Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Published: January 19, 2021
The CFA® exam exam pass rate is low because it is a challenging exam with three levels. The percentage of people who pass all the levels is small, especially when you consider that the passing rate of the first level isn’t even close to half. Let’s look at the data, and see what you can do to increase your chances of passing.
CFA® exam grading is done yearly by machines and charterholders. CFA Institute then uses a methodology to determine a minimum passing score that is applied to each level of the exam. That score is not made public, but it is never above 70 percent.
In 2019, the passing rate for the CFA exam was as follows:
2019 is the last year for which CFA Institute had complete data. The 2020 exams were postponed and many of the December 2020 testing centers closed, cancelling many seatings.
Beginning in 2021, pass rates for Level I will be given out four times a year to address the fact that candidates will be able to sit for it in February, May, August, and November (CFA Institute is offering six seatings for the Level I 2021 exam). Also beginning in 2021, pass rates for Levels II and III will be given out for each window (to learn more about why and how they will be scheduled, check out this article).
No level of the CFA exam is easy. Each level is progressively harder. In the end, the number of candidates who pass all three levels is a small percentage of those who register for Level I and stick with it. You should be prepared for a challenge. For Levels I and II, you are expected to know the major concepts related to these topics and how they are applied:
For Level III, you must use your knowledge to evaluate specific finance scenarios and make recommendations.
You should be prepared to allot at least 300 hours to studying for each level. These tips will help you develop the knowledge and confidence necessary to increase your odds of passing: