About the CFA Program

The CFA designation is one of the most distinguished professional designations in the world. Achievement of the designation requires a candidate to pass three 6-hour exams progressively and to accumulate four years of eligable work experience. The exam curriculum includes a broad range of topics relevant to today’s finance sector. After you complete the requirements to earn the designation, the CFA Institute will award you a CFA charter and you will be considered a CFA charterholder.

History of the CFA Exam

The first CFA exam was given in 1963 when 284 candidates sat for the exam and 268 of them passed, a 94% pass rate. The youngest candidates that year were in their mid-forties while 33 were over sixty years of age. The demographic was mostly older men, with only 6 women taking the first CFA exam. The first charters were awarded in 1963 and were the result of decades of work from many prominent investment professionals, including the legendary Ben Graham.

Enrollment Requirements for the CFA Exam

To enroll in the CFA program you must:

  • Have a US 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 work experience; or
  • Have a combination of qualified work experience and college experience that totals at least four years.

Register for the CFA program through the CFA Institute.

Requirements to Earn the CFA Designation

To earn the CFA designation you must:

  • Pass all three levels of the CFA exam; and
  • Have four years of qualified work experience; and
  • Join the CFA Institute as a member.

CFA Exam Topic Area Weights

TOPIC AREA LEVEL I LEVEL II LEVEL III
Ethical and Professional Standards 15% 10% 10%
Corporate Finance 8% 5-15% -
Economics 10% 5-10% -
Financial Reporting and Analysis 20% 15-25% -
Quantitative Methods 12% 5-10% -
Investment Tools 50% 30-60% -
Alternative Investments 3% 5-15% 5-15%
Derivatives 5% 5-15% 5-15%
Equity Investments 10% 20-30% 5-15%
Fixed Income 12% 5-15% 10-20%
Asset Classes 30% 35-75% 35-45%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 5% 5-15% 45-55%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Historical Pass Rates

