CFA® Level 1 Exam
First Step to the CFA Charter

Kudos! You've finally decided to take the first step towards becoming a CFA® charterholder, and the CFA Level 1 exam is the first of three levels required to qualify for the charter. It is computer-based, covers ten topics, and is divided into two sessions administered on the same day. Even though the CFA Level 1 exam has the lowest passing score, the questions only concern the candidate's fundamental knowledge of the field. According to the CFA Institute (CFAI), Level 1 will occur four times in 2022: February, May, August, and November.

What Is the CFA Level 1 Exam Format?

The first session of the CFA Level 1 exam covers four topics: Ethics, Quantitative Methods, Economics, and Financial Statement Analysis. Then the second session covers the remaining six topics: Corporate Finance, Equity, Fixed Income, Derivatives, Alternative Investments, and Portfolio Management.

The two sessions last about 2 hours and 14 minutes each, leaving 1.5 minutes per question. There are 180 questions in total (90 questions per session) asked in a Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) format and with no negative marking. Yes! This means that you can put your guessing cap on with no consequences.

Level 1 includes three types of questions:

  • Theoretical:Tests your knowledge of different financial concepts, definitions, models, and theorems
  • Computing:Tests your ability to quick calculations and do the math in general
  • Reasoning: Tests your understanding of establishing the connections between concepts, and ability to think logically

CFA Level 1 Topic Overview

The CFA Level 1 exam focuses on fundamental knowledge and understanding of investment valuation and portfolio management tools and concepts. The curriculum is divided into the ten topic areas below with the appropriate weightage:

Topic Topic Name Weight Number of
Questions
1 Ethical and Professional Standards 15-20% 27-36
2 Quantitative Methods 8-12% 15-22
3 Economics 8-12% 15-22
4 Financial Statement Analysis 13-17% 24-30
5 Corporate Finance 8-12% 15-21
6 Portfolio Management 5-8% 9-15
7 Equity Investments 10-12% 18-21
8 Fixed Income 10-12% 18-21
9 Derivatives 5-8% 9-15
10 Alternative Investments 5-8% 9-15

For much more extensive information on these topics, refer to the CFA Level 1 topics.

CFA Exam Eligibility, Registration, Scheduling, and Requirements

Now that you've gotten a sense of what the CFA Level 1 entails, it's time to sign up. To be eligible to take the exam, candidates must meet the CFA program entrance requirements.

To begin, candidates must have a bachelor's (or equivalent) degree, be a final-year student (complete the degree before registering for the level 2 exam), or have approximately 4,000 hours of professional work experience (or a combination of work experience and education totaling 4,000 hours).

Also, because the exam and the entire curriculum are in English, the candidate must be fluent in the English language. After making the required payments, a candidate can only register for the level 1 exam.

Registration Particulars

If you are registering for the first time, you must pay a $450 program enrollment fee in addition to the exam fee; $700 for early registration and $1,000 for standard registration.

For the 2023 testing window, the early registration and standard registration fees are increased to $900 and $1200, respectively.

The CFAI does change the annual exam schedule periodically, so always refer to the official website for the most updated information. To initiate your registration process, please visit the CFAI website.

2022 Registration Fees

  • One-time enrollment fee: $450 for ‘first-timers’
  • Early Registration: $700
  • Standard Registration: $1000 (due by August 2022)

2023 Registration Fees

Beginning with the 2023 exam cycle, the price of the one-time enrollment fee will decrease from $450 to $350, while the cost to register for each exam will increase from $700 to $900 for early registration and from $1,000 to $1,200 for standard registration.

Type of Registration Feb 2023
Window
May 2023
window
August 2023
Window
Registration
Fees
Early Registration Due Date Aug 2022 Nov 2022 Feb 2023 $900
Standard Registration Due Date Oct 2022 Feb 2023 May 2023 $1200
$350 enrollment fee for first-timers
Why Do Only 29% Pass the CFA® Level 1 Exam?
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Scholarship Eligibility

To make the CFA exam more accessible, CFAI has compiled a list of scholarships that the test-takers can apply for to receive a significant discount on the registration fee. You can also apply for UWorld’s CFA® scholarship that recognizes ten deserving CFA Level 1 candidates chosen based on merit and involvement.

The scholarship covers everything you need to prepare for and take the exam. Each recipient will receive over $1,400 in tools and financial aid, including a full scholarship to UWorld's Elite-360 Course, CFAI one-time enrollment fee, and the CFAI exam fee for the period chosen by the candidate.

Here's a list of five scholarships that the CFAI offers:

  1. Access Scholarship
  2. Women's Scholarship
  3. Student Scholarship
  4. Professor Scholarship
  5. Regulator Scholarship
Scholarship Name Details Discount
Access Scholarship For individuals who may not be able to afford the program fees. $250
Women's Scholarship For women who want to become CFA charterholders but do not qualify for other CFA Institute scholarships and have not yet registered for their next exam. $350
Student Scholarship For students currently attending an affiliated university and have not yet registered for their next exam. $350
Professor Scholarship Full-time college/university professors, administrators, or department heads who teach a minimum number of credit hours at qualified institutions and have not yet registered for their next exam. $350
Regulator Scholarship Employees of financial regulators, central banks, securities commissions, qualifying stock exchanges, SROs, or government agencies are eligible. Specifically, those entities that oversee or regulate investment management industry operations, standards of practice, or business conduct, or have entered into a program agreement with CFAI. $350

Scheduling and Rescheduling CFA Level 1 Exam

It's important to note that registering for the exam is a two-step process. You must first register before you can choose the day and location of your Level 1 exam. The entire process is facilitated by a dedicated platform known as ProScheduler. Because appointments are always first-come, first-served, don't put off your scheduling. If you have second thoughts about the date selected, you may reschedule for an additional $250 fee per re-appointment.

