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

Pinoy Money Talk

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.

1Union BankUnionBank Medium Term Fixed Income Portfolio1.55%
3Union BankUnionBank High Net Worth Intermediate-Term Peso Fixed Income Fund0.36%
4Philippine National BankPNB PESO INTERMEDIATE TERM BOND FUND (Formerly AUP GS FUND)0.34%
5Manulife Asset Management and Trust Corporation (MAMTC)Manulife Stable Income Fund (Class I)0.33%
6EastWest Banking CorporationEastWest Peso Intermediate Term Bond Fund0.01%
7BPI Asset Management and Trust CorporationBPI Premium Bond Fund-0.02%
8Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.Metro Max-3 Bond Fund-0.09%
10Manulife Asset Management and Trust Corporation (MAMTC)Manulife Stable Income Fund (Class A)-0.28%
11Union BankUnionBank Infinity Prime Fund-0.62%

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

1China Banking CorporationChina Bank Institutional Money Market Fund1.29%
2Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.Metro Short Term Fund1.21%
4RCBC SavingsRCBC Savings Bank Peso Money Market UITF1.15%
5Development Bank of the PhilippinesUNLAD KAWANI MONEY MARKET FUND1.15%
7BPI Asset Management and Trust CorporationBPI Money Market Fund1.11%
8BDO Unibank, Inc.BDO SHORT TERM FUND1.09%
9Development Bank of the PhilippinesCLASS I - UNLAD PANIMULA MM FUND1.09%
10BPI Asset Management and Trust CorporationBPI Short Term Fund1.07%
11Security Bank CorporationSB PESO MONEY MARKET FUND1.07%
12Development Bank of the PhilippinesCLASS II - UNLAD PANIMULA MM FUND1.05%
14Development Bank of the PhilippinesCLASS III - UNLAD PANIMULA MM FUND1.03%
15United Coconut Planters BankUCPB Cash Management Fund (Formerly United Cash Management Fund)1.03%
16Philippine National BankPNB DREAM BUILDER MONEY MARKET FUND1.03%
17Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.Metro Money Market Fund1.02%
19Rizal Commercial Banking CorporationRIZAL PESO CASH MANAGEMENT FUND1.02%
20EastWest Banking CorporationEastWest Peso Money Market Fund1.01%
21LandBank of the PhilippinesLANDBANK Money Market Fund1.00%
22China Banking CorporationCBC MONEY MARKET FUND0.99%
23Robinsons BankRBank Peso Money Market Fund0.97%
25Philippine Savings BankPSBANK MONEY MARKET FUND0.94%
26EastWest Banking CorporationEast West Peso Short Term Fund0.94%
27Philippine National BankPNB PRIME PESO MONEY MARKET FUND0.92%
28Rizal Commercial Banking CorporationRIZAL PESO MONEY MARKET0.92%
30ATRAM Trust CorporationATRAM Peso Money Market Fund0.86%
32LandBank of the PhilippinesLANDBANK Money Market Plus Fund0.80%
33China Banking CorporationCBC SHORT-TERM FUND0.79%
34Asia United BankPeso Money Market Fund0.76%
35Union BankUnionBank Peso Short Term Fixed Income Portfolio0.55%
36Philippine Bank of CommunicationsSIGNATURE TRUST FUND0.43%
37Sterling Bank of AsiaSterling Money Market FundNo Data
38CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corp.CTBC Money Market FundNo Data

CFA Exam Level II Passing Rate

1Angeles University FoundationAngeles City100%4444
1Lyceum of the Philippines University - BatangasBatangas City100%1717

CFA Exam Level III Passing Rate

University of Santo TomasManila97%192196
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng MaynilaManila91%113123
Velez CollegeCebu City87%142162
De La Salle Health Sciences InstituteDasmarinas City82%168203
Cebu Doctors' UniversityMandaue City77%124161

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

University of the Philippines ManilaManila97%9193
San Pedro CollegeDavao City94%7276
Silliman UniversityDumaguete City92%4751
Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical FoundationQuezon City90%5662
University of the East Ramon MagsaysayQuezon City88%8899
Wesleyan University PhilippinesCabanatuan City86%1922
Remedios T. Romualdez Medical FoundationTacloban85%3541
San Juan De Dios Educational FoundationPasay83%2024
Mariano Marcos State University - MainBatac City82%5162
Liceo de Cagayan UniversityCagayan de Oro80%2936
Universidad de ManilaManila79%3139
Manila Adventist CollegePasay78%2532
Adventist Medical Center CollegeIligan City78%1114
Our Lady of Fatima University in Antipolo CityAntipolo City75%7599
Southwestern UniversityCebu City73%4967
University of BaguioBaguio City73%2230
Davao Doctors CollegeDavao City73%1723
University of BoholTagbilaran City72%1318

* 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)

Pinoy Money Talk is an educational website about money, banking, investments, and personal finance which started in 2005. Its group of five writers consists of one equity research analyst, one fintech startup owner, one finance educator, and two investment professionals.