CFA Level 1 success rate plunges again to a record low

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The pass rate for the first level of the chartered financial analyst exam dropped again to the lowest since testing began in 1963.

Just 22% of candidates passed the latest Level I test, in July, down from 25% for those who sat for the exam in May, according to the CFA Institute’s website. The 10-year average pass rate is 41%.

“We continue to see the impact from the exam disruptions brought on by the global pandemic,” Peg Jobst, managing director at the institute, said in a statement Tuesday. “We understand how difficult this period has been for our candidates, who in many cases saw their exam schedules changed more than once as they sought to sit for Level I of the CFA program.” 

The latest results follow already historically low pass rates across all levels of the CFA exam. The institute expects pass rates to improve in the future, approaching pre-Covid levels - “so long as pandemic conditions subside,” Jobst said. Almost 29,000 candidates sat for the Level I exam, which was administered at test centers around the world.

Passing all three CFA exams can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities. Candidates on average study 300 hours for each level and take four years to complete the series.

The institute used to offer all three levels of the test on paper in June, and another chance to take the first part in December. After transitioning to computer-based testing, the institute now offers the exams more times throughout the year.

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