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Can I Postpone My Scheduled CFA® Exam?

By: Kaplan Schweser
January 12, 2021
Postpone CFA Exam - Decision

To postpone the CFA® exam, you must meet specific criteria and appeal directly to CFA Institute - unless CFA Institute postpones the exam for reasons such as natural disasters, a pandemic, or a major format change. When CFA Institute postpones or cancels the exam, they provide notice to candidates and help them transfer to the new date or register again. To learn about the postponement procedures put in place by CFA Institute to address COVID-19, you can check out this article on the topic. In this article, we address what happens when a candidate wants to take the exam at a later date.

Rules of CFA® Exam Postponement for Individual Candidates

When CFA institute has not announced a postponement for all candidates, it only lets people reschedule the CFA exam in specific circumstances. They call this a deferral, and they decide whether to offer deferrals case-by-case. To be considered, you must notify CFA Institute by email that you or a member of your immediate family have a life-threatening or very serious illness, you are pregnant, there is a death in your immediate family, or you have mandatory military service on the day of the exam. CFA Institute has a self-assessment you can use to determine whether you should request a deferral.

After reviewing your case, CFA Institute will determine whether you can postpone your scheduled exam to the next sitting. On Reddit and, there are personal stories about deferrals that go into detail about the results of the process. If your case meets the criteria, you will be offered a qualified deferral, and your enrollment and registration status will be deferred until the next sitting. However, you will forfeit any fees you paid.

The reasoning behind this policy is that the number of paid registrations determines the number of testing centers, computers, furniture, and other equipment to reserve in the testing centers. Paid registrations also determine the support services needed. In addition, CFA Institute says, a deferral creates an empty space that can’t be filled.

If you don’t qualify for a deferral and you are not able to take the exam on the scheduled date, you have the option of withdrawing from the CFA exam.

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Withdrawing From the CFA Exam

You may withdraw from the CFA exam up to five days before the exam date. Withdrawing means that you do not have to take the exam, but it stops there. If you want to take it at the next sitting, you will have to register again.

CFA Institute has two policies for withdrawals. If you withdraw from the exam within the first three days after registering, you will be issued a full refund of your registration and exam fees. If you withdraw after that, you will lose your fees, but you can register again as soon as your withdrawal is processed. You will have to pay the fees again.

If you do not withdraw by the deadline, and you then don’t sit for the exam, you will not be allowed to register for the next sitting until after CFA Institute releases all the results from the current exam. So, if you need to withdraw, go through the proper channels to ensure a place at the next sitting.

Once you withdraw, it’s final. This means that if you withdraw your registration for one sitting, you cannot re-register for the same sitting.

If you don’t want to withdraw from the exam, but you can’t take it at your assigned testing center, you can request a change.

Testing Center Change

After you receive the location of your testing center, you can change it online by using your account without forfeiting any fees. If you request a change before admission tickets are released, the change is automatic unless the testing center is full. If you request a change to a testing center that has space available after admission tickets are released, you will be notified by mail of the change.

Rescheduling the CFA Exam: How to Avoid It

No one can predict the future and certainly not medical and other emergencies. However, it’s best if you can avoid postponing or withdrawing from the exam. This is especially true for Levels II and III since they are offered only once a year. Here are some tips that can help you be prepared for your scheduled exam:

  • If you have a full-time job, before you register, look at your weekly schedule and think about what blocks of time you could realistically set aside to prepare for the exam. Err on the side of caution, and if the exam is six months away or less, consider a later sitting.
  • If you are still in college, before you register, consider the implications of having competing study or other priorities, such as an internship or looking for a job.
  • If you have decided to sit for the exam, register during the early registration period, which usually opens about nine months before the exam (this will change for Level I in 2021), and start studying as soon as you register. If you get stuck on a topic and need extra time, you have a few more months to prepare.
  • Treat 300 hours as the minimum you should study, and plan to study more. Successful charterholders often say that it took 350 hours or more to study, especially for Level III. An effective study plan can help.
  • If you have already registered, and you think you are falling behind, reassess your study plan. Think about your problem areas or the topics that have the higher weights, and focus your study on them.

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