2023 Level 1 CFA® Exam Topic Weights

CFA Exam: Level 1 / Topics / 2023 Weights

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Level 1 CFA exam topic weights are given in ranges: QM (8-12%), ECO (8-12%), FSA (13-17%), CI (8-12%), EI (10-12%), FI (10-12%), DER (5-8%), AI (5-8%), PM (5-8%), and ETH (15-20%).

The fact that CFA exam topic weights are given in ranges impacts your level 1 exam greatly. It means you won't know how many questions to expect exactly for each topic. But we give you a hint

Level 3 and level 2 CFA exam topic weights are also given in ranges, though the values differ.

Your CFA Exam:
2023 Level 1 Weights

CFA Exam Topics Level 1 Exam Weight
Quantitative Methods (QM) 8-12%
Economics (ECO) 8-12%
Financial Statement Analysis (FSA)* 13-17%
Corporate Issuers (CI)* 8-12%
Equity Investments (EI) 10-12%
Fixed Income (FI) 10-12%
Derivatives (DER) 5-8%
Alternative Investments (AI) 5-8%
Portfolio Management (PM) 5-8%
Ethics (ETH) 15-20%

* Before 2022, CFA Program curriculum referred to Financial Statement Analysis as Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA for short) and to Corporate Issuers as Corporate Finance.

The table shows the current weights of all level 1 CFA exam topics.

In the past, topic weights were given as single values and they were as follows: Ethics (15%), FSA (15%), EI (11%), FI (11%), QM (10%), ECO (10%), CI (10%), DER (6%), AI (6%), and PM (6%).

As you can see, the most important level 1 topics have always:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Ethics), and
  • Financial Statement Analysis (FSA).

You should devote around one third of your study time to these 2 topics.

Predicted Number of Questions in 2023 CFA Exams

Level 1 Topics

What you can see below in the 'Predicted no. of Questions' column is an example of how your level 1 exam questions may be distributed among the topics in your test. We also give you the minimum and the maximum number of questions for each topic. The values are derived from the weight ranges given above.

Level 1 Topic MIN no. of Questions MAX no. of Questions Predicted no. of Questions Topic Group
Quantitative Methods 15 21 18 II
Economics 15 21 18 II
Financial Statement Analysis 24 30 26 II
Corporate Issuers 15 21 16 III
Equity Investments 18 21 20 IV
Fixed Income 18 21 20 IV
Derivatives 9 14 10 IV
Alternative Investments 9 14 10 IV
Portfolio Management 9 14 14 III
Ethics 27 36 28 I
SUM 159 213 180 -

IMPORTANT! As CFA exams move to computer-based testing, level 1 CFA exam includes a total of 180 multiple-choice questions, 90 in SESSION 1 and 90 in SESSION 2. The number of questions has been reduced from 2 x 120, i.e. 240 overall. Topics are now divided into 4 groups: (I) Ethics, (II) Investment Tools, (III) Corporate Issuers and Portfolio Management, and (IV) Investment Assets. In your exam, questions may be shuffled within a group. You can rehearse the new exam format here

Our prediction is just an educated guess and the actual number of topic questions may differ when you take your exam. However, when all the recent CFA exam changes and the MIN and MAX weight ranges are considered, this is what you can expect in your 2023 level 1 CFA exam:


  • Group I, Ethics (28 questions)
  • Group II, Investment Tools: Quantitative Methods + Economics + Financial Statement Analysis (18 + 18 + 26 questions)
  • Group I + Group II = 90 multiple-choice (a-b-c) questions
  • time: 135 min
  • average time per question = 1.5 min


  • Group III, Corporate Issuers + Portfolio Management (16 + 14 questions)
  • Group IV, Investment Assets: Equity + Fixed Income + Derivatives + Alternative Investments (20 + 20 + 10 + 10 questions)
  • Group III + Group IV = 90 multiple-choice (a-b-c) questions
  • time: 135 min
  • average time per question = 1.5 min

TOTAL NO. OF QUESTIONS = 2 x 90 = 180 multiple-choice questions

TOTAL TESTING TIME = 2 x 135 min = 4 hrs 30 min

Averaged 2023 Level 1 CFA Exam Topic Weights

Here are the average level 1 topic weights for the 2023 CFA exams:

  • Ethics: 17.5%
  • Financial Statement Analysis: 15%
  • Equity: 11%
  • Fixed Income: 11%
  • Quantitative Methods: 10%
  • Economics: 10%
  • Corporate Issuers: 10%
  • Derivatives: 6.5%
  • Alternatives: 6.5%
  • Portfolio Management: 6.5%
  • TOTAL: 104%
  • Ethics: 17.5%
  • Financial Statement Analysis: 15%
  • Equity: 11%
  • Fixed Income: 11%
  • Quantitative Methods: 10%
  • Economics: 10%
  • Corporate Issuers: 10%
  • Derivatives: 6.5%
  • Alternatives: 6.5%
  • Portfolio Management: 6.5%
  • TOTAL: 104%

The pie chart below presents the level 1 topic weights as if they were single values – it uses the average weights, not ranges:

Avr. Level 1 CFA Exam Topic Weights

As you can see, the sum of all average topic weights is over 100%. That is why on the chart, you will see slightly lower values for the topics. This only proves that the weights given in ranges yield no certain outcomes when it comes to the number of questions in your exam. You can even expect a various number of questions for topics with the same exam weights, which we showed in one of the tables above. For example, you can get 14 questions for Portfolio Management but 10 questions for Alternatives even though both topics are in the same weight range.

IMPORTANT! Even though topic weights change, the difficulty of topics stays pretty much the same.

CFA Exam Topics Difficulty

The difficulty of topics is a subjective criterion. What is difficult for one candidate need not be difficult for another. When we define a topic as difficult, it means that the concepts it covers are usually said to be difficult.

3 hardest level 1 CFA exam topics: what are they & why?

3 hardest level 1 CFA exam topics?

Any easy topics in level 1 CFA exam?

While making your level 1 study plan, you should definitely take topics difficulty into account. Factor it in if you consider a certain topic (or its part) to be difficult (or easy). If you have no idea, though, you can count on our help. Our CFA Exam Study Planner, takes topics difficulty and importance into account. The proposed topic sequence is called Soleadea Topic Sequence and we believe it to be optimal (but you can easily change it if you want):

  • Soleadea Topic Sequence is: QM, PM, FSA, CI, FI, EI, DER, AI, ECO, ETH, and it's based on CFA exam topics length, difficulty, and importance,
  • more challenging topics are coupled with more easy ones allowing you to take a sort of break meanwhile,
  • where possible, topics are coupled based on the similarity of concepts,
  • we suggets that you study Ethics either at the beginning or at the end of your prep.

The time scheduled for each topic depends on its difficulty, the number of pages in the Curriculum, and the topic weights in your exam. While creating your personalized CFA exam study schedule, you can change the topic sequence according to your preferences:

It All Starts With Your
CFA Exam Study Plan


& customize it to suit your needs!