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 35-40%.

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 2016-2018:

2016: 54%
2017: 54%
2018: 56%

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?

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. Use our FREE Study Planner available also to CFA level 3 candidates and plan, study, review, and assess your progress:

Smart Preparation Starts With Smart Planning

When your plans have this dangerous tendency to fall through - you need more than just timetabled topics!

You need concrete CFA readings assigned to concrete study weeks, weekly progress assessments,
and all the means to stay in charge!



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.

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


Access Scholarship:

for CFA 2019 – no longer available

for CFA 2020 – apply before 15 September 2019 if you qualify (learn more)

other CFA scholarships can be applied for till 1 February 2019

second registration fee deadline is on 13 February 2019 – register by then and do not overpay!

exam day is 15/16* June 2019: plan your preparation well to optimize your chances!
(*16 June: Asia Pacific Level I CFA candidates only!)

CFA 2019: Level 3 Exam


registration opens

Mid-August 2018



15/16* June 2019


result available

August 2019

Mid-August 2018 (registration opens) DEADLINES 15/16* June 2019 (exam) August 2019 (results available)


15 September 2018 – Access Scholarship for CFA 2019 exam

10 October 2018 – first registration (exam fee: USD 650)

1 February 2019 – other CFA scholarships for CFA 2019 exam

13 February 2019 – second registration (exam fee: USD 950)

13 March 2019 – final registration (exam fee: USD 1,380)

some additional CFA 2019 dates

15 September 2019 – Access Scholarship for CFA 2020 exam

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

Practice your skill to construct written response to questions.

Start With Your FREE Study Plan

Start With FREE Study Plan