Updated: April 12, 2024

CFA exam / Level 3

Level 3 CFA Exam

Level 3 CFA Exam Is Twice a Year

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

As of 2022, the level 3 CFA exam is held twice a year. In 2022, it was May and August, and – as of 2023 – it's going to be February & August. This change is to help release the level 3 exam results sooner than in the past while still making the level 3 exam available to CFA candidates twice a year.


  1. 2024 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates
  2. CFA Exam Fees & Registration Deadlines
  3. Scheduling & Rescheduling Deadlines
  4. Level 3 CFA Exam Differences
  5. Level 3 Topics & Their Weights
  6. Level 3 CFA Exam Structure
  7. Level 3 Results
  8. Level 3 Pass Rates
  9. Level 3 Study Plan

2024 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates

In 2024, level 3 CFA exam dates (windows) are available in February and August. Registration for the 2024 level 3 exams is now open.

  • FEB 2024 level 3 CFA exam registration opens on 16 May 2023.
  • AUG 2024 level 3 CFA exam registration opens on 14 November 2023.

Here are the 2024 level 3 CFA exam dates:

15-18
Feb*


0 days until the exam

15-18 Feb*


0 days until the exam

16-19
Aug*


117 days until the exam

16-19 Aug*


117 days until the exam

* The dates indicate the exam window when you can self-schedule your level 3 exam. See how to schedule your CFA exam.


When To Start My CFA Exam Prep?

Create Study Plan for FREE

We’ll remind you when your prep starts


Level 3 CFA Exam Registration Fees & 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.


2024 Level 3 CFA Exam
Registration Fees & Deadlines

HIGHER 2024 CFA EXAM FEES!

The 2024 level 3 CFA exam fees increase compared to the 2023 fees. The higher 2024 CFA exam early registration fee is USD 940 (instead of USD 900) and the standard fee is as high as USD 1250 (instead of USD 1200).


2024 Level 3 CFA Exam Early Registration Deadline Standard Registration Deadline
Registration Fee USD 940 USD 1250
Feb 2024 13 July 2023 8 Nov 2023
Aug 2024 23 Jan 2024 14 May 2024

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


Level 3 CFA Exam Scheduling & Rescheduling

Don't forget to schedule your level 3 CFA exam after you register. Best do it asap 'cos CFA exam scheduling is done on a first-come first-served basis. CFA exam scheduling is free of any additional charge.

Mind that if you don't schedule your exam, you won't be allowed to take it and you'll forfeit your registration fee.

If your scheduled CFA exam date happens to be inconvenient, you can reschedule your level 3 exam if you pay USD 250 (per each re-appointment).


2024 Level 3 CFA Exam
Scheduling & Rescheduling Deadlines


2024 Level 3 CFA Exam Scheduling Deadline Rescheduling Deadline
Feb 2024 21 Nov 2023 16 Jan 2024
Aug 2024 21 May 2024 17 July 2024

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



How Level 3 CFA Exam Differs:
7 Topics, Essay Questions, Higher Pass Rate


Level 3 CFA Exam Topics

Level 3 CFA candidates are tested on 7 topics, instead of 10. In your level 3 curriculum, you will no longer find Quantitative Methods, Corporate Issuers, and Financial Statement Analysis. In the level 3 CFA exam, the major focus is on Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning with a weight of 35-40%.

Here are all the level 3 CFA exam topics with their weights given in ranges:


Level 3 CFA Exam Topics Topic Weight
1 Economics 5-10%
2 Alternative Investments 5-10%
3 Derivatives 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%

Since Portfolio Management represents 35%-40% of the level 3 CFA exam, you'll find the following sub-topic distinctions for your exam questions:

  • Portfolio Management – Behavioral Finance
  • Portfolio Management – Private Wealth
  • Portfolio Management – Institutional
  • Portfolio Management – Asset Allocation
  • Portfolio Management – Trading
  • Portfolio Management – Performance Evaluation
  • Portfolio Management – Investment Manager Selection

For results reporting, Portfolio Management is grouped into two sub-topic categories:

  • PM – Behavioral Finance; Private Wealth; and Institutional (15%-25%)
  • PM – Asset Allocation; Trading; Performance Evaluation; and Investment Manager Selection (10%-20%)


In 2024, there are minor changes in the level 3 CFA exam curriculum compared to the 2023 curriculum. It means in most part you can still use the 2023 books if you have them.



In 2025, the level 3 CFA exam will change a lot, e.g., there will be specialized pathways and Practical Skills Modules (PSMs).




New Level 3 CFA Exam Format as of 2023

The level 3 CFA exam consists of 2 exam sessions, 132 minutes each, with an optional break meanwhile. As always, the exam includes constructed response questions alongside item sets that you already know from your level 2 exam. However – as of 2023 – some important changes to the level 3 CFA exam format have been introduced.

