The Top 5 Learnings from CFA Level I June 2012

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During results week this year, as you know we created a set of online tools to help candidates analyze the details of their results. Many thanks to all who contributed – because of the sizable contribution a lot of additional analysis was possible.

The full details of the analysis are covered in previous posts (see here for topics analysis, and here for MPS & band differences), but for the main takeaways, the top 5 key learnings for CFA Level I are summarized here.


  1. Strongest subjects. The subjects with the best performance by candidates are Corporate Finance, Equity Investments, Ethics and Financial Reporting & Analysis. So strong, in fact, that in the passing candidates’ sample, almost no candidates scored below 50% in any of those topics. These topics are relative heavyweights as well – together, these subjects comprise about 53% of the exam. More details >>>
  2. Weak areas. The pain points for candidates are Derivatives, Economics and Quantitative Methods. This is especially impactful in Economics and Quantitative Methods as they account for 10% and 12% of the exam respectively. More details >>>
  3. A key difference between passing and failing candidates is a lack of focus on the heavy-weighted subjects. The drop in quality across failing candidates compared to the passing pool is fairly even, but high-weighting topics decline more than others – a solemn reminder to candidate to make sure to focus on topics with high weighting. A notable exception to this is Ethics – with 15% weighting, it is one of the best-performing topics in the failed candidates sample. Perhaps an effect of the ethic adjustment study tip. More details >>>
  4. The MPS is probably 64%. Based on the data so far, the Minimum Passing Score for Level I June 2012 is somewhere between 64% and 68%. It’s likely to be 64%, but more data would be needed to further confirm this. More details >>>
  5. The difference between bands is about 8-11 questions. The average percentage difference between bands is about 3-4%. This equates to about 8 to 11 questions in the Level I exam. More details >>>

As a final tidbit, here is the entire sample used in the June Level I analysis visualized with the estimated MPS. Each band represents a candidate, ordered here by ascending order of their band mid-point. The thickness of the band is the minimum and maximum range of the particular data point. Green bands represent passing candidates, and red bands represent failing candidates. 

Hope you enjoyed the analysis series for Level I! If you have any thoughts or questions, let us know in the comments below. If you’re taking on the next level, be sure to check out the Resources section for key things to bear in mind for each CFA level!

Like this post? Get our analysis report for all our analytics for all levels, or view our 10 Commandments for every level!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan

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