CFA December 2020: Will It Get Postponed Again?

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Could the December 2020 CFA Exams Also Be Postponed?

By Zee Tan

The CFA exams were postponed in June 2020. But given that the pandemic is still making its rounds, could the CFA exams be postponed again, or even cancelled?

Read on to find out!

Be alerted if anything affects the Dec20 CFA exams

It’s likely that you would be among the first to know anyway, as CFA Institute would email candidates when plans change. However, if you’d like to be updated by us and receive any analysis or projections on this, you can pop your email address below:
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What has CFA Institute said about the December 2020 CFA exams?

What has CFA Institute Announced about the December 2020 CFA Exams?

We reached out to CFA Institute recently, explaining candidates’ concerns and whether they were able to comment further about that.

This was their response:


We appreciate this may be a concerning time for candidates. We are carefully tracking pandemic-related restrictions around the globe and hope that there will be no need for further postponements. If local situations require a change in plans, we will adapt as needed, following local public health policies. We will be implementing social distancing protocols in exam locations. As the December exam date gets closer, we will react to specific situations related to the pandemic and inform candidates of our plans.

Our interpretation of what this means:

We know candidates are worried. Obviously, we can’t predict how December is going to be like, so firm plans are not possible. We certainly don’t want to have to postpone again, but nothing’s impossible. Different exam locations will likely have different COVID situations and restrictions, so we will adapt the best we can on a location-by-location basis.

A fair-enough response – it’s impossible to say what December brings, ergo impossible for CFA Institute to confirm anything (unless they’re confirming it’s cancelled).

When could an announcement happen? CFA Institute announced the June 2020 exam postponement on 19th March, nearly three months before exam day, so it’s possible that if there is another postponement, it could land around September.


What are the chances of cancellation or postponement at my CFA exam location?

What are the chances of CFA Exam postponement in December 2020

If you think from a logistical perspective, the chances of the CFA exam being disrupted for you depends largely on three factors, which you can check out for your own location.

Restrictions on mass gatherings

The CFA exam is an event – so if events and/or mass gatherings are not allowed in December, the CFA exam can’t take place. UK guidance, for example, currently states that gatherings of more than 30 people aren’t allowed.

​This means that the CFA exam in London, which is usually attended by hundreds (if not thousands) of candidates, likely cannot take place as planned if the same mass-gathering rules are in place in December.

Restrictions or availability of test centre locations

Test centres for the CFA exams tend to be in large exhibition halls, it is quite possible that the venue may not be allowed to open under COVID restrictions.

Taking London as an example again – the largest test centre is usually the ExCel Centre, which:

  1. is currently not allowed to open under COVID-19 guidance, and
  2. more importantly, has been converted to a temporary hospital (NHS Nightingale) and does not seem like it will be deconstructed anytime soon.

Predicted infection rates in December

One of the things we now know about the coronavirus’ ability to spread is that it is particularly effective in indoor spaces. As winter sets in the northern hemisphere, more activity is going to move indoors. This may lead to a surge in infection rates, leading to restrictions on gatherings and events.

If the CFA exam is COVID-disrupted, what would CFA Institute likely do?

What are CFA Institute's options in case of cancellation or postponement

If the CFA exam can’t go ahead as planned in a particular location, CFA Institute has a few options:

  • Exam goes ahead, but with adjustments. Changes could mean a different test centre and/or more fragmented test locations, assuming CFA Institute manages to make those changes in time.
  • Localized cancellations. If it’s not possible to hold an exam in a particular location, candidates could be offered an

    • alternate location,
    • further postponement,
    • or a cancellation with a refund.
  • CFA exam moves entirely computer-based? Theoretically CFA Institute could throw their hands up and move all the exams to a computer-based format. Edit: one day later, CFA Institute announces just that. You heard it here first, folks.

Refunded cancellations might not be as likely as we once thought, given that CFA Institute as so far refused to give out refunds for the June 2020 postponement.​

What if I’m showing COVID symptoms on CFA exam day?

COVID symptoms on CFA exam day

Your CFA exam could also be disrupted in a different way – it’s always possible that candidates can develop COVID-19 symptoms on exam day.

Or it could be that the exam is going ahead, but you aren’t comfortable attending the exam for pandemic-related reasons.

What if this happens to you? We are not lawyers, but our guess is that you’re pretty much screwed.

If the exam is going ahead, and you can’t – or won’t – attend, CFA Institute is probably not under any obligation to compensate you – it is likely completely up to their discretion.

Great. What should I do then? To prep, or not to prep?

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Currently, our strong advice is to prep as if the exams are 100% going ahead. 

As mentioned, CFA Institute announced the June 2020 postponement nearly 3 months in advance, and that was under more uncertainty and unpredictability. We’re hoping that with more time to plan and better information this time, CFA Institute would be able to confirm any disruption in good time.

As mentioned, we will keep all our readers updated. If you haven’t already, sign up for our weekly updates to be alerted if anything changes with the Dec20 exams.

Be alerted to any Dec20 CFA exam changes.
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How is the situation around the world?

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This is what we want to find out. We know that there are approximately 193 test locations in 95 countries throughout the world – lots of different rules and regulations.

To help us build a better picture, we’ve created a one-minute survey to assess current candidate sentiment and feasibility of the CFA exams at various locations globally. Every response we receive helps us build a better picture on how likely the Dec20 CFA exams will be disrupted due to COVID-19. 

We will report back on this page if we manage to compile the data into something useful – complete the survey and stay tuned!

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