If you previously took your level 3 CFA exam, you know that constructed response (essay) questions used to be included in the first session of the exam, while item sets with multiple-choice questions comprised the second session of the exam.

Starting in 2023, each exam session contains both some essay sets and some item sets. There are 11 essay sets and 11 item sets altogether. So, in each session, you can expect either 6 item sets and 5 essay sets or 5 item sets and 6 essay sets.

This change is due to the difficulties that level 3 CFA candidates used to have when taking the essay session. While they consistently lacked the time to do all the constructed response questions, they felt there was an excess of time during the item set session. Now, the time and difficulty should be easier to handle with the new adjustments to the level 3 CFA exam.


Level 3 Essay Questions & Item Sets

Level 3 CFA exam constructed response questions are open-ended, essay questions that begin with a case study (vignette) followed by several related items (questions/problems to be answered). Some of the items may be multiple-choice questions but the majority require your written response. All questions must be answered based on the information in the vignette. An essay set may have a variable number of items (each one is worth a variable number of points). Points per item are not disclosed.

Note the bolded command words (e.g., explain, justify, determine, calculate) given to guide you through the answer process. Remember that constructed response questions cover specific topic areas and require clear and accurate answers!

Level 3 CFA exam item sets are structured like level 2 CFA exam questions, i.e., they consist of a case study (vignette) followed by 4 multiple-choice questions (each one is worth 3 points). All questions must be answered based on the information in the vignette.

Topics may be placed randomly between the sessions. Also, each vignette (both for essays and item sets) is topped with information about the TOPIC and the total number of points possible to score, e.g.:

  • TOPIC: ECONOMICS
  • TOTAL POINT VALUE OF THIS QUESTION SET IS 12 POINTS

New Level 3 Format Summed Up

To sum up, the new CFA exam CBT format is still changing. The total testing time is now reduced to ca. 4.5 hours and:

  • each level 3 exam session is 132 minutes long,
  • session 1 has a mix of open-ended essay questions and multiple-choice item sets,
  • session 2 has a mix of open-ended essay questions and multiple-choice item sets,
  • there's a total of 11 essay sets, each with a variable number of items/questions (each one is worth a variable-number points),
  • there's a total of 11 item sets, each with 4 multiple-choice questions (each one is worth 3 points),
  • both essay questions and multiple-choice questions are topped with a vignette, i.e. case description to which the questions refer,
  • information about the TOPIC and the total number of points possible to score is provided for each vignette.

Level 3 CFA Exam Tips


Allow for enough PM and essay questions practice when preparing for your exam.

Practice your skill to construct adequate written responses to questions.



Level 3 CFA Exam Results: Longer Waiting but Higher Pass Rate

Level 3 candidates always have to wait for their CFA exam results a bit longer than level 1 and level 2 candidates. It's due to the open-ended questions which take longer to grade. In the past, CFA Institute had up to 90 days to announce level 3 scores but this changes due to computer-based testing. CFA Institute intends to release level 3 CFA exam scores in 6-8 weeks post-exam.

Here's our most optimistic educated guess about when level 3 CFA exam results for the 2024 CFA exams should be available:


FEB LVL 3 EXAM
11 Apr* 2024

AUG LVL 3 EXAM
1 Oct* 2024


* This educated guess is based on the information that CFA Institute intends to release level 3 CFA exam results in even 6 weeks after the close of the exam window + CFA exam results have usually been announced on Tuesday or Thursday.


Past Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rates

The good news is that the level 3 pass rate is higher as a rule than level 1 and 2 pass rates. The level 3 CFA exam pass rate used to exceed 50%. Now, it's around 40% but getting closer to 50% plus compared to the new level 1 and level 2 CFA exam pass rates – it's still pretty good!

Here are some most current level 3 pass rates:


Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rates
May 2021 42%
Aug 2021 39%
Nov 2021 43%
May 2022 49%
Aug 2022 48%
Feb 2023 48%
Aug 2023 47%
Feb 2024 49%

NOTE: In 2021, the level 3 CFA exam was held in May, Aug, and Nov. In 2022, level 3 candidates took their exam in May instead of Feb.


Create Your Study Plan & Pass CFA Exam


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

CFA Institute informs that candidates spend around 300 hours studying for each level of the 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:



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.

Remember that as soon as you pass your level 3 exam, you have to meet all the requirements to become a CFA charterholder.






About Soleadea:

Our CFA Exam Study Planner is available to candidates of all levels at groundbreaking Pay-What-You-Can prices. You decide how much you want to pay for our services. After you activate your account, you get unlimited access to our Study Planner 4.0 with study lessons inside (level 3 to come), various level 1/level 2 study materials & tools, regular review sessions, and a holistic growth approach to your preparation. Join


Read Also:

2024+ CFA Program Changes
How to Become a CFA Charterholder
CFA Exam Checklist