How Hard is the CFA Exam?

To Pass the CFA examination, solid preparation and extraordinary studying practices are needed. Exams of all three levels were being conducted in June, while Level 1 was also being conducted in December. The exams were paper-based. 

How Hard is the CFA Exam?

CFA Exam is tough to pass. Candidates need a lot of preparation, at least 300 hours of studying.  Usually, candidates do not succeed in fixed income, derivatives, and portfolio management. You need at least 70% to pass the exams CFA level 1 and CFA level 2. However, the pass rate for exams is between 40% and 50%.

But now, each exam conducted in 2021 will be taken on a computer system. Also, the Level 1 exam will be conducted four times a year, namely in February, May, August, and November. Because of a novel coronavirus, two non-permanent apertures were arranged in January and March of 2021. Regarding Level 2 and Level 3 examinations, each level will be conducted three times in 2021, namely in May, August, or September and November, then two times a year as 2022 begins.

Even though each exam can be conducted whenever needed, the applicant has to educate themselves for more than 300 hours. Because of heavy learning time, many applicants restrain themselves from moving forward after they fail an exam. In terms of achieving a charter, an applicant should clear all three levels of the exam and should have at least four years of legit working experience in the field of investment decision-making.

No doubt that the examinations are challenging. Out of all, only 49 percent of applicants managed to pass the exams in December 2020. However, efficient planning and strictly following that plan can help one in clearing all three levels. In 2018, the highest count of applicants was recorded. But the results were similar to the previous year. A rising number of applicants belonged to Asia. Now around 91 countries and territories have examination centers.

Is CFA level 2 hard?

Yes, CHA level 2 is hard, and it is tough to pass. CFA level 2 is more complex than CFA level 1 because the depth and Level 2 exams are more application-focused. As a result, the pass rate is 5-10% less than the CFA level 1 exam.


CFA exam duration and subjects

The duration of CFA exam is 6 hours. It examines your moral values and ethics. Subjects included are Economics, Financial reporting & analysis, quantitative methods, Equity investments, corporate finance, portfolio management, Alternative investments, Derivatives, and wealth planning. This is the reason behind the recommended 300 hours of preparation time. 

The study material given by CFA Institute has more topics than required for the examination. Numbers of candidates prefer reference books over study material given by the institute. Namely, books were given by Schweser. Other activities such as online classes, quizzes & videos also prove to be helpful in clearing examinations. Usage of external information sources and different learning materials can help applicants to clear the exam more efficiently.

Rate of Passing

Institute of CFA announces previous rates of passing respected to Level 1 and Level 2 which were nearly 40% to 50%, and results for Level 3 were quite higher. Although the Rate of passing was intensively high at the time of initiation in the year 1963.

49% of applicants succeeded in the Level 1 test conducted in 2020 December, 55% succeeded in Level 2, and 56% managed to pass Level 3. However, 10% to 20% of applicants who registered themselves for the test were reported absent.

Questions Asked in Exams

The content of the exam is actually tough and questions are specially fabricated to confuse the student. And thus an applicant should take multiple preparation tests before taking the actual one. By this, they will understand the pattern of questions asked in the exam.

There are 180 MCQs in Level 1, which was reduced from 240 in the year 2020. In Level 2 a total of 20 sets of questions are asked Level 3 consists of a mixture of small manuscript and item sets questions. Though there are only 3 options given in the MCQs of the Level 1 exam, a student should go through all the options precisely and select the correct one. This also includes the options of “none of the above” and “all of the above” as possible correct answers. Candidates also experience a shortage of time during the exam.

Commencing from 2021, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 of the CFA® examination exam, computer systems will be introduced. And a 60 years old method of giving exams on paper will be replaced.


Though CFA tests are rigid top, anyone can do it by preparing for 300 hours and using other sources of knowledge such as reference books by known authors, aby efficiently planning preparation.

Completing the whole CFA Program is worth gratifying; a big Finance industry across the globe acknowledges its importance be. After completion, one can take his/her career forward with the help of education they have and good connections with fellow CFA Charters.



Igor has been a trader since 2007. Currently, Igor works for several prop trading companies. He is an expert in financial niche, long-term trading, and weekly technical levels. The primary field of Igor's research is the application of machine learning in algorithmic trading. Education: Computer Engineering and Ph.D. in machine learning. Igor regularly publishes trading-related videos on the Fxigor Youtube channel. To contact Igor write on:

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