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Exam Requirements / Eligibility

For applying into the CFA programme, one need to clear the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria for CFA is pretty simple. Either the person has to possess a valid Bachelor degree from any recognized university or have a professional experience totalling to 4 years or a combination of the two where the total number of years add up to 4 years.

Candidates who are in the final year of a Bachelor’s degree can also apply, however, in that case, they will not be able to sit for the Level II examinations unless the degree is completed. Part time work experience is not counted as a professional work experience.

Exam Sections

A candidate has to appear for three levels of examinations to become a CFA certificate holder. Following are the details of the sections, the topics and the weightages of each topic in the different levels.

Ethical and professional standards 15% 10-15% 10-15%
Quantitative Methods 12% 5-10% 0%
Economics 10% 5-10% 5-15%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 20% 15-20% 0%
Corporate Finance 7% 5-15% 0%
Equity Investments 10% 15-25% 5-15%
Fixed Income 10% 10-20% 10-20%
Derivatives 5% 5-15% 5-15%
Alternative Investments 4% 5-10% 5-15%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 7% 5-10% 40-55%
Total 100% 100% 100%

The actual weightages might vary slightly from year to year. In some years, certain topics are clubbed together during the test.

Registration Process

Once a candidate clears the eligibility criteria, he/she has to fill up the registration form. The registration form is available in both online and offline mode. The online mode is the fastest and the most convenient way to enrol. A candidate can create an online user account and complete the registration form easily. Alternatively, a candidate can also fill up a physical form and send it via courier. Filling up an online form is cheaper since the candidate can avoid the physical form mailing charges.

Along with the submission of the form, a candidate has to pay the one-time program enrollment fee and examination registration fee as well.

One-time program enrollment fee –  USD 450 (Pay while registering for CFA Level 1 exam)

There are three slabs of registration fees that a candidate has the option to pay depending on when he/she fills up the form. The details are provided below:

Early registration fee 650
Standard registration fee 930
Late registration fee 1380

The above-mentioned fees are non-transferable and non-refundable and covers the following:

  • An ebook (which contains the entire syllabus of all the examinations)
  • An interactive study planner for guiding a candidate and tracking the preparation
  • Practice tests based on topics
  • Mock examinations
  • A mobile study app with access to all the above

Exam Date & Schedule

The CFA examination happens in three levels – level I, II and III. Level I examinations happen twice a year – the first Saturday of June and in December. Level II and III, however happens only once a year – the first Saturday of June.

The details of the examination schedule is provided below:

Exam Calendar June 2017 (Levels I, II and III)

27th July 2016 June 2017 exam registration process starts
Upon registration Availability of topic tests
21st September 2016 Early registration fee end date
January 2017 Availability of mock examinations
1st February 2017 Awareness scholarship application end date
15th February 2017 Standard registration fee end date
15th March 2017 Final registration fee end date
20th March 2017 Last date for receipt of disability and religious alternate date requests
18th April 2017 Last date of requesting change of test center
March 2017 Availability of exam admission tickets
3rd June 2017 Final examination day
July 2017 Announcement of Results of Level I and II
August 2017 Announcement of results of Level III


Exam Calendar December 2017 (Level I)

25th January 2017 December 2017 exam registration process starts
Upon registration Availability of topic tests
15th March 2017 Early registration fee end date
15th August 2017 Availability of mock examinations
16th August 2017 Standard registration fee end date
1st September 2017 Awareness scholarship application end date
13th September 2017 Final registration fee end date
18th September 2017 Last date for receipt of disability and religious alternate date requests
9th October 2017 Last date of requesting change of test center
November 2017 Availability of exam admission tickets
2nd December 2017 Final examination day
January 2017 Announcement of Results

Test Centre & Location

 CFA examination is conducted on the same date across various locations of the globe. Below are details of the locations of the June 2017 examination across various countries:

USA: CFA examinations are conducted across 53 locations in the USA. They are Anchorage, Birmingham, Little Rock, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Hartford, Washington, Wilmington, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Honolulu, Des Moines, Boise, Chicago, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, St Louis, Charlotte, Omaha, Norther New Jersey, Long Island, New York, Rochester, Westchester County, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Portland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Memphis, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Salt lake City, Richmond, Seattle, Madisson and Milwaukee.

UK: In the UK, the examination is conducted in London and Edinburgh.

India: There are 8 locations in India, where the examination is conducted which are Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune.

UAE: Dubai and Abu Dhabi are test centers of CFA in the UAE region.

Canada: Canada has 12 centres where the CFA examination is conducted. They include Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.

China: A CFA candidate can choose from 8 locations in China, which are Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Wuhan.

Difficulty Level

CFA certification is a coveted one and hence the examination is not a cake walk. Passing the exam takes dedication, discipline and concentrated amount of studying. The examinations for all the three levels are conducted every year in June while level I examinations happens in December too.

The exams can be taken as many times as one wants. Usually, about 300 hours of studying can prepare a candidate for the examinations. It is easy to get demotivated by failing even after studying so long. However, the important point to remember is that in spite of the examinations being difficult, more than 100,000 people across 150 countries of the world have cleared the examination. What is required is a discipline and a good study plan. One can clear the examinations with dedication and hard work.

Age Criteria

There are no fixed age criteria for clearing a CFA examination. A person can sit for the examination after 48 months of relevant work experience. There is no maximum age limit for clearing the examination as well. However, a thing to remember is that each level requires 300 hours of study and is difficult to manage after having a full-time job and a family.

As per various surveys, the average age of candidates clearing level I is 26.5 years, level II is 28.2 years and level III is 29.7 years.

Before Graduation Or After Graduation

Having a Bachelor’s degree is a pre-requisite for obtaining a CFA certificate. Of course, someone can pursue the degree even before completing graduation, however, the certificate will not be issued unless the bachelor degree is completed.