CFA® Exam Overview and Guidelines (Updated for 2021)

The Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA program is a professional certification issued to financial and investment professionals by the CFA Institute. Candidates who seek the charter must take the exam at Level I, Level II  and Level III.  In addition to clearing the exams, the candidate must show that they have a minimum of four years of full-time working experience in the financial or investment sector, before they are awarded the charter.

The paper was previously always conducted in a paper format. Starting in 2021, the CFA exam is shifting to a computer-based format only. 

The CFA exam is split into three levels. The  key areas covered by the curriculum include quantitative methods, ethical and professional standards, corporate finance, fixed income, economics, financial reporting and analysis, equity investments, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management and wealth planning.

Exam Prerequisites

Exam candidates must meet one of the following enrollment criteria:

  • Have a Bachelor's degree from a college or university


  • Be a final year student at the time of registering for the Level I program. Degree must be completed before Level II.


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