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CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 2 3 | 1 Page Guide

CFA Program

CFA Program Curriculum Level 1 2 and 3


A program consists of three tests administered over a three year period. It’s a graduate level self-study program for investment professionals. The CFA program is widely considered the most difficult testing program in the country and has one of the lowest passing rates of any standardized test.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is derived from the Candidate Book of Knowledge (CBOK). This is an outline of the topics the CFA considers the most crucial. The broad sub-topics are ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, and portfolio management and wealth planning. Within the sub-topics, there are many underlying themes and ideas.

The CFA program is estimated to require at least 250 hours of study for each examination. Each examination is 6 hours long and is split between morning and afternoon. There is a two hour lunch break in between sessions.

The CFA Level 1 Exam consists of 240 multiple choice questions and is offered in June and December. The Level II exam has an item-set format. It is composed of 20 item-set questions which read like mini-cases; you take 10 in the morning session and 10 in the afternoon session. There are 6 questions following each item set, totaling 120 questions for the level II exam. The level II exam is offered in June only. The Level III examination is a combination of item-set questions and essay questions. The essay section is given in the morning and is composed of 12-15 questions. The points for each question are posted in the exam. There are 10 item-set questions in the afternoon session. The Level III exam is offered in June only.

The Morning session for each examination starts at 9 am and ends at 12 pm. The afternoon session starts at 2 pm and ends at 5 pm. Candidates can begin to check in for each session one hour before its scheduled time. The doors are shut 15 minutes prior to the beginning of each session; if a candidate is late, he/she must wait until the session begins to be seated.

After completion of each of the three CFA examinations, the CFA program requires a candidate to meet all the professional and ethical requirements that the CFA has, join the CFA institute and go through a background check to become a CFA charterholder.

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