CFA Says Level I, II Pass Rates Rise in Last of Paper Exams

Pass rates for the first two levels of the chartered financial analyst exam rose in December, the last time the test is to be given on paper.

For the first of the three-part test, the pass rate climbed to 49%, the highest since 2001, according to a statement Wednesday from the CFA Institute. The rate for part two rose to 55%, a 15-year high, while the rate for the third level was unchanged at 56%.

“CFA Institute uses rigorous, industry-accepted processes to ensure we maintain a consistent and fair passing standard,” Peg Jobst, the institute’s managing director of credentialing, said in the statement. “Those who passed in December did so because of their perseverance in the face of unprecedented conditions. We anticipate that the pass rate may remain higher as the pandemic continues due to candidates’ extended preparation time.”

Finance workers typically seek the CFA charter because it offers the promise of better jobs, higher salaries and a deeper understanding of their industry. On average, charter recipients spend more than 300 hours studying for the exam.

The CFA Institute normally offers all three levels of the test in June, and another chance to take the first part in December. The pandemic changed all that last year, forcing the institute to postpone its June exams. December was the earliest opportunity for it to be re-administered.

The December exam was also the last to be done with pencil and paper, and the institute has said it will offer all three levels via computers starting this month.

Due to the pandemic, the institute was able to offer the exam only in 170 test centers in 91 cities around the world. Just 47,567 sat for it in December, a 75% decline from the last time all three levels were given.

“I heartily congratulate those candidates who were able to sit for the December exams and pass their respective levels,” Margaret Franklin, president and chief executive officer of the CFA Institute, said in the statement. “It is a tribute to the resilience and dedication of these candidates.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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