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The CFA Program course of study includes the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), the curriculum content, learning outcome statements (LOS), and the topic area weights. 

The course of study is organized into three levels and each level requires passing a six-hour exam. The program curriculum increases in complexity as you move through the three levels:

  • Level I: Focuses on a ba​sic knowledge of the ten topic areas and simple analysis using investment tools
  • Level II: Emphasizes the application of investment tools and concepts with a focus on the valuation of all types of assets
  • Level III: Focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning

Candidates report dedicating in excess of 300 hours of study per level to prepare for each exam.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of continuing uncertainty, and with that uncertainty has come numerous challenges for our candidates and our exam administrators. At CFA Institute, we have been working diligently to turn these challenges into positive opportunities. Our plans to modernize the exam and make it more convenient and accessible for candidates around the globe have been accelerated in the face of new concerns about health and safety.



Important Dates
·       20 October 2020, 11:59pm ET: Deadline for postponed June 2020 candidates who have not re-registered, and candidates who want to move out of the December 2020 exam, to register for any 2021 exam
·       Saturday, 5 December: December 2020 exam, EMEA and AMER all levels; APAC Level I
·       Sunday, 6 December: December 2020 exam, APAC Level II and Level III
*Candidates approved to sit on the Religious Alternate Date will be communicated to separately with their exam dates.
CFA exams will transition to Computer-based Testing (CBT) in 2021 for all levels. Visit our Computer-based Exam Information page for details.
Map your journey through upcoming exam cycles

December 2020 Exam
Review this presentation for an overview of the candidate experience, details on the upcoming December exam, and the shift to computer-based testing. You may prefer to watch a recorded webinar version of the same content from a presentation given for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. The webinar version offers a Q&A session at the end.

How will I know if my exam will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
CFA Institute is actively monitoring factors globally.
At a high-level, we need four things to be able to administer an exam:
·       A venue that will accommodate all registered candidates
·       Testing personnel who will supervise and monitor the administration
·       The ability to ship exam materials to and from the venue
·       All relevant local government approvals
The global pandemic has created significant challenges with several of these requirements: we need twice the space within each venue to accommodate social distancing requirements; local governments have regulations in place restricting the number of people who can gather for indoor events; venues are reticent to execute contracts in uncertain times; and proctors are unwilling to commit to long periods of time in confined spaces with hundreds of people.
We have been working diligently over the last months to overcome these challenges. In some cities however, we have not been able to do so. We will continue to make determinations about specific test centers throughout October.
Ultimately, three insurmountable factors have forced us to conclude we cannot administer exams in certain locations:
·       Pandemic-related indoor gathering bans and limitations
·       Venues' inability or unwillingness to contract for services
·       Lack of available and willing testing personnel
We will inform candidates who are impacted via email as soon as possible following each decision. 

You may also visit our Test Center Updates page for the latest test center information, including testing locations in which CFA Institute has determined that it will not administer the exam.

What if my testing location is impacted?
After impacted test centers are announced, we will email impacted candidates within 24 hours to alert them, at which time they will find a complimentary registration in their account. Upon notification, you will immediately be able to defer to an exam in 2021. Please wait to receive your email notification before logging in to your account to defer. You will need to re-register for one of the exam administrations available for your level and will have until the end of each registration deadline to re-register. For example, if you select the May 2021 exam, you will have until 23 February to register.

NOTE: Registration for a computer-based exam is a two-step process. 

Step 1: Register for a 2021 exam now. 

Step 2: Schedule your actual exam appointment. You can wait to do step 2 if you want to lock in the registration but are unsure exactly what date and time will work best for you, or if you don't currently see availability. We are adding availability all the time, so check back for your preferred location. Learn more about computer-based testing.

If you have been twice impacted by COVID-19 (meaning, deferred from June 2020 and then again impacted in December), you will have the option to request a refund. Refund requests will be accepted between 7-21 December. No requests for refunds will be accepted prior to 7 December and no exceptions will be made. Please visit our refund policy page for more information.
If your December registration is postponed due to COVID-19 and you exercise the complimentary deferral in your account for a 2021 administration, that action is binding and you will forfeit your right to request a refund. You can find additional information about refunds on our refund policy page.

