CFA Exam from Registration to Results
IMPORTANT: Due to COVID pandemic, CFA Institute has made the decision to postpone the June 2020 CFA Exam administration globally. Read more here
Intro to Chartered Financial Analyst® Exam
CFA exam has 3 levels. To pass the CFA exam means to pass all the 3 levels. The lowest pass rate is for the CFA level 1 exam and it’s been stuck around 43% for the last few years. The highest pass rate is for CFA level 3 and it exceeds 50%.
The exam is held by CFA Institute which introduced the CFA Charter in 1963 and has been improving this prestigious financial certification ever since. From year to year, CFA Institute alters exam curriculum wherever necessary for the CFA exam to reflect ongoing changes in the rapidly developing financial world. Currently, the most awaited change it the transition to computer-based testing for level 1 candidates already in 2021.
CFA Exam Level by Level
Although each CFA exam level is different, major stages remain the same from level to level. It always begins with registration and ends when CFA results are released.
STAGES FOR CFA LEVEL 1, LEVEL 2 & LEVEL 3 EXAMS:
Each time you want to register for your CFA exam (all levels and retakes), you need to make a fee payment. There are 3 registration fee deadlines and your CFA exam cost will differ depending on which deadline you choose. CFA exam cost reduction is available to those eligible for CFA Scholarships. Be sure to check before you decide to register for your exam.
2. GETTING TO KNOW CFA CURRICULUM & TOPICS
For every exam level, there is a separate CFA curriculum, each over 3000 pages and covering relevant CFA topics.
CFA level 1 is greatly conceptual. In your exam, you need to be able to recall various concepts and terms and understand different investment tools.
CFA level 2 is more analytical and you’ll be asked to apply your knowledge more deeply in your exam. The focus of the exam is on asset valuation.
CFA level 3 merges both the conceptual and the analytical by asking you to evaluate and justify. It gives the highest prominence to portfolio management and wealth planning.
Level 1 and level 2 candidates are tested in 10 CFA topics. For level 3, it’s just 7 topics. Also, exam topic weights change from level to level:
|Topics||CFA Level 1 Weights||CFA Level 2 Weights||CFA Level 3 Weights|
|Ethical and Professional Standards||15%||10-15%||10-15%|
|Financial Reporting and Analysis||15%||10-15%||-|
3. STUDY PLANNING
It’s common knowledge that to prepare for your CFA exam, you’ll need to devote around 300 study hours per each level. Personally, we also strongly advocate a weekly approach to study planning. We believe it can make your CFA study plan actually work . First, get yourself a 300-hour study schedule that sets deadlines for the topics. Then, however, focus on your current study week. That’s the only way to pace yourself and follow the plan!
On our blog, you will find some ready-made study plans, which you can further customize to your needs using our CFA study planner (available to all levels). Apart from sample study plans, you’ll also find there lots of interesting info related to study planning such as topics categorization, strengths and weaknesses analysis, strategic vs tactical planning or 3 main reasons why you may fail your CFA exam.
4. STUDYING & TAKING CFA EXAM
While studying for your CFA exam, you should let yourself fall into a routine with your calculator. Mind that there are only 2 types of calculators approved by CFA Institute: Hewlett Packard 12C (different models) or Texas Instruments BA II Plus (different models).
Also, regularly review the topics and practice using exam-type questions. Remember that you learn most through practice. That’s why it is so important to do tests and use a calculator from the very beginning of your exam prep.
Another crucial thing is that the CFA exam is regulated by many rules and policies that govern exam-taking and your participation in the whole CFA Program.
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The CFA exam itself is a test when you sit your level 1 and level 2 exams and test/constructed response questions when it’s the level 3 exam:
|CFA Exam||SESSION 1||SESSION 2|
|Level 1||120 multiple-choice questions||120 multiple-choice questions|
|90 multiple-choice questions||90 multiple-choice questions|
|Level 2||60 multiple-choice questions
|60 multiple-choice questions
|Level 3||constructed response questions
|60 multiple-choice questions
So far, all have been paper-based. But beginning in 2021, the CFA level 1 exam will be taken on computers. There are no imminent plans to introduce computer-based testing for level 2 and level 3 candidates, though. The nearest possible date of moving CFA level 2 and 3 exams to CBT is 2023 but it's just a tentative plan for now.
The questions we all ask ourselves at this stage is: PASSED or FAILED? When will I know?
CFA results are released after about 2 months for level 1 and level 2 exams, and 2.5 months for level 3. They are sent to candidates’ e-mails. The message you’ll receive will say whether you passed or not. If you pass, it means you reached the minimum passing score (MPS) set individually for every CFA exam, but not disclosed by CFA Institute. It is believed that 70% is enough to succeed.
To pass the exam, you do not have to score over 70% for every topic. It’s the overall exam score that matters. However, you may want to pay attention to your Ethics result because of the ethics adjustment.
When the results are released, you’ll find out more about your performance in different topics in your CFA Institute website account. Also, you’ll get to know how well you did relative to other exam-takers.
waiting time: ca. 2 months for level 1 & level 2, ca. 2.5 months for level 3
CFA exam minimum passing score: ca. 70%
CFA level 1 pass rate: ca. 43%
CFA level 2 pass rate: ca. 45%
CFA level 3 pass rate: ca. 54%
Passed CFA Exam: Prerequisite for CFA Charter
One of the requirements of becoming a CFA charterholder is a passed CFA exam, all levels.
The CFA exam is a difficult challenge. Having seen all CFA pass rates, you get to understand it is not easy to gain the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. You’ve set out on a long and difficult journey. But while the CFA road can have its twists and turns, there are ways to make it much less bumpy and a lot nicer.
Let us guide you through the meanders of the CFA labyrinth the easiest way. It is not to say there will be no ups and downs. You may stumble now and then. But we can promise you will not get lost in the complexities of the CFA exam. Soleadea is the place to give you comprehensive support: solid information, all kinds of CFA study materials, and unique practical tips.
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