Are you interested in becoming a Chartered Financial Accountant (CFA®)? Maybe you’re interested in a career in finance and are looking for a good certification to pursue. Or maybe you’re an already established professional looking to increase your salary. 

Whatever your level of work experience or interest, we’ve got answers to all your pressing questions! Check out all the information you need to know about the CFA® exam below:

What is the CFA® exam?

What is the CFA Institute?

The CFA® exam tests your ability as an investment management professional. Consequently, it’s difficult to pass and requires hundreds of hours of study. The exam is administered by the CFA® Institute and is intended to train and evaluate professionals employed by investment banks, research firms, pension funds, and insurance companies.

Who can take the CFA® exam?

Who Can Take The CFA Exam

There are three CFA® exams – Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. You have to take them in order. So, if you want to take the Level 2 exam, you must first pass Level 1.

To appear for Level 1, you must complete a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent program. However, there is an exception to this rule;  If you’re in the final year of a Bachelor’s program, you can register for Level 1. However, you must complete the degree to register for Level 2. 

How long is the CFA® exam?

Each of the three CFA® exams — Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 — is six hours long. The exams are divided into two sessions of three hours each. One session is held in the morning and the other in the afternoon. 

How Hard is the CFA Exam? How hard is the CFA® exam?

Yes, the Chartered Financial Analyst® exam is regarded as one of the toughest professional exams. 

If you want to become a CFA® charter holder, you must be prepared to put in hundreds of hours of study. The CFA® Institute estimates that a candidate must prepare for at least 300 hours for each of the three levels.

When are CFA® exam dates?

The CFA® exams are held twice a year, in June and December. In June, candidates can appear for Levels 1, 2, or 3. However, only the CFA® Level 1 exam date is in December. 

When are CFA exam dates?

How much does the CFA® Level I exam cost?

Exam fees depend on when you register. Early registration can lower the fees you pay. The costs involved for Level I are:

  • A $450 one-time enrollment fee.
  • Registration fees for the Level 1 exam – this could be as low as $700 if you register before a specific date. For example, the registration fee payable for the June 2020 exam was only $700 if you had registered by October 2, 2019. If you register by February 12, 2020, you would have to pay the standard registration fee of $1,000. After this date, the exam would cost you $1,450. The last date for payment is March 11, 2020. 

How much does the CFA® Level 2 exam cost?

How much does CFA level 2 cost?

The fees for the CFA® Level 2 exam vary with the date of registration. Early registration, which was available until October 2 2019 for the June 2020 exam, had a cost of only $700. The standard registration fee (applicable till February 12 for the June 2020 exam) is $1,000. If you register after this date, you would have to pay the late registration fee of $1,450. The last date for payment is March 11, 2020.

How much does the CFA® Level 3 exam cost?

The cost of taking each of the three levels of the CFA® exam is the same. However, it varies based on your date of registration. Here are the costs for the June 2020 exam:

  • If you had registered by October 2, 2019, you would have been eligible for the early registration fee of $700. 
  • The standard registration fee of $1,000 is payable by February 12, 2020.
  • If you miss the last date for paying the standard registration fee, you can still take the exam by paying the late registration fee of $1,450. The last date for paying this is March 11, 2020. 

When is the CFA® Level 1 exam date?

The CFA® Level 1 exam is held twice a year in June and December. These are the dates for the CFA® Level 1 exam that will be held in June 2020:

  • Americas and EMEA  (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa): June 6, 2020.
  • Asia Pacific: June 7, 2020.

When is the CFA® Level 2 exam date?

The CFA® Level 2 exam is held once a year in June. The June 2020 exam will be held on June 6, 2020.

When is the CFA® Level 3 exam date?

The CFA® Level 3 exam is held once a year in June. The June 2020 exam will be held on June 6, 2020.

What do I bring to the CFA® exam?

What do I bring to take the CFA exam?

There are four essential items that you must carry on exam day: 

  1. Exam admission ticket. The details on your exam admission ticket must match the information on your passport. If they don’t, you may not be allowed to take the exam.
  2. A valid international travel passport. You must have this; no other form of identification meets the CFA® Institute’s requirement.
  3. A Hewlett Packard 12C calculator. The approved models include the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and the 12C Prestige. You are also permitted to use the Texas Instruments BA II Plus or the BA II Plus Professional. 
  4. No. 2 or HB pencils. For the essay questions in the Level 3 exam, you may use a blue or black ink pen.

You can get more details from the CFA® Program Candidate Checklist page. 

Can I change my CFA® exam date?

No, you cannot. The rules of the CFA® Institute don’t permit you to defer your registration fees from one exam to the next. If you have paid your exam registration fees for any level of the CFA® exam, you can’t transfer the fees to the next exam.

Did we miss any questions? Leave a comment if you’re interested in learning more about the CFA® exam or check out our list of the best CFA® study materials in 2020!

CFA® Institute does not endorse, promote or warrant the accuracy or quality of CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA® Institute.

Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular "For Dummies" books published by John Wiley & Sons including 'CPA Exam for Dummies' and 'Cost Accounting for Dummies'.

Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.