Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Updated: July 12, 2018
If you have considered sitting for Level I of the CFA® exam, you probably have questions. You’re always welcome to reach out to our knowledgeable Student Support team with any questions you have about preparing for the exam. We’ve also created this article to answer some of the most common questions we receive from people preparing to take the first step toward becoming a CFA charterholder.
Let’s start with the basics. CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst®. It’s a professional designation administered by CFA Institute. According to CFA Institute, it’s the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world.
In order to earn the CFA charter you must pass a series of three exams, in order: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each exam builds on the mastery demonstrated by achieving a passing score on the previous exams.
It is not a degree. It’s a professional certification that demonstrates mastery of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management. Candidates do often weigh the benefits of the CFA charter against those of an MBA, which may be a contributing factor in this common misunderstanding.
The 2018 December Level I CFA exam will be offered on December 1, 2018. The 2019 June Level I exam will be offered at different times, depending on the region you live in. This article breaks down all of the June 2019 exam dates.
An individual wishing to enroll in the CFA Program and register for the Level I exam for the first time must possess an international travel passport. In addition, candidates must meet one of the following requirements:
Candidates may also have a combination of full-time professional experience and education that totals a minimum of four years. The four years of experience/education must be accrued prior to enrollment in the program. This article has more details.
The Level I CFA exam is composed of 240 multiple-choice questions, covered in two 3-hour exam sessions. Candidates must attend both the morning and afternoon session, and 120 questions are asked in each. Both sessions cover all of the Level I topics.
The December 2018 Level I CFA exam will cover the following topics:
The weights of the Level I exam topics are subject to change on a year-to-year basis, at the discretion of CFA Institute. For the December 2018 Level I exam, topics are weighted as follows:
|Ethical and Professional Standards||15%|
|Financial Reporting and Analysis||20%|
The average candidate for the Level I CFA exam should spend roughly 300 hours over the course of six months preparing for the exam.
The CFA exam as a whole is difficult, by design. It’s an exclusive designation that truly demonstrates mastery. The pass rate for the June 2017 Level I CFA exam was 43%. According to CFA Institute, only 20% of candidates who begin the program actually earn the charter. You can greatly improve your odds of success by learning from other candidates’ experiences, and avoiding common pitfalls in your preparation. This article has more details.
How much you’ll pay to sit for the Level I CFA exam depends on how early you register. Fist of all, there is a one-time CFA Program enrollment fee of $450. In addition, you must pay an exam fee each time you register to sit for an exam. CFA Institute has early, standard, and late registration deadlines, and the price goes up the later you register. The early registration fee is $650. If you register by the standard deadline you’ll pay $950. Late registration will cost you $1,380. There are two really good reasons to register early. First, you will save anywhere from $300 to $730, which you could invest into a CFA prep course. Second, the earlier you commit to sitting for the exam, the sooner you can begin preparing.
Now that you’ve gotten a basic tutorial on the common questions people have about the Level I CFA exam, learn why this designation is so widely sought after and respected. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to our Student Support team for the answers you need to take this next step in your career.
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