CFA CANDIDATES

LEVEL I

LEVEL II

LEVEL III

Year

Total

% Pass

Total

Pass

Fail

% Pass

Total

Pass

Fail

% Pass

Total

Pass

Fail

% Pass

1963

284

94%

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

284

268

16

94%

1964

1,732

84%

1,241

986

255

79%

302

283

19

94%

189

179

10

95%

1965

1,993

83%

767

649

118

85%

865

678

187

78%

361

329

32

91%

1966

2,010

75%

621

481

140

77%

708

469

239

66%

681

563

118

83%

1967

1,693

83%

594

423

171

71%

556

496

60

89%

543

491

52

90%

1968

1,579

73%

592

412

180

70%

447

334

113

75%

540

414

126

77%

1969

1,316

74%

556

409

147

74%

413

322

91

78%

347

237

110

68%

1970

1,409

67%

644

424

220

66%

372

285

87

77%

393

238

155

61%

1971

1,458

69%

755

464

291

61%

341

253

88

74%

362

288

74

80%

1972

1,486

70%

731

466

265

64%

461

354

107

77%

294

214

80

73%

1973

1,630

60%

721

432

289

60%

565

324

241

57%

344

222

122

65%

1974

1,797

74%

862

604

258

70%

511

377

134

74%

424

355

69

84%

1975

1,841

75%

808

568

240

70%

563

421

142

75%

470

393

77

84%

1976

1,706

76%

634

457

177

72%

641

477

164

74%

431

363

68

84%

1977

1,993

74%

667

421

246

63%

632

510

122

81%

694

540

154

78%

1978

2,008

73%

925

596

329

64%

444

379

65

85%

639

481

158

75%

1979

1,876

76%

824

522

302

63%

550

460

90

84%

502

441

61

88%

1980

1,985

73%

949

602

347

63%

528

407

121

77%

508

437

71

86%

1981

2,253

71%

1,107

677

430

61%

684

580

104

85%

462

340

122

74%

1982

2,886

64%

1,532

903

629

59%

714

489

225

68%

640

469

171

73%

1983

3,243

65%

1,656

1,082

573

65%

978

637

341

65%

610

392

218

64%

1984

4,030

63%

2,075

1,199

876

58%

1,147

701

446

61%

808

658

150

81%

1985

4,285

67%

2,186

1,317

869

60%

1,309

965

344

74%

790

579

211

73%

1986

4,837

65%

2,366

1,405

961

59%

1,379

884

495

64%

1,092

845

247

77%

1987

5,702

62%

3,095

1,782

1,313

58%

1,555

995

560

64%

1,052

755

297

72%

1988

7,091

59%

3,927

2,174

1,753

55%

1,946

1,163

783

60%

1,218

864

354

71%

1989

8,064

62%

4,149

2,237

1,912

54%

2,484

1,590

894

64%

1,431

1,133

298

79%

1990

8,760

64%

4,415

2,658

1,757

60%

2,522

1,594

928

63%

1,823

1,360

463

75%

1991

9,868

62%

4„950

3,087

1,863

62%

3,002

1,618

1,384

54%

1,916

1,436

480

75%

1992

10,518

65%

5,002

2,928

2,074

59%

3,503

2,258

1,245

64%

2,013

1,658

355

82%

1993

12,809

59%

6,588

3,616

2,972

55%

3,579

2,061

1,618

56%

2,542

1,936

606

76%

1994

15,413

52%

8,445

4,087

4,358

48%

4,418

2,109

2,309

48%

2,550

1,859

691

73%

1995

19,517

52%

11,341

5,750

5,591

51%

5,518

2,535

2,983

46%

2,658

1,860

798

70%

1996

14,600

58%

14,381

7,627

6,754

53%

7,098

4,596

2,502

65%

3,121

1,999

1,122

64%

1997

30,642

55%

16,833

8,847

7,966

53%

8,493

5,011

3,482

59%

5,316

3,119

2,197

59%

1998

38,689

60%

21,744

12,855

8,889

59%

10,295

6,433

3,862

62%

6,650

3,895

2,755

59%

1999

45,143

60%

23,199

14,757

8,442

64%

13,496

7,329

6,167

54%

8,448

5,015

3,433

59%

2000

53,345

55%

27,625

14,314

13,311

52%

16,036

8,636

7,500

54%

9,684

6,274

3,410

65%

2001

65,707

54%

36,317

17,726

18,591

49%

17,897

8,322

9,575

46%

11,493

9,410

2,083

82%

2002

76,231

47%

43,882

19,106

24,776

44%

22,163

11,418

11,745

47%

10,186

5,924

4,262

58%

2003J

67,279

49%

32,027

13,478

18,549

42%

22,232

10,432

11,800

47%

13,020

8,816

4,204

68%

2003D

20,657

40%

20,657

8,214

12,443

40%

2004J

61,559

40%

24,211

8,262

15,949

34%

23,896

7,649

16,247

32%

13,452

8,669

4,783

64%

2004D

19,566

36%

19,566

7,128

12,438

36%

2005J

58,908

48%

22,915

8,138

14,777

36%

24,891

13,938

10,953

56%

11,102

6,083

5,019

55%

2005D

21,127

34%

21,127

7,276

13,851

34%

2006J

63,249

52%

26,467

10,602

15,865

40%

20,499

9,751

10,748

48%

16,283

12,314

3,969

76%

2006D

28,082

39%

28,082

10,905

17,177

39%

2007J

71,897

42%

33,599

13,294

20,305

40%

25,521

10,156

15,365

40%

12,777

6,399

6,378

50%

2007D

37,573

39%

37,573

14,831

22,742

39%

2008J

9,2081

42%

44,063

15,311

28,752

35%

33,449

15,243

18,206

46%

14,549

7,720

6,849

53%

2008D

49,797

35%

49,797

17,612

32,185

35%

2009J

104,116

45%

45,682

21,034

24,648

46%

38,998

15,892

23,106

41%

19,436

9,597

9,839

49%

2009D

44,209

34%

44,209

14,884

29,325

34%

2010J

111,731

42%

46,863

19,656

37,207

42%

43,406

16,995

26,411

39%

21,462

9,881

11,581

46%

2010D

46,785

36%

46,785

17,009

29,776

36%

2011J 115,027 47% 48,068 18,881 29,187 39% 44,175 19,009 25,166 43% 22,784 11,567 11,217 51%
2011D 49,380 38% 49,380 18,736 30,644 38%                
2012J 119,446 43% 49,445 18,968 30,477 38% 45,247 19,194 26,053 42% 24,754 12,870 11,884 52%
2012D 48,981 37% 48,981 18,106 30,875 37%                
2013J 118,142 42% 47,502 18,078 29,424 38% 44,874 19,311 25,563 43% 25,766 12,607 13,159 49%
2013D 45,693 43% 45,693 19,468 26,225 43%                
2014J 118,683 46% 47,005 19,953 27,413 42% 44,796 20,644 24,152 46% 26,882 14,532 12,350 54%

J = June Examination (Levels I, II, and III)

D = December Examination (Level I Only)

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