New 2020 Level 1 CFA® Exam Topic Weights Compared To Past Years

CFA EXAM: Level 1 / Topics / Dec 2020 Weights Change



Last Updated: July 8, 2020


Dec 2020 level 1 CFA exam is the first exam with the new topic weights given in ranges (minimum % to maximum %). Up to now, level 1 topic weights changed periodically but they were always given as single values. Ranges were applied only to level 2 and level 3 exams. See here how this change impacts your exam

Currently, there are 5 kinds of level 1 topic weight ranges: 15-20%, 13-17%, 10-12%, 8-12%, and 5-8%. We compare the new 2020 and the old 2019 weights for each topic. The charts below present how the weights changed across the topics for the Dec 2020 level 1 CFA exam:


2020 Changes in Level 1 CFA Exam Topic Weights

2020 Minimum Weights vs 2019 Topic Weights

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2020 Maximum Weights vs 2019 Topic Weights

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Important: For your Dec 2020 level 1 exam, CFA exam topic weights differ from topic weights applied in the previous year. Now – for each topic – they are given as a range of the minimum and the maximum %value. Click above to see the exact changes.



2019 Changes in Level 1 CFA Exam Topic Weights

In 2019, before the June 2019 CFA exam, level 1 topic weights changed as well. The weights took on the following values: 15%, 11%, 10%, or 6%. As you can see, these weights were close to what we have now in average terms. Before 2019, the weights ranged from 20% to 4%. The chart below shows this change:

Click here to see changes


Dec 2020 Level 1 CFA Exam Topics Ordered

According to the 2020 topic weights, the new hierarchical order of level 1 CFA exam topics is as follows:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Ethics) = 15-20%,
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA) = 13-17%,
  • Fixed Income (FI) = 10-12%,
  • Equity Investments (EI) = 10-12%,
  • Quantitative Methods (QM) = 8-12%,
  • Corporate Finance (CF) = 8-12%,
  • Economics (ECO) = 8-12%,
  • Derivative Investments (DI) = 5-8%,
  • Alternative Investments (AI) = 5-8%,
  • Portfolio Management (PM) = 5-8%.

See what else you need to know about level 1 topics


We can further divide the level 1 CFA exam topics into 3 groups: most important topics, hardest topics, and easiest topics.

The most important level 1 topics include:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA),
  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Ethics), and
  • Quantitative Methods (QM).

You should devote around 40% of your study time to these 3 topics.


Read more about the 3 most important level 1 topics


The hardest level 1 topics include:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA),
  • Fixed Income Investments (FI), and
  • Derivative Investments (DI).

Learn why these are the 3 hardest level 1 topics


The easiest level 1 topics include:

  • Equity Investments (EI),
  • Corporate Finance (CF), and
  • Portfolio Management (PM).

Find out when the 3 topics are the easiest


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