CFA exam low results & conclusion

The recent release of the July 2021 level I CFA exam results was, to say the least, an immense surprise. The lowest passing rate ever recorded : 22%. Let's take a step back and try to understand the "shock" felt by over 28 000 CFA candidates. 

Over the past few years (before COVID-19 an computer based exam format) the CFA level I passing rates were extremely stable between 41% to 45%. In addition, the new format of the 4 hour 30 length and computer-based exam offered more comfortable settings and intuitively made candidates believe it could be a little bit easier. 

Hence, we can wonder : have the CFA® exam questions become any harder ? Has the minimum passin score increased ? Was candidates' preparation completely disturbed by the numerous exam postponements ? Has the new exam window system significantly changed the traditional candidate study plan ? Were candidates lost in their preparation ? 

The above reasons undoubtedly explain even only partially this drastic drop, so let's start providing you with useful tips for the next exams. 

The CFA Institute published a video explaining that the July 2021 candidates who enrolled fot the first time in the program performed at the same level as previously. Meaning the impact is seen only on candidates subjected to Covid-related deferrals and who scored significantly lower. 

  • First leaning : having more time to prepare for your exam is not a guarantee to pass.

The candidates with a deferral had between 6 to 12 months extra time to prepare and despite this "advantage" failed at a higher percentage.

In conclusion : only the right learning strategy will make a difference. Start by choosing the right CFA® exam window for you, keeping in mind you need 6 to 9 months of preparation. Once you are registered you will be more focused on you goal and less tempted  to pospone your exam. 

Design your 300 hours CFA study plan and do integrate the proper study materials (courses, study tools, dynamic study group...) that are key to a successful preparation. And don't forget to assess your score all along the way.

Experts have also tried to analyze and estimate the Minimum Passing Score. Results tend to make them think that since the CBT (Computer Based Testing) format was launched (in February 2021) the level I passing score has increased. 

  • Second learning : make sure to reach 75% of correct answers on your CFA® mock exams prior to the official exam day. 

These experts evaluated that the minimum passing score was closer to 73-74% on the lasts Level I CFA exams. 

In conclusion : to get better chances to pass the exam, you to need to assess yourself several times before the official exam day arrives by using mock exams that simulate the actual interfae you will get on your exam. You need to reach 75% to 80% of correct answers in the last week of your preparation, as we know stress on the D-day can make you lose a few points. Once you are ready and have reached that target, try to take the last day to rela so you can be totally focused on your final CFA® exam. 

Don't forget, CFA is a marathon in which you need to control your speed all along the way to get to your goal. 

CFA Level I : over 25,000 candidates passed the December exam