Chartered Financial Analyst
Frequently Asked Questions
To begin with, the CFA Institute administers the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) charter, which is a professional certification regarded as the preeminent and globally recognized designation in investment management, according to CFA Institute.
The CFA charter can be obtained by successfully completing three sequential levels of examination: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each level builds upon the knowledge and proficiency demonstrated by attaining a passing score in the preceding exams.
No, it is not a degree. Instead, it is a professional certification that signifies expertise in advanced investment analysis and practical portfolio management. People sometimes confuse the CFA charter with an MBA, and this misconception may arise due to candidates comparing the advantages of both credentials.
Candidates should be prepared for a challenging exam experience. It is crucial for candidates to approach their preparation with dedication and anticipate utilizing an authorized CFA calculator to solve the 180 multiple-choice questions within a time frame of 4 hours and 30 minutes.
To be eligible to enroll in the CFA Program and register for the Level I exam, individuals must fulfill certain requirements. Firstly, they must possess an international travel passport. Additionally, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:
• Hold a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or have at least two years remaining in their undergraduate studies.
• Have acquired a minimum of 4,000 hours of relevant professional work experience (not necessarily in the field of investment). Candidates also have the option to combine full-time professional experience with education to meet the 4,000-hour requirement. It’s important to note that these hours of experience or education should be accumulated prior to enrolling in the program. For further details on enrollment requirements for the CFA Program, it is advisable to continue learning.
The exam format is computer-based with 180 multiple-choice questions. There are two 2 hours and 15 minute session times. Learn about the best way to study for the CFA Level I exam.
The Level I exam will cover the following topics:
• Ethical and Professional Standards
• Quantitative Methods
• Financial Statement Analysis
• Corporate Issuers
• Equity Investments
• Fixed Income
• Alternative Investments
• Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
For optimal preparation, it is recommended that the average candidate dedicating themselves to Level I of the CFA exam should allocate a minimum of 300 hours of study time. This period of preparation typically spans six months, allowing candidates to thoroughly cover the exam curriculum and enhance their chances of success.
The grading of the CFA exam involves a combination of automated machine grading and assessment by CFA charter holders. Afterward, the CFA Institute employs a specific methodology to establish a minimum passing score that is applied to each exam. For more comprehensive information on the grading process of the CFA exam across all levels, please refer to our article, which provides detailed insights into this topic.
Yes, it is possible to start preparing for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams right after completing 12th grade. Candidates can choose to attempt the CFA Level 1 exam during their prefinal year of graduation. By doing so, they can progress through the different levels of the CFA program and aim to complete Level 3 by the time they finish their undergraduate studies.
Level I exams are given four times a year, in February, May, August, and November.
Level II exams are given twice a year, in May and August.
Level III exams are given twice a year, in May and November.
the CFA certification caters to professionals in finance seeking career growth, individuals looking to switch to finance, students exploring career options, professionals aiming to enhance their skills, and those interested in entering the finance field without pursuing traditional degrees.
Candidates spent 308 hours on average to prepare for the exams.
The average time spent on each exam level is as follows:
- Level I – 287 hours;
- Level II – 315 hours;
- Level III – 327 hours
The weights of the Level I exam topics are subject to change on a year-to-year basis, at the discretion of the CFA Institute. Currently the Level I CFA exam weights and topics are:
Topic Exam Weight
Ethical and Professional Standards 15-20%
Quantitative Methods 8-12%
Financial Statement Analysis 13-17%
Corporate Issuers 8-12%
Equity Investments 10-12%
Fixed Income 10-12%
Alternative Investments 5-8%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 5-8%