Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

About the CFA® Exam Program

The CFA® Program, administered by CFA Institute, sets the global standard for investment industry knowledge and ethical behavior. CFA Institute determines the curriculum, administers the exam, and awards the charter. Known as the "gold standard" among financial industry professionals, the CFA charter is recognized as a significant benchmark within the financial community.

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

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

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.

CFA 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.

CFA 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.

CFA 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.

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

CFA 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

CFA Level II

  • Format: item set or "mini cases" - Each item set contains a vignette (with an average length of 1.5 pages)
  • Questions:
    • 20 item sets or "mini cases"
    • Morning Session: 10 item sets; Afternoon Session: 10 item sets
    • Each item set has 6 multiple-choice questions
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam

CFA Level III

  • Format: Essay, item sets, and multiple choice
  • Questions:
    • Morning Session: 12-15 essay questions;
    • Afternoon Session: 10 item sets with 6 multiple-choice questions in each
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

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)

Information provided by CFA Institute. To learn more about the eligibility requirements, click here

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.

Enroll and Register »

To obtain a printed version of the CFA Program enrollment and registration forms in the mail, call CFA Institute Customer Service Department at 800.247.8132 (U.S.) or +1 434.951.5499 (Int’l.) or email them at info@cfainstitute.org

CFA Exam Fees

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

View a breakdown of all CFA exam fees »

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

The CFA exam is administered in testing centers located in countries all over the world.

See a complete, up-to-date listing and choose your exam site»

Important: As a new candidate, be sure to read all of the testing policies set forth by CFA Institute.

Final deadline for new CFA enrollments and exam registrations:

  • June 2014 Exam: March 12, 2014
  • 2014 December Level I Exam: September, 2014

Examination admission tickets available:

  • June 2014 Exam: Early May, 2014
  • 2014 December Level I Exam: November, 2014

Examination day:

  • June 2014 Exam: June 7, 2014
  • 2014 December Level I Exam: December 6, 2014

Exam results available:

  • June 2014 Exam
    • Levels I & II: end of July, 2014
    • Level III: middle of August, 2014
  • 2014 December Level I Exam: end of January, 2015

View the most current dates associated with your CFA exam testing cycle»

CFA Study Tools

Select your level below to learn how Schweser's expert instruction and leading study tools can help improve your chance of passing each level of the CFA exam. From live and online classes, to seminars, mock exams, and self-directed study programs, we have something to meet every candidate's needs.