UPDATED 2021

CFA Test Guide

The CFA Summary
What: The Charter Financial Analyst exam series leads to the CFA Charter credential for financial professionals.
Who: Financial professionals with a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of financial experience may qualify to enroll in the CFA program.
Where: Test centers are located throughout the United States and in all regions of the world.
When: Level I exams are offered in June and December, while Levels II and III are given in June.
How: The exams are multiple-choice and essay exams.
Type: The exams use a pencil-and-paper format.
Why: Candidates must pass three different exams to earn the CFA designation.
Time: Exam sessions last four hours.
Language: English
Preparation: Exam registration includes a copy of a sample test, while many test guides and other preparation materials are available for purchase.
Cost: Enrollment in the program costs $400, while exam fees are $710 (as of 2010).

By: Erin Hasinger, Tests.com

The Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) charter exam series includes three exams that lead to the CFA charter credential. The credential indicates membership in the CFA Institute, a credential that demonstrates to investment professionals one’s knowledge, skills, ethics and professionalism in the financial community.

Those interested in taking the exams must enroll in the CFA Program through the CFA Institute. Eligibility for the program includes a bachelor’s degree, four years of professional financial work experience, or a four-year total of combined education and professional experience. Program candidates must have a valid passport, fully understand and agree to the professional conduct statements and be able to take all three exams in English.

All three exams ask a total of 100 questions. Multiple choice questions present three answer options. Level III exams include essay questions. All exams are pencil-and-paper format. Calculators are permitted, though test candidates should verify with the CFA Institute that their calculator is approved for testing.

Questions are asked in topics such as:

·         Ethical and professional standards

·         Quantitative methods

·         Economics

·         Financial reporting and analysis

·         Alternative investments

·         Corporate finance

·         Equity investments

·         Fixed income

·         Derivatives

·         Portfolio management and wealth planning

Each of the three exams places different weight on different categories. For example, the Level I exam places the most weight on questions regarding investment tools. Level II focuses heavily on asset classes and investment tools, while Level III places a strong emphasis on portfolio management and wealth planning. Upon registration, candidates are provided with copies of the exam curriculum so they are able to fully prepare for the exam series.

Early registration is recommended. The program enrollment fee is $400 ($480 for late registrants), while the exam fee is $710 ($955 for late registrants). The registration fee includes a copy of the complete curriculum and a practice exam.

Exams for all levels are held in locations around the world. Level I exams are held in June and December. Levels II and III are only held in June.

Following successful completion of one exam level, candidates may then register for the next level offered at the next test date in the following June.

Registration can be completed online at www.cfainstitute.org. Dozens of test centers are located throughout the world and in most US states. Exams are broken into a morning and afternoon session. Candidates must be seated at the exam center by 8:30 a.m. and are dismissed for lunch at noon. At 1:00 p.m., the afternoon session begins, which then ends at 5:00 p.m.

Within 90 days of the test date, candidates will be notified of either a pass or fail result. Exam scores are not released. Results are posted online only.

For more information on the CFA exam series and to find study guides and test preparation materials, please see our CFA Test Directory.

Source: CFA Institute