CFA or chartered financial analysts is a designation that is highly respected in the field of investment and portfolio management.  It is recognized by the American based CFA institute which was earlier known as Association for Investment Management and Research.

chartered financial analysts

To sit for the CFA exam one must have a bachelor’s (or an equivalent) degree (or be in the final year of bachelor’s degree program) and 4 years of professional work experience. A combination of professional work and university experience that totals at least 4 years is a mandate.

Exam Levels and time duration:
There are three exam levels in the CFA exam and it takes approximately 4 years to complete all the three levels of this exam.

Level I:
This exam is conducted twice a year in the months of June and December. Level I tests your knowledge on the ethical and professional standards. Average time preparation for this level is around 300 hours. Exam is scheduled to be held on 23rd June’2018, Saturday this year. This comes as a sigh of relief to the aspirants, as usually this exam used to be scheduled on the first week of June every year. This gives them three more weeks to practice and prepare. Exam results are generally declared in the month of August 2018.

This level focuses on basic knowledge and simple analysis. It consists of 240 multiple choice questions.

There are slight changes in the curriculum compared from 2017 to 2018. Changes that have been reported  or are newly added are listed below:

  • Corporate Finance: Leverage and Working capital
  • portfolio risk and return, part II
  • Equity valuations: Concepts and basic tools
  • Fixed Income markets: Issuance, trading and funding.
  • Introductions to alternative Investments

Pass percentage of CFA level I exam is as follows:

  • June 2017: 43%
  • June 2016: 43%
  • June 2015: 42%


Level II:
Level II exam tests the application of the investment analysis and focuses on the valuation of assets. This exam is conducted once a year, typically in June. Average time preparation for this level is approximately 328 hours.

On the Level II exam, you will have a total of 120 items i.e. 20 brief description questions with 6 items each compared to 240 multiple choice items on the Level I exam. The Level II exam is worth 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam. The 120 Level II items are equally weighted, 3 points each, with no penalty for incorrect answers.

There are slight changes in the curriculum compared from 2017 to 2018. Changes that have been reported  or are newly added are listed below:

  • Currency exchange rates: Understanding equilibrium value
  • Dividends and share repurchases: Analysis
  • Pricing and Valuation of forward commitments

Pass percentage of CFA level II exam is as follows:

  • June 2017: 47%
  • June 2016: 46%
  • June 2015: 46%


Level III:
Level III tests the aspirant on how they apply the concepts of portfolio management and compliance. Average time preparation for this level is around 335 hours. Level III exam consists of item set and constructed response (essay type)  questions .

There are slight changes in the curriculum compared from 2017 to 2018. Changes that have been reported  or are newly added are listed below:

  • Managing Individual Investor portfolio
  • Taxes and Private wealth management in a global context
  • Asset Allocation and related decisions in portfolio management: Introduction and Principles of Asset allocation
  • Asset Allocation with real-world constraint
  • Fixed income portfolio management: Introduction and liability-driven and Index based strategies, Yield curve strategies and credit strategies.
  • Alternative Investments for portfolio management.

Pass percentage of CFA level III exam is as follows:

  • June 2017: 54%
  • June 2016: 54%
  • June 2015: 53%


Below is a table indicating weight age of all topics at the three levels of the CFA exam:

Topics of CFA


Registration Dates
Early registration for June 2018 examination ended in September, standard registration would end on 14th January and the late registration would end on 14th March. Registration fees increases as you delay registering for the exam as well. Early registration charges $ 650 (Ends in September), standard registration charges $ 950 while the late registration charges $ 1,380. This is a onetime enrollment fees in dollars. This registration fee includes:

  1. E-book covering the entire curriculum
  2. Topic-wise tests
  3. Mock Tests

CFA Exam Centers:
CFA program is offered in over 180 cities across the world. This exam is not computer generated and a normal written test that is conducted across various centers. There are testing centers for this exam across 159 countries with over 142,000 members worldwide.

CFA can be explored by:

  • Portfolio Managers
  • Investment Analysts
  • Financial Analysts
  • Relationship Managers
  • Mutual fund analysts
  • Hedge fund Analysts
  • Consultant
  • Research Analysts
  • Risk Analysts/Managers
  • Trader/Broker
  • Accountant/Auditors

Preparation of CFA
To sit for the CFA examination, one needs to have a solid blueprint. Each level requires hard work and discipline. To focus, one needs to be determined to crack this exam.

The first criteria in preparing the blueprint depends upon your current situation i.e. whether you are a student or a working professional, this would give you a sense of how much time you can devote for the studies and accordingly when to start. For instance,  If you can  devote around 40 hours a week, that would be 160 hours a month which essentially mean you need around 2 months study time to crack just the level I. if you are able to devote 30 hours, then one would need around 3 months and so on.

Once your blueprint is ready, you have to stick to it. This requires following order and strict discipline. We recommend applications such as Focus me, app bock, self-control to help you overcome the overpowering information of the social media and the mobile applications.

This leads to superior time management without any distractions and procrastinations. Also one can concentrate on practicing mock papers and questions from test banks.  This would then help you figure out how long can you sit and study with good quality attention span. Accordingly you can add breaks to your plan depending on your requirement and need. It is generally not advised to modify your plan but one can fine-tune it according to one’s intellect and want.

In the end, keep your eyes on the goal. Start early, be consistent with your studies and stick to the blueprint prepared initially and be disciplined at all costs. Many experienced financial analysts or portfolio managers fall in this trap of procrastination and the battle of CFA is lost. It is highly recommended to keep yourself motivated to complete all three levels of the exam. Push yourself to your most potential and pass with flying colors. Clearing the CFA exam, not only proves the strength of your technical knowledge but also the mettle of your character.


Which Course to pursue?
Wiley course is an online and a self-study course. This course is not only cost effective but also comes with many video tutorials.(approx 110+ hours).  After the purchase, till the time the aspirant does not clear all the levels, it is absolutely free. It provides the exam planner and a personalized study schedule to the aspirant which helps them to stay on track with their end goal. There are about 30-45 minute bite-sized lessons designed to help one learn faster and retain more. Wiley provides over 90 pages of formula sheets and print or e-book covering every lesson.

For aspirants who are close to the finish line and near the exam, Wiley provides a customized 11th hour final review course with 40 hours final review lecture videos and mock exam seminar (14 hours level III) and also the 11th hour review study guide (print or e-book).

It also offers 1000 hours of practice questions at each level .It gives dashboards and  performance metrics and video lectures by expert instructors (Level I= 90 hours+ Level II = 100 hours, Level III = 50 hours). 14-16 weeks of live virtual online classes are now also available to the aspirant and professional online mentoring – post the CFA exam takes this course one level up.

Best part of the course is that it offers you the convenience. In today’s daily lives one is bounded by many commitments of jobs and family; therefore an online course like this gives one the flexibility and ease. With online mentoring one can easily clear doubts and get solutions to one’s queries and questions. Hence we highly recommend this course for it’s convenience, flexibility and suitability.

Wiley Online Training is among the global leaders in international training for CPA, CFA, FRM, Data Science & Analytics. It has helped over 500,000 professionals across the globe. With Wiley Online Training, 9 out of 10 students pass their exams. Want to find out more? Call us at 0120-6291100/01 or drop us a quick message here

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