2019 CFA Exam Level 1, 2 & 3 RESULTS: 45% Pass Rate?

Did you pass the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam this year? You’re probably getting anxious waiting for the results, but it will be released soon!

Last year’s passing rate was 45%, will this be achieved again this year? For now, some trivia while you wait: Do you know how many CFAs are there worldwide?

This may come as a surprise to you but according to the CFA Institute, there are only 132,000 active CFA charterholders around the world. Yup, very few indeed. It’s a relatively small group of people, considering billions of people around the world and millions of employed professionals in the finance industry.

This exclusive group of CFA charterholders includes only those who successfully met the CFA pre-requisites, including:

  • (1) passing all 3 levels (Level I, II, and III) of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam;
  • (2) meeting the required four years of qualified work experience; and
  • (3) becoming a member of the CFA Institute.

Interesting trivia: the CFA exam was first administered in 1963, and since then only 2.9 million people worldwide have taken it. Did you know that the average CFA Exam pass rate in the last 56 years is just 46%?

Want to know more interesting tidbits about the CFA Exam and its pass rates? Continue reading below.

CFA Exam Level I, II, and III Pass Rate (from 1963 to 2018)

The average CFA exam passing rate during the 56-year period from 1963 — when the CFA exam was first administered — until 2018 is just 46%. The table below summarizes the CFA exam pass rate for each level from 1963 to 2018.

CFA Exam Pass RatePassersTotal TakersCFA Passing Rate
CFA Exam Level 1719,5191,696,45142.4%
CFA Exam Level 2356,588769,42546.3%
CFA Exam Level 3246,654430,29757.3%

In the last 56 years, the historical average CFA Exam pass rate was 45.7%.

Also as mentioned earlier, a total of 2,896,173 or 2.9 million finance professionals worldwide have taken the exam. Less than half pass it which proves that the CFA Exam is a tough examination indeed!

Interested to know the passing rate for each level of the CFA Exam in the past 10 years? Check it out below.

CFA Exam Level I Passing Rate

CFA Exam Level 1PassTotalPass Rate
June 2019Coming soonComing soon%
December 201834,651 77,24544.9%
June 201834,54779,50743.5%
December 2017 29,583 68,086 43.4%
June 2017 27,158 63,283 42.9%
December 2016 25,807 59,627 43.3%
June 2016 25,093 58,677 42.8%
December 2015 22,274 52,315 42.6%
June 2015 21,303 51,134 41.7%
December 2014 20,589 47,175 43.6%
June 2014 19,592 47,005 41.7%
December 2013 19,469 45,693 42.6%
June 2013 18,078 47,502 38.1%
December 2012 18,106 48,981 37.0%
June 2012 18,968 49,445 38.4%
December 2011 18,736 49,380 37.9%
June 2011 18,881 48,068 39.3%
December 2010 17,009 46,785 36.4%
June 2010 19,656 46,863 41.9%

CFA Exam Level II Passing Rate

CFA Exam Level 2PassTotalPass Rate
2019Coming soonComing soon%
2017 26,919 56,939 47.3%
2016 23,321 50,230 46.4%
2015 21,509 46,841 45.9%
2014 20,644 44,796 46.1%
2013 19,311 44,874 43.0%
2012 19,194 45,247 42.4%
2011 19,009 44,175 43.0%
2010 16,995 43,406 39.2%

CFA Exam Level III Passing Rate

CFA Exam Level 3PassTotalPass Rate
2019Coming soonComing soon%
2017 17,173 31,631 54.3%
2016 15,606 28,884 54.0%
2015 14,664 27,468 53.4%
2014 14,535 26,882 54.1%
2013 12,607 25,766 48.9%
2012 12,870 24,754 52.0%
2011 11,567 22,784 50.8%
2010 9,881 21,462 46.0%

How to Check if you Passed the CFA Exam

The CFA Institute does not release a Pass List but there are two ways for you to find out the official results of the CFA exam: (1) via email; and (2) via the official CFA Institute website.

The first method — via email — is pretty straightforward. All examinees will receive an email from the CFA Institute with a message explicitly showing whether they PASSED or FAILED the exam.

Here’s a sample email sent to an examinee about the CFA Exam results:

When does CFA send the results email?

The email is usually sent anytime after 9:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) during the results announcement day.

Take note, however, that since the CFA Institute will be sending thousands of emails, the emails are batch-processed which means you might not receive the email immediately after 9:00 AM ET. It’s possible that you will receive the email several minutes or even hours after 9:00 AM ET.

Don’t worry, though, since you will surely receive the email. It might be delayed, but it will be sent to your inbox. Check below what time 9:00 AM ET is in your city so that you’ll know what time to expect the results email.

What Time CFA Sends Email Results

Argentina - Buenos Aires10:00Netherlands - Amsterdam*15:00
Australia - Australian Capital Territory - Canberra23:00New Zealand - AucklandNext Day 01:00
Australia - New South Wales - Sydney23:00Norway - Oslo*15:00
Australia - Northern Territory - Darwin22:30Pakistan - Islamabad18:00
Australia - Queensland - Brisbane23:00Pakistan - Lahore18:00
Australia - South Australia - Adelaide22:30Pakistan - Sindh - Karachi18:00
Australia - Victoria - Melbourne23:00Paraguay - Asuncion09:00
Australia - Western Australia - Perth21:00Peru - Lima - Lima08:00
Austria - Vienna - Vienna*15:00Philippines - Manila21:00
Bahamas - Nassau*09:00Poland - Warsaw*15:00
Belgium - Brussels*15:00Portugal - Lisbon*14:00
Brazil - Distrito Federal - Brasilia10:00Puerto Rico - San Juan09:00
Brazil - Rio de Janeiro10:00Qatar - Doha16:00
Brazil - Sao Paulo10:00Romania - Bucharest*16:00
Canada - Alberta - Calgary*07:00Russia - Anadyr*Next Day 01:00
Canada - Alberta - Edmonton*07:00Russia - Moscow*17:00
Canada - British Columbia - Vancouver*06:00Saudi Arabia - Riyadh16:00
Canada - Manitoba - Winnipeg*08:00Serbia - Belgrade*15:00
Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador - St. John's*10:30Singapore - Singapore21:00
Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax*10:00South ANext Dayca - Cape Town15:00
Canada - Ontario - Ottawa*09:00South ANext Dayca - Johannesburg15:00
Canada - Ontario - Toronto*09:00South Korea - Seoul22:00
Canada - Quebec - Montreal*09:00Spain - Barcelona - Barcelona*15:00
Chile - Santiago09:00Spain - Madrid*15:00
China - Beijing Municipality - Beijing21:00Sweden - Stockholm*15:00
China - Shanghai Municipality - Shanghai21:00Switzerland - Zurich15:00
Colombia - Bogota08:00Taiwan - Taipei21:00
Czech Republic - Prague*15:00Thailand - Bangkok20:00
Denmark - Copenhagen*15:00Turkey - Ankara*16:00
Dominican Republic - Santo Domingo09:00Turkey - Istanbul*16:00
Egypt - Cairo*16:00Ukraine - Kyiv*16:00
El Salvador - San Salvador07:00United Arab Emirates - Dubai17:00
Ethiopia - Addis Ababa16:00United Kingdom - England - London*14:00
Finland - Helsinki*16:00Uruguay - Montevideo10:00
France - Ile-de-France - Paris*15:00USA - Alaska - Anchorage*05:00
Germany - Berlin - Berlin*15:00USA - Arizona - Phoenix06:00
Germany - Hesse - Frankfurt*15:00USA - California - Los Angeles*06:00
Greece - Athens*16:00USA - California - San Francisco*06:00
Guatemala - Guatemala City07:00USA - Colorado - Denver*07:00
Honduras - Tegucigalpa07:00USA - District of Columbia - Washington DC*09:00
Hong Kong - Hong Kong21:00USA - Florida - Miami*09:00
Hungary - Budapest*15:00USA - Georgia - Atlanta*09:00
Iceland - Reykjavik13:00USA - Hawaii - Honolulu03:00
India - Delhi - New Delhi18:30USA - Illinois - Chicago*08:00
India - Karnataka - Bangalore18:30USA - Indiana - Indianapolis*09:00
India - Maharashtra - Mumbai18:30USA - Louisiana - New Orleans*08:00
India - West Bengal - Kolkata18:30USA - Massachusetts - Boston*09:00
Indonesia - Jakarta20:00USA - Michigan - Detroit*09:00
Ireland - Dublin*14:00USA - Minnesota - Minneapolis*08:00
Israel - Jerusalem15:00USA - Nevada - Las Vegas*06:00
Italy - Rome*15:00USA - New York - New York*09:00
Jamaica - Kingston08:00USA - Pennsylvania - Philadelphia*09:00
Japan - Tokyo22:00USA - Texas - Dallas*08:00
Jordan - Amman*16:00USA - Texas - Houston*08:00
Kazakhstan - Almaty19:00USA - Utah - Salt Lake City*07:00
Kuwait - Kuwait City16:00USA - Washington - Seattle*06:00
Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur21:00Uzbekistan - Tashkent18:00
Mexico - Ciudad de Mexico - Mexico City*08:00Venezuela - Caracas08:30
Morocco - Casablanca13:00Vietnam - Hanoi20:00

* adjusted for Daylight Savings Time (DST) or summer time

If after a few hours you still haven’t received the email, your next option is to log on to the CFA website (www.cfainstitute.org). Be warned, however, since thousands of examinees are also likely simultaneously checking the results. This means the website could load really, really slow or could even be temporarily inaccessible.

