The 2014 Level I CFA® exam focuses on the tools and inputs relating to investment valuation and portfolio management. It also introduces basic concepts regarding securities laws, regulations, and ethical and professional conduct.
The emphasis here is on knowledge and comprehension. The exam consists of 240 multiple-choice questions, each of which is worth 1.5 minutes (or points). This should be considered an average time allotment, as some questions will take longer, while others will require less time. A perfect exam score is 360 points.
Although some of the Level I exam's 240 questions are more complicated than others and may take longer to read and answer, for grading purposes all questions are assigned the same weight. You don't lose points for wrong answers. Your score is based simply on the percentage of total questions you answer correctly.
At Level I, the exams are completely machine-graded. Using forms provided at the exam site, you answer questions by filling in ovals, marked "a," "b,"and "c" corresponding to the three possible multiple choice answers. As some of you may know, this is a change from previous years, when there were four answer options rather than three. For the machines to properly record your answers, you must fill in the ovals completely using a No. 2 or HB pencil. Sounds basic, but candidates have failed because they didn't fill in the ovals completely or failed to use the proper writing instrument.
The minimum score required to pass the CFA Exam is set every year by CFA Institute Board of Governors. The standards used by the Board to determine this minimum passing score are not fully disclosed. However, the percentage of candidates who pass or fail in a given year is not the primary factor in making this determination. Rather, the difficulty of the exam questions and the importance of subjects to the work of investment professionals are believed to be most critical in setting the minimum passing score for any given exam.
Keep in mind that no candidate scoring above 70 percent on a CFA Exam has ever failed. Therefore, answering 168 out of 240 correctly is typically enough to pass. Stated another way, you can afford to miss as many as 72 questions and still be well within the minimum historical passing score!
Download sample multiple choice questions provided by CFA Institute