Level 1 CFA® Exam Topic Weights in 2020

CFA Exam: Level 1 / Topics / Weights

IMPORTANT: Due to COVID pandemic, CFA Institute has made the decision to postpone the June 2020 CFA Exam administration globally. Read more here

The table shows the weights of all level 1 CFA exam topics for your June 2020 & Dec 2020 exams:

Topics Level 1 CFA Exam Weights
Ethics 15%
Quantitative Methods 10%
Economics 10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 15%
Corporate Finance 10%
Portfolio Management 6%
Equity Investments 11%
Fixed Income Investments 11%
Derivative Investments 6%
Alternative Investments 6%

As you can see the most important topics are:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA), and
  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Ethics).

You should devote around one third of your study time to these 2 topics.

Note that the topic weights on your exam may slightly differ from the topic weights given above. What you can see below is an example of how your exam questions may be distributed among the topics on your test.

Predicted Number of Questions for Level 1 CFA Exam Topics

No. of questions:
morning session
No. of questions:
afternoon session
Ethics 18 18
Quantitative Methods 12 12
Economics 12 12
Financial Reporting and Analysis 18 18
Corporate Finance 12 12
Portfolio Management 8 8
Equity Investments 13 13
Fixed Income Investments 13 13
Derivative Investments 7 7
Alternative Investments 7 7
SUM 120 120

IMPORTANT! The whole CFA exam level 1 includes 240 questions, 120 in the morning session and 120 in the afternoon session.

This is what you can expect in your 2020 level 1 CFA exams:

  • the highest number of questions for Ethics and FRA (18 per topic for each exam session),
  • similar number of questions for QM, Eco, CF, EI, and FI (12-13 per topic for each exam session),
  • also several questions for DI, AI, and PM (7-8 per topic for each exam session).

As of June 2019, topic weights changed. For Dec 2018 and earlier, the weights for level 1 topics were as follows: FRA (20%), Ethics (15%), QM (12%), EI (10%), FI (10%), ECO (10%), CF (7%), PM (7%), DI (5%), and AI (4%).

2020 Level 1 CFA Exam Topic Weights


IMPORTANT! Even though topic weights change, the difficulty of topics stays pretty much the same.

CFA Exam Topics Difficulty

The difficulty of topics is a subjective criterion. What is difficult for one candidate need not be difficult for another. When we define a topic as difficult, it means that the concepts it covers are usually said to be difficult.

3 hardest CFA exam level 1 topics: what are they & why? READ HERE

Are there any easy topics in level 1 CFA exam?

While making your level 1 study plan, you should definitely take topics difficulty into account. Factor it in if you consider a certain topic (or its part) to be difficult (or easy). If you have no idea, though, you can count on our help. Our free study planner, takes topic difficulty and importance into account. The implemented topic sequence is optimal:

  • more challenging topics are coupled with more easy ones allowing you to take a sort of a break meanwhile,
  • where possible, topics are coupled based on the similarity of concepts,
  • Ethics and FRA are scheduled relatively upfront to ensure they are thoroughly studied.

The time scheduled for each topic depends on its difficulty, the number of pages in the Curriculum, and the number of questions devoted to the topic on the exam.

While creating your personalized CFA exam study schedule, you can choose the topic sequence you like:

  • Soleadea topic sequence based on CFA exam topic length, difficulty, and importance (highly recommended ):
  • CFA Program curriculum topic sequence: ETH, QM, ECO, FRA, CF, PM, EI, FI, DI, AI, or
  • CFA Program curriculum topic sequence but with Ethics at the end: QM, ECO, FRA, CF, PM, EI, FI, DI, AI, ETH.

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It All Starts With Your Study Plan



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