Woman Taking Level II and Level III Exam on Computer

Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Published: August 4, 2020

Starting in 2021, Level II and Level III of the CFA® exam will be offered in a computer-based testing format, ending 60 years of paper-based testing. In addition, there will be no June 2021 exams because the schedule will also be different. Let’s look at all the changes.

What is Changing?

Here is a summary of the changes:

  • All levels of the CFA exam will be computer-based.
  • There will be no more June exams for any level.
  • The Level II and Level III exams will be offered twice a year.
  • There will be exam windows of up to 10 days instead of one uniform date.
  • The total testing time for all levels is reduced from six hours to approximately 4.5 hours.
  • The Level I exam will continue to be in a multiple-choice format.
  • Level II and Level III will use the same item set (vignettes) and essay format (Level III) used for the paper-based exams. The total number of item sets on the exam might vary slightly.

Get the Breakdown from Jon Bone, ACA, CFA:

What Are the New Schedules for Level II and Level III?

There will be a special exam schedule for Levels II and III in 2021, and then a regular cadence will begin in 2022. The planned 2021 exam windows for Level I are still in effect. The exam windows for Level II and III in 2021 are:

  • May and August for Level II
  • May and November for Level III

Beginning in 2022, the schedule for all exams will be:

  • February, May, August, and November for Level I
  • February and August for Level II
  • May and November for Level III

Have more questions? Register to view our Online Q&A OnDemand.

I Registered for the Postponed June 2020 Exam. What Do I Do?

You have several options based on your registration status:

  • If you registered for the final paper-based exam in December 2020, you can stay with this option or switch to any of the available 2021 windows by level.
  • If you were registered for the June 2020 exam and chose to defer to the June 2021 paper-based exam, you may register for the December 2020 paper-based exam by the registration closing date of August 19, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. You can also select any of the available 2021 computer-based options.
  • If you wish to move to a computer-based exam, you have until October 20, 2020, to do so.
  • Registration is currently open for the February Level I exam. Registration will be open on August 20, 2020 for all levels and all dates for 2021 computer-based exams.

What About Future Postponements?

If you are trying to make a decision about an exam date, be sure to check the government and health advisories in your test area. CFA Institute follows the guidance of local governments. The plan is to hold exams in any location where CFA Institute can meet public health and safety requirements.

If you were registered for the June 2020 postponed exam, and the exam you subsequently registered for is also postponed, you will have the option to defer again. Or, you can request a refund for the registration fee you paid for the June 2020 exam.

Why Is CFA Institute Making These Changes?

The world that investment professionals experience today is increasingly digital. For that reason, CFA Institute has been working on the transition of its exam from paper-based to computer-based for several years. The COVID-19 global pandemic was the impetus for CFA Institute’s decision to accelerate the move from paper to computer-based testing. The computer-based testing environment and additional dates and times available means that fewer candidates will sit for the exam at the same time, which reduces personal risk compared to the high-capacity venues used for the paper-based test.

What Are the Next Steps?

You need to make a decision that is best for your situation. Instructors Dr. Doug Van Eaton, CFA and Jon Bone, ACA, CFA host a live online Q&A webinar on Thursday, August 13 at 12:00 EST to help everyone understand the impacts of this decision and get you on the correct path. Register for free here. You can also get more details about the CFA Institute announcements in these documents: