UWorld and the 2021 CFA Computer-Based Testing

UWorld and the 2021 CFA® Computer-Based Testing

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A New Day in CFA Exam Testing

At UWorld, we pride ourselves on being forward-thinking and having foresight in the test prep industry. That’s why since our founding, we have focused on a digital strategy, including designing our CFA Level 1 prep as an online platform. With the CFA Institute transitioning all CFA exams to Computer-Based Testing (CBT) in 2021, CFA candidates who prepare with UWorld are in pole position for a smooth transition.

Let’s explore CFA Institute’s new CBT format and how preparing with UWorld’s online learning platform gives you an advantage.

Why the Move to an Online Format?

With the rapid advancement of internet technology over the past decade, the writing was on the wall for paper-based testing. Factor in the limitations to in-person learning and testing brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, and it became increasingly clear that the time for change was at hand.

Notwithstanding the pandemic, to keep up with the times and significant evolutions in the investment and education industries, CFA Institute felt compelled to make this change now and officially usher in the era of computer-based testing fit for the modern world.

In their own words:

“For CFA Institute to remain the gold standard in investment credentialing, it is critical that we evolve too. As the industry deploys more sophisticated tools and techniques, it is imperative that candidates demonstrate not only their understanding of financial theories but that they can appropriately apply that knowledge to add value in the workplace. A paper-based exam does not lend itself nearly as well to demonstrating the kind of mastery that employers and practitioners are looking for in new charterholders.”

New Online Registration

Candidates must first register for the CFA exam via the CFA website . After completing the registration process and receiving a confirmation that your payment has been processed, you will be able to schedule your exam using Prometric’s scheduling tool. Make sure to complete your registration during the scheduling window to guarantee your test center, date, and time.

2021 Exam Dates

The exams will be administered in more than 400 test centers worldwide over a 10-day window as follows:

  • Level 1: In February, March (one-time), May, July (off-cycle), August, and November, for a total of six times
  • Level 2: In May (off-cycle), August, and November (off-cycle), for a total of three times
  • Level 3: In May, August (off-cycle), and November, for a total of three times

CBT Exam Format and Length

The CBT Level I exam will consist of multiple-choice questions and break down as follows:

  • 30 minutes allotted to pledge, tutorial, and survey
  • 135 minutes for session 1
  • 30 minutes for optional break
  • 135 minutes for session 2
  • Total testing time of 4.5 hours

The CBT version of the CFA exam is shorter than its paper-based counterpart (down from 6 hours to 4.5 hours). However, the CBT exams will feature fewer questions to allow candidates to have the same amount of time on average to answer each question as with the paper-based format.

Preparing for Exam Day

In addition to preparing for the exam content, you should also prepare for the new format. No matter how computer savvy you happen to be, we encourage you to review Prometric’s CBT exam tutorial before the exam to acquaint yourself with the new CBT format, including how their software works and the tools you’ll use to navigate the online exam. This tutorial will also be available to you on exam day.

On Exam Day

All testing centers will be set up to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing. You will need to bring a facemask to enter the testing site. Each location will also have enhanced security measures in place to prevent cheating. You will be provided with writing materials for the CBT exams. As before, you may bring either of the approved Texas Instruments BA II Plus or the Hewlett Packard 12C calculators.

For more information on what to bring on test day, check out this CFA Exam Day Checklist: Latest Guide On What To Bring To Your CFA Exam .

Preserving the Integrity of the CFA Program

Notwithstanding the changes to the CFA exams, CFA Institute insists that the integrity of the CFA Program remains intact. Just because the CBT exam is shorter and computer-based doesn’t mean the CFA exam is easier. CFA Institute’s independent psychometric research revealed that a shorter exam would not compromise their ability to evaluate which CFA candidates have demonstrated the required competency to pass the exam or alter the past standards of difficulty. This means that the passing rates should remain about the same as before.

