Level III Topic Weighting

Hello all,

I like to prioritize my studying by topic weighting. Unfortunately, the topic weights given by the CFAI do not directly refer to the topics on the Level III exam (e.g. they give a range of weights for Portfolio Management, but they do not give a range for Private Wealth Management, Asset Allocation, etc.).

I came up with this grid using the mean % weight for each topic as given here by the CFAI, and then inferred which sub-categories would be within each major topic area. Then, I used the number of pages in the CFAI material devoted to each sub-category as an approximator for their respective weights within each topic area, and multiplied that by the mean weight of each topic to get an estimated weight for each sub-category as a percentage of the entire exam.

Let me know if you think I made any bad assumptions, or if you know of a place where this information is actually provided on an offical basis.


First off, level 3 is different from level 1 and 2. It’s more mixed, so what you do in one reading could reinforce what you do in another. There is less to be gained imo from focus on a few areas, when compared to level 1 and 2

That being said if your still looking to prioritize I would include the previous years exam questions and topics with the stated topic weights in your analysis. The CFAI text uses different writers for different sections, and so you are basised towards the most long-winded writers.

But really my advice would be to not really bother trying to figure out what to focus on, your time would be better spent if you study everything equally and get one more practice text in before the exam

What you’ve made is completely different… it doesnt have to be weighted by how many pages and then you would assume how this reading would be categorized as a sub-weight, Like for example Asset Allocation is a long reading, 11% versus Fixed Income 13% it does not make sense here.

  • First, Ethics contribute 10-15% of the total exam - you might get 2 or 3 item sets - based on updated July 2014 topic weights.
  • Second, Economics weights has been updated last year too, it was under Portfolio Managment umbrella but now it is seperated with 5%-15%. Again, those are two readings for Economics- (CME and Market Valuation) You might get questions in the AM (Constructed response) or Item Set (PM).
  • Asset Classes: (Fixed Income, Equity PM, Alternative Investments, Derivatives), which contributes 35%-45% of the total test- don’t try to game it and get a mean or adjusted weight figure, it changes every year:
  • For example,: Fixed Income: 10-20%, and the rest would be 5-15% weighted equally and thus it might vary year by year.
  • Again, under PM and wealth planning: (40%-55%) of total exam, Those topics fall under PM: (Roughly each contribute 5% of total exam) those six topic which contribute about 30% of total exam and rest, of around 20-25% of total exam (Individual IPS and Institutional)
    1. Behavioral Finance
    1. Asset Allocation
    1. Risk Managment
    1. Monitor and Rebalance
    1. Performance Evaluation
    1. GIPS
  • While Individual and Institutional falls under Wealth Managment, both are very important readings in Level III and key to pass. 5% for institutional investor is too low. I would say Institutional around 9%-10% and Individual IPS 15%-16%.

Again, this is indication, and those weights changes every year, but it helps you to manage time and to focus on big areas. So if you break down all of them and i would say level of importance:- Those will be the big chunck, and the rest

  1. Individual IPS

  2. Fixed Income Portfolio Managment

  3. Ethics

  4. Institutional Investors

  5. Equity PM, Economics, Derivatives, Alternative Investments ( 5%-15%)

  6. Rest

Hope this helps… Good Luck!

Thanks for the input, guys. I agree it’s a fruitless practice to try and determine the percentages precisely. What I was really looking for affirmation of is the grouping of the sub-categories into the overarching categories. So RogueTrader, you’re outline there is exactly what I was looking for - thanks.


Anytime… :slight_smile: