Everything About CFA®, 9 Short Facts

CFA exam / 9 facts

Everything about CFA Exam (Key Facts)


CFA® stands for Chartered Financial Analyst® and it is a prestigious financial designation recognized worldwide for its value. When you earn the CFA Charter – you can use the "CFA" letters with your name as a title, e.g., Sam Sample, CFA.

To get your CFA designation, you need to pass the CFA exam, which consists of 3 parts (levels), and meet the requirements for CFA charterholders.


- 9 facts -

  1. CFA exam is a global financial standard. It is a coveted credential to have in your résumé if you seek a career in finance.
  2. CFA exam is a series of 3 exams (levels). To become a CFA charterholder, you need to complete the 3 levels of the CFA exam with success.
  3. CFA exam pass rates are rather low. The 10-year average level 1 CFA exam pass rate is now 41%.
  4. CFA exam is quite costly. You need to pay at least USD 940 to take your exam unless you are awarded a scholarship.
  5. CFA exam tests you on 10 topics that cover the fundamentals of investment tools, asset valuation, portfolio management, and wealth planning. Plus, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct are of the utmost importance.
  6. CFA exam consists of two exam sessions with an optional break meanwhile. Testing time is approx. 4.5 hours.
  7. CFA exam is taken in English. Fluency in English is of great help.
  8. CFA exam can be quite hard. Successful CFA candidates study roughly 300 hours. Those who passed admit that.
  9. CFA exam is the type of exam you need to plan for and plan carefully!

Everything About CFA Exam in Detail

  1. CFA exam is a global financial standard.
  2. The CFA designation is respected worldwide and it is called the golden standard of financial certification. After completing the CFA® Program, candidates get impressive knowledge about finance and ethical grounding.

    The boost in salary for those who succeed is big. It's even up to 50-70% and already passing your level 1 CFA exam can boost your salary.

    As of 2023, CFA Institute is going to award digital badges for passed level 1 and level 2 CFA exams to increase the recognition of the concrete levels of the CFA Charter among employers. The badges will also be offered retrospectively to past candidates who were successful at various levels. This helps candidates showcase their achievements.

  3. CFA exam is a series of 3 exams.
  4. The CFA exam consists of level 1, level 2, and level 3 exams. You need to pass all 3 levels to get your CFA Charter.

    In 2021, CFA exams moved from traditional paper-based to computer-based testing (CBT). Starting in 2022, CFA exams are available 4 times a year for level 1: in February, May, August, and November. Level 2 is held 3 times a year and level 3 – 2 times a year. We explain more about computer-based CFA exams here

  5. CFA exam pass rate for level 1 is ca. 41%.
  6. There are from 150 to 250 thousand candidates a year.

    The average level 1 pass rate is around 41%. The pass rate grows a bit for level 2 and level 3 – to roughly 45% and over 50%, respectively. However, the recent CFA exam pass rates are lower than they were before CBT.

    The pass rates show that almost every second CFA candidate doesn't pass their CFA exam. Moreover, passing the CFA exam at the first attempt is not very common. That is why it is worth starting your CFA exam prep sooner than the majority of CFA candidates.

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  1. CFA exam cost can be as high as USD 1250 in 2024 and it grows for the 2025 CFA exams.
  2. The earlier you register for the exam, the less you pay for it. For the newcomers to the Program, there is a one-time enrollment fee of USD 350 (as of 2023 exams; the fee used to be USD 450). Then, every time you want to take your CFA exam (all levels, incl. retakes), you need to pay a registration fee. You can choose the registration fee for early birds, which is lower, or the higher standard registration.

    In 2024, the early fee is USD 940 and the standard fee is USD 1250.

    As of 2025, the fees depend on the exam level and they are higher. The Feb 2025 level 1 early registration fee is USD 990 and the Feb 2025 level 1 standard registration fee is USD 1290. For level 3 in 2025 the fees are USD 1090 and USD 1390, respectively. Check the applicable fees and deadlines here

    In the registration fee, the access to CFA Program curriculum is included.

