9 Things You Should Know About CFA® Exam

CFA exam / 9 things to know


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

Quickly About CFA Exam

About CFA exam: In fact, it consists of 3 exams 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. In 2020, the CFA exam is held in December. As of 2021, it moves from the traditional paper-based testing to computers (read more on the CFA exam and CBT ) and it will be available 4 times a year for level 1: in February, May, August, and November. Level 2 and level 3 exams will be delivered twice a year. In 2021, it's going to be May and August for level 2 and May and November for level 3. As of 2022, level 2 and level 3 exams will alternate each quarter: February and August for level 2 and May and November for level 3.

  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.

  11. Typical Exam Day
  12. Each exam level consists of two sessions with an optional break meanwhile for CBT exams. 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). Read more on how exam day experience changes under computer-based testing

  13. Language of Testing
  14. 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.

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

  17. CFA Exam Study Planning
  18. 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 videos, practice questions, printable notes (e-books), formulas app, mocks, etc. inside. Join us now:

Below you can see both ALL WEEKS and CURRENT WEEK views of our sample level 1 CFA exam study schedule:

CFA Exam Study Plan: All Weeks View

CFA Exam Study Plan: All Weeks View That’s where you can view all the weeks of your CFA exam prep to see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you.

Also, here you can customize the plan to your needs using the DRAG & DROP feature (the icon) to move the readings around.

CFA Exam Study Plan: Current Week View

CFA Exam Study Plan: Current Week View You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. Each week you will find some useful practice tools & compact study materials. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the SUM UP button).



Updated: Oct 1, 2020

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