How to verify if someone passed three levels of CFA on the first attempt?

One of my colleagues said she passed three levels on the first attempt. Another said he passed the level 1 and 2 on the first attempt but now he postpones taking level III exam because of lacking time.

Suppose someone is CFA Charterholder. In an interview, he wants to impress the interviewer and say he passed three levels in 18 months.

I wonder if we can verify these information? And how?

Need evidence? That person should just print out their AF posts from circle jerk threads like “3/3 in 18 Months”.

Would be likely to stand up in a Court of Law, too.


If my guess is correct, even a CFA Charterholder can not verify whether a person, who is also CFA Charterholder, passed all three levels on the first attempt or not because CFAI doesn’t give this information to public. The only way is to demand him to show his CFAI account.

On the other hand, if a CFA Charterholder doesn’t say he passed three levels on the first attempt, people can deduce that he must fail at least one level because if not, he should say he passed 3 levels on the first attempt :P, right?

I don’t think there’s a way to check (it’s not like CFAI has all the results displayed on a public board). That being said, I have heard others say they’re “taking a year off” too. I almost always take that to mean they failed that year, because it makes very little sense to me to take a year off from the program. You should move to the next exam while the material is still fresh in your memory from the prior exam.

I think you may be right in general, but there are some exceptions. Last year, after succeeding the level 1, I inscribed for the level 2 and I received a job offer just after. At this moment, I wanted to invest for the new job and decided to give up the exam. I really took a year off.

What I mean is people can lie that they passed the exam on the first attempt. If someone is really passed on the first attempt but modest (or someone is honest and tells people that he failed), he lost his advantage comparing to those dare lie in interview for job or at work. Of course, I don’t think people fail an exam is less intelligent than those dont fail any exam (a mother of two children with 45 hour job, if she passes, I think she is strong, but if she fails, I can understand because she had no time for preparing the exam).

In my opinion, the information of passing on the first exam is hardly reliable because it is difficult to be verified. And people may have a tendency to say they passed on the first attempt :P.

What is your opinion?

another quirk is that you could in theory fail level 1 once… and then go on to finish the program in 18 months (Dec/Jun/Jun)… and claim you passed all three levels in consecutive attempts in 18 months

ugh this could be a good ethics question

I dont think that’s true at all, many people have life events in the summer that prevents them from taking (or they would want to avoid taking) the exam.

Like expecting a baby for one?

Or moving to another city?

Or being ill or injured

Or changing career?

Or taking other programs at the same time?

Or getting married in June?

There are so many reasons someone would take a break from CFA, i wouldn’t automatically assume.


Who cares? After 30 seconds reading their resume, you should be able to tell whether they are smart enough to pass all these exams easily.

I mean, if i see someone deliberately say “i pass all levels on first attempts” i probably would have a NEGATIVE impression of that person. surely it is an achievement but it’s not substantial enough to advertise it on a resume, clearly that person lacks other accomplishments and this is one of the very few…?


I passed L1 and L2 in December '14, June '15 on my first run. I knew before taking L1 that I might not be able to sit for L3 for many years after L1. It was more something I started for personal enjoyment and a challenge, but as it currently stands, I have other, totally unrelated goals to work towards.

However, I agree with Pierre, to an extent, in the sense that a lot of people say they are taking a break when they’re just restudying-- I saw this firsthand with a decent number of people. They told me they didn’t pass, but they told most other people they were on a break from the program. There are tons of other reasons, though, why someone could legitimately be on break without having failed.

I passed LI in 2014 and I did not attempt LII until this year. If I fail I will obviously continue but if I pass I will again take a few years out to concentrate on work etc.

I don’t think you need “everything fresh in your mind”, if you studied thoroughly you will either remember or know where/how to quickly recapitulate what you need from the previous levels.

If they want to impress the HR or the hiring person by saying they passed all three exams in 18 months or on first attempts would make me realize that I am interviewing the wrong person. My thought process would be “dang that must be one of his top highlights of his finance career to brag about.”

think you missed the point nana

Oh I see it’s like J.O. buddies? We have those in California too

I want to share with you a real story. Last year,I had occasion to meet a CFA Charterholder and I connected with her on LinkedIn. In her page, she wrote be CFA Charterholder and pass the level III on the first attempt.

One month later, I had lunch with her. She said CFA exams were really easy. I asked: “Have you ever failed any CFA exam”? She said No. I said: “if you don’t fail any exam, you should put on your LinkedIn passed all three levels on the first attempt”. She was stupefied and after the lunch, I found she changed her CV on LinkedIn to “passed all three levels on the first attempt”. But I’m pretty sure she lied.

I still remember the slides she made for her presentation. I swear if I hadn’t known she was CFA Charterholder, I would have thought she was still an apprentice :-).

In 2004, serendipitously, I was asked to create CFA review courses at the University of California, Irvine. At that time, the CFA Code and Standards forbade candidates from saying that they’d passed each exam on their first attempt (even if it were true).

Because I had passed exam on my first attempt, and because I believed that that was a fact that candidates in my classes would find pertinent (“This guy knows how to pass the exams!”), I phoned CFA Institute and talked with a very nice woman there, who told me that what they really meant (in the C&S) was that they didn’t want covered persons to make that claim (even if true) and imply that that suggested that they were better analysts than those who had failed at least one of the exams at least once.

I pointed out that in every other area, CFA Institute says that if something is true, it’s OK to say it. I pointed out that if someone managed to hack into CFA Institute’s computer and checked, they’d see that I had, in fact, passed each exam on my first attempt.

The following year, they changed the C&S to make it OK to say that you had passed each exam on the first attempt (assuming that that’s a true statement), as long as you don’t imply that that makes you a better analyst than those who failed at least once.

I conclude that you can thank me for the right to make the statement; I changed CFA Institute’s policy.


Thanks s2000. I was about to make the point that the current CFA materials say this, but some older CFA Charterholders still think it’s prohibited.

i will also note that falsely stating something like passing all three exams in 18 months is an ethics violation. If for some reason you found out otherwise, the offender could be reported to the Institute.

By by the way, if you want interesting reading, go to . The sanctions are separated between exam related and those who have/had the charter. Many individual cases are described, and there are summary statistics.

There: that’s better.