The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program Level I and II exam results were released last June 28.
What makes the announcement of the results so special? Google “hardest exam in the world” and the CFA exams will come up on top of the results (see here).
So, what were the passing rates for the two levels of “hardest exam in the world” (as indexed by Google) for 2015?
For the CFA June 2015 exams, the passing rate for Level I was 42% and for Level II 46%.
From the results, it may appear that Level I is harder than Level II. That is far from the truth. In my experience, Level II is about ten times harder than Level I. The passing rate is higher because the examinees of Level II are already Level I passers and therefore have already demonstrated a great deal of knowledge in finance. Also, I think many Level II examinees back out when they start seeing the materials to be tested (I almost did), so only the most prepared actually take Level II.
Nostalgia time: When I passed levels I and II, these were the passing rates:
December* 2011 Level I: 38%
June 2012 Level II: 43%
*All three levels of exams are conducted in June, Level I is also conducted in December.
The ten-year average pass rate (2005-2014) for the CFA exams levels I and II are the following:
Level I: 39%
Level II: 44%
The CFA institute sends the examinees (termed CFA candidates) the results via email. The candidates can also access his/her results on the CFA institute website for a short time.
The candidate only gets PASS or FAIL, there is no total grade or rating. In the email, the candidate will see how he/she did in each major topic. The candidate will not see the exact rating for each topic but in what bracket his/her correct responses ended up: a) less than 50%, b) 50-70% and c) 70% or more
Level I consists of 240 questions (taken over six hours). Level II consists of 120 questions (also taken over six hours). Level I items are straight forward multiple choice questions, while Level II items comes in sets of six multiple choice questions. Each set is composed of a case where all the questions will be based on.
Read more about the CFA Level I exams and see a sample test here.
Read more about the CFA Level II exams and see a sample test here.
Fun Fact: There was reportedly a little booboo when the CFA institute apparently released the Level III exam results prematurely. Although three levels are taken the same day in June (1st saturday of June, so for this year it is June 6), Level III results are released in August. Level III exams are in an essay format so it takes much longer to check the papers. The CFA institute apologized for the booboo in a statement here.
Congratulations to all the successful examinees. There must be parties in financial districts everywhere.