Plan Your CFA Registration With Our Handy Journey Planner

After transitioning to computer-based testing (CBT), CFA Institute recently announced a few changes to the CFA exam dates from 2023.

For those considering the CFA exams:

  • How do these changes impact the speed of your path to CFA charter?
  • What are the differences between the various CFA registration options?
  • ​How does that route – i.e. your CFA roadmap – change if you fail?

No worries, we’ve analyzed all available CFA pathways and mapped them out for you in our clearcut CFA Journey Planner – check it out!

CFA exam schedule: summary of CFA Institute’s recent changes

Summary of 2021 CFA exam changes

CFA Institute has been making a lot of changes to the exam structure, frequency and format in the last 12 months in response to the pandemic, much to candidates’ chagrin.

During 2021, CFA Institute suddenly announced further changes to the exam cycles for 2022-2023, which supersedes previous announcements. Talk about head-banging madness 🙂

The main reason for this change is to shift Level 3 away from the November cycle, given the human-grading required towards the holiday season, which would cause further delay in results announcements.

Therefore, CFA Institute has decided to increase the Level 2 testing frequency to 3x a year, and gradually swapping Level 3’s exam frequency with Level 2 in 2022-2023.

Confused? No worries, here are all the recent changes neatly summarized in the table below so you can see the evolution:

CFA exam cycles202120222023 onwards
Level 16x this year, with exam windows available in February, March (one-off), May, July (one-off), August and November.4x a year, with exam windows available quarterly in February, May, August and November.​Same as 2022
Level 23x a year, with exam windows available in May, August and November. 3x a year, with exam windows available in February, August and November (new).3x a year, with exam windows available in May (new), August and November.
Level 33x this year, with exam windows available in May, August and November.2x a year, with exam windows available in May and August (instead of November).​2x a year, with exam windows available in Feb (instead of May) and August.​

In summary, from 2023, CFA exams will be held quarterly for Level 1, thrice a year for Level 2 and twice a year for Level 3.

Naturally, this major upheaval created a lot of confusion especially around how the “CFA 6 months rule” works (a minimum 6 months gap between CFA exam attempts), how the different exam cycle options compare, and more importantly, how the new path to obtaining CFA charter looks like. 

Well, I hope this is the one chart that explains it all!

CFA journey planner: Plan your path to the charter easily

cfa journey journey planner infographic

Our handy CFA Journey Planner infographic lets you plot your route to the CFA charter at a glance.

It displays the exam slots for each Level for 2023-2026, with the next available exam intake depending on results (pass or fail). This lets you easily see what options you have and apply the “6 months rule” to understand when are the next applicable exam intakes.

Let’s run a few example scenarios:

  1. If you failed Level 1 in Feb 2024, the earliest you can attempt Level 1 again is Aug 2024.
  2. If you passed Level 1 in Aug 2023, the earliest you can attempt Level 2 is May 2024.
  3. If you failed Level 2 in Aug 2023, due to the “6 months rule” and exam windows, the next available Level 2 exam you can register for is May 2024, not Nov 2023.
  4. If you failed Level 3 Feb 2024, you earliest you can retake it is in Aug 2024.

There are a few interesting insights we can conclude from these exam schedule changes.

CFA exam cycle options: What have we learned?

1) The cost of failure has significantly reduced: you can retake a level every 6 months

high five celebration

Nothing surprising here given the “(nearly) 6 months rule”!​

2) There is now a unique 12 month route to CFA charter, assuming consecutive passes.

cfa fast track February

With the latest exam window changes, registering for CFA Level 1 in the February exam window would offer that super fast route to pass all 3 levels in 1 year, assuming consecutive passes. This means that it is possible for good candidates to pass Level 1 February, then pass Level 2 August and finally pass Level 3 February the following year.

This is of course a high risk and high burn out strategy, so proceed with caution.

3) Aside from February, there is not much speed difference between the other Level 1 registration windows.

Given the increased testing frequency on every Level, CFA candidates can now complete all 3 levels faster than previously. Upon passing, candidates can progress to Level 2 and Level 3 within 6-9 months per Level.

Under the old paper-based exams (pre-2021), the fastest one could complete the CFA charter is in 18 months with 3 consecutive passes.

