LAST UPDATED: Nov 6, 2020

Level 3 CFA® Exam

CFA exam / Level 3

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

0 days until the exam

5/6* December 2020

0 days until the exam

Postponed June 2020 level 3 candidates may take their CFA exam either in December 2020 or at any of 2021 level 3 exam dates. To accommodate all June 2020 candidates, the Dec exam may be held on Sat and Sun + religious alternate date is 6 Dec.

Unfortunately, December exams are being canceled in many locations worldwide. See here if your Dec 2020 test center has been closed .

If your level 3 CFA exam has been canceled again, you can either re-register free of charge within the registration window given for your chosen 2021 exam (see below ) or ask for a refund

2021 Level 3 CFA Exam Dates

25 May - 1 June

127 days until the exam

25 May - 1 June

127 days until the exam

23 - 25 Nov

309 days until the exam

23 - 25 Nov

309 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:

Read more about May level 3 exam

November 2021 FEES

begins: 20 Aug | ends:
MAY 2021

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 (%)
1 Economics 5-10
2 Alternative Investments 5-10
3 Derivative Investments 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

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:

results expected on:
9* February 2021

results expected on:

* 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%.


2016: 54%
2017: 54%
2018: 56%
2019: 56%

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!



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.