CFA Pass Rate Slides to Low of 39% for Final Exam in the Series
(Bloomberg) -- The pass rate for the final level of the chartered financial analyst exam slumped once again, declining to the lowest in the history of the 58-year-old test.
“In ‘normal’ circumstances, it’s an incredible accomplishment to pass all three levels of the CFA program,” Margaret Franklin, chief executive officer of the institute, said in a statement Tuesday. “And in these difficult times, when many candidates had to juggle changing exam schedules, increased workloads and family obligations, it’s even more impressive.”
The September results for the final test follow historically low pass rates across all levels of the CFA exam in recent months. The institute has cited testing disruptions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for the trend. A total of 2,769 candidates sat for the Level III exam in September, the second time the test was given this year.
The September exam was added to the schedule to address pandemic-related disruptions, the institute said. As the institute shifted to more frequent and electronically administered exams, the number of candidates taking the test each session has decreased.
So far this year, 24,372 Level III candidates have sat for the exam, and more than 24,000 additional test-takers have signed up for the next round of the final test, scheduled for November, according to the statement. The institute said it’s on track to exceed its five-year average of 27,692 candidates per year.
September’s exam was the second time the final part of the CFA series was given using computers, and the success rate was already down from 56% in December, when it was still administered on paper. The first Level III exam dates back to 1963.
The Covid-19 pandemic upended the normal test-taking timeline in 2020. In the past, the institute offered all three levels of the test on paper in June, and another chance to take the first part in December. After transitioning to computer-based testing, the institute now offers the exams more times throughout the year.
To become a charter holder, candidates must pass all three levels of the exam and meet certain work requirements. There are currently more than 175,000 investment professionals that hold the CFA title, according to the institute. Passing all three CFA exams can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities for finance-industry workers.
On average, candidates study 300 hours for each level of the exam and take four years to complete the series. The Level III exam consists of eight to 11 vignettes with accompanying multiple-choice and essay questions, and takes almost four and a half hours to complete, with an optional break halfway through.
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