The May 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate was 25% and it was exceptionally low! Now, the July 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate of 22% is even lower! Who would believe that the average pass rate for the level 1 CFA exam used to be 43%.
Was the MPS set too high for the 2021 CFA exams?
Too High MPS for 2021 Level 1 CFA Exams?
The May 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate was indeed exceptionally low.
When we first saw it we thought it must be a misprint. Unfortunately, CFA Institute confirmed that the pass rate was 25% and that there was no mistake. CFA Institute said that it might be due to the stop-start nature of studying that many candidates had experienced because of their exam postponements.
Now, the July 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate of 22% is even lower. In fact, it’s the lowest in history!
We think that a possible explanation is that there were much fewer no-shows to the May and July exams than usual, which affected the pass rates. According to the information previously made available by CFA Institute, in the past even 25% of registered candidates decided to stay at home rather than go to the exam because they felt not ready to take it. This means that the “real” pass rate used to be more like 30% than 43%, which for long was the average pass rate for level 1. However, it is highly possible that after many postponements and difficulties resulting from the ongoing pandemic, now more candidates decide to take their chance even though they know it is a tough call for them.
That may be why the most recent pass rates are lower compared to the previous years.
Still, the most recent 2021 CFA exam pass rates are surprisingly low and we feel that our theory cannot fully account for the situation.
It’s a real pity that CFA Institute has failed so far to provide us with some sort of an analysis of what happened that the pass rates are so low. If we all knew the plausible reasons, it would be so much easier to accept the reality.
Some say that the bar was set too high for both May & July 2021 CFA exams.
What do you think? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments .
Updated: Sept 14, 2021
Published: July 28, 2021