Last updated: May 19, 2021

CFA exam / Level 3


Level 3 exam is the last of the three levels of CFA exam. To take your level 3 exam, first you need to pass your level 1 and level 2 exams. Passing all the 3 levels is a prerequisite for getting your CFA designation.

As of 2021, CFA exam is moving to computer-based testing. In 2021, the level 3 exam will be organized in May, September (this is the so-called August exam window), and November.



2021 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates

25 May - 1 June*


0 days until the exam

25 May - 1 June*


0 days until the exam

1 - 8 Sept*


74 days until the exam

1 - 8 Sept*


74 days until the exam

23 - 25 Nov*


157 days until the exam

23 - 25 Nov*


157 days until the exam



IMPORTANT!

* The dates indicate the exam window when you can self-schedule your level 3 exam. You can read here about computer-based exams.

The registration fees and deadlines given below, do not apply to any postponed level 3 candidates. New level 3 candidates need to make the relevant payments.


2021 Level 3
CFA Exam Fees
& Registration Deadlines

Each time you register to take and retake your level 3 exam, you'll have to pay a specific exam registration fee. The amount of the fee depends on when you choose to register for the exam. Before you register, check if you're eligible for any of CFA Institute scholarships. They can reduce your exam cost substantially.

May 2021 FEES
$700
early
fee

begins: 20 Aug | ends:
3
NOVEMBER 2020
$1,000
standard
fee

begins: 4 Nov | ends:
23
FEBRUARY 2021

Read more about May level 3 exam

August 2021 FEES
$700
early
fee

begins: 20 Aug | ends:
2
FEBRUARY 2021
$1,000
standard
fee

begins: 3 Feb | ends:
4
MAY 2021

Read more about August level 3 exam

November 2021 FEES
$700
early
fee

begins: 20 Aug | ends:
4
MAY 2021
$1,000
standard
fee

begins: 5 May | ends:
10
AUGUST 2021

Read more about Nov level 3 exam

Note: The deadlines end at 11:59 p.m. ET.



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

2021 level 3 CFA exam will consist of 2 exam session, approx. 135 min each, with an optional break meanwhile.

In the first session, you can expect 8-11 open-ended questions commonly known as constructed response questions. Such questions begin with a case study (vignette) followed by several related items. Some of the items may be multiple-choice questions but the majority will require your written response. Note the command words (in bold) and approximate answer time given to guide you through the answer process. Constructed response questions cover specific topic areas and require clear and accurate answers:

CFA Level 3: Constructed Response Questions

In 2014, all open-ended questions were about different areas of Portfolio Management. For time management purposes, assume that 1 point = 1 minute. That's how it worked for paper-based exams and so it continues for computer-based testing.

In the second session, you can expect 44 multiple-choice questions arranged into item sets (structured like for level 2 CFA exam).

To sum up, as the CFA exam transitions to CBT, the exam day experience will change. The total testing time will be reduced to max. 4.5 hours and:

  • each exam session will be approx. 135 min long,
  • session 1 is going to have 8-11 open-ended questions,
  • session 2 is going to have 44 multiple-choice questions, each worth 3 points,
  • multiple-choice questions will be formed into item sets topped by vignettes, i.e. case description to which the questions refer,
  • there will be six or four multiple-choice questions per an item set,
  • a four-question item set will have two-thirds of the number of points as a six-question item set.



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 been about a fortnight more for level 3, i.e. roughly 9.5 weeks after the exam. For CBT level 3 exams, results may be released probably 7-9 weeks post-exam:


MAY LVL 3 EXAM
20 July* 2021

AUGUST LVL 3 EXAM
2 November* 2021

NOVEMBER LVL 3 EXAM
18 January* 2022

* This is our educated guess. In the past, the usual pattern was: exam date + 9.5 weeks + it was Tuesday or Thursday. CFA Institute says that for computer-based exams, the results are likely to be released sooner than in the past.

The good news is that the 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 2016-2020:

2016: 54%
2017: 54%
2018: 56%
2019: 56%
2020: 56%


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 CFA Exam 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!

CREATE FREE STUDY PLAN NOW

AVAILABLE ALSO FOR LEVEL 3 CANDIDATES!




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.



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

Practice your skill to construct written response to questions.



Read Also: