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CFA final exam results: Pass rate slips below 10-year average

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The pass rate for the final level of the chartered financial analyst exam declined while remaining above the historic lows from last year, when the pandemic disrupted testing.

In August, 48% of candidates successfully finished the series, down from 49% for those who sat for the exam in May but still higher than the historic low of 42% for passing Level III that was set last year. The 10-year average success rate for the final exam is 52%, according to the CFA Institute.

“The CFA program is a challenging undertaking, and we are pleased that today’s Level III pass rate is once again closer to historical norms,” Chris Wiese, managing director for credentialing at the institute, said in a statement Tuesday. For those who didn’t pass, Wiese recommends retaking the exam as soon as possible, while material is still fresh. 

The latest results show improvement from historically low pass rates across all levels of the CFA exam last year. More than 10,000 candidates sat for the Level III exam in August, which was administered at 448 testing centers around the world. Historically, the institute offered the exam on paper, but transitioned to computer-based testing during the pandemic.

To become a charter holder, a candidate must pass all three exams and meet certain work-experience requirements. More than 190,000 investment professionals have the distinction, according to the Charlottesville, Virginia-based institute.

Last month, Level I candidates got their results, with a 37% success rate for those who took the exams in August, down from 38% in the previous testing period. Level II test-takers had a 40% pass rate when they sat for the exam in the same month, down from 44% in February.

On average, candidates study 300 hours for each level of the exam and take four years to complete the series. The Level III exam consists of a series of vignettes with accompanying multiple-choice and essay questions, and takes almost four and a half hours to complete, with an optional break halfway through.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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