LAST UPDATED: July 7, 2020

2021 Level 3 CFA® Exam: Dates & Differences


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

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

1. CFA Program Curriculum contents

In your 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 Exam Level 3 Topics 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. Level 3 constructed response questions + item sets

The morning session of the level 3 CFA 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. 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 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 level 2 CFA 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 level 3 candidates includes only items set questions. It gives no opportunity for real exam experience regarding open-ended questions.

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

As a 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 level 3 pass rate is higher as a rule than level 1 and 2 pass rates and it usually exceeds 50%.

level 3 pass rates in years 2016-2019:

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

10-year average level 3 pass rate:

2008-2017: 52%

When you pass your level 3 exam, meet other CFA Program 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 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 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 level 3 CFA 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.

June 2021 level 3 exam. See if you control the situation:


Access Scholarship (learn more):

for June 2021 exam – application window: mid-May 2020 to mid-September 2020

other June 2021 exam scholarships, e.g. Women's Scholarship? A new application platform will be open for the June 2021 exam cycle due to the overwhelming interest.

second registration fee deadline is on 17 February 2021 – register by then and do not overpay!

2021 level 3 exam date is 5 June: plan your preparation well to optimize your chances!

2021 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates

IMPORTANT! The registration fees and deadlines, do not apply to June 2020 candidates. Only new level 3 candidates need to make the relevant payments.


registration opens

18 August 2020



5 June 2021


result available

mid-August 2021

18 August 2020 (registration opens) DEADLINES 5 June 2021 (L3 exam) mid-August 2021 (results available)


15 September 2020 – Access Scholarship for 2021 CFA exam

23 September 2020 – first registration (exam fee: USD 700)

17 February 2021 – second registration (exam fee: USD 1000)

17 March 2021 – final registration (exam fee: USD 1,450)

some additional 2021 CFA Program dates

15 September 2021 – Access Scholarship for 2022 CFA exam

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

Practice your skill to construct written response to questions.