    In 2024, the minimum cost of the CFA exam (all 3 levels) is up to USD 3170. The cost of USD 3170 allows for no retakes and assumes 3 early registration fees.

    There's a way to reduce your CFA exam cost and it's a scholarship. CFA Institute awards different types of scholarships that cut the registration fee down to USD 300 or USD 400 depending on the kind of scholarship.

  3. CFA exam tests you on 10 topics.
  4. There are 10 CFA exam topics:

  • Quantitative Methods,
  • Economics,
  • Corporate Issuers,
  • Financial Statement Analysis,
  • Equity Investments,
  • Fixed Income,
  • Derivatives,
  • Alternative Investments,
  • Portfolio Management, and
  • Ethics.

At levels 1 and 2, you are tested on all the 10 topics. In the level 3 exam, there is no more Financial Statement Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Corporate Issuers. Read more about level 1 topics and level 2 topics.

  1. CFA exam has two exam sessions.
  2. Each CFA exam level consists of 2 sessions with an optional break meanwhile. The total testing time is approx. 4.5 hrs (2 x 135 minutes for level 1 or 2 x 132 minutes for level 2 and level 3). The number of questions is 2 x 90 multiple-choice questions for level 1. For level 2, there are 2 x 44 questions formed into 11 item sets and for level 3 it's a mix of open-ended (essay) questions and item sets (like for level 2) per each exam session. You can read more about the CFA exam day experience under computer-based testing if you like.

  3. CFA exam is taken in English.
  4. The CFA exam is taken in English. So, to be able to take the exam and prepare for it, you need to have a good command of written English.

  5. CFA exam prep requires ca. 300 study hours.
  6. It is said that an average CFA candidate needs 300 hours to prepare well for each level of the CFA exam. You'll do best if – apart from regular study hours – you'll also schedule some systematic review sessions.

  7. CFA exam prep requires perfect planning.
  8. To pass your CFA exam, you need to plan out your preparation carefully. We devised the way for successful CFA exam prep with study planning lying at the heart of it. You can check our study options here . We give you an advanced CFA Exam Study Planner with study lessons, videos, practice questions, printable notes (e-books), formulas app, mocks, etc. inside. Join us now:

Everything About CFA Exam in Short

About the CFA exam: The CFA exam consists of 3 exams (levels) and you need to be well prepared for each exam 'cos pass rates are rather low. After you invest in your CFA exam, you want to make sure that you spend the recommended number of study hours well and plan for 300+ study & review hours to pass your exam. On the exam day, you need to do your best over the 4.5 hours of testing. You'll be tested in English on the topics included in your exam curriculum. Passing all the 3 levels of the CFA exam is a prerequisite for becoming a CFA charterholder.

About Soleadea:

Our CFA Exam Study Planner is available to candidates of all levels at groundbreaking Pay-What-You-Can prices. You decide how much you want to pay for our services. After you activate your account, you get unlimited access to our Study Planner 4.0 with study lessons inside, various level 1 study materials & tools, regular review sessions, and a holistic growth approach to your preparation. Join

Here’s a sample level 1 CFA exam study schedule as displayed in our Study Planner:


CFA Exam Study Planner: PLAN VIEW

FIND your Study Plan in the PLAN tab View all the weeks of your CFA exam prep, see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you, as well as customize your schedule using your Study Plan personalization options and the DRAG & DROP for both topics and study weeks.


CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY VIEW

CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. You will know what to study (left-hand menu) and how much to study (benchmark study times). Here, you'll also find your study lessons, including videos, tests, PDFs, etc. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the SUM UP button).


CFA Exam Study Planner: PROGRESS VIEW

CFA Exam Study Planner: PROGRESS View You will be able to see your progress by topics and weeks. Each week your Chance to Pass score will go up or down.


CFA Exam Study Planner: REVIEW VIEW

CFA Exam Study Planner: REVIEW View To learn, you must review. Use the special view of your Study Planner to review your study lessons, rewatch videos, revise formulas, etc.

Updated: Apr 26, 2024

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