What is CFA?

Program format

  • A global education: In 2019, 354,300 people were registered in the CFA Program as “CFA candidates” either on Level I, II or III. CFA Institute has more than 178,000 members globally.
  • It is a self-study program. Participation in the courses offered by various providers is non-mandatory.
  • CFA Program contains three levels of curriculum, each with its own exam. Passing the exam for all three levels is a requirement to obtain the CFA charter. From 2021, the testing will be computer-based.


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.

When can I register?

There are 2 deadlines for registration (early registration and standard registration).
From 2021, the Level I exam will be held four times each year, and the Level II and Level III exams will be held twice each year.

Please note that you may not enroll for a new exam until you have received your results from a previous exam  – even if this means that you miss the early registration deadline.

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: February, May, August and November.
Level 2: 2021: May and August. 2022: February, August and November. 2023-: May, August and November.
Level 3: 2021: May and November. 2022: May and August. 2023-: February and August.
Exam duration
Two 2.25-hour sessions for Level I.
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.

More Information

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

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