The typical length of time it takes a CFA candidate to complete the CFA Program is also relatively the same. The availability of more testing times per year doesn’t dramatically accelerate the path to completing all three levels of the CFA Exam. This is because candidates still have to go through a waiting period of six months between failed attempts. For example, if you fail Level I, you will have to wait six months to retake the exam, and if you pass Level II, you’ll have to wait nine months before taking Level III.


a minimum 6 months gap is required for a candadate to retake CFA exam a minimum 6 months gap is required for a candadate to retake CFA exam

The UWorld Advantage

At UWorld, we know one thing’s for sure: when it comes to preparing for high-stakes exams, there’s no one-size-fits-all study method for exam candidates. On the contrary, you probably have a preferred learning style that delivers the most effective results for you. With that in mind, we design all our exam prep products to be intuitive and flexible, giving you the ability to customize your practice experience according to what works best for you.

We believe that no matter the exam facing you, no matter how difficult it might be, as in professional sports and other areas of human endeavor, how you practice determines how you will perform. That’s why our unique active-learning platform focuses on doing and practicing instead of long, boring video lectures and books that become quickly outdated.

Modeled after the CFA exam blueprint, our platform lets you prepare with questions covering all Level I learning outcome statements (LOS). And, with our new Mock Exams and CFA Exam Simulator mode, you get to practice in exam-like conditions, building the stamina and endurance you need to tackle the exam confidently.

UWorld CFA Mock Exams

Our CFA mock exams closely resemble the actual CFA Level 1 exam, replicating the interface, time allotted, the number of questions, and topic weighting. They also feature all-new questions not included in the UWorld CFA question bank (QBank). Because the mock exams mimic the actual CFA L1 exam experience, performing well on them will boost your confidence on test day since you will have become intimately familiar with the exam experience.

Like the real CBT exams, our mock exams consist of two 2-hour, 15-minute sessions, each with 90 multiple-choice questions covering multiple subjects. These questions will be a fresh batch not included in your standard QBank questions so you can test your mastery of the concepts you’ve learned.

Our signature in-depth explanations, accompanied by professionally produced, vivid illustrations and charts, make their return in our mock exams. These detailed explanations make complex concepts easy to understand and remember.

Mock Exam Structure

Mock Exam Session No. of Questions Time Allotted
Exam A: Morning Session 90 multiple-choice questions 2 hrs, 15 mins
Exam B: Afternoon Session 90 multiple-choice questions 2 hrs, 15 mins

How To Best Leverage Our Mock Exams

We strongly recommend taking these exams after completing our QBank and within one month of your actual test date. This will give you enough time to take the mock exams provided in the CFAI materials as well. You want to make sure you maximize your study plan by using all the tools designed to help you get a feel for the real exam.

One significant benefit of taking the UWorld mock exams is that they help you assess your progress, painting a clear picture of where you stand. By taking our mock exams after completing our QBank, you’ll know if/when you’re ready to take the CFA exam. Plus, you can also see your relative ranking compared to other users who have already taken our mock exams.

Below is our recommendation on how and when you should study using the CFAI materials, our UWorld QBank, and our mock exams.


Uworld recommendation on how and when you should study for the CFAI exam Uworld recommendation on how and when you should study for the CFAI exam

CFA Exam Simulator Mode

With our new ‘CFA Mode,’ you can practice and prepare with an exam that simulates the actual test day environment. Switch to the CFA mode, and your screen simulates the real Prometric® interface. This familiarity with the exam format and structure will help you build the stamina required to sit through the test.

Prometric Interface



UWorld CFA Mode

Take the UWorld CFA Mock Exams

At UWorld, over our two decades of experience in high-stakes exam preparation and licensure, we have found that the best way to learn is by doing, so we strongly recommend preparing for the CFA exam with our UWorld platform. We offer a FREE 90-day trial of our CFA learning platform to get you acquainted with the UWorld Difference. Once your trial expires, you have three options for a paid subscription, each of which will give you access to our full QBank plus our mock exams and CFA mode.

We hope that this guide has been insightful on the synergies between the new computer-based CFA exam format and UWorld’s CFA online learning platform featuring mock exams that simulate the real online testing experience. Give us a try today—prepare with UWorld CFA.

Start your FREE 90-Day Trial Today!

We hope this guide has been insightful on the synergies between the new computer-based CFA exam format and UWorld's CFA online learning platform featuring mock exams that simulate the real online testing experience. Give us a try today — prepare with UWorld Finance.



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