Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA is a profession that is globally recognized by the CFA Institute. The entire medium is to certify competent financial analysts in the said field who meet specific criteria and measures set by the institute. Furthermore, any candidate who is willing to be a CFA must undergo different tests for the subjects of money management, economics, accounting, ethics and much more. 

Scroll down, and you’ll gain deeper insights on this prestigious professional course.

Though the CFA profession happens to be sought after quite broadly around the world, it’s not designed for a fainted heart individual. The entire journey is filled with rigorous tests and numerous challenges to determine the correct candidate with the right diligence, will and endurance. More precisely, the overall program of becoming a CFA comprises of three levels comprising of Level I, Level II and Level III. 

CFA Level I Exam Details

CFA Level I Exam is the first level that candidates have to clear for initiating their journey towards this highly-recognized designation. There are minimum requirements that every candidate has to meet to ensure they are qualified to move on to the next level.

CFA Level 1: How it used to be?

CFA used to be a paper-based exam, that was divided into two sessions of the day, one taking place in the morning and another in the evening. Each exam used to be three hours long comprising of 120 multiple choice questions in both the morning and evening sessions of the exam. There were 240 multiple choice questions where 90 seconds can be used to each question based on the knowledge on the given question. 

CFA Level I: What’s the Exam Structure Now?

However, after the introduction of Computer-based testing owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, a few changes shall be observed in the exam patterns and number of questions. So, beginning in 2021 as the new online model is i.e. Level I computer-based exam starts, you’ll have to attempt 180 questions (multiple choice only) which are distributed over two separate 2 hours 15 minutes sessions.

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CFA Level I Exam Structure

  • Session I of 2 hours 15 minutes: To attempt 90 multiple choice questions
  • Session II of 2 hours 15 minutes: To attempt 90 multiple choice questions

CFA Level I Exam Topics

All of the questions that are allotted in the CFA level I program are from the ten topics that are given below. 

  1. Equity investments. 
  2. Portfolio management. 
  3. Derivatives. 
  4. Alternative investments. 
  5. Ethical & professional standards. 
  6. Economics. 
  7. Quantitative methods. 
  8. Corporate finance. 
  9. Fixed income. 
  10. Financial reporting & analysis.  

Together, the entire curriculum for this particular level comprises of portfolio management & wealth planning, ethical and professional standards, asset classes and investment tools. 

Now, coming on the a very interesting question, and our topic of discussion: What’s the CFA Level I Pass rate?

CFA Level I Pass Rates: What’s the Passing Rate?

The pass percentage of candidates appearing for CFA level one examination is around 43%. For the last two to three years, not many have been able to clear the examination, but then a graph illustrated below can give you the complete summary of the pass percentage. 

Note – There is data available on the 2020 examinations as they are postponed under further notice due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Is CFA tough? Is it worth it?

CFA level one examination is not any other regular examination but requires high levels of discipline and dedication towards studying and understanding the different concepts of CFA. Earlier, there were two chances in a year where CFA level one candidates could clear the examination. One was in June and another in December. 

However, with the computer-based testing in effect, this shall be replaced by four chances in a year i.e. Feb, May, Aug and November.

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Though the candidate can take as many numbers of attempts as possible to clear the level, understanding each of the subjects is the key takeaway. Putting inconsiderable amount of energy and effort is required, and an excess of 300 hours behind every exam is necessary for having better chances in clearing the examination. 

Coming down to the matter of the exam being tough? Well, the average pass percentage is only 43% every year. It should give you a rough idea of how difficult the examinations are set. The MCQ’s are designed in such a manner that its tests candidates general thinking abilities and tricking them in the process. So, one is bound to think: Is CFA worth it?

CFA Level I Exam: Tips to Clear It

Here are a few easy tips to crack the CFA exam intelligently:

1. Manage Your Time

Manage time accordingly based on the number of hours you have to put into studying. A minimum of 12 hours of studying over 7 days. The numbers could change based on your competence and ability to grasp things. Are you ready to devote this much time?

2. Prepare a Study Plan

Create a planner that helps in dictating what and how it needs to be done. Your study schedule should comprise of the amount of time that needs to be dedicated to a particular subject and more. 

3. Have a Study Buddy

Though it’s not mandatory, having a study buddy does help when you might need some clarification in a few topics. Discussing with friends on confusing topics does help! 

4. Master Your Calculator

It might sound silly, but then mastering your calculator does help in shaving off precious minutes during the examination and used on other questions. And, there are strict guidelines on the type of calculator to use in a CFA exam. Keep note of it!

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5. Practice Makes You Perfect

Learn and re-learn things to see how well you know something. Apply the same knowledge on mock papers to test your knowledge on the difficult subjects and topics. Solving previous years papers also does justice in the preparation. Here’s a set CFA Level I Practice Questions and Mock Exams to try out! A gentle refresher to test your CFA Level I skills!

6. Don’t Ignore Ethics

Never skip anything while studying for CFA level one examination. Go through every topic as you never know what might be asked in the examination. 

7. Relax & Take Care of Yourself

Along with studies, you must give yourself the utmost care and importance to balance out your life. Never strain yourself but have a clear & stress-free mind and sit to study. This usually helps a lot in the long run. 

CFA Pass Rate: Score the Best

The entire CFA program is quite an exhaustive and draining exercise that comes with a lot of benefits if you finally clear it. Each level requires admirable dedication and concentration towards every topic. Ensure that you have the best of efforts put into each level to be rewarded exceptionally towards the end. All the best!

And yes, don’t be scared looking at the passing rate or yearly results. Ask the ones who have made it through this tough exam and established their names in the financial field. Hard work and sincere efforts do pay off! Once you become a certified Chartered Financial Analyst, you can surely open the doors to a successful career ahead. What do you think? Feel free to discuss any queries you have regarding the CFA Exams, passing rate, curriculum or other program details.