CFA

CFA® Exam Results: Understanding Your Score Report

Finance professional looking to understand his CFA exam results

After you complete the CFA® Program exam, we want to ensure you have the information needed to prepare you for the next step in your journey, whether that is studying for the next level, signing up to re-take the same level, or pursuing other opportunities. Your CFA® exam score report helps you understand your CFA ® exam results. It also gives you vital information to use in your decision. Let’s examine the elements one by one.

Your Performance on Exam 1 

Your Score

The first thing to notice is the thin dashed black line ( ). For the overall exam, this line represents the minimum passing score (MPS). The thick blue line ( ) represents your score on this exam. 

  • If it lies above the MPS line, you passed
  • If your score lies below the MPS line, you, unfortunately, did not pass

Note: Due to the scale and the way the graphics are rendered, scores that were very close to the minimum passing score may appear to brush against or slightly overlap the minimum passing scoreline. 

Your Performance on the Exam

True Ability 

Many factors influence your score on the exam. The most important of these is your true ability, or how thoroughly you know the material. If we could ask you an unlimited number of questions under ideal circumstances, we would eventually be able to determine your true ability. That is not possible, which is why other factors may influence your score, either favorably or unfavorably.

Score Favorable Factors 
  • We sampled from topics and learning outcomes for which you were better prepared 
  • You ate and slept well prior to the exam 
  • You had particularly lucky guesses 
  • The testing environment was comfortable
Unfavorable Factors 
  • We sampled from topics and learning outcomes for which you were less prepared 
  • You slept poorly or were particularly nervous 
  • Your guesses were unlucky, or you made a simple error on a question you would typically get correct 
  • The testing environment was distracting or uncomfortable  
Confidence Interval 

The box around your score ( ) represents a 90% confidence interval. Based on the characteristics of the exam, your true ability (as of exam day) probably lies somewhere in this range, as would your scores on similar exams with different questions. 

1. Score and Confidence Interval Above the MPS: A candidate who scores very well could have high confidence that they would have passed under nearly any circumstance.

2. Score and Confidence Interval Below the MPS: A candidate who scores very poorly can have high confidence they would not have passed under nearly any circumstance and would need to study much more in order to pass in the future.

3. Score Below the MPS but Confidence Interval Overlaps the MPS: A candidate who scored close to the MPS might have passed under some sets of circumstances, but in most cases would not have passed. With a little more studying, this candidate can push the odds in his or her favor.

Your Performance Relative to Others 

Finally, we give you an idea of your performance relative to other candidates. 

  • The thick purple dashed line ( ) represents the 90th percentile score. 10% of candidates scored higher than this on the exam. 
  • The thick black dashed line ( ) represents the 10th percentile score. 10% of candidates scored lower than this on the exam.

We hope this detailed review of the CFA exam score report will help you understand your CFA® exam results and make an informed decision about your next step.

Source: CFA Institute


If you are prepping for an upcoming Level I CFA® exam, check out these top 5 pointers for the Level I CFA exam. And if you want to take your test-prep game to a whole new level, click here for our FREE trial. We’ll have you ready to ace the test on exam day.

CFA Institute does not endorse, promote, or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by UWorld Finance. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.