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CFA Level I Pass Rate Climbs to 44% in February, Surpassing Decade's Average

February CFA Level I exam sees pass rate jump to 44%, with first-timers achieving a 52% success rate.

By Athena Xu

4/4, 09:42 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • CFA Level I pass rate climbs to 44% in February, surpassing the decade's average of 40% and showing significant improvement from previous sessions.
  • First-time exam takers achieved a higher success rate of 52%, compared to 28% for those who deferred, highlighting the importance of preparation.
  • Introduction of an updated curriculum and transition to computer-based testing aim to enhance learning efficiency and maintain exam rigor.

CFA Level I Pass Rate Increases

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute reported a notable rise in the pass rate for the Level I exam in February, with 44% of candidates succeeding. This figure represents a significant improvement from the 35% and 37% pass rates recorded in the November and August sessions, respectively, and surpasses the decade's average pass rate of 40%. The increase is particularly noteworthy given the historic low pass rate of 2021, which was impacted by exam deferrals during the Covid-19 pandemic. The CFA Institute highlighted this development as a positive shift for candidates aspiring to advance in the financial analysis field.

Impact of Exam Timing on Success Rates

For the first time, the CFA Institute provided insights into the pass rates of first-time exam takers compared to those who had deferred their exam. Candidates taking the exam for the first time achieved a pass rate of 52%, significantly higher than the overall average. In contrast, those who had postponed their exam for various reasons, including disruptions caused by Covid-19, had a much lower success rate of 28%. Chris Wiese, managing director for education at the institute, emphasized the importance of staying on schedule and dedicating sufficient study time to prepare for the exam. "Preparation remains the key predictor of exam success," Wiese stated, underscoring the stark difference in outcomes between the two groups.

Curriculum and Testing Innovations

The February Level I exam marked the introduction of an updated curriculum designed to enhance learning efficiency and provide more opportunities for practice. This change is part of the institute's ongoing efforts to adapt and improve the exam process, ensuring it remains a rigorous and fair assessment of a candidate's capabilities in financial analysis. The exam's difficulty level has been maintained across all CFA exams, according to the institute. Additionally, the transition to computer-based testing, initiated during the pandemic, has facilitated a more accessible and streamlined exam experience for candidates. Nearly 17,000 candidates sat for the Level I exam in February, administered at 471 testing centers worldwide.

Management Quotes

  • Chris Wiese, Managing Director for Education at the CFA Institute:

    "Given the stark difference in exam outcomes, we urge candidates to stay on schedule where possible and devote the requisite study time. Preparation remains the key predictor of exam success."
    "Exam difficulty remains constant across all CFA exams, and we are pleased to see more candidates achieve the passing standard and a bounce back in the overall pass rate for Level I candidates."