LAST UPDATED: Oct 13, 2020
Level 3 CFA® Exam
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.
In 2021, CFA exam is moving to computer-based testing. The new CBT level 3 exam will be organized twice a year, in May and November.
Nearest Level 3 CFA Exam Date
(Just for June 2020 Candidates)
5/6* December 2020
35 days until the exam
June 2020 level 3 candidates may choose to take their postponed exam either in December 2020 or at any of 2021 level 3 exam dates. They need to decide before 20 October 2020 (free of charge). To accommodate all June 2020 candidates, the Dec exam may be held on Sat and Sun + religious alternate date is 6 Dec. You can read more about the postponed exam here
2021 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates
25 May - 1 June
206 days until the exam
23 - 25 Nov
388 days until the exam
The registration fees and deadlines given below, do not apply to June 2020 candidates who choose the exam date before 20 October 2020. 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|
begins: 20 Aug | ends:
begins: 4 Nov | ends:
|November 2021 FEES|
begins: 20 Aug | ends:
begins: 5 May | ends:
Note: The deadlines end at 11:59 p.m. ET.
2021 level 3 exam registration opened on 20 August 2020.
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 (%)|
|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
Dec 2020 level 3 exam will consist of 3 hours of the morning session and 3 hours of the afternoon session. In the morning session, you can expect 8-15 vignettes, i.e. 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, you can expect 10-15 item set questions (structured like for level 2 CFA exam).
In 2021, 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. Currently, the details about 2021 level 3 exams are not yet known. What we know now is that:
- each exam session will be approx. 135 min long,
- questions will still be formed into item sets (multiple-choice questions topped with vignettes, i.e. short description),
- 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,
- as always, level 3 exam is going to have some open-ended questions, as well.
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, i.e. roughly 9.5 weeks after the exam. Here's our prediction for the nearest Dec 2020 level 3 exam:
* This is our educated guess based on how CFA Institute released exam results in the past. The usual pattern: your exam date + 9.5 weeks + it’s almost always been Tuesday.
For computer-based exams – results could be available sooner than 9.5 weeks post-exam. Still, the exact date is not yet known even to CFA Institute emphasizing that the same MPS procedure will still be in place.
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 2016-2019:
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!
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.