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Is CFA Difficult to Pass?

CFA course is a specialization course in Finance. There are numerous finance courses offered by various institutes in India. The course offered by these institutes is more theory-centric than practice-centric. Moreover, the content of these courses is updated once in a few years. Whereas talking about some professional courses, which probably are certification courses and are mostly short-term, these courses are more focused on the area of expertise, and the content is more specific to the domain the course is dedicated to. CFA course is a professional course but takes considerable time since it covers the concepts of finance in depth. It is a course that is designed to keep the finance industry’s needs in mind. It is designed to build all-rounder professionals in the field of finance rather than subject matter experts for each segment. Let&rsquo’s consider certain factors to decide if CFA is difficult to pass and how difficult it is compared to some other in-demand finance courses.

What core topics does a CFA course cover?

  • The CFA course is rigorously focused on the Finance domain, and hence it covers various topics that are directly or indirectly related to finance. 
  • It is not just about learning the theories and concepts in finance, you need intensive knowledge on many other factors related to financing, be it techniques and methodologies, finance processes, investment ideas, and strategies, or financial laws and rights of individuals and companies.

Here are the brief topics and learnings from the CFA course: 

  1. Ethical and Professional Standards
  2. Quantitative Methods
  3. Economics
  4. Financial and Reporting Analysis 
  5. Corporate Finance 
  6. Equity Investments
  7. Fixed Income
  8. Derivative Investments
  9. Alternative Investments
  10. Portfolio Management

Along with learning the quantitative methods to carry out finance evaluations, analysis, and processing, it is also important to learn about the professional standards and best practices that are acceptable in the industry. There are certain parameters to evaluate the practices and performance of a finance professional. There are benchmarks and standards to conduct financial services, and there are predefined ethical guidelines to perform your profession morally. CFAs are not just engaged in preparing financial statements and analyzing them, but also engaged in preparing financial plans and investment strategies for individuals and companies. The CFA course imparts knowledge on all types of investment strategies, investment instruments, investment management, etc.

What is CFA Course (Chartered Financial Analyst)

Now let us take into consideration the exam pass rates for all the three levels of the CFA courseLevel I CFA exam, Level II CFA exam, and Level III CFA exam. 

Below are the pass rates for CFA course Level I, CFA course Level II, and CFA course Level III.

Level 1

CFA Exam 

Level 1 

CFA Exam 

Pass Rate 

Level 2 

CFA Exam 

Level 2 

CFA Exam 

Pass Rate 

Level 3 

CFA Exam 

Level 3 

CFA Exam 

Pass Rate 

Nov 

2021 Exam 

Awaiting 

Nov 2021 Exam 

Awaiting 

Nov 2021 Exam 

Awaiting 

Aug 

2021 Exam 

26% 

Aug 2021 Exam 

29% 

Aug 2021 Exam 

39% 

July 

2021 Exam 

22% (why so low?) 

    

May 

2021 Exam 

25% 

May 2021 Exam 

40% 

May 2021 Exam 

42% 

February 

2021 Exam 

44% 

    

December 

2020 Exam 

49% 

December 2020 Exam 

55% 

December 2020 Exam 

56% 

June 

2020 Exam 

postponed

June 2020 Exam 

postponed

June 2020 Exam 

postponed

December 

2019 Exam 

42% 

    

June 

2019 Exam 

41% 

June 2019 Exam 

44% 

June 2019 Exam 

56% 

December 

2018 Exam 

45% 

    

June 

2018 Exam 

43% 

June 2018 Exam 

45% 

June 2018 Exam 

56% 

December 

2017 Exam 

43% 

    

June 

2017 Exam 

43% 

June 2017 Exam 

47% 

June 2017 Exam 

54% 

December 

2016 Exam 

43% 

    

June 

2016 Exam 

43% 

June 2016 Exam 

46% 

June 2016 Exam 

54% 

December 

2015 Exam 

43% 

    

June 

2015 Exam 

42% 

June 2015 Exam 

46% 

June 2015 Exam 

53% 

As per the above data, the past year’s pass rates for the Level I CFA exams range between 40% to 50%. Until December 2020, the CFA Institute was offering the CFA exams for all levels in a paper-based exam format. Due to the need for things getting digitalized for safety purposes during the pandemic, the CFA Institute has started offering exams in computer-based exam format for all three levels since 2021. There has been a sudden decline in the pass rates since May 2021. This does not mean that the difficulty level of the course or the exams has increased. As reported by the CFA Institute, this decline is due to prolonged prep time after considerable delays in the exams.

What is The Passing Percentage for CFA?

The CFA Level II exam pass rates range between 40% to 55%, while the CFA Level III exam pass rates range between 50% to 60%. Post-December 2020 attempt for the CFA Level II exam and CFA Level III exam, the pass rate has declined. One reason for such declining pass rates despite no major change in the CFA course or the CFA course syllabus could be the stress majority of the students are facing due to uncertain circumstances caused by the pandemic. Since the majority of the students pursuing the CFA course are working professionals, the financial and economical challenges during these times have burdened them, impacting their well-being, and hence preparation and performance in the CFA exams. 

With the right guidance and appropriate preparation strategy, it isn’t difficult to pass the CFA course exams. EduPristine provides what exactly the students need, i.e., training through industry professionals who are qualified CFAs, student support for queries related to exams, registration, membership, and discussion forum to clear your doubts and academic queries. Feel free to contact us if you wish to know about the CFA Training at EduPristine.