We all know that prepping for the CFA exams, while more affordable than pursuing an MBA, are still quite expensive. While we have an Offers section to help readers save on CFA exam materials, nothing can take up more of your time and money than failing your CFA exam.
To help with that, and to stand behind their products, CFA exam materials providers can offer ‘pass guarantees’.
A pass guarantee can go by a variety of names depending on the provider, but what it usually means is that if you fail your exam, the provider will provide either a refund, free materials for your next attempt, or a discount. But which provider offers the best pass guarantee for you?
To find out, we’ve gone through the pass guarantees of some of the leading CFA exam materials providers. We’ve compared the guarantees by guarantee type, what’s included, and any additional terms and conditions to show how well they stack up against each other. We’ll also share a few tips that you should be bearing in mind when evaluating pass guarantees to get the best value for your own CFA exam prep.
4 key tips when choosing CFA exam pass guarantees
- Always understand the specific terms and conditions. Guarantees might come with ‘completion conditions’ (study and achievement milestones that you have to meet as you prepare for the exam), require you to register for the guarantee beforehand, or require that you claim your guarantee within a certain period. Know what you need to do to keep your guarantee valid.
- Check if the guarantee will apply, even when you think it doesn’t. If you do fail but don’t meet some conditions for the guarantee to be valid, it’s always worth checking if your provider will honour the guarantee anyway. A lot of the terms are meant to weed out abusers, so as long as you’re honestly studying to retake the exam, it’s worth it to just ask!
- Don’t choose a provider purely because of the guarantee. The most important part of a materials provider is that it is an effective tool to help you pass, not that it has great features if you fail.
- Guarantees may have limited use if you want to switch providers. Most guarantees provide free renewals, which is fine as long as you’re happy to stay with the same provider. But if you’re likely to switch providers if you fail, a pass guarantee might not be as helpful.
Compare CFA exam provider pass guarantees
…We know that things don’t always go to plan and candidates sometimes need to retake a level so we try to help by heavily discounting or providing free materials, depending on how much of the product was utilized. Over the years we have modified the requirements of the program based on feedback from our customers, and will continue to do so as we see candidate needs evolve.
At the end of the day, we want candidates to have a great experience with Kaplan Schweser and to pass the CFA exam, whether or not it’s their first try.
– Derek Burkett, CFA, FRM, CAIA, Vice President of Advanced Designations, Kaplan Schweser
Kaplan Schweser’s PassProtection
Free materials if you meet completion requirements, 50% discount otherwise
- PassProtection guarantees that as long as you’ve proven you’ve studied for the exam with the package you bought and failed, you’ll be provided with free materials if you choose to retry.
- There are two tiers to PassProtection:
- Free materials for your next exam sitting if you’ve answered at least 50% of your available online questions and failed – these must be entered online via Schweser’s platform.
- 50% discount on your materials for your next exam sitting otherwise.
- PassProtection covers all their current packages – Essential, Premium and PremiumPlus.
- Includes print books. If your original purchase includes print books, this guarantee also includes free print books for your retake, but shipping costs, customs fees, duties and/or taxes will not be covered.
- Unlimited retakes. As long as you meet the policy requirements, you can receive the PassProtection benefit with no limit on the number of retakes.
- Deferring for one year or more is not allowed. PassProtection is intended to be a one year policy to help candidates that were not successful get over the hurdle for the next season. However, if you have special circumstances that need a deferral, it might be worth getting in touch and see if they can make an exception for your case.
- No discount stacking. As you might expect, if you’re using the 50% discount, PassProtection cannot be combined with any other offer, discount or promotion.
- Order materials for your retake by telephone. To claim or see if you qualify for the PassProtection discount, call Student Support at 877.311.9770 (U.S.) or +1 608.779.8327 (Int’l). You must call and request the discount at the time your order is placed – online orders will not be eligible.
- Proof requirements:
- CFA Program exam results showing you’ve not passed.
- Proof of enrolment at the same level for the exam.
- For course completion verification, your questions have to be entered into the online platform – written answers will not be counted.
Including print materials in the guarantee is a really nice touch from Kaplan Schweser, and a rarity among providers as it comes at an additional cost to them.
There is a 50% practice question completion requirement, but we think that’s totally reasonable – practice is key to passing, and if you’ve not achieved 50% completion you simply didn’t prepare hard enough. Just be mindful that you have to enter your practice questions into Kaplan Schweser’s online platform.
Fitch Learning’s Pass Guarantee
Free renewals or 50% off, with additional No Pass No Pay for first-timers
- Pass Guarantee: Free online learning course, and 50% off full tuition course for retake
- Free online learning retake: The Pass Guarantee offers access to Fitch Learning’s online learning portal free of charge until you pass, with unlimited retakes, if taken on the next consecutive exam sitting.
- 50% off classroom course retake: If you’ve taken their full, in-person classroom course, Fitch Learning also offers 50% off Fitch Learning’s fees for your next attempt. 50% off may not sound as generous a guarantee compared to others, but remember that it costs a provider a lot more to provide in-person training, compared to, say, a fully-online course.
