The CFA® Program consists of a series of three examinations (Levels I, II, and III) that must be taken in succession. The exams are offered only once annually in June, with the exception of Level I candidates, who also have the option of sitting for the exam in December.

A minimum of 300 hours of preparation per CFA Program exam level is recommended, although some candidates will need more or less time, depending on their individual backgrounds and experience. There is no limit to the number of times you can take each exam, and you can take as much time as you need to complete the program.

The CFA Program curriculum is dynamic and changes annually to meet the nature and complexity of the global investment profession.

Body of Knowledge

The Learning Outcome Statements and core concepts in the CFA® Program are built on the Candidate Body of Knowledge™ (CBOK), a practice-based curriculum that is determined by thousands of CFA charterholders from around the world.

Level I
Candidates concentrate on the tools and concepts related to investment valuation and portfolio management, as well as an overview of how these processes fit within the guidelines of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

Level II
Candidates are expected to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding of the tools and techniques that were introduced in the Level I curriculum, in addition to applications in asset valuation within the context of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

Level III
Candidates are required to demonstrate a higher level of understanding of the materials tested at Levels I and II, as well as display effective knowledge of the entire portfolio management process.

Exam Format

Level I

  • Format: multiple-choice
  • Questions:
    • 240 equally weighted questions
    • Morning Session: 120 questions; Afternoon Session: 120 questions
    • Each question has 3 answer choices
    • On average, 1.5 minutes should be allocated for each question

Level II

  • Format: item set or “mini cases” - Each item set contains a vignette (with an average length of 1.5 pages)
  • Questions:
    • 21 item sets or “mini cases”
    • Morning Session: 10 item sets; Afternoon Session: 11 item sets
    • 18 item sets will have 6 multiple-choice questions and 3 item sets will have 4 multiple-choice questions
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam

Level III

  • Format: Essay, item sets, and multiple choice
  • Questions:
    • Morning Session: 8-12 essay questions;
    • Afternoon Session: 8 item sets with 6 multiple-choice questions in each and 3 item sets with 4 multiple-choice questions in each.
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam

Registration and Exam Dates

Early registration deadline for new CFA® Program enrollments and exam registrations:

  • June 2020 Exam: October 2, 2019
  • December 2020 Level I Exam: March 18, 2020

Standard registration deadline for new CFA® Program enrollments and exam registrations:

  • June 2020 Exam: February 12, 2020
  • December 2020 Level I Exam: August 19, 2020

Final deadline for new CFA® Program enrollments and exam registrations:

  • June 2020 Exam: March 11, 2020
  • December 2020 Level I Exam: September 9, 2020

Examination admission tickets available:

  • June 2020: May 2020
  • December 2020 Level I Exam: To be announced

June 2020 Examination Dates

  • June 6, 2020: Americas (All Levels); EMEA (All Levels); APAC (Level II & Level III)
  • June 7, 2020: APAC (Level I)

June 2020 Religious Alternate Exam Date

  • June 7, 2020: Americas and EMEA (All Levels)
  • June 8, 2020: APAC (All Levels)

December 2020 Examination day:

  • December 5, 2020

December 2020 Religious Alternative Date

  • December 6, 2020

Exam results available:

June 2020 Exam:

  • To be announced

December 2020 Exam:

  • Late January 2020

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Candidate Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to enter the CFA® Program, you must:

  • Have a U.S. bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree
    • or be in the final year of your bachelor’s degree program at the time of registration
    • or have four years of qualified, professional work experience (does not have to be investment related)
    • or a combination of work and college experience that totals at least four years. Part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment
  • Meet the professional conduct admission criteria (during the application process, you will be asked to sign statements of Professional Conduct and Candidate Responsibility)
  • Be prepared to take the exams in English
  • Have a valid international travel passport (required for enrollment and exam registration)

Enrollment and Exam Fees

To enter into the CFA Program, candidates must pay a one-time registration fee in addition to the required enrollment fees for each Level. CFA Institute reference material and a partial mock exam are both included with candidate registration and enrollment.

CFA Program exam fees range from $620 to $1,610, depending on your CFA Program exam level and when you register.