Exam Overview

Passing the three exams marks true mastery of the curriculum and is the most important task required to earn the CFA® charter. On average, candidates report investing over 300 hours of study in advance of successfully passing each level. View other highlights from the latest CFA Program candidate survey here.
Prepare for Exams
  • For the safety of our global community, CFA Institute has made the decision to postpone the June 2020 CFA Exam administration.

    Learn More

Computer-based Testing Coming in 2021

woman holding phone looking at laptop
CFA Institute will transition all Level I exams to computer-based testing in 2021. The December 2020 exam is the last paper-based exam for Level I candidates.
Find out more about the Level I exam transition. Select the exam that is right for you.

Guide Me

Watch the Webinar

Find out More About the Transition

Exams That Evolve in Complexity

Each level of the curriculum builds on the prior level and becomes increasingly complex. The chart below explains the differences between each exam so you can prepare accordingly. 

Level I Level II Level III
Exam Structure 240 multiple choice questions 20–30 vignettes supporting 120 multiple choice questions 20–30 vignettes supporting a variable number of constructed response and multiple choice questions
Exam Length Morning session: 3 hours; 120 questions

Afternoon session: 3 hours; 120 questions
Morning session: 3 hours; 10–15 vignettes supporting 60 questions

Afternoon session: 3 hours; 10–15 vignettes supporting 60 questions
Morning session: 3 hours; 8–15 vignettes supporting constructed response questions

Afternoon session: 3 hours; 10–15 vignettes supporting 60 multiple choice questions
Question Format Multiple choice questions Vignette-supported multiple choice questions Vignette-supported constructed response questions and vignette-supported multiple choice questions
Exam Results Availability Within 60 days of taking the exam Within 60 days of taking the exam Within 90 days of taking the exam
Level Advancement Meet CFA Program enrollment requirements Pass Level I CFA exam Pass Level II CFA exam
Pass Rate 43% 45% 56%
Quick Start Guide View Quick Start Guide for Level I View Quick Start Guide for Level II View Quick Start Guide for Level III

Keep Track of Important Exam Dates

CFA Program includes a series of three exams; Levels I, II, and III. All exams are offered annually in June and the Level I exam is also offered in December. Use the calendar to view upcoming exams and other important dates leading up to the exam. 

Level I December Exam Date
5 December 2020
December 2020Level I
  • Standard Registration Deadline

    19 August 2020Level I

  • Final Registration Deadline

    9 September 2020Level I

  • Exam Day

    5 December 2020Level I

Review Exam Costs and Registration Fees

Registration costs vary depending on when you decide to register for the exam. Please note, there is a one-time enrollment fee of USD 450 the first time you register for the Level I exam.

December 2020 Exam Registration Periods and Fees

Early Registration Fee

USD 700

Early registration period applies from 5 February 2020 through 25 March 2020 and is available for Level I only.

Registration is Closed

Standard Registration Fee

USD 1,000

Standard registration period applies from 26 March 2020 through 19 August 2020 and is available for Level I only.

Register Today

Late Registration Fee

USD 1,450

Late registration period applies from 20 August 2020 through 9 September 2020 and is available for Level I only.

Unavailable at this Time

Other Important Exam Registration Details

Enrollment Fees and Payment Information

In addition to the exam registration fees, there is an additional one-time enrollment fee of USD450 that is applied the first time you register. All fees must be paid in US dollars. For more information on enrollment fees and payment options, visit our policies page.

Alternate Dates and Disability Accommodations

If you have a religious obligation or belief that prevents you from taking the exam on the scheduled day, we offer alternate dates. We also accommodate for other special needs or health disabilities. For more information on alternate dates or disability accommodations, visit our policies page.

Exams Offered Internationally

We host exams at CFA Institute testing centers located in most major cities around the world. 

Find the nearest test center

Master the Material with Helpful Resources

CFA Program

Learning Ecosystem

Access an online learning program with the complete curriculum, custom lessons, personalized study plans, mock exams and more. 

CFA Program

Exam Prep Providers

Get extra study support through our expert exam prep providers. 

CFA Program

Study Resources and Tips

Prepare with helpful educational content and test taking strategies.

Form a Plan with Our Exam Readiness Checklist

  • Months Prior to the Exam

    Address the items below several months before your first exam: 

    • Review all testing policies
    • Confirm your valid passport
    • Print your exam admission ticket
    • Check for test center conditions
    • Plan your transportation
    • Review the Rules of Procedure
  • Weeks Prior to the Exam

    Consider these tasks during the weeks leading up to your exam:

    • Select comfortable clothing for exam day
    • Plan your lunch
    • Review how to fill out exam answer sheets
    • Review the typical exam day schedule
  • The Day of the Exam

    Have the following things ready to go on exam day: 

    • Have your printed exam admission ticket
    • Carry your passport with you
    • Have an approved calculator, TI BA II Plus or HP 12C
    • Have No. 2 pencils or approved writing instrument
    • Review the items allowed on your desk
    • Review other items allowed in testing room

Understanding Your Results

Exams are graded as either "pass" or "did not pass," along with detailed performance feedback. Check out the documents below for information on pass rates, how to track your performance, and more details on how we evaluate exams.

Understand Exam Grading (PDF)

Interpret Exam Results (PDF)

View Historical Pass Rates (PDF)

Prepare for Exams

Take the Next Step in Your Career

Ready to earn a charter and join the ranks of elite investment professionals? If you are registering for the Level I exam for the first time, you must enroll in CFA Program as part of exam registration. Follow the below link to create an account, and we will connect you with everything you need to prepare.

Enroll and Register

We’re using cookies, but you can turn them off in Privacy Settings. If you use the site without changing settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.