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About the CFA® Exam Program

About the CFA® Exam Program

CFA® Exam Overview

The CFA® Program consists of a series of three examinations (Levels I, II, and III) that must be taken in succession. The exams are offered only once annually in June, with the exception of Level I candidates, who also have the option of sitting for the exam in December.

A minimum of 300 hours of preparation per CFA exam level is recommended, although some candidates will need more or less time, depending on their individual backgrounds and experience. There is no limit to the number of times you can take each exam, and you can take as much time as you need to complete the program.

The CFA curriculum is dynamic and changes annually to meet the nature and complexity of the global investment profession.

Earning the CFA® charter demonstrates your mastery of a broad range of practical portfolio management and advanced investment analysis skills. 

  Level I Level II Level III
Topic Focus Investment Tools Asset Valuation Portfolio Management
Learning Focus Knowledge and Comprehension Application and Analysis Synthesis and Evaluation

The curriculum is organized into 10 general topic areas that provide a framework for making investment decisions:

  1. Ethical and Professional Standards
  2. Quantitative Methods
  3. Economics
  4. Financial Reporting and Analysis
  5. Corporate Finance
  6. Equity Investments
  7. Fixed-Income Investments
  8. Derivatives
  9. Alternative Investments
  10. Portfolio Management and Wealth Management

To be eligible to enter the CFA® Program, you must:

  • Have a U.S. bachelor's (or equivalent) degree
    • or be in the final year of your bachelor's degree program at the time of registration
    • or have four years of qualified, professional work experience (does not have to be investment related)
    • or a combination of work and college experience that totals at least four years. Part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment
  • Meet the professional conduct admission criteria (during the application process, you will be asked to sign statements of Professional Conduct and Candidate Responsibility)
  • Be prepared to take the exams in English
  • Have a valid international travel passport (required for enrollment and exam registration)

To enter into the CFA Program, candidates must pay a one-time registration fee in addition to the required enrollment fees for each Level. CFA Institute reference material and a partial mock exam are both included with candidate registration and enrollment.

Enroll & Register »

To obtain a printed version of the CFA Program enrollment and registration forms in the mail, call CFA Institute Customer Service Department at 800.247.8132 (U.S.) or +1 434.951.5499 (Int’l.) or email them at info@cfainstitute.org

CFA® Exam Fees

CFA exam fees range from $620 to $1,610, depending on your CFA exam level and when you register.

View Exam Fees »

The Learning Outcome Statements and core concepts in the CFA® Program are built on the Candidate Body of Knowledge™ (CBOK), a practice-based curriculum that is determined by thousands of CFA charterholders from around the world.

CFA Level I

Candidates concentrate on the tools and concepts related to investment valuation and portfolio management, as well as an overview of how these processes fit within the guidelines of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

CFA Level II

Candidates are expected to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding of the tools and techniques that were introduced in the Level I curriculum, in addition to applications in asset valuation within the context of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.


Candidates are required to demonstrate a higher level of understanding of the materials tested at Levels I and II, as well as display effective knowledge of the entire portfolio management process.


Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

CFA Level I

  • Format: multiple-choice
  • Questions:
    • 240 equally weighted questions
    • Morning Session: 120 questions; Afternoon Session: 120 questions
    • Each question has 3 answer choices
    • On average, 1.5 minutes should be allocated for each question

CFA Level II

  • Format: item set or "mini cases" - Each item set contains a vignette (with an average
    length of 1.5 pages)
  • Questions:
    • 20 item sets or "mini cases"
    • Morning Session: 10 item sets; Afternoon Session: 10 item sets
    • Each item set has 6 multiple-choice questions
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam


  • Format: Essay, item sets, and multiple choice
  • Questions:
    • Morning Session: 8-12 essay questions;
    • Afternoon Session: 10 item sets with 6 multiple-choice questions in each
    • Exam is graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

Final deadline for new CFA® enrollments and exam registrations:

  • December 2016 Level I Exam: September 14, 2016
  • June 2017 Exam: March 2017

Examination admission tickets available:

  • December 2016 Level I Exam: November 2016
  • June 2017 Exam: May 2017

Examination day:

  • December 2016 Level I Exam: December 3, 2016
  • June 2017 Exam: June 3, 2017

Exam results available:

  • June 2016 Exam:
    • Levels I & II: End of July 2016
    • Level III: Middle of August 2016
  • December 2016 Level I Exam: Late January 2017
  • June 2017 Exam:
    • Levels I & II: End of July 2017
    • Level III: Middle of August 2017

View the most current dates associated with your CFA exam testing cycle»

Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute

The CFA exam is administered in testing centers located in countries all over the world.

See a complete, up-to-date listing and choose your exam site»

Important: As a new candidate, be sure to read all of the testing policies set forth by CFA Institute.


Note:  Information provided by CFA Institute