Can I switch my exam registration from December to a 2021 exam?
Yes! If you are concerned that your test center may be impacted by COVID-19, you may choose to withdraw yourself from the December 2020 exam and register for one of the computer-based exams in 2021. You have until 20 October to make this decision. Step-by-step instructions for withdrawing from the December exam administration can be found in this PDF. No new test centers will be added for the December 2020 exam administration.

How can I be sure that my chosen 2021 exam won't be filled?
We understand your concern that 2021 exams may reach capacity. Unlike the paper-based exams, which required us to serve all candidates in one day, the computer-based exams provide more exam day options, along with smaller, more convenient settings. This allows us to respond more easily in areas with greater demand.
We are negotiating with our partners at Prometric and British Council to ensure we are able to accommodate all displaced December candidates. In some cases, this may mean an extension of the testing windows in affected areas.
After registering, if you do not see available appointments in your desired exam location, please continue to check back through the scheduling function for availability to be added in the coming days.

Why can't I change my test center to an area where the exam is still scheduled to proceed?
We are not able to extend the deadline for making test center changes beyond 30 September for several reasons. First, we anticipate there will be additional and ongoing areas in which we will not administer the exam due to the unpredictability of the virus and locally imposed restrictions. We do not wish to have candidates experience multiple postponements as new areas are impacted. Another reason is that many of our test centers are already at capacity and we have to restrict additional candidates so that we remain within the guidelines for current government capacity, logistical, and safety restrictions.

Why can't you postpone all LI candidates and allow LIII and LII candidates to sit for the exam?
We have investigated many options in our efforts to administer our exams in December. Our intent is to administer everywhere we are permitted to do so, for every level, and we will do this in the most equitable way possible. In certain areas, however, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. These and similar restrictions on gatherings make it commercially impossible to administer a paper-based test—for any level of CFA Exam.

Why can't you test ALL levels in CBT in February?
The coronavirus forced us to accelerate by several years our plans to transition both LII and LIII to CBT. With all the constraints that we and our CBT vendors were facing, it was not feasible for the first LII or LIII CBT offering to be any earlier than May in order to meet our rigorous requirements. Level I was planned to begin in February, as announced in early 2020.

Can I expect special protocols for paper-based exams in December?
Yes, you can expect to see social distancing measures in place at the test centers. Candidates and testing personnel will be required to wear face coverings that cover from nose to chin throughout the duration of the exam. At most centers, candidates will be seated six feet apart, and we will allow personal cleaning and sanitary supplies. Additional protocols and test center specific details will be communicated as we get closer to exam day. Please visit our COVID procedures page for more detail. You can also refer to our candidate checklist to prepare for exam day.

When will admission tickets be issued?
We will notify candidates via email when admission tickets are ready. This will likely be in early November, a month before the scheduled exam date, as is the tradition for paper-based exam tickets. Please verify that the email address in your CFA Institute account is your primary email address.

How can I change my test center?
The deadline for December 2020 test center change requests has passed. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS. If your testing location is impacted by COVID-19, you may defer to an exam in 2021.

Will December candidates receive results in time to register for May exams?
Yes. We will ensure the exam registration window will remain open following results release to allow December candidates the opportunity to register for the May exam. Published standard registration fees will apply. Early pricing will be available for the August and November administrations respectively.

Do I need a current passport?
Please check and make certain that your passport will be current at the time of your scheduled exam. You will not be allowed to sit for the exam if your passport is expired.

Stay Informed
We will communicate with everyone through a variety of channels including email, social media, our website, and candidate resources portal. We encourage you to verify your email address on record by logging in to your CFA Institute account and to follow our CFA Program social channels on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat and Weibo. We will also communicate directly with all Approved Prep Providers and local CFA Societies around the globe as details are available.

© 2020 CFA Institute. All Rights Reserved. 

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