With the new schedule from 2023, passing all 3 Levels consecutively only takes 12-18 months as the norm. That said, only the February window offers the potential of a fast track route to a CFA charter in 1 year, whilst the other windows average 15-18 months assuming consecutive passes between levels.

cfa registration windows compared

If you’re considering Level 1 in 2024 and wondering which exam cycle is best to go for, the good news is that there isn’t much speed differences across all the exam windows aside from the February exam window.

Compared to February, May and November exam cycles are slightly slower – but only by 3 months. August exam windows are the ‘slowest’ at 18 months, but this is likely the more sustainable route.

From 2023 onwards, assuming 3 consecutive passes, it takes candidates 12-18 months to complete all 3 exams regardless of the choice of exam registration window.

Given the negligible differences in speed for the 4 regular Level 1 exam windows, choose your exam slot based on your personal, work and life commitments to maximize your chances of success:

  • Although Level 1 February exam window are 3 months quicker, the schedule would be very intense as it takes up to 2 months for results to be published, which in effect only gives you 4 months to Level 2 which would be challenging with an intense full-time job.
  • On the other hand, August cycles allow you to have 6-7 months of proper studying time after result publication, which is a more sustainable study plan and achievable with a full-time job.

Need more information on CFA exam registrations? Here are related articles of interest:

Decided on your exam registration window? Great! Here are the best resources to kickstart your studies after registering:


75 thoughts on “Plan Your CFA Registration With Our Handy Journey Planner”

  1. Hi, if take I’m trying to decide if I should take Level 2 in August or November. If August, will I be able to register for Feb 25 Level 3? Also that will only give a little over 3 months to study, so I should probably plan to take level 3 the following August. If that’s they case then I should just take level 2 in November. I’d rather have more time to study Level 2 than all that extra time on level 3. Is this the correct way to plan it?

    • Hi JSwiz28, yes I think that’s quite solid plan to allow yourself sufficient time for L2 and L3. There is no point rushing and failing, and having 3 months to study a level is a higher risk strategy.

  2. If I appear for may 2024 for L1 then can I appear nov2024 for L2…. Do i have to take care of the date on which I take l1 so that it is 6 months away from l2…

  3. I sat for Level I in November 2023, and was planning to take L2 in August 2024 (L3 in February 2025). Is there an issue with planning to take L2 in August instead of what the journey planner graphic says?

    The journey planner says that for November ’23 L1 test-takers, we should take L2 in May 2024 and L3 in February 2025. I figured that it’s better to have more time available to prepare for L2 than for L3, especially as I won’t know that I passed L1 for sure until beginning of January, but the graphic makes me think there’s something I am missing here.

    • Hi Austinkreft, your planned path is perfectly fine (hopefully all goes well with passes). There is no issue choosing L2 August 2024 instead of May 2024. The infographic merely shows the earliest path you can take given the (minimum) ‘6 months rule’ requirement by CFA Institute for the next level.

      You are right that it’s better to have more time for L2 prep, it’s too tight a time to do it in 4 months (which unfortunately I personally had to go through). Hope this clarifies!

  4. Hi, I am planning to appear for cfa l1 in aug, 2023.So, if I apply for access scholarship in January, and if suppose I will not get the scholarship then will I be able to register with the early bird amount(USD 1200) in March for August exam.

    • Hi Prateek, in our tips section of this article, we’ve highlighted that if a scholarship application wasn’t successful, applicants should still receive an early registration fee rate which is valid for a year. This was verified with CFA Institute directly by us. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi
    I am a little confused. I have appeared for CFA L1 exams in nov 2022. If I pass then can i take my cfa l2 in may 2023 and if I fail then I can reappear for l1 in may 2023 right?
    Moreover would i be able to register at early registration fee of $900 if I register after my results?

      • Thanks a lot Sophie for your quick response.
        Could you also let me know about the fee structure for Feb’23 L1, since I have heard there are some changes being introduced but I’m not too sure of it?

  6. Hi. I am registered for the L1 exam in May 2022 and intend to take the L2 exam right after in Nov 2022. However, the results for L1 are only scheduled for release in early August 2022, approximately 4 months before the November 2022 exams. Can I access L2 curriculum materials on the CFA Institute website before I register for L2 so I can start studying before results are released?

    • Hi Dubho, unfortunately that’s the tricky part of trying to attempt the next level in 6 months, as you correctly describe, you only realistically get 4 months of study time once results are announced. CFA Institute does not provide access to study materials unless you’ve registered and paid, and you can only register for the next level upon passing the previous level.

      I’ve personally done this years ago and studied for CFA level 2 in 4 months and passed. But it is pretty challenging, but doable with some discipline and sheer hard work. Hope this helps!

  7. Hey Zee,is it mandatory to attempt the CFA L2 within a timeframe after clearing CFA L1.or can we attempt CFA L2 at our convience say one year after clearing L1.

  8. Hello,

    It appears the CFAI’s published registration deadlines do not reconcile with the exam paths they have published.

    For example, The deadline to sign up for the Feb 2022 exam is October 26th. If one was to wait for August 2021 results (8-10 weeks from close of window, on sept 4) this would not provide enough time to register for the exam.

    Is there a special registration window for those who wrote 6 months prior, or has the CFA provided any clarity on this subject?

    Thank you

    • Usually there is time for candidates receiving their results to enrol, even if it’s just a few days. The results were delayed in a previous exam cycle and even then, CFA Institute ensured that any candidate receiving their delayed results were able to register for the ‘next immediate exam’ (i.e. the one taking place in 6 months time). So you should be good.

  9. I have registered for Feb 22 through invoice method and i have made my payment. Do i need to send the payment details to the CFA Institute or will the confirm by themselves ? If i do need to mail them the payment details at which email id should i send the details?
    Please help

    Thank you

  10. I have registered for L1 in Feb 2022..If results take 2 months to come out, will I be able to register for lvl 2 in august 2022 ? If yes, will the registration window be open till our results get published?

    • If you pass L1 Feb’22, you will be able to register for L2 Aug’22. The standard registration window will still be open, but you would have missed the early registration deadline.

  11. If i appear for L1 in FEB 2022 and if I clear the exam, will i be able to register for L2 August 2022 attempt?

  12. Hello Zee thank you for all the Amazing tips that you share!

    I have 4 Questions:

    1- what is the Deadline for reschedule the level 1 feb 2022 exam? let say that i register for feb 2022 exam before 10th August, but then i decide to reschedule it on may 2022 when should i do that? And how much is the fee for reschedule?

    2- if i take level 1 feb 2022 exam and i didn’t pass, my next early exam will be in Aug 2022 right? After that level 2 in feb 2023, and level 3 in nov 2023 Correct?

    3- if i take level 1 may 2022 exam and didn’t pass my next early exam will be in nov 2022 After that level 2 in Aug 2023, and level 3 in Aug 2024 Correct?

    4- is 6 months enough time to prepare well to pass level 1 exam for an average person? I’m planing to study three hours 6 days per week? Please let me know what you think because i’m still Wondering if it butter to take feb or may 22 exam.

    Thank you in Advance!

    • 1. Rescheduling does not mean you get to reschedule across exam windows – i.e. you don’t get to reschedule from Feb’22 to May’22. Rescheduling means changing your dates within your exam window, e.g. change from 15th Feb to 18th Feb.
      2. Correct.
      3. Level 3 in May 2024, rather than Aug 2024.
      4. Yes, L1 in 6 months is doable by most people. Assuming you’re doing 18 hours a week for 26 weeks that’s 468 hours, quite adequate assuming an average effort is put in. Remember to use our study planner to make sure you stay on track!

      Good luck, and hit us up on our forum if you have more questions!

  13. I already received reply to my question from CFA Ins. Basically CFA is erroneous when it requires 6-months or longer gap between two exams.

    CFAI should have said, 5 months or longer gap between two exams as 28th May through 25th Nov is technically less than 6 months. However, CFAI looks at it as 5th month through 11th month but that is misleading once you put dates in to consideration. I gave that feedback to CFA Institution. Hope Institution will use this opportunity to make it less confusing.

  14. Hi Zee Tan,

    Your page and possible scenario is helpful but at the same time confusing. As per CFA guideline, there needs to be 6 months or longer gap between two exams. So if I have L3 exam scheduled for May 28th and couldn’t clear, would I be able to take exam in Nov (dates are 23rd through 25th Nov) as it will be less than 6-months from May-28th date?!


    • The ‘6 month rule’ as I understand it is a rule of thumb, i.e. they are not going to count a few odd days. CFA Institute’s own guidance specifically shows that if you fail CFA L3 May 2021, you can retake CFA L3 Nov 2021.

      Fail CFA L3 May 2021, retake CFA L3 Nov 2021

  15. I’ve tested positive on 25th April and have emailed CFA with my covid report on 2nd May (almost a week after as soon as my health allowed) requesting deferral to be allowed to appear in Aug-21. It’s been few days since and I haven’t heard back from them hence I’m quite worried/tensed about it right now. I’m from Pakistan and scheduled to appear for Level 3 on 29th May.

    Incase, my exam is not rescheduled to either Aug or Nov-21 and I decide to proceed with May-21 exam sitting (given my health). What if I fail the exam, can I still appear for Nov-21? Does this meet the 6 month criteria?

    Looking at the possibility of either taking two attempts in 2021 with same curriculum Vs two attempts spread over different curriculum regimes 2021/22.

    Please help.

  16. When will the CFA institute release the changes they are planning to make for the level 2 attempt in February 2022? I’m asking because I want a head start for the preparation but don’t want the study material to go redundant due to the changes.

    • Hi Nikita, in previous years, the new curriculum is released around August, but that was for previous years with June L2 paper-based exam.

      With CBT now going forward, we expect it to be released earlier, but no later than August 2021. Are you planning to take L2 in Feb 2022? Did you know that there are earlier slots you can take this year in Aug21 as well as Nov21 (one-off slot)? L2 Nov21 slot may work well and still give you at least 6 months to prepare without worrying about curriculum changes. Just a thought.

      • I’m planning to take L2 in Feb2022 because I have to take another exam in November and won’t be able to focus on L2 till then. So should I wait till August for the curriculum to be revised and books to be updated (Kaplan books)?

  17. Hi there!

    I want to apply for the May 2021 (Level 1) exam but I checked on the website and it is not giving me an option to apply for the May 2021 cycle. The options that it is giving me is – July 2021, August 2021, November 2021 only.

    • Hi Shubha, L1 May 2021 exam’s registration has been closed early last week by CFA institute due to reaching full capacity. So your options for L1 are July, Aug and Nov for 2021.

  18. If I passed level 2 in Dec 2020 can I really sit level 3 in May 2021? This would be less than 6 months but is a path on the chart above.

    • Hi Lachie, yes you can. L2 May 2021 exams are at the end of May, so 6 months rule applies.

      The final registration deadline is on 23 Feb, and CFA Institute has shown that they can close registration earlier than expected (e.g. for L1 May), so best to decide and register, not leaving it last minute.

    • Hi Andrea, at the moment CFA Institute isn’t offering a change in exam cycle (e.g. from May to August), but is allowing changes WITHIN an exam window (e.g. changing from 10th May to 11th May).

      However, worth trying your luck by emailing CFA Institute directly to see if they would accommodate.

  19. Hi,
    Is the $25 rescheduling fees applicable for both rescheduling within the exam month (say shifting between 24th-30th August 2021 for Level) and rescheduling within the exam cycles (say shifting from August 2021 to November 2021 for Level 1) ?

    • Hi Kardam, the $25 rescheduling fee only applies for rescheduling within an exam window.

      Rescheduling between exam cycles (i.e. shifting from Aug21 to Nov21) isn’t currently an option, except special circumstances like deferral or allowed by CFA Institute (e.g. due to exam postponement).

      • Hi Add and Rishi

        Sorry for putting the question here but I could not find where I can put the questions.

        I have 2 questions that need your help,

        1. I am going take the exam for Level 1 in Nov 2021.
        It means there is no scholarship which I can apply at the moment ? right? even I enroll Women scholarship ( as the last date to Register for Nov exam is 4 May.)
        So, I need to pay registration fee and the fee for level 1 ?
        Am I understanding right? if not could you please correct me and give me a idea?

        2. Assuming I pay registration fee and level 1 and pass Level 1, when can I apply for scholarship for Level II ?

        Thank you so much

  20. Hi,

    Thank you very much for this beautiful and clear outline of the possible CFA routes aspiring CFA charter holder can take.

