record for retaking a level?

on this forum i read someone passing lvl2 on 4th try… any other stories?

would be brutal to hear someone took 2-3 try per level

I personally know a person who cleared 1 and 2 on the first try, and has been stuck on level 3 for 5 tries now, (this year was the 5th try)

My friend told me of a person on their 10th year (all 3 levels combined)


I took about 10 years from start to finish, honestly can’t remember anymore. Cleared L1 on first try with about 4 hours of study. Tried to do the same thing for L2 and left at lunch because I had no chance. Registered each of the next two years and didn’t even go. Took a few years off and then actually studied for L2 and passed. Passed L3 on 3rd try after 2 band 10’s.

It was kind of interesting how the administration of exams changed over those years. When I took L1, it was given in classrooms at Villanova and there was no monitoring of you at all if you left the classroom to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. You were even allowed to have your study materials under your chair while taking the test. The study materials were also actual text books, not CFAI books, and you were told to read chapters x and y of text book z.

Many people indeed confirm that cfa used to be 10 fold easier tears ago. And its not getting easier. I think it is a mistake to continue if you cant pass a level after 2 retakes (maybe with exception of l3 for non native english speakers). Who would do this to oneself, studying for cfa over 10 years. If you cannot make it after total 5 exams, then you are most likely simply not intelligent enough in the area of Finance and your strength lies elsewhere (where there are no yield curves and arbitrage pricing). Alternativel a small part of x-times retakers has a fundamentally wrong study approach, but this excuse pulls less because it id fairly easy to learn about good methods from more successful candidates.

The opportunity cost increases after each level. If this was your 5th time retaking L3, why would you give up at that point? All you need to do is pass that last exam to use the letters.

Because merely passing a test is not a formidable indicator of how much you understand finance. Everyone can pass CFA over 10 years. Thete is a reason that top universities dont let you retake mire than once. And i thonk that cfa institue should do the same. Where is the level playing field. Peope are focussed on ‘passing’ the exam, but seriously: if you are an employer and ask the candidate how long it took him to pass CFA and he said 10 years … Would you hire him??

I suppose the counterpoint to the “anyone can pass in 10 years” argument is that you need work experience to get the charter. Theoretically, this means you must have some proven professional ability.

I see the point. But this argument does not truly challenge the spirit of the argument i am trying to make. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts in life. Majority of people here are beginning 20, but the older you get the more you will see what i mean.

I am a lot older and I am not sure what you mean.

Someone who tried for 10 years shows perseverence and a goal-oriented approach. It’s also lilely that they have internalized the material much more than braggarts who crammed in the last 9 days or whatever and passed the exam.

From my observations, competence in your job is related far more to your dedication, hard work and attitude than to your IQ or superior exam-taking abilities.

This is coming from someone who is used to being in 99th percentile when taking exams, but does not think it correlates that strongly with the mastery of the subject.

I am not keen to be ‘right’ in this discussion, but your argumentation is somewhat flawed resp. unclear and mixes various assumptions in a quite confusing manner.

  1. Competence in job is driven by your intelligence and intuition for the stuff that you are doing. also, it helps to have people skills (helps to read people better - people are the input). Success in the career, on the other hand, is driven by a) intelligence b) networking / people skills c) long year experience / ‘wisdom’. let’s assume that you are beginning 20 and indeed it takes you 10 years to pass CFA. you are 30 and do have a lot of networking skills and are brilliant with people - but it took you 10 years to do the CFA, and likely you have not obtained any Bachelor or Masters degree either in this time. The question is now: What good is your 10-year CFA assuming that you are successful in your career already given your other skills (not having any academic credentials). The answer is: Nothing! Your old employer doesnt care (unless it is a mandatory requirement) or either appreciates you for what you do for the company. A new employer would probably think that the paper on which your CFA certificate was printed was better off by saving the poor tree that had to die for it (albeit it is probably from sustanaible sources given the CFAI). We are not the only CFA Candidates around and there are plenty of brilliant people all across the planet who pass the CFA in 2 years (I passed the first two levels without repeating and without a break in between).

  2. Now, given 1), your statements above give rise to a slightly wrong message to new CFA candidates, who maybe dont have your non-academic skills OR would not need CFA but have been told otherwise and believed it: you are basically saying that an important aspect in showing perseverance is a 10 year CFA. a) I would personally disagree with this assumption given that CFA is being pursued by 160000 candidates each year and the financial indiustry is currently not really in its best state and b) - as I said above - a new employer would laugh his **** off if you would present a 10 year CFA as an asset - strikes me abit unrealistic and c) your 2nd argument basically seems to imply that a successful career is driven by dedication, hard work etc and to me it is now exactly clear why you would think that a 10 year CFA is sort of ranking on a similar level in terms of ‘perseverance’ as hard, work, attitude etc. any why it would have an equivalently strong signalling effect.

  3. To provide further distinction in the argumentation: The CFA Program is a global program and as such open to all people around the whole globe, whether rich or poor. And this is an aspect to be highly appreciated and cherished: Even someone born poor in an Indian town has now the opportunity, for more or less a payable fee to obtain a globally extremely renowned certification. Given this cultural diversity in the potential candidate pool, we might think that there are reasons why someone might need to go 5, 6, 7 years (albeit 10 is still seeming ‘distant’) to pass the CFA: a) not enough money for the fees or b) having enrolled because of the very possiblity to be able to retake or continue 10 years after a previous level or c) not having any access to any university for cultural or sociological / ethnic reasons or d) as an US American being called to join Iraq, coming home being left without a job, being called to Afghanistan, coming home being left without a job again, losing 1 of the three jobs you had and cannot feed your family … and many other reasons. For all those people, there is a justification to extend the education to several years. If you are not in such groups, then it is an absolute waste of time and life to extend such education to so many years.

  4. I was always assuming that we are talking about candidates that constantly repeat a level each year during several years without intentional pause.

  5. Very important. Read again what I wrote. why would you imply that passing the CFA in a fairly short time means that you have superior exam-taking abilities? apart from the fact that “superior exam-taking-abilities” is quite a blurry concept, I DO indeed think that mastering the material puts you in the first place into the position of being able to pass in a timely manner (5 years max say). Besides, ‘cramming’ in 9 days prior to an exam might have worked out when you took L1 for the first time (Disclaimer: I am just interpreting your words accordingly), but those times are over. … nowadays the material is very challening and is A LOT. Go and look at a fresh CFA L2 curriculum. if you can master this in 9 days, then you are not from this planet and you should immediately stop with CFA and go to NASA to build the new spaceship to Mars with your own hands (information is all hidden somewhere in your all-encompassing database called brain).

  6. Above is not meant for me to want to be right, but rather a benevolent warning to everyone who fails Level I more than twice and who fails L2 more than twice: Go and seek something else - CFA is not the right thing for you.

CFAI will never cap how many times someone can re-take a level. Why on earth would they kill off such a bountiful revenue stream?

I think this is true for some jobs, but not for top tier finance jobs. I want someone with great perseverance and numbness to monotony to run my middle office. However, someone who fails CFA 10 times is unsuitable for any front office work.

There actually used to be a 7 year limit on completing the program, but they dropped it sometime in the early 2000’s.