9 Facts About CFA® Exam

CFA exam / 9 facts


CFA® stands for Chartered Financial Analyst® and it is a designation, i.e. a title/a charter, that is recognized worldwide for its value. When you earn it – you can use it after your name as a title, e.g. Sally Sample, CFA.

Everything About CFA Exam in Short

About CFA exam: CFA exam consists of 3 exams (levels) and you need to be well prepared for each exam 'cos pass rates are rather low. Here’s a shortlist of everything you must know about the CFA exam, incl. pass rates, exam cost, required study material, or the recommended number of hours you should plan to prepare.

  1. Global Financial Standard
  2. The CFA designation is respected worldwide and it is called the golden standard of financial certification. After completing the CFA® Program, candidates get impressive knowledge about finance and ethical grounding. The boost in salary for those who succeed is big. It's even up to 50-70%.

  3. Three CFA Exam Levels
  4. The CFA exam consists of level 1, level 2, and level 3 exams. You need to pass all 3 levels. As of 2021, CFA exams move from traditional paper-based to computer-based testing. In 2021, owing to the global pandemic situation, there will be as many as 6 level 1 exam windows and 3 exam windows for both level 2 and level 3 candidates. Starting in 2022, CFA exams will be available 4 times a year for level 1: in February, May, August, and November. Level 2 and level 3 exams will alternate each quarter: February and August for level 2 and May and November for level 3. We explain more about computer-based CFA exams here

  5. Rather Low Pass Rates
  6. There are around 250 thousand candidates a year. The level 1 pass rate is around 43%. The pass rate grows a bit for level 2 and level 3 – to roughly 45% and over 50%, respectively.

  7. CFA Exam Cost
  8. The earlier you register for the exam, the less you pay for it. For the newcomers to the Program, there is a one-time enrollment fee of USD 450. Then, every time you want to take your CFA exam (all levels, incl. retakes), you need to pay a registration fee of USD 700 for early birds or USD 1000 for standard registration. In the registration fee, the access to CFA Program curriculum is included. Check the applicable fees and deadlines here

    The minimum cost of the CFA exam (all 3 levels) is USD 2550. It allows for no retakes and assumes 3 early registration fees.

  9. CFA Exam Topics
  10. There are 10 CFA exam topics:

  • Ethics,
  • Quantitative Methods,
  • Economics,
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis,
  • Corporate Finance,
  • Equity Investments,
  • Fixed Income Investments,
  • Derivative Investments,
  • Alternative Investments, and
  • Portfolio Management.

At levels 1 and 2, you are tested on all the 10 topics. In the level 3 exam, there is no more FRA, Quantitative Methods, and Corporate Finance. Read more about level 1 and level 2 topics.

  1. Typical Exam Day
  2. Each exam level consists of two sessions with an optional break meanwhile. As of 2021, the total testing time gets reduced from 6 hrs to 4.5 hrs (2 x 135 minutes), which means that the number of questions also decreases, e.g. for level 1 it's going to be 2 x 90 multiple-choice questions (instead of 2 x 120 multiple-choice questions). You can read more on how exam day experience changes under computer-based testing

  3. Language of Testing
  4. The exam is given in English. So, to be able to take the exam and prepare for it, you need to have a good command of written English.

  5. How Long to Prepare for Exam
  6. It is said that an average candidate needs 300 hours to prepare well for each level of the CFA exam.

  7. CFA Exam Study Planning
  8. To pass your CFA exam, you need to plan out your preparation carefully. We devised the way for successful CFA exam prep with study planning lying at the heart of it. To check our study options, see here . We give you an advanced CFA Exam Study Planner with study lessons, videos, practice questions, printable notes (e-books), formulas app, mocks, etc. inside. Join us now:

Here’s a sample CFA exam study schedule as displayed in our new Study Planner 4.0:

CFA Exam Study Planner: PLAN VIEW

You will find your Study Plan in the PLAN tab View all the weeks of your CFA exam prep, see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you, as well as customize your plan using both your Study Plan personalization options and the DRAG & DROP feature.

CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY VIEW

CFA Exam Study Planner: STUDY View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. You will know what to study (left-hand menu) and how much to study (benchmark study times). At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the SUM UP button). Note that study lessons with study materials are available for level 1 and level 2 candidates!



Updated: July 20, 2021

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