DEC 2020 CFA® Exam Checklist: HB Pencil’s On, What Else?

Review / CFA Exam Checklist

Before and on your exam day, you have to remember about many different things. Our CFA exam checklists tell you what do to, what NOT to do, and what to take with you to your exam. We start with a detailed list of the ‘must-bring’ items by order of importance.

December 2020 CFA Exam - What to Bring:

The items allowed on your desk during the CFA exam include:

  1. valid international passport – for your identity verification
  2. your exam admission ticket – to enter the test room
  3. your approved calculator (+ a spare one if you like) – to facilitate your calculations
  4. items related to your calculator such as loose batteries + a screwdriver if needed, but also the calculator case and keystroke card
  5. No. 2 or HB pencils – sharpen them the day before the exam!
  6. eraser – useful if you make a mistake (no correction fluid allowed – that’s why pencils are better than pens, though pens are also allowed, details below)
  7. pencil sharpener – handy if your pencil gets broken (you should have more than one sharpened pencil, though)
  8. wristwatch – for easy control of time (no smartwatches, desk clocks, timers or tech tools allowed)
  9. glasses – if you wear glasses, you want it higher on the list
  10. ear plugs – if sounds distract you

There are also some things you can keep in your pocket or under your chair, namely:

  • Wallet (money purse)
  • Medicine, tissues, etc.
  • Gum, hard candy, cough drops
  • Eyeglasses case
  • Keys

Other things and personal belongings are not allowed in the testing room and you must leave them in a designated area before you enter the exam room.

Top 4 Things Not to Forget on Your CFA Exam Day

The compete checklist of exam day items is quite long and you can still add new things like bottled water or something you like to have on you in days like that. Again, not all of the things you bring are allowed in the testing room but you can leave them in the designated area with the rest of your belongings.

However, there are 4 things you just mustn’t forget on your CFA exam day. These are:

  1. valid international passport
  2. your exam admission ticket
  3. your approved calculator
  4. No. 2 or HB pencil

NOTE: These 4 items must be kept on your desk all throughout your CFA exam.

"What-to-Bring-to-CFA-Exam" Checklist

Must-Bring CFA Exam Checklist

CLICK for bigger resolution #3 checklist


To take your CFA exam, you must have a valid international travel passport. No other IDs are permitted. If your passport has expired, you must have it updated in time for your exam – best before your admission ticket is available to you in your CFA Institute account.

When you update your passport, you must update the required data in your CFA Institute account. It’s important because the information given in your account will be used to print your CFA exam admission ticket. On the exam day, all the data on your admission ticket must exactly match the data on your passport or you won’t be admitted to the testing room.

The data that needs to match:

  • last four digits of passport number,
  • name,
  • expiration date on the passport.


Your exam admission ticket should be available to you in your CFA Institute account 4 to 3 weeks before the exam.

When you get your admission ticket:

  1. Check if all the information given on your ticket is printed correctly, especially your personal details (incl. your passport info), exam date, and your test center.
    Contact CFA Institute if there are any misprints or errors. If it’s about the name on your ticket that does not match the name on your international travel passport exactly, change the name in your CFA Institute account and confirm.
  2. Print out your admission ticket on a clean sheet of paper. Remember: it’s a document – it should look decent, e.g. don’t write on it.
  3. Put it together with your valid international passport in a secure place.
  4. Bring the ticket & the passport with you to your exam – you won’t be admitted to the testing room if you forget any of these two things!

NOTE: You will be asked to read CFA exam policies before you are allowed to view your admission ticket – it’s worth the time! It educates you about all binding regulations and warns you about possible violations.


You can choose one of the 2 calculator models allowed, which are:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including TIBA II Plus Professional)
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)

You must have your own calculator – there’s no sharing!

If you take loose batteries, a screwdriver to replace the batteries when needed, the calculator case or keystroke card, you may also keep them on your desk. However, consider replacing the calculator batteries a couple of days before your exam (then use your calculator to make sure it works!). You want to optimize and not lose your time on bad batteries.


For your level 1 and level 2 exams, you need a No. 2 or HB pencil to mark your answers on the answer sheet. To give your answer, darken the whole oval on the answer sheet heavily with a No. 2 or HB pencil. Only marks made by a No. 2 or HB will be read by the scanning equipment – don’t risk problems with reading your answers by bringing some other kind of a pencil to your CFA exam.

Level 3 candidates will need a No. 2 or HB pencil for the test part of their exam (afternoon session) but may use either the No. 2/HB pencil or a black or blue ink pen in the essay part of the exam (morning session).

Manual pencil sharpeners and erasers (without paper holder or cover) are also allowed on your desk. Be well prepared though and bring more than one well-sharpened pencil.

The ‘MUST-DO’ and ‘NOT-TO-DO’ Checklists

Although CFA exam candidates usually search for the ‘what to bring’ checklist, we’ve also prepared the ‘must-do’ and ‘not-to-do’ checklists for you.

They include some serious stuff and some less serious stuff, too ;)

"Must-Do" CFA Exam Checklist

Must-Do CFA Exam Checklist

CLICK for bigger resolution #1 checklist

VERY IMPORTANT! About time management in your CFA exam:

  • Level 1 candidates: 1.5 minute per question on average,
  • Level 2 candidates: 3 minutes per question on average.

If you have a problem with some of the exam questions, don’t lose too much time on them because it may seriously endanger your ability to answer the rest of the questions. Go back to the problematic questions when you still have some time left.

"NOT-to-Do" CFA Exam Checklist

NOT-to-Do CFA Exam Checklist

CLICK for bigger resolution #2 checklist

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