CFA® Level 3 Exam
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Aced the CFA® Level 2 exam? Congratulations! The CFA® Level 3 exam is the third and final exam required by the CFA Institute. You will receive your CFA Charter once you have passed Level 3 and have at least 48 months of relevant work experience and the required references.

Unlike the first two levels, which focus on basic financial knowledge, investment valuation comprehension, and application, the CFA Level 3 exam focuses on portfolio management and wealth planning. According to recent changes in the CFA exam dates and frequency, the CFA Level 3 exam will be held twice a year in 2023: February and August.

Year Exam Window
2022 May (closed) August
2023 February August

What Is the CFA Level 3 Exam Format?

The CFA Level 3 exam is conducted twice a year with both item-set and essay-type questions. The Level 3 exam takes place over a 4-hour and 24-minute period split into two 2-hour and 12-minute sessions. Candidates can also take an optional break. 

The morning session (Session 1) features 8 to 11 open-ended essay-type questions. Each question has multiple parts, such as A, B, C, and so on, which help you organize your answer in a template. These questions will present you with a situation that requires an apt recommendation or solution.

The afternoon session (Session 2)will have 10 item sets, divided into 44 Multiple Choice Questions beginning with a case statement and ending with six multiple-choice questions. At approximately 52%, Level 3 has the highest pass rate for all levels over the last 10 years.

CFA Level 3 Topics Overview

Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning account for a sizable portion of the CFA Level 3 exam. It also covers seven topics divided into two categories: Ethical and Professional Standards, and Asset Classes.

Topic Topic Name 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%

Here are some brief pointers about the most crucial CFA Level 3 topic—Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning:

  1. Portfolio management concepts will be predominant in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
  2. The curriculum is extensive and introduces new behavioral finance concepts that serve as the foundation for financial decision-making.
  3. The topic also covers concepts like risk management, including tools and techniques for measuring and managing risk.
  4. You will most likely be tested on individual and institutional wealth questions.

Registration, Scheduling, and Exam Requirements

The CFAI has set some CFA eligibility requirements you must meet to register for the exam. Naturally, to sit for the CFA Level 3 exam, you must first pass the CFA Level 1 and 2 exams. After meeting the eligibility requirements, the CFA registration process is similar to Level 1 and Level 2.

Some pointers to consider:

  1. Clear the CFA Level 1 and Level 2 exams.
  2. Make sure you have the particulars of your CFAI account.
  3. Pay the fees per your selected payment window.
  4. Accept the ‘Candidate Agreement’ and submit the Professional Conduct Statement. After registering, you must schedule your exam date within the exam window of your choice. While the scheduling deadlines are much like those of the Level 1 exam, the rescheduling deadlines are usually a little longer for levels 2 and 3.

2022 Registration Fees

  • Early Registration: $700
  • Standard Registration: $1000

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
August 2023
Window
Registration
Fees
Early Registration Due Date Aug 2022 Feb 2023 $900
Standard Registration Due Date Oct 2022 May 2023 $1200

Scheduling and Rescheduling your Level 3 Exam

The CFA Level 3 exam, unlike the Level 1 has a slightly more extended rescheduling period with an additional $250 fee per rescheduling. The entire process is aided by a dedicated platform known as ProScheduler.

It is important to note that registering for the exam is a two-step process. You must first register, then schedule your appointment. During the registration process, you will see test center options from among 400 locations, with confirmed available seating. If you don't see your preferred location listed, keep checking back because the CFAI regularly updates the appointment availability.

Scholarships

To increase the participation of all candidates for the CFA exams, the CFAI offers scholarships that offer a considerable discount on the registration fee. You can also apply for UWorld’s CFA® scholarship, which recognizes deserving CFA candidates based on merit and involvement (Level 3 candidates will be included in 2024). 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, and the CFAI exam fee for the period chosen by the candidate.

Apart from this, the CFAI also offers about five scholarships with varying eligibility requirements and scholarship amounts. Before registering, visit the CFAI website for much more detailed information regarding the aforesaid scholarships.

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 registering for the exam is a two-step process: You must first register, then schedule your specific exam date and location. If you don't see your preferred location listed, try checking back since the CFAI regularly updates these specifics.

Looking for a more detailed overview of the exam center locations? CFAI's exam-center-location guide can help you sort through any confusion.

Exam-Day Requirements

For the CFA Level 3 exam, you may only bring the following items to the test center:

  • A CFA exam calculator (including the case and loose batteries)
  • A valid international travel passport
  • Eyeglasses (without the case)

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

CFA Level 3 Exam Curriculum Updates

The CFAI is well-known for revising sections of the curriculum every year to stay relevant and consistent with changes in the industry. Compared to 2021, modifications to the CFA Level 3 exam in 2022 are minor. The most recent CFAI level 3 curriculum changes are focused on fixed income readings, private wealth management, and performance evaluation.

Staying abreast of the newest changes in the CFA curriculum is critical to successful exam preparation:

Removed: Professionalism in the Investment Industry, The Behavioral Finance Perspective, Taxes and Private Wealth Management in a Global Context, Estate Planning in a Global Context

Added: Integrating Cases in Risk Management: Institutional

Major updates: Yield Curve Strategies, Fixed-Income Active Management: Credit Strategies, Topics in Private Wealth Management, Overview of the Global Investment Performance Standards

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FAQs

The Level 3 exam will last 4 hours and 24 minutes, divided into two equal sessions of 2 hours and 12 minutes each, with an optional break in between.
As a Level 3 candidate, you can attest to the difficulty of the same to the previous two CFA exam levels. CFA Level 3 adds additional complexity because the exam format includes essay-type questions while still offering some multiple-choice. For CFA candidates used to multiple-choice questions, the constructed response format or essay section can be challenging to master.
For the 2023 exams, the candidates will be charged $900 for early registration and $1,200 for standard registration. These prices do not include any preparatory materials or assets of any kind.
As per the CFAI in 2022-2023, the CFA Level 3 exam will be administered two times a year. A candidate can take the exam a maximum of two times a year and six times in total (for each level).
A candidate may take the exam a maximum of two times per year and six times (for each level). So, even if you fail the level 3 exam once, the six-month window before attempting it again will give you enough time to prepare. Here’s why many people fail the CFA exam.
UWorld’s Mock Exams closely replicate the actual CFA Level 3 exam experience to help you prepare and boost your confidence on test day. Like the actual exam, it consists of two 2-hour, 15-minute sessions, each with questions spanning multiple subjects. Even better, you can also compare your progress with other users.
CFA Level 3 exam results are expected to be available approximately ten weeks after the close of an exam window.
Over the last 10 years, Level 3 has had the highest pass rate of all levels, standing at approximately 52%.

Read More About the CFA Exam

Perplexed with the changing schedules? Here’s a handy list of new dates and frequencies for 2022–2023 to help you out.
Looking for CFA scoring and passing rates? Learn more about CFA scoring, pass rates, and the Minimum Passing Score (MPS).
Searching about the requirements for your CFA exam? Here’s a list of requirements that will help you out on the CFA® exam journey.
Looking for an overview of the CFA cost and fees? Here’s all about the “when, how, and where” of the CFA registration and cost.
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