CFA® Exam Guide
What is the CFA exam?
If you want to set yourself apart from the competition by achieving the highest distinction in the investment management profession, you have a viable path. As a finance professional, you are always looking to maximize your value to your clients; your career should be no different. One significant way to advance your career is by becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®).
To attain this prestigious distinction, you must first pass the CFA exam. The CFA exam is a finance certification comprising three levels (I, II, and III) that evolve in complexity from one to the next. The CFA Institute offers the exams twice a year in June and December. There are several requirements to sit for the CFA exam, and a CFA candidate must pass all three levels to become a CFA charterholder. The CFA Institute recommends spending about 300 hours of study time per exam to pass the CFA exam successfully. Each CFA candidate has up to four years to pass all three levels.
What content is on the CFA exam?
- Level I exam is a broad array of topics that cover relevant areas needed in the finance industry including financial accounting, ethics, statistics, corporate finance, fixed income, and alternative investments.
- With Level II, the exam expands the curriculum into more detail and is more specialized in finance topics.
- By Level III, the exam is even further specialized in the areas of portfolio and wealth management. It also introduces essay questions that require you to combine many topic areas and apply them to real-world scenarios..
How many questions are on the CFA exam?
The CFA Level I Exam consists of 240 multiple-choice questions and is divided into two sessions, with 120 questions asked in the three-hour morning session and 120 in the three-hour afternoon session.
Paper-Based Testing: The Level I paper-based exam consists of 240 multiple choice questions, split between two 3-hour sessions. Candidates must take both sessions to receive an exam result.
- Morning session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
- Afternoon session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
Computer-Based Testing: The Level I computer-based exam consists of 180 multiple choice questions, split between two 135-minute sessions. There is an optional break between sessions. Candidates must take both sessions to receive an exam result.
- First session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
- Second session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
Is the CFA Level I exam difficult?
When should I take the CFA Level I exam?
- Have a bachelor’s degree or be in the final year of obtaining a bachelor’s degree;
- Possess four years of relevant work experience;
- Have a combination of four years of education and work experience.
When should I start studying for the CFA exam?
When you meet one of the above requirements, you may enroll in the CFA Program. The enrollment fee is $450 to register for the Level I exam. All CFA candidates who plan to sit for the CFA exam must take the exam in English. You must also have an international travel passport available to take to the testing centers on exam day. Check out the resources below courtesy of the CFA Institute for quick start guides for each exam:
How is the CFA exam scored?
What is the CFA exam passing score?
How soon do I get my CFA exam results?
How many times can you take the CFA exam?
How much does it cost to take the CFA exam?
What calculators can I use on the CFA exam?
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.
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