How Long Does CFA Take?

In this article, we have answered the question How Long Does CFA Take?

On average, it takes 4–5 years for a typical candidate to pass all three exams. Successful candidates report studying for each level for approximately 300 hours, ranging from 303 hours for the CFA Level I exam to 328 hours for the CFA Level II exam and 344 hours for the CFA Level III exam.

The Chartered Financial Analyst program is a postgraduate professional certification offered to investment and financial professionals worldwide by the American-based CFA Institute.

Level I CFA® Exam Structure

How Long Does the CFA Level I Exam Last?

The Level I computer-based exam consists of 180 multiple choice questions, split between two 135-minute sessions (session times are approximate). There is an optional break between sessions. Candidates must take both sessions in order to receive an exam result.

  • First session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering the topics of ethics & professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, and financial reporting and analysis 
  • Second session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering the topics of corporate finance, equity, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management 

Time Management Preparation for CFA Level I

Timing: On average, you should allow approximately 90 seconds for each multiple choice question. You may need more or less time, depending on the question and how well you understand the topic.

How to Study for the CFA Level I Exam

The best way to study for the CFA Level I Exam is to follow the CFA program curriculum and give yourself enough time to learn the material in your ideal learning style. Here are some resources candidates have listed as being most helpful for their exam preparation:

  • CFA Program curriculum
  • CFA Institute online mock exams
  • CFA Program approved prep providers
  • CFA Program curriculum end-of-reading practice problems
  • Study groups

Steps to Prepare for the CFA Level I Exam

One of the most important ways to prepare for the CFA Level I exam is to give yourself enough time to study. The CFA Program enables candidates to customize their preparation to match individual needs and circumstances. Following are some numbers to consider in planning a study strategy for the CFA Level I exam.

  • The average successful candidate reported spending 303 hours studying for the Level I exam offered in June 2019.
  • Since studying for the CFA Level I exam is self-paced, candidates will spend varying amounts of time preparing for the exam depending on how long they have until their exam date. For example, if a candidate spent a year preparing for the CFA Level I exam, the candidate would have needed to study about 25 hours per month.
  • On average, a typical candidate takes 4–5 years to pass all three exams. Successful candidates report spending about 300 hours studying for each level, ranging from 303 hours for the CFA Level I exam to 328 for the CFA Level II exam and to 344 for the CFA Level III exam.