- There is also a ‘No Pass No Pay’ guarantee for first-time Fitch Learning Level I candidates (conditions apply). You can get a 100% refund under that guarantee, which is a strong commitment from Fitch Learning, considering that they are offering classroom training as well as online courses. There are quite a few conditions though, specifically:
- First-time Fitch Learning Level I candidates only.
- Classroom learners must attend 90% of the classroom sessions.
- Virtual learners must watch 60% of the recordings available at reading level and complete all of the Knowledge Checks.
- Complete all 18 Study Session Tests online and achieve at least 70%. Study Session tests can be repeated until 70% or above is achieved.
- Achieve a minimum score of 70% in the Invigilated Final Mock Exam, or a minimum score of 70% in the Online Final Mock Exam. For these exams, first attempt scores will be final for all exams, no repeat exam scores will be considered.
- The Invigilated Mock Exam must be sat at your relevant test centre under exam conditions.
- Unlimited retakes. Even if you fail again you still qualify for another 50% discount and a free online renewal.
- No deferrals. The guarantee is only valid for courses prepping for the next immediate exam cycle.
- No completion requirements. Unlike No Pass No Pay, Fitch Learning’s Pass Guarantee does not require you to meet any completion or score targets.
- Print materials not covered. The discount does not apply to the cost of study texts or materials if needed
- To claim your guarantee, email Fitch Learning (email@example.com) with your relevant details and proof to get your guarantee activated.
- To qualify for No Pass No Pay, you’ll have to register for it beforehand here.
The No Pass No Pay guarantee offers a 100% refund, but remember it is only available for Level I, first-time Fitch Learning buyers, and strict completion and achievement conditions apply.
Wiley’s Pass Guarantee
Pay once and get free repeats until you pass
- The latest Wiley materials until you pass. Wiley’s pass guarantee means that with your purchase, you will continue to get the latest Wiley materials until you pass your CFA exam. This means that all course repeats, online content updates, and software upgrades are free until you pass your exam.
- Wiley’s Pass Guarantee covers their Platinum, Gold, Silver or Self-Study CFA Exam Program Review courses.
- The Pass Guarantee does not apply to their 11th Hour Final Review.
- Unlimited retakes. As mentioned, with the Pass Guarantee you can get unlimited course renewals until you pass.
- No completion requirements. Wiley’s Pass Guarantee does not require you to meet any completion or score targets.
- Deferrals allowed. Candidates sometimes have to leave study and need to pick it up again in another exam window; Wiley’s Pass Guarantee allows you to do that and not have to worry about re-purchasing materials.
- Does not include print books. Wiley’s guarantee only covers online course content updates.
- The only proof you need is that you’re an existing course customer. To redeem, simply contact customer service so they can locate you on the system and update your access to the new course materials.
Although it doesn’t include print materials, it is understandable because the guarantee is valid for as many retakes as you need, has no completion requirements, and can be deferred for as long as you like.
Bloomberg Exam Prep’s Pass Insurance
Full refund or free renewal if you do not pass
- Full Refund: Bloomberg Exam Prep offers a full refund if you do not pass. To be eligible for a refund you’ll have to earnestly prepare using the Bloomberg course. Specifically, these conditions must be met:
- Start using Bloomberg’s prep materials no less than 10 weeks before your exam (exceptions are sometimes approved).
- Reach at least 95% progress through the course, by the day before your exam date, as stated by their course dashboard
- Take all of Bloomberg’s simulation exams available to your package.
- Free Account Renewal: If you failed but did not meet the conditions for a full refund, don’t panic – you still qualify for a free account renewal. Terms for the free renewal:
- The account renewal can’t be used for more than one extension. This means that if you fail again under your free account renewal, you don’t get any more free materials or refunds.
- Must be used for the next immediate exam cycle.
- Bloomberg Exam Prep offers Pass Insurance on all their products.
- One retake allowed. This means that if you fail again under your free account renewal, you don’t get any more free materials or refunds.
- No deferrals allowed. You must use the Pass Insurance for the next immediate exam cycle.
- To submit a claim, send your official exam results by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may additionally be required to answer a short online survey conducted by Bloomberg.
- Claim within a month of results. You must make a Pass Insurance claim within 30 days after your CFA exam results are published.
Which CFA exam provider has the best pass guarantee?
Candidate preferences can differ a lot. One candidate might prioritise choosing another provider and prefer a 100% refund, whereas another candidate might want a simple guarantee with no completion conditions. The best pass guarantee for you is the one that you’re most likely to benefit from given your study style and circumstances.
As we mentioned at the start of the article, it’s not a good idea to base your provider choice solely on pass guarantees. You should always choose your provider based on the quality of the materials and whether the study platform suits your study style. To find out more about choosing the best provider for you:
- Free provider trials (and discounts) in the Offers page.
- Avoid common mistakes when purchasing CFA exam materials.
Which provider do you think offers the best pass guarantee for you? Let us know in the comments below!