Your CFA Study Guide for the Upcoming Exam

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It is that time of the year again. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) candidates are taking their last week to study in preparation for the CFA exam. This year more than 200,000 candidates are registered to sit for the CFA exams taking place on June 1 in test centers all over the world. More than fifty percent of enrolled candidates are from outside of North America.


The CFA program began on June 15, 1963, when the first group of 284 senior analysts sat for the CFA exam. In 1964 all levels of the CFA exam were administered for the first time. In 2002, enrollment for the CFA examinations exceeded 100,000 candidates for the first time.

CFA Program Detail

The CFA program includes a series of 3 exams – Level I, Level II and Level III. These exams must be passed sequentially as one of the requirements to earn the charter. Exams are offered in English only to ensure global consistency both in administering the exam questions and in grading. The curriculum is graduate level and focuses on providing a strong foundation of real world investment analysis and portfolio management skills needed to work in today’s ever changing financial industry. According to CFA Institute, the exams ask for the following:

  • Level I:  Basic knowledge and comprehension questions focusing on investment tools, and some questions will require analysis.
  • Level II: More emphasis on analysis along with application
  • Level III: Focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning

Each exam takes 6 hours. The first 3 hours are done in the morning, a lunch break follows, and then the last 3 hours are scheduled for the afternoon. Levels II and III are administered only once a year, on the first Saturday of June. Level I is administered twice a year, on the first Saturday of June and on the first Saturday of December.

Some recommendations for candidates on exam day:

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam
  • Know your test center location in advance
  • Make sure to have a passport with you, it is the only acceptable ID to be admitted to take the CFA exam
  • Ensure that you take either one of the accepted calculator models for the test (Texas Instruments BA II Plus or Hewlett Packard 12C)
  • Please check the exam policies on the CFA Institute site

Other requirements to earn the CFA charter include having four years of qualifying investment work experience, becoming a member of CFA Institute, pledging to adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, applying for membership to a local CFA member society, and completing the CFA Program. The CFA charter has become the most recognized and respected investment designation around the world.

Best of luck to all 2013 CFA candidates from!

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