    My question would be which one would be the most cost efficient path to obtain the CFA designation starting from February 2021 and May 2022.

    I understood that May 2021 – May 2022 would be one of the fastest way to pass all three levels in less than a year, but would the registration fee (overall total cost) differ, if I choose to take the exam in February 2021 (since I write the exam earlier instead of May 2021 and could register for Level 2 Nov 2021 exam at a lower cost)?

    I am basically trying to keep the overall cost as low as possible.

    Thank you for your help!

  21. When will the windows open for May2021 Level 1 and November 2021 Level 2. What if window for November 2021 Level2 closes before result for May 2021 level 1 exam is published?

    • Hi Lekha, L1 May21 and L2 Nov21 registration are already open – please see all the relevant CFA exam dates here Although we don’t know the exam results date for May 2021 at the moment since it’s all new with computer-based exams, CFA Institute has stated that there must be a minimum 6 months between exam, and passing May21 L1 allows you to register for Nov21 L2. Therefore the results have to be announced before Nov21 registration closes on 10 Aug 2021. That said, you may have to start early pre-emptively and study earlier than that though since it is an extremely tight timeline to prepare for L2.

  22. How much hard work does it take to become a CFA within less than 1 year? [I’m talking about May,21-Nov,21-May,22] Currently working full time in a real estate as a financial analyst. If necessary I might leave the job.

    • Hi Them Ticker, the amount of hard work is still the same, it takes 300-350 study hours per level. The challenge with the May21, Nov21 and May 22 route is that you have no break in between, and once the exam is over you have to start studying for the next level and have to assume you’ve passed. I’ve personally done it in 18 months (old schedule of Dec L1, June L2, June L3) and it was extremely painful but achievable with an investment banking job. I only had time to study on the weekend full on, as I was too tired on the weekdays. Quitting your job is not necessary, probably not wise under the current financial climate. I would suggest checking out our free study planner (, observing your weekday and weekend routine to carve out consistent time for studying. I would highly recommend checking out our Fast Track CFA planner as well to see indicative schedules of how you can work out the timings to meet those required study hours ( I really hope these resources help, and wish you the best of luck! Keep us posted with your progress, either here or in our forum! 🙂

  23. Hi George, if you are scheduled for 1st March exam slot, you are technically considered the Feb exam slot (see exam dates here because the March exam slot that has just been announced is for 21-23 March. So I get your misunderstanding (I got confused at first too!), but for the purpose of the 6m rule, you should be considered the February exam window, and therefore if you pass L1 Feb, you can register for August L2. I would recommend you double check this with CFA Institute as well to have a confirmation in writing. Do let me know once you hear back from CFAI as well, would love confirmation on this 🙂 Thanks!

  24. If I am scheduled to sit March 1st for L1 (reschedule from cancelled December 2020 L1, does that mean I cannot sit for the August L2? It is the last possible schedule date for the “Feb” L1 rescheduled exam period. If I cannot because of 6 month rule, should I reschedule to Feb 27 or 28 (for example)?

  25. Hi, I have registered for Feb 21 exam Level 1. Earlier I registered for Dec 20 exam and had to reschedule it to Feb 21 due to pandemic. Owing to some personal issues, I have been unable to study for last 2 months and have lost track because of which I am feeling under prepared for Feb 21 exam. Is it possible to reschedule from Feb 21 to May 21 at the cost of $25 rescheduling fee? Please guide.

  26. I’m not seeing the option to register for November 2021 Level 2 Exam (Nov seems to be available for just Levels 1 and 3)… When describing the opportunity to pass in one year, how would one register for the November Level 2 exam?

    • Hi Peter, the option to register for Nov21 Level 2 is not available yet. CFA institute will make it available in the next few weeks apparently. So sit tight and wait for it to open 🙂

  27. If I pass Level-1 in February 2021, can I sit for Level-2 in 2021? I saw on Schweser that I can not sit for Level-2 unless I pass Level-1 in December 2020. I need to be sure what’s correct. Thank you.

  28. Upon passing Dec 2020 L1 exam would I be able to take L2 in August 2021 if I prefer more time to study for L2?


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