What’s A Safe CFA Mock Exam Target Score To Aim For?

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It’s easy to get discouraged by the recent unexpected trends in CFA minimum passing scores and pass rates.

While there are a few reasons for the recent low CFA pass rates, the implications for CFA candidates are clear: the guidance on CFA mock exam target scores has to change to improve pass chances.

In this article, we will look at the recent CFA passing score and pass rates data, before updating our latest guidance on what is a “good” CFA mock exam target score to aim for by level. Let’s go!


Recent trends in CFA pass rates

CFA pass rates since 2010 for Level 1, 2 and 3

Broadly speaking, there is a noticeable and significant drop in CFA pass rates for all 3 levels in 2021, coinciding with the transition to computer-based exam.

In particular, CFA Level 1’s pass rates’ trend show the largest deviation from the 10 year historical range of 36%-49%, with May, July and August 2021 pass rates ranging from 22-26%.

On the other hand, the drop pass rates for CFA Level 2 and 3 are less significant, although noticeable.

“Going forward, we do expect the pass rate to approach pre-COVID historical levels in time — so long as pandemic conditions subside. As we have said before, the exams and the process for setting the minimum passing score have not changed. Unfortunately, the many challenges posed by life during a pandemic have clearly made the process more daunting.”

Peg Jobst, Managing Director, Head of Credentialing, CFA Institute (14 Sep 2021)

Although CFA Institute has implied that the low CFA pass rates are temporary due to the pandemic, we think there are more nuanced reasons for the drop in pass rates, as explained in this separate article.


Recommended CFA mock exam target scores

CFA Level 1 mock exam target score: 75% and above

Chart with historical CFA Level 1 passing score (MPS) since 2012

We estimated that CFA Level 1’s MPS ranged from 56%-74% from 2012-2021, with an 10 year average of 62%. The latest estimated MPS for CFA Level 1 are:

  • Aug 2021: 71%
  • Jul 2021: 73%
  • May 2021: 74%
  • Feb 2021, Mar 2021, Apr 2021: 72%
cfa mock exam target score

It used to be solid advice for candidates to aim for a 70% and above score in your mocks.

With the latest MPS estimates for CFA Level 1, we no longer think this is the case. The recent 2021 MPS shows that a CFA Level 1 target mock exam score of 75% and above would be a much safer bet.

CFA Level 2 mock exam target score: 70% and above

cfa level 2 passing score since 2010 (estimated)

CFA Level 2’s minimum passing score’s have been quite stable since 2012, ranging from 63% to 70% from 2012-2021. The trend remained relatively stable until August 2021, where the estimated passing score hit 70% for the first time.

We need more data before we consider raising our target score guidance for Level 2.

Thus, our previous advice still holds, i.e. a CFA Level 2 mock exam target score of 70% and above is a good score to aim for.

CFA Level 3 mock exam target score: 65% and above

cfa level 2 mps passing score since 2012

CFA Level 3’s minimum passing score trend is even more stable, ranging from 56% to 60% since 2012.

Therefore, we recommend aiming for 65% and above for a CFA Level 3 mock exam target score.

We know that essay can be the trickier part for most, so do check out our guide on how to ace the essay section in CFA Level 3, and more importantly, how to accurately self-grade the essay section of your mock exams.


Hope the above helps in your CFA exam preparations and practice exam drilling. Leave a comment below if you’ve further questions!

Meanwhile, you may find these related articles of interest:

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