Still, don’t panic! Just wait a few minutes (or a few hours), come back to the site, and try again. You’ll soon be able to find out if you passed the CFA exam.

Your CFA Exam Score – New Presentation Format

The presentation of the CFA exam scores has been recently revamped. According to the CFA Institute, this new presentation format is intended to “ensure you have the information needed to prepare you for the next step in your journey, whether that is preparing for the next level, signing up to re-take the same level, or pursuing other opportunities. Your score report gives you important information to use in your decision.”

If you took the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam and have received the official results, you’re probably wondering what the visual graphs representing your scores actually mean, check out this guide to help you understand your overall performance during the CFA exam.

First, a background. The CFA Institute recently revamped how the examinee’s exam scores are presented. In the past, the exam results show the examinee’s relative performance versus the pass and fail bands. With the new presentation format, the examinee’s scores are now shown as visual graphs and compared to benchmarks such as the Minimum Passing Score (MPS), Other Examinees’ Performance (90th Percentile), etc.

How to Interpret your CFA Exam Score

Minimum Passing Score (MPS)

The Minimum Passing Score or MPS is, literally, the minimum score you have to hurdle in order to pass the CFA exam. The MPS is shown in the results as a thin dashed black line (- – – -).

The thick blue line, meanwhile, is your exam score (although the actual numerical figure will not be shown).

Simply speaking, if the thick blue line (examinee’s score) lies above the MPS line, you passed. Congrats! But if the score lies below the MPS line, you failed the CFA exam.

Scores that are very close to the MPS score may appear to slightly overlap the MPS line. To remove confusion about the actual results, refer to the summary results that explicitly tell you if you passed or failed the exam.

Confidence Interval

The light-blue box that surrounds your exam score line represents a 90% confidence interval. This means that based on the characteristics of the exam, your true ability (as of exam day) probably lies somewhere in this range, as would your scores on similar exams with different questions.

This “score box” is an estimate of your performance given various factors and circumstances of the CFA exam (i.e., your level of preparedness, state of alertness during the exam, noise level in the venue, temperature in the exam room, etc.). This means, depending on the circumstance, your score could have been as high as the upper limit of the score box OR as low as the lower limit of the score box.

Let’s look at these three scenarios to understand your “score box”.

Score and Confidence Interval Above the MPS

If this is your score box (located way above the MPS line), you could have high confidence that you would have passed under nearly any circumstance.

Score and Confidence Interval Below the MPS

If this is your score box, you could have high confidence that you would not have passed under nearly any circumstance. This means you will need to study much more in order to pass the retake of the CFA exam.

Score Below the MPS but Confidence Interval Overlaps the MPS

If your score box is close to the MPS line, you might have passed under some  circumstances, but in most cases you would not have passed. This is shown in the score box being mainly below the MPS. (The opposite is true is your score line is above the MPS and majority of the score box is also above the MPS).

Relative Performance vs. Other Examinees

The thick purple dashed line represents the 90th percentile score. This means 10% of candidates that took the exam scored higher than this on the exam.

The thick black dashed line represents the 10th percentile score. 10% of candidates scored lower than this on the exam.

Performance by Topic Area

The exam score results will not show a separate passing score for each topic. Instead of representing the minimum passing score, the thin black line represents 70% of the available points in that topic. (According to the CFA Institute, the 70% level may appear arbitrary, but consistent scores above 70% is supposedly a reasonable signal of topic mastery.)

Combining this with the thick purple dashed line (90th-percentile line) and the thick black dashed line (10th-percentile line):

  • The lower the 90th-percentile candidate line, the harder the topic area was.
  • The higher the 10th-percentile line, the easier the topic was.

If your total score (thick blue line) is way above the 70% line, the more confident you can be that you have mastered that particular topic area.

By looking at your exam score and confidence interval and comparing it with the 70% line and relative scores of other candidates, you can have an idea about your overall performance and where to focus on in future studies (for the higher CFA exam level or the same exam in case of a retake).

Performance by Item Type

Looking at your item-type scores, meanwhile, can help you identify which question formats you need to spend more time on practicing and preparing for.

Comparing again your overall score with the thick purple dashed line (90th-percentile line) and the thick black dashed line (10th-percentile line):

  • The lower the 90th-percentile candidate line, the more difficult the item type was.
  • The higher the 10th-percentile line, the easier the item type was.

That’s it. We hope that you now have a better understanding of your CFA exam score. Congrats!

Information Source: CFA Institute (www.cfainstitute.org)

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