CFA® Exam Pass Rates: Is CFA Exam Hard?

CFA exam / Results / Pass Rates


CFA Exam Pass Rates. Results for All CFA Levels

Average Level 1 CFA Exam Pass Rate Is 41%,
Not High...

CFA exam pass rates show that the CFA exam can be quite hard. The average level 1 CFA exam pass rate is now 41%, which means that more than every second CFA candidate doesn't pass their level 1 exam.

Interestingly, for many years the level 1 CFA exam passing score was around 43% but the level 1 pass rates dropped when the CFA exam moved to computer-based testing. Luckily, the most recent pass rates of nearly 40% look more promising


The average level 1 pass rate of 41% is the mean level 1 CFA exam score for the last 10 years (2014-2023).


  1. Level 1 CFA exam pass rates
  2. Level 2 CFA exam pass rates
  3. Level 3 CFA exam pass rates


Level 1 CFA Exam
Pass Rates (2014 – 2023)

The MAY 2023 level 1 CFA exam pass rate was 39%. Now, we're waiting for the most recent AUG 2023 level 1 passing score. See how the CFA exam is graded and if your CFA exam result must always exceed the MPS?


Level 1 CFA Exam Pass Rate
Aug 2023 Exam check in Oct
May 2023 Exam 39%
Feb 2023 Exam 38%
Nov 2022 Exam 36%
Aug 2022 Exam 37%
May 2022 Exam 38%
Feb 2022 Exam 36%
Nov 2021 Exam 27%
Aug 2021 Exam 26%
July 2021 Exam 22%
May 2021 Exam 25%
Feb 2021 Exam 44%
December 2020 Exam 49%
June 2020 Exam postponed
December 2019 Exam 42%
June 2019 Exam 41%
December 2018 Exam 45%
June 2018 Exam 43%
December 2017 Exam 43%
June 2017 Exam 43%
December 2016 Exam 43%
June 2016 Exam 43%
December 2015 Exam 43%
June 2015 Exam 42%
December 2014 Exam 44%
June 2014 Exam 42%

The "real" pass rate for all registered level 1 CFA candidates has always been significantly lower than the average 41%. We explain why in our post on the level 1 CFA exam.



CBT Level 1 CFA Exam
Pass Rates Year by Year
(2021 – 2023)

In 2021, CFA exams moved to computer-based testing (CBT) for candidates of all levels. Since then, the level 1 CFA exam has taken place in Feb, May, August, and November (in 2021, there was also an L1 exam in July).

See below what the level 1 CFA exam pass rates look like ever since the CFA exam has been in the CBT format:


Level 1 CFA Exam Pass Rates since 2021 (CBT)

CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2023

Feb 2023 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 38%
  • Level 3: 48%

May 2023 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 39%
  • Level 2: 52%

Aug 2023 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: waiting
  • Level 2: waiting
  • Level 3: waiting

The last 2023 CFA exam will take place in November for level 1 & level 2 candidates.


CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2022

Feb 2022 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 36%
  • Level 2: 44%

May 2022 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 38%
  • Level 3: 49%

Aug 2022 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 37%
  • Level 2: 40%
  • Level 3: 48%

Nov 2022 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 36%
  • Level 2: 44%

The 2022 CFA exam windows differed across levels compared to the 2023 CFA exam windows. The level 2 exam was held in Feb, Aug, and Nov, while the level 3 exam was held in May and Aug.


CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2021

The Feb 2021 level 1 exam was the first CFA exam to be delivered on computers.

Feb 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 44%

May 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 25%
  • Level 2: 40%
  • Level 3: 42%

July was the month when only the level 1 CFA exam took place and it was an exception. Moreover, exams for all candidates were held in May, Aug, and Nov.

July 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 22%

August 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 26%
  • Level 2: 29%
  • Level 3: 39%

November 2021 CFA exam pass rate:


CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2020

In 2020, CFA exams (all levels) were held only in December due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic. June 2020 exams were postponed.

Dec 2020 CFA exam pass rates:

  • Level 1: 49%
  • Level 2: 55%
  • Level 3: 56%

The reason why the 2020 CFA exam pass rates were so high is that many Dec candidates had their exams postponed from June and while they prepared to take their exam – they reviewed their study material again and again. Regular review is one of the pillars of our study approach and we always encourage you to revise as often as possible to minimize your forgetting and improve your learning curve.


When To Start My CFA Exam Prep?

Create Study Plan for FREE

We’ll remind you when your prep starts


Whether you're still a level 1 candidate or are about to move to the next levels of your CFA exam, you might be interested in the pass rates for level 2 and level 3 exams. Here's what they were like for the last 10 years:


Average Level 2 CFA Exam Pass Rate Is 45%

The 10-year average level 2 CFA exam pass is now 45% so it's a bit higher than the mean level 1 passing score but lower than the average level 3 CFA exam pass rate.


Level 2 CFA Exam Pass Rates (2014 – 2023)

The MAY 2023 level 2 CFA exam pass rate was as high as 52%! Now, we're waiting for the most recent AUG 2023 level 2 passing score, which will hopefully also exceed 50%.

Before the level 2 CFA exam moved to CBT, it was held once a year in June, except for 2020 when the exam had to be postponed due to the pandemic.


Level 2 CFA Exam Pass Rate
Aug 2023 Exam check in Oct
May 2023 Exam 52%
Nov 2022 Exam 44%
Aug 2022 Exam 40%
Feb 2022 Exam 44%
Nov 2021 Exam 46%
Aug 2021 Exam 29%
May 2021 Exam 40%
December 2020 Exam 55%
June 2020 Exam postponed
June 2019 Exam 44%
June 2018 Exam 45%
June 2017 Exam 47%
June 2016 Exam 46%
June 2015 Exam 46%
June 2014 Exam 46%

Average Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rate Is 52%

The 10-year average level 3 CFA exam pass is now 52%. Even though the level 3 exam is the last of the CFA exams, the passing rate is still not very impressive...

Before the level 3 CFA exam moved to CBT, it was held once a year in June, except for 2020 when the exam had to be postponed due to the pandemic.


Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rates (2014 – 2023)

The FEB 2023 level 3 CFA exam pass rate was just 48%. Now, we're waiting for the most recent AUG 2023 level 3 passing score, which will hopefully exceed 50% this time.


Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rate
Aug 2023 Exam check in Oct
Feb 2023 Exam 48%
Aug 2022 Exam 48%
May 2022 Exam 49%
Nov 2021 Exam 43%
Aug 2021 Exam 39%
May 2021 Exam 42%
December 2020 Exam 56%
June 2020 Exam postponed
June 2019 Exam 56%
June 2018 Exam 56%
June 2017 Exam 54%
June 2016 Exam 54%
June 2015 Exam 53%
June 2014 Exam 54%



Historical CFA Exam Pass Rates

To find out what the CFA exam pass rates looked like since 1963 until now – best visit CFA Institute's website:


Learn about historical pass rates for all CFA exam levels .

Learn about historical pass rates for all CFA exam levels .


The numbers just confirm that it is not easy to pass the CFA exam at the first attempt, regardless of the exam level.

Even though the trend from the exam level to the exam level is rising, CFA exam pass rates show that the CFA exam is a rather difficult examination and only those who take their exam prep seriously can be confident about their passing score.



Updated: Sept 19, 2023





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/level 2 study materials & tools, regular review sessions, and a holistic growth approach to your preparation. Join


Read Also: