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CFA has 3 levels; Exam structure and difficulty level

Level I

  • The difficulty of level 1 can be compared with a diploma.
  • It is divided into 135-minute sessions (an optional break is available between the breaks) with multiple-choice questions having no negative marking.
  • Each session is 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Total number of questions - 180
  • The exam is conducted 4 times in a year – February, May, August, and November.

Level II

  • The complexity of questions in level 2 increases, a candidate will need more focus, patience, and dedication to choose the correct option in the exam.
  • It is the hardest level as compared to other levels.
  • It is divided into two sessions each of 2 hours and 12 minutes, the exam consisting of Vignette-supported multiple choice with each question carrying 3 points.
  • Total number of questions – 88
  • The exam is conducted 3 times a year in February, August, and November.

Level III

  • The complication of this level is lesser than the previous levels listed above.
  • It consists of two sessions each of 2 hours and 12 minutes which makes the total time duration of 4 hours and 24 minutes.
  • It incorporates two types of question formats; Essay Question and multiple Choice Question with each question having a weightage of 3 marks.
  • Total number of questions - 44
  • The exam is conducted twice a year in February and August.
CFA Difficulty Level
Topics and Structure Level I Level II Level III
Ethical and Professional Standards 15-20% 10-15% 10-15%
Quantitative Methods 6-9% 5-10% 0
Economics 6-9% 5-10% 5-10%
Financial Statement Analysis 11-14% 10-15% 0
Corporate Issuer 6-9% 5-10% 0
Equity Investments 11-14% 10-15% 10-15%
Fixed Income 11-14% 10-15% 15-20%
Derivatives 5-8% 5-10% 5-10%
Alternative Investments 7-10% 5-10% 5-10%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 8-12% 10-15% 35-40%

CFA Certification

  • Gaining CFA certification will be proved beneficial for your economic status and your career.
  • CFA measures the credibility of financial analysts. CFA certification ensures that a person has ethical grounding, ability, dedication and analytical skills necessary for the job.

Roadmap to earning the CFA charterholder VGLD

Pass 3-level CFA® exam

Passing the exam for all three levels is a requirement to obtain the CFA® charter.

Achieve Qualified Work Experience

You must have at least 4,000 hours of experience, completed in a minimum of 36 months

Submit Reference Letters

To support your membership application, you need 2-3 professional references.

Apply for the CFA® Charter

Submit your membership application to CFA® Institute. Once approved, you will earn the letters "CFA" after your name


The duration of the CFA course is between 1.5 and 4 years.

CFA is seen as being less challenging than CA because it calls for greater concentration, commitment, and time management.

Each course has its own distinctions. A CFA aspires to work in the subject of portfolio management, while a CA is committed to the areas of tax and audit.

The CFA exam can be tough, with each level having its unique complexity.

Sectors such as, Risk Analysis and Risk Management, Portfolio Management, Investment Strategy, Consulting, Research ensures highest salaries.

Yes, anyone enrolled in an undergraduate program in the fields of finance, banking, or other similar fields is qualified to take the CFA tests. For those who intend to sit for the CFA LEVEL 2 examination, a UG degree is required.

A student pursuing an MBA cannot work full-time since the MBA demands full-time study, whereas a CFA student can study while working full-time. An MBA student, on the other hand, has a higher earning potential than a CFA student.

Yes, algebra and statistics are among the fundamental math topics that CFA requires.