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CFA Level 1 Weights, Date, Pass Rates + All You Need to Know

CFA Level 1 exam is the first of the three-tier tests to pass in the CFA Program. It involves basic knowledge and comprehension questions focusing on investment tools, and some questions require analysis. Plus, the CFA Level 1 syllabus changed somewhat a few years ago, so let’s review the content you need to know to pass the CFA in 2024.

CFA Level 1 Weights

The CFA Level 1 exam focuses on knowledge and comprehension instead of analysis and application.

The syllabus is diversified, emphasizing ethical and professional standards, tools, portfolio management and analysis, and assets.

The rest includes corporate finance, equity, fixed income, derivatives, and portfolio management, most of which will be repeated in Levels 2 and 3 with more emphasis.

Basically, here’s what you will encounter on the Level 1 exam:

  • Ethical and professional standards: 15-20%
  • Quantitative methods: 6-9%
  • Economics: 6-9%
  • Financial statement analysis: 11-13%
  • Corporate issuers: 6-9%
  • Portfolio management: 8-12%
  • Equity investments 11-14%
  • Fixed income: 11-14%
  • Derivative: 5-8%
  • Alternative investments: 7-10%

In fact, we have a page that discusses the CFA Level 1 syllabus extensively.

CFA Level 1 Exam Format

Level 1 is 100% multiple choice questions. The exam includes 90 questions in the morning and 90 in the afternoon, and each session is about 2 hours and 15 minutes long. Therefore, you have 90 seconds per question, on average.

All questions are equally weighted and positively graded. Each question is independent of the others.

CFA Level 1 Exam Date

The CFA Level 1 exam is only given during certain times of the year. Here’s a list of the upcoming CFA exam dates for Level 1:

  • February 19-25, 2024
  • May 15-21, 2024
  • August 20-26, 2024

Please note that the test dates for Levels 2 and 3 are limited, too. Therefore, you should strategize when you’d like to start your CFA journey.

You can find detailed discussions here:

CFA Level 1 Pass Rates

Exam Pass Rate for CFA Level 1

  • February 2023 CFA Level I exam pass rate: 38%
  • May 2023 CFA Level I exam pass rate: 39%
  • August 2023 CFA Level I exam pass rate: 37%

CFA Level II CFA Exam Pass Rate

  • May 2023 CFA Level II exam pass rate: 52%
  • August 2023 CFA Level II exam pass rate: 44%

Pass Rate for CFA Level II Exam

  • February 2023 CFA Level III exam pass rate: 48%
  • August 2023 CFA Level III exam pass rate: 47%

The CFA pass rate has been consistently been below 50% but has stabilized in the last 10 years.

Don’t be scared by these statistics — one main reason is the low barrier of entry to the exam itself. Remember that a bachelor’s degree or work experience in ANY industry can qualify you for the exam, which means a fair number of candidates do not have prior knowledge in finance or investment. If you pick the right CFA review material and spend sufficient time preparing for it, you have a much higher chance of success.

If you look at the statistics for Levels 2 and 3 (when the “casual” candidates are screened out), the latest pass rate are better than Level 1. It’s still difficult to pass, but you see a reasonable level more aligned with the other professional exams.

Two More Things to Know before the Registration

CFA Level 1 Exam Fee

There is a one-time enrollment fee of $350 once you enter the CFA program. Then, when you are ready, pay for the Level 1 exam fee, which ranges from $940 to $1,250, depending on the time you register.

To maximize the saving, aim for early bird CFA registration, which is as early as 9 months before the exam day.

Exam Grading and Results

Results of the Level 1 exam are typically released within 60 days. The fastest and most convenient way is to check the score online (candidate ID required). The minimum passing score is different from year to year.

Next Post: CFA Level II Syllabus and Pass Rate

Further Reading

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