CFA® Level I results: what should I do if I fail?
You have just received some bad news from CFA® Institute: you have not passed your Level I exam.
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After the first day of discouragement, you realize that you are not alone (almost 60% of candidates are in the same situation), and that most charter-holders failed at least one Level.

It is now essential to analyze your results.

CFA® Institute provides you with two key elements:

  • Detailed results

Your results table (in the email) tells you whether you got below 50%, between 50% and 70%, or above 70% of right answers for each topic.

Topics above 70% are your strengths, you need to maintain this level through regular training.

Scores below 50% should not come as a surprise, you have probably neglected these topics and you should revise them from the beginning.

  • Global Score

Your global score gives you an additional indication about your results.

A score very close to 70% means that you have failed by a narrow margin, and that targeted revisions and several Mock Exams should enable you to progress to Level II.

A score between 50% and 65% indicates that you have done some good groundwork, but you still need to do a lot of revision in order to pass your exam.

A score very far from 70% means that you have missed many points to pass your exam.

If you have spent a lot of time revising, you need to rethink your whole working strategy (for example, candidates often make the mistake of spending too much time reading their books and too little on practicing).

If the amount of time allocated to your first attempt was small, you now realize that you will have to devote the necessary time, to be successful (304 hours according to a survey by the CFA Institute).


Narrowly passing your Level I could have penalized you for your Level II; with the right strategy, your next attempt will be the right one, and your extra work will strengthen your skills and maximize your chances of success at your Level II.

What strategy should I put in place?

As mentioned above, a precise analysis of your results and your working methodology is essential.

Every situation is different, and it can be easy to get lost in your revisions.

Our advice is to select the option that best fits your schedule and will support your own needs and constraints.

There are many tools at your disposal: CFA® Institute books, end-of-chapter questions, Mock Exams, courses, Final Review Seminars, online courses, etc.

The Top Finance team is available to advise all CFA® candidates, and to help them in the implementation of an effective revision strategy.

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