fortnight more for level 3. The good news is that CFA level 3 pass rate is higher as a rule than level 1 and 2 pass rates and it usually exceeds 50%.

CFA level 3 pass rates in years 2015-2017:

2015: 53%
2016: 54%
2017: 54%

10-year average CFA level 3 pass rate:

2008-2017: 52%

When you pass your CFA level 3 exam, meet other CFA requirements to become a CFA charterholder.

Your success is close enough. Do you know how to reach for it?

Some things are common for all levels of CFA exam. See if you control the situation:


Access Scholarship:

for CFA 2018 – apply till 15 September 2017 if you qualify (learn more)

Awareness Scholarship can be applied for till 1 February 2018

second registration fee deadline is on 14 February 2018 – register by then and do not overpay!

exam day is 23 June 2018: plan your preparation well to optimize your chances!

CFA Institute informs that candidates spend about 300 hours studying for each level of CFA exam. There are three major success-driving factors that help to cope with the challenge: good plan, systematic study and thorough review. When learning for the exam, take into account the CFA level 3 exam structure: study and review the material to be able to answer open-ended essay questions and make sure you are able to answer them using clear and adequate English. Note that language mistakes are basically not taken into account unless you make mistakes that influence the logic or precision of your answer.

CFA 2018: Level 3 Exam


registration opens

27 July 2017



23 June 2018


result available

August 2018

27 July 2017 (registration opens) DEADLINES 23 June 2018 (exam) August 2018 (results available)


15 September 2017 – Access Scholarship for CFA 2018 exam

20 September 2017 – early registration (exam fee: USD 650)

1 February 2018 – Awareness Scholarship for CFA 2018 exam

14 February 2018 – standard registration (exam fee: USD 950)

14 March 2018 – final registration (exam fee: USD 1,380)

some additional CFA 2018 dates

Allow for more PM and essay questions when planning your CFA exam prep.

Practice your skill to construct written response to questions.