Last updated: November 14, 2022

CFA exam / Level 1 / CBT EXPERIENCE

In 2022 and 2023, level 1 CBT CFA exam dates are available to candidates in Feb, May, Aug, and Nov. These are the 4 level 1 CFA exam windows when you can schedule your level 1 exam after you register, i.e. pay the registration fee.

Read on to find out about the CFA exam day experience and CBT format.


In 2021, CFA Institute introduced computer-based testing (CBT) for all levels of the CFA exam, which means that all CFA exams are now delivered on computers in many proctored test centers around the world. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021 more exam dates were available to candidates of all levels than previously expected. There were:

  • 6 CFA exam windows for level 1 in Feb, March*, May, July, Aug, and Nov + an online (OPT) exam in April*
  • 3 CFA exam windows for level 2 in May, Aug, and Nov,
  • 3 CFA exam windows for level 3 in May, Aug, and Nov.

* The March and April 2021 exam windows were open only for select candidates whose exams had been postponed.

In 2022 & 2023, there will be 4 level 1 CFA exam windows, which is what was intended for CBT exams from the very beginning.

Learn more about 2022 & 2023 CFA exams


Level 1 CFA exam Registration window Scheduling window Exam window
November 2022 1 Feb - 9 Aug 1 Feb - 17 Aug 15-21 Nov
February 2023 10 May - 8 Nov 10 May - 16 Nov 14 - 20 Feb
May 2023 9 Aug - 31 Jan 9 Aug - 15 Feb 16-22 May
August 2023 14 Nov - 9 May 14 Nov - 24 May 22-28 Aug



To pass your level 1 exam, there are some things you need to know. For starters, the CBT CFA exam will be divided into 2 sessions, 135 minutes each, with an optional break meanwhile. You can expect 90 multiple-choice questions in each session.

The topics you'll be tested on will be divided into 4 groups: (i) Ethics, (ii) Investment Tools, (iii) Corporate Finance and Portfolio Management, and (iv) Investment Assets. You'll find groups (i) and (ii) during SESSION 1 and groups (iii) and (iv) during SESSION 2. Questions may be shuffled within a group. Once you finish the first session you won’t be able to go back. But you can go back and forth within one session. Learn more about computer-based CFA exams

Here's how your level 1 CFA exam experience may look like question-wise:

CFA Exam Topics Level 1 Weights No. of Questions
(Estimated for CBT)
Ethics 15-20% 28
Quantitative Methods 8-12% 18
Economics 8-12% 18
Financial Reporting and Analysis 13-17% 26
Corporate Finance 8-12% 16
Equity Investments 10-12% 20
Fixed Income 10-12% 20
Derivative Investments 5-8% 10
Alternative Investments 5-8% 10
Portfolio Management 5-8% 14
TOTAL 100% 180 questions

Find VIDEOS & NOTES inside
our CFA Exam Study Planner:


Here we regularly post about the CBT CFA exam experience that candidates share with us so that others can know better what to expect and avoid the mistakes that others made. Shakil wrote to us:

I took my CFA exam in November [2021] and felt fairly prepared to tackle it on test day but wanted to make sure I was familiar with the site the CBT exam was being held. I came in a couple hours early to make sure I knew where to park, where the washrooms were, and ask the very friendly test administrators some question about the testing process and materials allowed/provided for the exam - which basically aligned with the CFA Institute's policies and procedures. The first half of the exam went pretty much as expected and I was able to go to my car after to drink some water and eat a snack before heading to the washroom and back to the exam room for part two. About 40 minutes in and I realized I REALLY needed to go to the washroom which was about a 30 second walk from the exam room. The only issue was the sign out/check in procedure would take at least another 10 minutes or so out my exam since the washroom was outside the exam room. I was stuck with either going to the washroom and killing at least 15 minutes of my exam time or holding it in and being uncomfortable through the rest of it - I chose the latter. It was super distracting and probably slowed me down quite a bit through the rest of the exam. I recommend two things to all test takers. First, be mindful about how much water you drink during their break even if you do go to the washroom right before the second part as the liquids will likely take some time to go through you. And second, if you do need to step out during the exam, account for the time it'll take you to check out and back in with all the covid and security measures in place. Shakil

Sihem wrote:

Hi friends, The exam day was as stressful as when it was paper-based, I had to manage time and pass some extra time on some challenging questions. As a mother of two little daughters and a CFA level 2 retaker, it was a huge endeavor to prepare for the exam and to keep concentrating during the exam day. I'm confident and full of hope. Thank you Soleadea Team for your usual cooperation and support. With my best regards, Sihem

Dudu wrote:

My country does not have a test center just as yet, hence I had to travel to the neighboring country to attempt my exam. Being in a country I am not very conversant with, attempting a tricky exam did add to my stress levels. Also the format used for the exam was very different from the one used for mocks by the CFAI.

Once I had settled into the alien country atmosphere, I think the exam was rather fair. The questions were evenly distributed among the 10 topics according to their respective weights and the question practice and mocks on the Soleadea website and CFAI website definitely helped even if I was not very confident that I was adequately prepared for the exam (I started studying for the exam less than 1 month before the scheduled exam and it took me a while to go through the Soleadea content that helped me during my exam preparation). Nevertheless, the CFA exam is as difficult as I previously thought or as difficult as most websites made it out to be. If you study and do enough question practice, you should comfortably attempt the exam.

Although my question practice was lacking for most of the topics (I only had less than one week of question practice), after experiencing/surviving my first CFA exam in person, I believe I am now equipped with the exam day knowledge to confidently move forward with this Course regardless of how I did during the May 2022 exam.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you want your story told, as well .

Or use the comments below .

Published: Jan 18, 2021

Read Also: