Is CFA® Exam Pass Rate Fixed Around 43% For Good?

CFA exam / Results / Pass Rates



CFA Exam Pass Rates, All Levels


  1. Level 1 CFA exam pass rates
  2. Level 2 CFA exam pass rates
  3. Level 3 CFA exam pass rates

Level 1 CFA Exam
Pass Rates (2015 – 2021)

Level 1 CFA Exam Pass Rate
Aug 2021 Exam 26% (why so low?)
July 2021 Exam 22%
May 2021 Exam 25%
February 2021 Exam 44%
December 2020 Exam 49%
June 2020 Exam postponed
December 2019 Exam 42%
June 2019 Exam 41%
December 2018 Exam 45%
June 2018 Exam 43%
December 2017 Exam 43%
June 2017 Exam 43%
December 2016 Exam 43%
June 2016 Exam 43%
December 2015 Exam 43%
June 2015 Exam 42%

The August 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate is only 26%. It’s exceptionally low compared to the average pass rate of 43% true of the past level 1 CFA exams.

However, level 1 pass rates were not always above 40% and as fixed from exam to exam as recently. For example, pass rates for level 1 exams held from 2009 to 2013 ranged from 34% to 46% and the average pass rate for this period was 39%.


It is an open question whether the trend of pass rates stabilizing around 43% holds true in the future. The Dec 2020 level 1 pass rate of 49% turned out to be a bit higher. But the Feb 2021 level 1 CFA exam pass rate was again down to 44%. Now the May, July, and August level 1 pass rates are even lower...

Read more about CFA exam results, pass rates and MPS in our blog post on how the CFA exam's graded.

IMPORTANT!

The "real" pass rate for all registered level 1 candidates is significantly lower than the average 43%. We explain why in our post on the level 1 CFA exam in detail.


CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2021

The Feb level 1 exam was the first CFA exam to be held in 2021 and it was delivered on computers.

Feb 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 44%

Next computer-based 2021 CFA exams for candidates of all levels will take place in May, August, and November.

May 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 25%
  • Level 2: 40%
  • Level 3: 42%

July was the month when only level 1 CFA exam took place.

July 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 22%

August 2021 CFA exam pass rate:

  • Level 1: 26% (why so low?)
  • Level 2: 29%
  • Level 3: ? (still waiting)

CFA Exam Pass Rates
in 2020

In 2020, CFA exams (all levels) were held only in December due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic. June 2020 exams were postponed.

Dec 2020 CFA exam pass rates:

  • Level 1: 49%
  • Level 2: 55%
  • Level 3: 56%

The reason why the 2020 CFA exam pass rates were so high is because many Dec candidates had their exams postponed from June and while they prepared to take their exam – they reviewed their study material again and again. Regular review is one of the pillars of our study approach and we always encourage you to revise as often as possible to minimize your forgetting and improve your learning curve.


Level 2 & Level 3
CFA Exam Pass Rates (2015 – 2021)

Whether you're still a level 1 candidate or are about to move to the next levels of your CFA exam, you might be interested in the pass rates for level 2 and level 3 exams. That's what they looked like for the last several years:

Level 2 CFA Exam Pass Rate
Aug 2021 Exam 29%
May 2021 Exam 40%
December 2020 Exam 55%
June 2020 Exam postponed
June 2019 Exam 44%
June 2018 Exam 45%
June 2017 Exam 47%
June 2016 Exam 46%
June 2015 Exam 46%
Level 3 CFA Exam Pass Rate
May 2021 Exam 42%
December 2020 Exam 56%
June 2020 Exam postponed
June 2019 Exam 56%
June 2018 Exam 56%
June 2017 Exam 54%
June 2016 Exam 54%
June 2015 Exam 53%

While the level 2 CFA exam pass rate was usually just a bit higher than the pass rates given for the level 1 exam, level 3 pass rate was higher by a lot and always exceeded 50% over the last several years, except for the May 2021 level 3 pass rate :-/.

Unexpectedly, for the Dec 2020 level 2 CFA exam (postponed from June 2020), the pass rate also exceeded 50%. It was 55% high! However, the May 2021 level 2 CFA exam pass rate was just 40% and now the Aug 2021 level 2 CFA exam pass rate is as low as 29%.


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Updated: Oct 21, 2021



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