Exam Center Locations

CFA exams are administered in over 400 locations worldwide. Candidates will see test center options during the scheduling procedure with confirmed available seating. Remember that you must first register before scheduling your appointment. If you don't see your preferred location listed, try checking back since the CFAI updates the appointment availability routinely.

Exam-Day Requirements

For the CFA Level 1 exam, you are allowed to bring the following items to the test center:

  • A CFA exam calculator (including the case and loose batteries)
  • A valid international travel passport
  • Prescription eyeglasses (without the case)
  • ‘A calm and composed mind - pun intended

Please note:

  • Additional personal items are allowed in the test center (if applicable, e.g., earplugs, medication, etc.)
  • Personal baggage and food items aren't allowed inside the test center.

Read more on What To Take to the CFA Exam on Test Day.

CFA Level 1 Exam Curriculum Updates

CFAI is known for revising its curriculum slightly each year, typically to reflect industry changes. The CFA Level 1 curriculum was significantly updated in 2022, but the weight of each topic remained unchanged from 2021. CFAI added eight new readings, and significantly revised several other readings.

Here are some CFA curriculum changes (revisions and additions) :

  • Quantitative Methods

    Revisions: Probability Concepts, Common Probability Distributions, Sampling and Estimation, and Hypothesis Testing

    Additions: Organizing, Visualizing, and Describing Data and Introduction to Linear Regression

  • Economics

    Revisions: Aggregate Output, Prices, and Economic Growth

    Additions: Understanding Business Cycles

  • Financial Statement Analysis

    Revisions: Non-Current (Long-Term) Liabilities

    Additions: No additions

  • Corporate Issuers

    Revisions: No revisions

    Additions: Uses of Capital, Sources of Capital, and Cost of Capital—Foundational Topics

  • Fixed Income

    Revisions: No revisions

    Additions: Introduction to Asset-Backed Securities, and Understanding Fixed-Income Risk and Return

  • Alternative Investments

    Revisions: No revisions

    Additions: Investing methods, fee structures, and performance appraisal

  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

    Revisions: Technical Analysis

    Additions: The Behavioral Biases of Individuals

  • Ethical and Professional Standards

    Revisions: Introduction to the Global Investment Performance Standards

    Additions: Ethics Application

CFA Level 1 Mock Exam

With the level of dedication that the CFA exam demands from the candidate, studying the readings alone won't be enough. A proper practice strategy replicating the actual exam is equally imperative to succeed. UWorld's Mock Exams closely simulate the actual CFA Level 1 exam experience to help you prepare and boost your confidence on test day.

Like the actual CFA exam, our mock exams consist of two 2-hour and 15-minute sessions, each with 90 multiple-choice questions, allowing you to identify your development areas and compare your relative ranking to other users. And, when you select CFA Mode, your screen will simulate the real Prometric interface, preparing you for the actual test day environment.

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FAQs

The Level 1 exam is spread over two 2 hour 15 minute sessions (session times are approximate) with an optional break of 30 minutes between sessions.
The CFA exams are challenging, and Level 1 is just the beginning. Level 1 can be considered a screening process that assesses candidates’ fundamental understanding of the various sections of the CFA curriculum. Because Level 1 typically has low pass rates, knowing what to expect is always a good first step before taking the exam.
The Level I exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions divided into two sessions of 90 questions each.
For the 2023 exams, the candidates will be charged $900 for early registration and $1,200 for standard registration. For first-timers, the initial enrollment fee will be $350. These prices do not include any preparatory materials or assets of any kind.
Candidates are permitted to take the exam a maximum of two times per calendar year (when applicable), but only after six months of the initial testing window. Candidates will have a total of six maximum attempts per exam level.
A candidate may take an exam up to two times per calendar year, but only after six months of the initial testing window. The 6-month window also allows you to reflect on why you could not crack it and revise your strategy. Read more on How To Overcome Failing the CFA Exam

UWorld’s Mock Exams closely replicate the actual CFA Level 1 exam experience to help you prepare and boost your confidence on test day. Like the real exam, it consists of two 2-hour, 15-minute sessions, each with 90 multiple-choice questions spanning multiple subjects. Plus, you can also compare your progress with other candidates using UWorld.

Candidates do not receive a numerical score on the CFA exams. Instead, the CFAI establishes a Minimum Passing Score (MPS) after each exam cycle. If a candidate’s score is at/above the MPS, they will receive a “Pass” or a “Did not pass” result.

Read more on CFA Exam Scoring and CFA Minimum Passing Score.

You can expect to receive test results approximately 8-10 weeks after the close of an exam window. Read more on CFA Exam Results: Understanding Your Score Report.

Only two calculator models are authorized for use during the tests:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional)
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th-anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)
From 2013 to 2022, the 10-year average pass rate was 41%, making it the level with the lowest pass rates.

Read More About the CFA Exam

Since its inception, the CFA Level 1 exam has been notorious for maintaining consistently low pass rates. Here is everything you need to know about CFA scoring, pass rates, and the minimum passing score.
All set to appear for the CFA exam? Here’s a set of requirements and eligibility criteria that you need to consider before the same.
Looking for an overview of the CFA exam registration, cost, and the fees involved? This guide has detailed information on the “when, how, and where” of the CFA registration and cost.
Planning to register for the CFA exam? Visit this quick guide for detailed info on everything you would need to know before attempting the exam.
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