2021 is the year of change for CFA exams.
You probably already know that not just Level 1, but all CFA exams are transitioning to computer-based testing (CBT), with higher testing frequency available and a reduced test duration.
However, CFA Institute tends to announce other smaller – yet important – changes via its website or by emailing candidates directly.
So here’s a list of 10 recent CFA exam changes which you ought to be aware of.
- 1) Online Proctored Testing (OPT) option is no longer available for CFA exams
- 2) Starting from 2022, documentations are required for most CFA deferral requests.
- 3) Twice-impacted CFA candidates are still entitled a refund
- 4) CFA Level 1 CBT exam format: 10 topics now split across 2 sessions
- 5) CFA Level 2 CBT exam format: 44 multiple-choice questions per session
- 6) CFA Level 3 CBT exam format: Constructed-response (essay) session now has some multiple-choice questions (!)
- 7) New changes in 2022 and 2023 CFA Level 2 and 3 exam frequency announced
- 8) New exam cycles may change your CFA registration plans
- 9) There is now a maximum of 6 attempts per Level
- 10) When would computer-based CFA exam results be released?
1) Online Proctored Testing (OPT) option is no longer available for CFA exams
On 12th Jan 2021, CFA Institute sent an email to existing February 2021 candidates mentioning that it is exploring a limited-capacity online proctored testing (OPT) option.
Additional details, including testing environment, as well as computer system requirements will be announced on 2 February 2021.
However, with the pandemic restrictions easing, CFA exams are now back to in-person, computer-based testing since then, and online option is no longer offered.
2) Starting from 2022, documentations are required for most CFA deferral requests.
CFA Institute has further updated and streamlined the exam deferral request which can only be processed via a form.
3) Twice-impacted CFA candidates are still entitled a refund
CFA candidates that are twice impacted by CFA Institute exam cancellations due to COVID-19 will have the option to defer again or to request a refund.
But if you exercise your complimentary option to defer to a future exam, you’ll forfeit your right to request a refund.
If you’re twice impacted, CFA Institute will contact you with your options on next steps.
4) CFA Level 1 CBT exam format: 10 topics now split across 2 sessions
CFA Level 1 CBT now feature two sessions of 2 hours and 15 minutes each, with 90 multiple-choice questions per session.
However, the crucial change from paper-based exams is that the 10 Level 1 topics are now split across the two sessions:
- The first session covers 4 topics: Ethics, Quant Methods, Economics, and Financial Reporting and Analysis.
- The second session covers the remaining 6 topics: Corporate Finance, Equity, Fixed Income, Derivatives, Alternative Investments and Portfolio Management
For more information, check out the latest:
5) CFA Level 2 CBT exam format: 44 multiple-choice questions per session
With 25% of reduction in testing time to 2 hours and 15 minutes per session for CBT, CFA Institute has confirmed that there will be 44 question per session, making 88 questions in total for CFA Level 2. Each question is worth 3 points.
This means that there is slightly more time per question with Level 2 CBT (3 minutes 4 seconds per question) , compared to the previous paper-based version (3 minutes per question).
Odd that CFA Institute didn’t make it 45 questions per session to make same time per question just like the paper-based version…
Unlike Level 1 CBT, it seems that all 10 topics for Level 2 are tested in both sessions as there is no mention of different topics tested per session.
6) CFA Level 3 CBT exam format: Constructed-response (essay) session now has some multiple-choice questions (!)
OK sure, you may already know that there is 2 sessions of 2 hours and 15 minutes each for Level 3 CBT.
However, one surprising news – to me at least – is the announcement that the first Level 3 session with constructed-response questions now includes some multiple choices too.
7) New changes in 2022 and 2023 CFA Level 2 and 3 exam frequency announced
Main reason for the shift was to move CFA Level 3 exam windows away from end of the year due to human grading requirements near the holiday season. This meant that CFA Level 2 and 3 will be tested thrice and twice a year respectively from 2022. We have summarized these latest schedule changes in our CFA journey planner article.
8) New exam cycles may change your CFA registration plans
With the new one-off exam cycles introduced (see #7), there may be important repercussions to your CFA journey due to the “6 months rule” between exams: mainly that it is now possible to proceed faster through the CFA program in one year (!) assuming consecutive passes (Level 1 February, Level 2 August and Level 3 February).
For more information on this, check out our CFA Journey Planner article for the full picture, to understand the timeline of what happens if you pass or fail at each level.
9) There is now a maximum of 6 attempts per Level
In addition to CFA candidates only allowed to take a maximum of 2 exams a year (i.e. the ‘6 month rule’ mentioned in previous point #8), there is also now a maximum limit of 6 attempts per CFA level, according to the latest CFA Exam eligibility policy for computer-based exams.
I suppose this really shouldn’t be an issue for most candidates, since if you were to attempt a CFA level 6 times, it may be a sign that the CFA Program isn’t really for you.
10) When would computer-based CFA exam results be released?
CFA Institute announced that CFA Level 1 and Level 2’s CBT results would be released around 60 days after the exams, whilst Level 3’s CBT results would be available within 90 days from the exams.
While this is the same statement as per paper-based exams, historically CFA Institute have announced the CFA exam results earlier:
- 52 days (or approx 7.5 weeks) after exams for Level 1 and Level 2
- 66 days after exams for Level 3
So hopefully CFA Institute are just being conservative here and would maintain or beat the paper-based exams results announcement schedule.
Stay up-to-date on our prediction on when the latest CFA exam results would be announced here.
Hope you have found this useful. Were there any CFA exam changes you learned about from the list above? Or do you have more to add? Leave a comment below!
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