The CFA Program is a graduate-level study program that combines a broad-based curriculum of investment principles with professional conduct requirements. It is designed to prepare you for a wide range of investment specialties that apply in every market all over the world.

The CFA Program comprises of three levels of exams. If you pass the exams and meet the ethical and professional requirements, you earn the CFA charter.

Benefits of the CFA Charter

Investment industry employers and media around the world recognize the CFA designation as the gold standard of professional excellence. Completing the CFA Program places you in elite company, confirming your mastery of the program’s rigorous curriculum and your commitment to the formidable challenge of passing all three levels of examinations.

The CFA Program reflects a broad Candidate Body of Knowledge™ developed and continuously updated by active practitioners to ensure that charterholders possess knowledge grounded in the real world of today’s global investment industry. Unlike many postgraduate programs, the self-directed study format allows you to continue working while you progress.

No other educational experience better equips you with the fundamental knowledge needed to work in today’s world of professional investing. The CFA charter represents a commitment to ethical behavior and professional excellence that helps build your reputation among clients, employers, and your colleagues in the investment industry.

As a charterholder you will gain:

  • Competitive advantage : Employers and clients want the experience and knowledge that comes with the rigor of obtaining a CFA charter
  • Credibility : Clients and colleagues regard you with a presumption of expertise
  • Connections : You will join a global network of nearly 200,000 investment professionals
  • Recognition : You will earn a designation that is respected by employers and the media

About the CFA Exams

The CFA Program includes a series of three sequential exams that are offered in test centers around the world. These three exams: Level I, Level II, and Level III, must be passed as one of the requirements for earning a CFA charter.

Candidates may register for only one exam at a time, and must wait to receive their exam results before registering for the next exam. Candidates who fail an exam are encouraged to re-take the exam.

  • Level I is composed of multiple-choice questions and is offered 4 times a year in Feb , May, Aug and November.
  • Level II is composed of item-set questions and is offered twice a year in Feb and Aug only.
  • Level III is composed of item-set and essay questions and is offered twice a year in May and November.

CFA Exam Topic Area Weights

Topic Areas Level 01 Level 02 Level03
Ethical and Professional Standards (total) 15-10% 10-15% 10-15%
Quantitative Methods 8-12% 5-10% 0%
Economics 8-12% 5-10% 5-10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 13-17% 10-15% 0%
Corporate Finance 8-12% 5-15% 0%
Equity Investments 10-12% 10-15% 10-15%
Fixed Income 10-12% 10-15% 15-20%
Derivatives 5-8% 5-10% 5-10
Alternative Investments 5-8% 5-10% 5-10%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning (total) 5-8% 10-15% 35-40%
Total 100% 100% 100%


These weights are intended to guide the curriculum and exam development processes. Actual exam weights may vary slightly from year to year. Please note that some topics are combined for testing purposes. Source: CFA Institute Website


At Level I, candidates are asked basic knowledge and comprehension questions and must perform some analysis. Exam focus here is on:

  • Tools and concepts that apply to investment valuation and portfolio management
  • Basic concepts regarding securities and markets
  • CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

The Level I exams include 180 total multiple choice questions, 90 on the morning session of the exam and 90 on the afternoon session. Each multiple choice question is free-standing (not dependent on other questions) and has three possible answers: A, B, and C. All questions are equally weighted and there is no penalty for guessing.


The topic focus on Level I is on investment tools, the topic focus on Level II is on asset valuation. The learning focus also changes, from knowledge and comprehension (Level I), to application and analysis (Level II).

Level 2 Examination concentrates on:

  • Asset valuation
  • Application of tools and concepts of investment valuation
  • Industry and company analysis
  • Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

CFA Level II Exam Item Set Format

Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette followed by either 4 or 6 multiple choice items (questions). There will be 44 multiple choice items in each of the two sessions, for a total of 88 for the entire exam, each worth 3 points.

Multiple-choice items in each item set must be answered based on the information in the vignette. Hence, the items are not free-standing (as in the CFA Level I exam). You will need to refer back to the vignette before answering each item.


The topic focus on Level I is on investment tools, the topic focus on Level II is on asset valuation, and the topic focus on Level III is on portfolio management. The learning focus also changes, from knowledge and comprehension (Level I), to application and analysis (Level II), and to synthesis and evaluation (Level III).

Level III Examination concentrates on:

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