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All about CFA Exam Pattern and Format

June 3, 2016
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CFA Exam Pattern

CFA (Chartered financial analyst) is a professional credential that is offer by the CFA institute to the financial and investment professionals.  The designation of the Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA Charter is the most recognized and respected credential in the field of investment banking. It is a globally recognized credential.

There are three levels in CFA program that students will have to go through. Based on the historical data, pass rate for the CFA examination  is about forty percent. There is a wide range of topics related to investment management, stocks, derivatives, financial analysis which give you great understanding of everything you need in order to become a better Financial Analyst/Investment banker.

CFA Level 1 Exam:

This is the first examination that students will have to go through. In level one, students will have to focus on the concepts and tools that are applied to investment management and valuation.

The CFA Level 1 exam is conducted in two sessions, each 3 hours long. It consists of 240 multiple-choice questions in two sessions of 120 questions each. The questions are designed based on the topic weightages given in the CFA Level 1 Exam Syllabus, with very slight deviation.

CFA Level 2 Exam:

This is the second examination that students will have to go through after passing the CFA level 1 Exam. In Level 2, students will have to deal with the assets valuation. Students must have the ability to apply the concepts and tools that they have learned in level 1.

There are total 20 item set questions, split in two sessions. The morning and evening sessions have 10 item set questions each. The total number of questions in the CFA Level 2 exam is 120. The duration of the exam is 360 minutes. Some of the CFA level 2 topics are covered only in the morning session and other topics are covered only in the evening session.

CFA Level 3 Exam:

This is the last CFA exam  that students will have to pass to become a CFA chart holder. In the level 3 examination, students will have to go through portfolio management in depth. CFA Level 1 and CFA Level 2 revolved around basic financial knowledge, investment valuation comprehension and the application of both. CFA Level 3 exam focuses on portfolio management and wealth planning.

The exam format of CFA Level 3 is a mix of item set questions and essay type questions. The duration of the exam is 6 hours long and is written in two sessions. The morning session and the evening session.

In the morning session, there will be 10-15 essay type questions. The questions usually describe either a case study or a hypothetical situation to which students need to either construct a solution and explain it or suggest measures to handle it.

In the afternoon session, there are 10 item sets. Each item set consists of a case statement followed by six multiple-choice questions.

Overview of CFA Exam Format:

  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
  Morning Evening Morning Evening Morning Evening
No of Questions 120 120 60 60 12 10
Type MCQ MCQ 10 Set of Items 10 set of Items Essay Set of Items
Duration 6 Hours 6 Hours 6 Hours
Passing Score 70%* Above 70%* 50-70%* Approx.
Passing Rates 42%* 46%* 53%*

Note: * These numbers vary every year. This is just an approximation based on the historical data.

On the internet you are going to find plenty of tips that will help you in making the preparation easier. It is important that you plan a strategy for each level as each one of them is different from one another. If you have already made the decision of going for CFA and are looking for a training institute , then EduPristine is a great option as we are CFA Institute authorized training providers

If you have any other queries then mention them in the comments box below and it shall be solved at the earliest. We provide both Online and Classroom trainings for CFA Certification.


About the Author

Trusted by Fortune 500 Companies and 10,000 Students from 40+ countries across the globe, it is one of the leading International Training providers for Finance Certifications like FRM®, CFA®, PRM®, Business Analytics, HR Analytics, Financial Modeling, and Operational Risk Modeling. EduPristine has conducted more than 500,000 man-hours of quality training in finance.


Global Association of Risk Professionals, Inc. (GARP®) does not endorse, promote, review or warrant the accuracy of the products or services offered by EduPristine for FRM® related information, nor does it endorse any pass rates claimed by the provider. Further, GARP® is not responsible for any fees or costs paid by the user to EduPristine nor is GARP® responsible for any fees or costs of any person or entity providing any services to EduPristine Study Program. FRM®, GARP® and Global Association of Risk Professionals®, are trademarks owned by the Global Association of Risk Professionals, Inc

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