CFA 2020 Level 3 Exam: Dates & Differences

IMPORTANT: Due to COVID pandemic, CFA Institute has made the decision to postpone the June 2020 CFA Exam administration globally. Read more here

CFA level 3 is the last exam you need to pass to be able to become a CFA charterholder. You gained enough exam experience getting through your CFA level 1 and 2 exams and the things that remain the same should cause you no problem. But you must know that CFA level 3 differs in some aspects from CFA level 1 and CFA level 2.

How CFA level 3 differs:
7 Topics, Constructed Response Questions, Higher Pass Rate

1. CFA Curriculum contents

In your CFA Curriculum, you will find 7 topics, not 10. You will no longer be tested on Quantitative Methods, Corporate Finance, nor Financial Reporting and Analysis. At this exam level, the major focus is on Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning with the weight of 35-40%.

CFA Level 3 Topics CFA Topic Weight (%)
1 Economics 5-10
2 Alternative Investments 5-10
3 Derivative Investments 5-10
4 Equity Investments 10-15
5 Ethical and Professional Standards 10-15
6 Fixed Income Investments 15-20
7 Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 35-40

2. CFA level 3 constructed response questions + item sets

The morning session of the CFA level 3 exam consists of 8-15 vignettes. These are open-ended questions, commonly known as constructed response questions. Every question begins with a case study which has several parts (e.g. A, B, C). For every part, its command words (in bold) and approximate answer time are given to guide you through the answer process. CFA level 3 constructed response questions cover specific topic areas and require clear and accurate answers:

Note that all the morning session questions may be devoted to one topic (e.g. in 2014, the morning session of CFA level 3 exam was about different areas of Portfolio Management). Both the partial and total times given for every question are estimated times. The value of total time is the maximum value of points you can get for a given question.

In the afternoon session, there are 10-15 item set questions (structured like for CFA level 2 exam).

If so far you used CFA Institute Mock Exams to practice before your level 1 and 2 exams, note that CFA Institute Mock Exam for CFA level 3 candidates includes only items set questions. It gives no opportunity for real exam experience regarding open-ended questions.

3. CFA Level 3 results: Longer waiting but higher pass rate

As a CFA level 3 candidate, you’ll have to wait for your results a bit longer than level 1 and level 2 candidates. Usually, it’s about a fortnight more for level 3. The good news is that CFA level 3 pass rate is higher as a rule than level 1 and 2 pass rates and it usually exceeds 50%.

CFA level 3 pass rates in years 2016-2019:

2016: 54%
2017: 54%
2018: 56%
2019: 56%

10-year average CFA level 3 pass rate:

2008-2017: 52%

When you pass your CFA level 3 exam, meet other CFA requirements to become a CFA charterholder.

Your success is close enough. Do you know how to reach for it?

CFA Institute informs that candidates spend about 300 hours studying for each level of CFA exam. There are three major success-driving factors that help to cope with the challenge: good plan, systematic study and thorough review. Use our FREE Study Planner available also to CFA level 3 candidates and plan, study, review, and assess your progress:

Smart Preparation Starts With Smart Planning

When your plans have this dangerous tendency to fall through - you need more than just timetabled topics!

You need concrete CFA readings assigned to concrete study weeks, weekly progress assessments,
and all the means to stay in charge!



When learning for the exam, take into account the CFA level 3 exam structure: study and review the material to be able to answer open-ended constructed response questions and make sure you are able to answer them using clear and adequate English. Note that language mistakes are basically not taken into account unless you make mistakes that influence the logic or precision of your answer.

Some things are common for all levels of CFA exam. See if you control the situation:


Access Scholarship (learn more):

for CFA June 2020 – no longer available

for CFA June 2021 – application window: 1 March 2020 to 15 September 2020

other June 2020 exam scholarships, incl. CFA Women's Scholarship, can be applied for till 1 February 2020

second registration fee deadline is on 20 February 2020 – register by then and do not overpay!

CFA level 3 exam date is 6 June 2020: plan your preparation well to optimize your chances!

CFA 2020: Level 3 Exam Dates


registration opens

8 August 2019



6 June 2020


result available

mid-August 2020

8 August 2019 (registration opens) DEADLINES 6 June 2020 (L3 exam) mid-August 2020 (results available)


15 September 2019 – Access Scholarship for CFA 2020 exam

2 October 2019 – first registration (exam fee: USD 700)

1 February 2020 – other CFA scholarships for CFA 2020 level 3 exam

20 February 2020 – second registration (exam fee: USD 1000)

11 March 2020 – final registration (exam fee: USD 1,450)

some additional CFA 2020 dates

15 September 2020 – Access Scholarship for CFA 2021 exam

Allow for more PM and constructed response questions when planning your CFA exam prep.

Practice your skill to construct written response to questions.