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Level I CFA® Exam

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Over the last 30 years, we’ve mastered how candidates earn the CFA® charter and have designed a program that works. No guessing where to begin, what to study next, or how you’re progressing. Let Schweser be your guide to passing the CFA exam.

Level I CFA Study Packages


 


Level I Exam


July, August, & November 2021

 

February & May 2022


Level I CFA Exam Detail 




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Level I Exam Format

CFA Institute changed the format and dates of the Level I CFA exam effective in 2021. The exam moved from its traditional paper-based format to computer-based with exam windows in February, May, July, August, and November. CFA Institute added an additional window in March to accommodate seating capacity issues for candidates sitting in February. The number of questions also reduced from 240 to 180 with a morning and afternoon session. Each session has 90 questions and is 2 hours and 15 minutes long.

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Level I CFA® Exam FAQs

The CFA exam as a whole is difficult by design. It’s an exclusive designation that truly demonstrates mastery. According to CFA Institute, Level I has the lowest pass rate of all the exams, at just 43%, and the average candidate spends 303 hours preparing.

Learn more about the Level I exam:

CFA Institute recommends 300 hours of study, and our experience is that 300 hours is the minimum that most people need to be successful. The average Level I candidate spends 303 hours preparing.
How much you’ll pay to sit for the Level I exam depends on how early you register. First of all, there is a one-time CFA 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 and standard registration deadlines. The early registration fee is $700 USD, and the standard registration fee is $1,000 USD.

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 2021 Level I exams, the topics are weighted as follows:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards: 15%
  • Quantitative Methods: 10%
  • Economics: 10%
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: 15%
  • Corporate Finance: 10%
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Management: 6%
  • Equity Investments: 11%
  • Fixed Income: 11%
  • Derivative Investments: 6%
  • Alternative Investments: 6%

For the 2022 Level I exams, the topics are weighted as follows: 

  • Quantitative Methods: 8-12%
  • Economics: 8-12%
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: 13-17%
  • Corporate Issuers: 8-12%
  • Equity Investments: 10-12%
  • Fixed Income: 10-12%
  • Derivatives: 5-8%
  • Alternative Investments: 5-8%
  • Portfolio Management: 5-8%
  • Ethical and Professional Standards: 15-20%

     

The Minimum Passing Score (MPS) is the benchmark used to determine whether a candidate has passed or failed the exam, and it is different each year. The MPS for Level I is set about six weeks after the exam. CFA Institute does not release the MPS, although research indicates that it hovers between 60 and 70 percent.
Historically, CFA Institute administered Level I of the CFA exam in June and December. Beginning in 2021, CFA Institute is expanding the Level I exam to four times per year. Exam windows will open in February, May, August, and November.