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CFA® Exam Requirements: How to Qualify to Sit for the Exams

By: Kaplan Schweser
December 9, 2020
Student learning about the CFA Exam Requirement

If you are considering the CFA® charter, you have probably heard about the exams you have to pass first. The three exam levels (I, II, and III) have unique topic and learning focuses that include investment tools, asset valuation, and portfolio management. To take the exams, you’ll have to complete the following 5 steps.

1. Meet the CFA® Exam Education Prerequisite

To sit for the exams, you’ll need to have earned a bachelor’s degree or be in the final year of your degree. However, if you have 4,000 hours of relevant work experience, or you have a combination of university education and work experience that totals 4,000 hours, you are also eligible to take the exams.

2. Have the Proper Documentation

To enroll in the CFA Program and register for the Level I exam for the first time, you must have an international travel passport. If you don’t have one and want to know more about obtaining one, this Wikipedia article has useful information.

3. Enroll in the CFA Program

You’ll need to enroll in the CFA Program to take the exams. CFA Institute describes the program as a “self-study, graduate-level” curriculum. You can start your enrollment from this CFA Institute web page. Passing all three levels of the exams will demonstrate your mastery of the CFA Program and its curriculum.

Considering the CFA charter? Download this free Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA Exam eBook.

4. Understand the Exam Language

The CFA exams are administered only in English, so you should speak English and understand the English curriculum well in order to take the exam.

5. Live in a Country Where CFA Institute Conducts Business

Individuals who live in certain countries cannot take the CFA exam because of US laws, sanctions, and trade regulations. In addition, some individuals who live in countries where the exam is permitted still may not be eligible because of their specific designations. This CFA Institute web page explains it in detail.

I’ve Met These Requirements: What’s Next?

If you meet all five of these requirements and want to take the exams, you should register for Level I of the CFA exam, which has special test windows in 2021 and will be offered in February, May, August, and November in 2022i. And, if you’d like to get some great advice on preparing for the exam, check out The Best Way to Study for Level I of the CFA Exam.

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