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Latest Exam Format

The CFA examination is conducted in three different levels and to obtain the certification, each candidate has to clear all the three levels.

The topics covered in each examination and the weightages are provided below:

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%

Sometimes, certain topics are clubbed together for the ease of conducting the tests. In some years, the weightages might vary slightly.

Exam Structure – Level I

The level I examination consists of total 240 questions which are all multiple choice questions. They are split into two sessions of 3 hours each. To clear level I, a candidate has to attend both the sessions. On an average, a candidate should spend approximately 90 seconds on each question.

The multiple choice questions are usually of two different types – sentence completion with three different choices and questions with three unique choices. All questions have equal weightages and there is no penalty for a wrong answer.

Exam Structure – Level II

The Level II examination involves 20 item set questions divided into 10 sets in the morning session and 10 sets in the evening session. There are a total 120 questions with 20 vignettes of 6 items each. The total points in the Level II examination is 360 points with each item having 3 points each. Unlike Level I, Level II examination covers some topics in the morning session only and some topics in the evening session only. Each item set contains multiple choice questions only.

The item sets are called mini cases, the length of which ranges from 1 page to 2.5 pages. Longer vignettes contain tables of information like statistics, financial analysis, fixed income items, etc. A candidate must read the vignette completely to answer the multiple-choice questions.

Exam Structure – Level III

The Level III examination consists of item sets and constructed response. The examination is divided into two sessions of morning and evening each. The morning session has essay questions consisting of 8 to 12 questions containing a total of 180 points. The afternoon session consists of 10 item set questions.

Each essay question consists of either of the two of the following types of questions or both.

  • The first type has an answer page on an unlined page which is clearly labelled for the specific question. Candidates can write their choice of answers.
  • The second type has an answer page with structured boxed labelled for that question. They provide a visual structure for writing the response.

Updates As Compared To Previous Year

The CFA examination structure has changed somewhat in 2017. The curriculum change has been done to include practical knowledge and skills in the course. The changes have been done in three different segments – ethics, ESG investing and risk measurement.

The changes made this year are provided below:

CFA Level I

Ethical and Professional Standard Ethics and trust in the Investment Profession New topic introduced from 2017
Economics Microeconomic Analysis Demand and Supply Analysis Topic removed from 2017
Microeconomics and Macroeconomics Topics in demand and supply analysis New topic introduced from 2017
Moneytary and Fiscal Policy, International Trade and Currency Exchange Rates New topic introduced from 2017
Corporate Finance Corporate Finance: Corporate Governance, Capital Budgeting and Cost of Capital Corporate Governance and ESG New topic introduced from 2017
Corporate Finance: Leverage, Dividends and Share Repurchases, Working Capital Management New topic introduced from 2017
Corporate Finance The Corporate Finance Governance of Listed Companies Topic removed from 2017

CFA Level II

Financial Reporting and Analysis Financial Reporting and Analysis: Inventories and Long Live Assets Subject removed from 2017
Equity Valuation Equity Valuation: Industry and Company Analysis and Discounted Dividend Valuation Topic introduced in 2017
Equity Valuation: Free Cash Flow and Other Valuation Models Topic introduced in 2017
Derivative Investment Derivative Instruments: Valuation and Strategies Topic introduced in 2017
Alternative Investment Alternative Investment Commodity and commodity derivatives Topic introduced in 2017
Portfolio Management Portfolio Management: Process, Asset Allocation and Risk Management Topic introduced in 2017
Portfolio Management: Economic Analysis, Active Management and Trading Topic introduced in 2017


Behavioural Finance, Individual Investors and Institutional Investors Private Wealth Management Risk Management for Individuals Topic introduced in 2017