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CFA Exams 2021

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

The digital transition is here. From the year 2021, the CFA Level I exams shall be conducted digitally. Only a computer screen and no pen & paper, anxious? Let's break down the process of the new exam system:

Computer-based Testing

"What is the change all about?"

The December 2020 exam is the last paper-based exam for Level I candidates. From 2021 and onwards, the following changes will be introduced:

  1. Level 1 CFA exam moves from paper to computer-based testing.

  2. You will have FOUR Level I exam windows to choose from in February, May, August, and November. However, you may sit twice a year with 6 months gap in-between.

  3. Introduction of rescheduling fee of USD 250 in case you change your mind.

  4. The number of exam questions is reduced from 240 to 180 (2x90 questions). There will be two sessions altogether covering all the 10 subjects in each session.

  5. Total testing time gets reduced to 4.5 hrs (2x135 minutes).

  6. Your CFA exam results can be expected sooner!

Break-up of exam day schedule

Each exam appointment will include:

  • 30 minutes allotted to pledge, tutorial, and survey

  • 135 minutes for session 1

  • 30 minutes for optional break

  • 135 minutes for session 2

  • Total testing time is 4.5 hours

  • Total appointment time is 5.5 hours

It is known that exam results will be released faster, however, the exact amount of time for results to be released is not yet established.

About the Feb'21 exam

The exam window for Feb 2021 exam is from 23 Feb to 1 March 2021. Within this exam window, you can choose the day when you will take your level 1 exam. However, the exam day availability may differ depending on the region and test center. CFA Institute has already opened the registration.

Every candidate who does not pass Level I will have to wait a minimum of six months to retake the exam. Candidates who pass Level I exams in 2021 can take their Level II exam in 2022.

The Confusion

“When should you appear?”

Well the answer to this depends on - "When do you plan to appear for Level II exam", "time you need in hand for Level II preparation" and "cost considerations".

If you appear for Level I exam in Dec'20 and clear the same, only in that case you will be eligible to appear for Level II in 2021. Mind you that in this case you pay a higher enrollment fee for Level II exam as well as you'll get the least time to prepare for Level II. But that's the quickest leap to clearing CFA.

If you are in no hurry and decide to give Level II in 2022, now you have to choose to appear for Level I in between Feb, May, Aug and Nov 2021. It is suggested that you appear in Feb or latest in May so that even if you could not clear it in the first attempt, you'll have the option to reappear again in Aug or Nov 2021 and thus your Level II attempt remains intact. CFA is a fairly competitive exam and it is wise to make provision for such uncertainties.

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