Differences between CFA Level I, II and III

Sushri Panda PrepSmarter CFA, CFA Level 1, CFA Level 2, CFA Level 3

CFA Level I

  • It focuses on tools and concepts and thus gives more weightage to Quantitative Finance, Economics and Financial Reporting and Analysis.
  • Multiple choice questions format makes it easier for exam takers, however, one must note that on an average you have around 1.5 minutes per question.
  • Passing rate is closer to 40%.

CFA Level II

  • It focuses on Asset Valuation and places more weightage on Equity and Fixed Income.
  • Each item set or mini cases have six questions each, answers to each question may depend on your previously answered question. This makes Level II format very tricky. If you get one wrong, you get all wrong.
  • Level 2 is similar but the material is a bit harder.
  • Passing rate is closer to 44%.


  • It focuses on Portfolio Management.
  • The morning session is an Essay Type Format where exam takers must solve the case studies and write appropriate answers. The Afternoon session is similar to the format of CFA® Level II where there are mini case studies with Multiple choice question answers.
  • In Level 3 the material is presented in textbook fashion.
  • Passing chance is 50:50 in this level.

For more information:

Topics to study for CFA Level 1 
What is the CFA Pass rate trend?

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