What is CFA?

Program format

  • A global education: In June 2016 more than 170,000 people were registered in the CFA Program as “CFA candidates” either on Level I, II or III. CFA Institute has more than 135,000 members globally.
  • It is a self-study program. Participation in the courses offered by various providers is non-mandatory.
  • The program is divided into three levels. There is one exam for each level and it is only possible to take the exam for one level each year. You cannot for example take the exam for Level I and II the same year.
  • Each year, the first Saturday in June, examinations for all three levels are held at the same time across the world.
  • The Level I exam can now also be taken at the beginning of December (in Europe only in selected cities). You may also take the exam in December if you failed the Level I exam in June.
  • The average completion time is approximately 4 years.


A special Candidate Curriculum Committee decides on the curriculum, also known as the ”Candidate Body of Knowledge,” in a carefully supervised process, and the exam questions are produced by a Council of Examiners.

Candidate Body of Knowledge encompasses 10 areas:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

Each year ”topic area weights” are set for each level, i.e. how much the 10 topic areas are weighted in the curriculum and exam.
A detailed list of contents can be seen at:


There are no specific course requirements that you have to meet in order to register for the CFA Program, but it is required that you have a Bachelor’s degree or a combination of professional work and university experience of minimum 4 years. It should, however, be emphasized that students have to be prepared for a program with a curriculum comparable to a Master’s level degree program. Prior knowledge of the topics will be an advantage.

Time consumption

CFA Institute recommends that candidates use at least a minimum of 300 hours to prepare for each exam level.

During the last couple of years the pass rates on the first levels have declined considerably, which CFA Institute believes is due to the candidates’ lack of exam preparation as well as a tendency of too much reliance on courses and compendiums, while the recommended curriculum is not read thoroughly enough by many. Compendiums such as Schweser’s Study Notes, which we use in our preperation courses, may be a great support during your exam preparations, though they can never be a substitute for the curriculum..
The Society offers a preparatory Level 1 course and can help candidates organize a study group.

How do I register for the exam?

On CFA Institute’s website www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/register/Pages/index.aspx
Please note that you should have your credit card and passport details at hand.

After registration, you will receive a registration number / candidate number, which can be used to register with user name and password at “My CFA.”

When can I register?

There are 3 deadlines for registration and the cost increases for every missed deadline.
Please note that currently the December Level 1 exam is not held in Denmark. It is usually offered in following European cities: Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt and others.

Furthermore, please note that if you took (or were enrolled for) the Level 1 June exam then you may not register for a new exam (e.g. the December Level 1 exam) until you have received the June exam results – even though this means that you might miss the early registration deadlines.

Are there other requirements which have to be met in order to be eligible for the CFA charter?

CFA Program Entrance Requirements
  • To have a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree; or to have four years of professional work experience, or a combination of work and college experience that totals at least four years
  • To be able to devote at least 300 hours each year for reading
  • Fill out the Professional Conduct Statement form
  • Have a valid passport

See also

In order to be eligible for the CFA Charter you must: 
  • Pass all 3 levels
  • Have 4 years of qualified, professional work experience within the financial sector (investment decision-making process).
  • Be a member of the CFA Institute
  • Fill out the Professional Conduct Statement form annually

Who enrolls in the program?


  • 3% Accountant/Auditor
  • 7% Chief-Level Executive
  • 6% Consultant
  • 5% Corporate Financial Analyst
  • 5% Financial Advisor
  • 4% Investment Banking Analyst
  • 3% Manager of Managers
  • 22% Portfolio Manager
  • 5% Relationship Manager
  • 15% Research Analyst
  • 5% Risk Manager
  • 3% Strategist
  • 3% Trader
  • 4% Unemployed
  • 11% Other


Exam frequency
Level 1: December and June
Level 2 & 3: June
Exam duration
6 hours held on the same day (one morning exam 9 a.m. to 12 noon and one afternoon exam 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.).
Exam format
Level 1: Multiple Choice
Level 2: 100% Item set
Level 3: 50% Item set, 50% Essay
The exams are held in almost all countries. In Denmark the exams are held in Copenhagen.
This does, however, not apply for the Level I exam in December.
Historical pass rates: 
Pass rates Level I-III, 1963-2010

More Information

For more information please visit CFA Institutes page: http://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/Pages/index.aspx

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