Exam Eligibility Checklist For Levels 1, 2 and 3
If you're thinking about getting your CFA charter, you've probably heard of the three exams you need to pass. While the Level 1 exam encompasses a bunch of verification and eligibility criterias, the only additional CFA requirements for Level 2 and Level 3 are to have passed the previous level. The primary requirements for candidate eligibility and verification to get started are covered in the steps below.
CFA Level 1 Requirements / Enrollment
Before you can actually sit for the first phase of the CFA exam, you need to satisfy some eligibility criteria and requirements mandated by the CFA Institute.
Education & Professional Requirements
Bachelor's Degree: You must have completed a Bachelor's or equivalent program and hold a college/university degree. Consult your college or university if you are unsure if your program is comparable.
Undergraduate Student: Students with two years remaining in their undergraduate studies will be able to sit for the Level 1 exam; as part of CFAI’s expanded eligibility that began on 1 November 2022. Please note that it is essential to finish your degree program before taking your CFA Level 2 exam.
- Professional Work Experience: You must have about 4,000 hours of work experience or higher education acquired over three years before registering for the Level 1 exam. Make sure that your education and work experience timelines do not overlap.
International Travel Passport
Having a valid international travel passport is a requirement for taking the exams. If your international travel passport expires before your exam date, you may still register. But, before exam day, you must renew and update your account credentials with the new information. If the information in your account does not exactly match the details on your passport, or if your passport is expired, you will be unable to take the exam and will forfeit your registration fee.
The United Nations agency ICAO has determined that all non machine-readable passports are considered expired as of 24 November 2015. Therefore, international travel passports that are not machine-readable (including handwritten passports) will be considered invalid for entry into the CFA exam.
Beyond knowledge of the CFAI curriculum, the exams are also a test of clear communication and self-expression. Since the exam is conducted entirely in English, knowledge and context of the language is essential. Especially with Level 3 introducing an essay format, strong writing skills including proper sentence construction, and concise responses is imperative to practice and master.
CFA Institute upholds the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards) to ensure the integrity of CFA Institute membership, designations, and exam programs. The Professional Conduct Program oversees the disciplinary process at CFAI for conducting investigations into allegations, determining violations, imposing sanctions, conducting disciplinary proceedings, and disclosing violations.
Countries Eligible for CFA
CFAI, as a US corporation, abides by the US Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) rules, which prohibit US institutions from doing business in certain countries and with specific individuals and entities. CFAI cannot conduct business with citizens of Cuba, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine's Crimea region. Before registering for a CFAI program, it is recommended that candidates who work outside of the United States look up their employer's name on the OFAC SDN list.
CFA Level 2 Requirements
You must have passed the Level 1 exam and completed your bachelor's degree to sit for the Level 2 exam. You will have 20 vignettes, each of which will be followed by six questions. Like the Level 1 exam, Level 2 is divided into two equal sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
CFA Level 3 Requirements
To attempt the CFA Level 3 exam, you must have passed Level 2. The Level 3 exam comprises 8-11 constructed response questions and ten vignettes divided into morning and afternoon sessions.
Check Your Eligibility
We understand that having many eligibility requirements can be perplexing at times. Here's a checklist to ensure you always have the list of requirements nearby, reducing the chances of missing anything.
|Your Eligibility Checklist (excluding fee payments)|
|First Timer (Looking to attempt the CFA Level 1 exam)|
Must have one of the following requirements checked
Professional Work Experience
An International Travel Passport
English Language Proficiency
Meet the 'Professional Conduct Admission Criteria’
Do you live in a participating country?
|Attempting Level 2|
Have a Bachelor’s degree
Cleared Level 1 exam
|Attempting Level 3|
Cleared Level 2 exam
Note: Read the detailed overview of each requirement before using this checklist.
What’s Next After You Fulfill the Enrollment Requirements?
Once you fulfill all the requirements mandated by the CFAI for attempting the exams, the next step is to register. The windows for the CFA registration vary in costs —earlier the date, lesser the registration cost — depending on when a candidate decides to register for the exam. The total cost of all three CFA exams ranges from approximately $2,600 to $4,000, assuming three consecutive passes with no travel and accommodation costs. This does not include third-party prep provider costs, which is highly recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of all the requirements required to be valid for a CFA charter, having the necessary CFA work experience is of utmost importance.
Before you begin your CFA charter journey, make sure you:
- Know the work experience requirements
- Determine your current qualifying experience
- Create a well-constructed plan to obtain the work experience
- Plan your timing around your CFA exam to get the required experience