Are CFA Exams Getting Easier? Recent Pass Rate Insights

Posted Date: 12 Sep 2023
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Succeeding in the CFA exam means putting in hard work, understanding the material, and using effective test-taking strategies. To give yourself the best chance, you'll need to dedicate a lot of time—typically around 300 hours or more—to your studies and create a smart study plan.

But here's the catch—the CFA exams are known for being really tough, and that's reflected in the historically low CFA pass rates. These exams are difficult because they cover a wide range of topics, require deep understanding, and demand complex problem-solving skills.

However, even though only a small number of people pass each year, the challenging nature of the CFA exams doesn't stop aspiring finance experts. Also if you want to know is CFA the right choice for you, read along.

CFA Pass Rates: What You Need to Know

The CFA Institute sets a carefully calculated minimum passing score for each exam level. Pass rates for different CFA exam levels have typically fallen between 40% and 60%, with Level III having a slightly higher pass rate. Let's look at the most recent pass rates since 2021 till today:

Level I Exam

Recent Level I pass rates have been below the average of 41%, with a historic low of 22% in July 2021. Although there has been a slight improvement, it's still challenging:

Exam Date

Pass Rate

May 2023 Level I Exam


February 2023 Level I Exam


November 2022 Level I Exam


August 2022 Level I Exam


May 2022 Level I Exam


February 2022 Level I Exam


November 2021 Level I Exam


August 2021 Level I Exam


July 2021 Level I Exam


May 2021 Level I Exam


February 2021 Level I Exam


Level II Exam

Historically, the pass rate for Level II of the CFA exam has been around 46%. However, there's been a recent change, with pass rates exceeding 50% for the first time since 2020:

Exam Date

Pass Rate

May 2023 Level II Exam


November 2022 Level II Exam


August 2022 Level II Exam


February 2022 Level II Exam


November 2021 Level II Exam


August 2021 Level II Exam


May 2021 Level II Exam


February 2021 Level II Exam


Level III Exam

The Level III exam in February 2023 had a pass rate of 48%, which continues the trend of low pass rates from 2022. However, earlier figures show CFA Level III pass rates reaching 57%:

Exam Date

Pass Rate

February 2023 Level III Exam


August 2022 Level III Exam


May 2022 Level III Exam


November 2021 Level III Exam


August 2021 Level III Exam


May 2021 Level III Exam


February 2021 Level III Exam


How Difficult is the CFA?

The difficulty of the CFA exams is evaluated based on the UK NARIC’s benchmarks. According to them, here's how the difficulty levels of the CFA exams compare to educational qualifications:

CFA Level I: Similar to a Level 5 qualification (a Diploma of higher education).

CFA Level II: Similar to a Level 6 qualification (a Bachelor’s degree).

CFA Level III: Similar to a Level 7 qualification (a Master’s degree).

While CFA Level 1's syllabus has seen exciting updates, like the introduction of Financial Modeling and Python for the 2024 attempt, it presents an excellent opportunity to broaden your skill set and meet the demands of the finance world. 

Also if you are considering CFA course, then join our CFA Level I Program


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