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CFA Exam – Chartered Financial Analyst




Woman sitting studying for exam

The CFA exams are identified as some of the most difficult tests for professionals. People taking these exams are sometimes required to change their lifestyle due to its demands but the urge to attaining advanced knowledge in the investment field and the desire to advance career encourages people to take the exams.
Enrolling in the CFA test enables the individuals who study to understand the investment industry better and make sound decisions as well. The exams are so important that employers not only reimburse registration fees but also provide a study leave for workers who have enrolled to sit for the exams. Some employers even give a bonus when their workers pass the CFA exams.
General Overview
Professionals who pass the CFA test ensure that they spend extensive time studying and also enhance strong discipline in the studying time as well as when they take exams. The exam can be taken as long as a person is willing to, but they have to study for over 300 hours.
It takes fewer hours to study Level I and Level II compared to Level III, which is considered more difficult. The exam for each of these levels takes six hours since it covers a wide range of topics.  Enough time to cover these topics in detail is therefore needed. Moreover, the books used in the preparation of the CFA exam provide more material than what is needed to answer the tests.  The CFA Institute, one of the institutions that are accredited to provide the exam indicates that past rates in the past for Level I and Level II have been 40%-50% while the rates have been higher for Level III.
After the June 2017 exams, the CFA Institute reported that only 43% of the test takers passed the Level I, 47% passed Level II while 54% of all the candidates passed Level III. It takes a professional four years to complete all the three levels and receives a charter.
Level I comprises 240 multiple questions, Level II contains 20 item set questions while Level III consists of item-set questions and short essays.  The Level I multiple choice questions contain three possible answers where “none of the above” or “all of the above” are normally provided. The candidates sit for the first 120 questions in three hours in the first-morning session while the rest are completed in 180 minutes during the afternoon.
For Level II, 10 of the item questions are completed in the morning session and the other ten in the afternoon. It has 120 items in total that are assigned 3 points with no penalty for the wrong answer. During the Level III exams, constructed essay (questions) which are worth 180 points are administered in the morning while the 10 item set questions are provided in the afternoon. The exam is considered difficult due to the great amount of material needed to study and the time pressure in the examination period creates anxiety for some candidates.
Tips for Passing
  • The professional taking the exam should read the instructions provided on the front cover and throughout the examination booklet.
  • In the first page, the examiner should go through all the questions provided and the time allocated for each question so that they can plan on which questions, to begin with, to avoid spending much of the exam time provided on the more difficult questions.
  • One should write the answer to each question to determine its designated answer page.
  • Before one takes the exam, they should study for over 300 hours, utilize alternative prep materials and answer a wide variety of study questions. Practice questions give them a feel for the type of questions they will be needed to answer and their format.
  • A study schedule is recommended for one to have a structured study plan that will enable them to cover most of the topics before they sit for the CFA test. The candidate should also select a test center that is in close proximity from their residences.
Training Courses
The CFA Level I prep course comes with video tutorial package that contains over 70 videos. The online course provides a lifetime access to these materials once they create an account on the website. The course is favorable for those who want to study for CFA Level I test on their own and those who want to study it anywhere at any time. There are also study packages for the three levels provided by Kaplan through an online platform.
Appptuto CFA Review contains 3000 multiple choice practice questions and allows users to take the preset tests that they have set or the learner can come up with customized based on the questions based on the topics they want to study. They also provide live and online training for the Level I and Level II tests.  
Adapt prep is also another resources that provide notes for Level II and Level III, full mock exams, ebooks, and video tutorials as well. There is also instructor support in case one needs help in interpreting or providing answers to the test practice questions.
Best Websites
  • is a website owned by the CFA Institute. The candidates willing to take the CFA tests can create an account on their website and get free prep materials. Information on the CFA exam is frequently updated to avoid confusion among exam takers.  Exam structures and the test centers are also provided in detail on this website.
  • At, over 4000 participants have been trained under the CFA program. They provide online training for the three levels and their online classes fill to capacity due to the great training that takes place through the site. There is also a free career counseling session that is important particularly for the CFA test takers.
Top Books
Some of the best CFA books include:
  • Equity Asset Valuation that combines theory and practice to paint an informative picture of the performance of the equity asset world. The book guides a reader through the information that they need so that they comprehend on the general assessment of equity investments.  
  • Quantitative Investment Analysis by Richard Defusco explains the statistics part of the CFA test and also delves into CFA subjects such as time value of money and statement analysis. It is the CFA Institute investment series just like Equity Asset Valuation.




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