Level 1 CFA Computer-Based Testing: What You Need to Know

The impact of the global pandemic on the CFA Program exam has been significant but there were changes already set to come in to play for 2021. Here’s everything you need to know.

No Curriculum Updates for 2021

Along with the postponement of the June 2020 exams until December 2020, there will not be any updates to the current curriculum for 2021 exams. This means, all current 2020 study materials will hold over for the Level I exams in February, May, August, and November 2021; and the current Level II and Level III materials will apply June 2021.

2021 Level 1 CFA Exam Format Changes

You may have heard that the CFA Program Exam for Level I in 2021 is going to see format changes coming into effect. Firstly, the Level 1 CFA exams are switching to computer-based testing; secondly, the Level I exam windows are going to change from the standard June and December cycles. But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered – here’s everything you need to know.

So, Exam Dates are changing in 2021?


  • The Level 1 CFA computer-based testing (CBT) begins with the first window in February 2021; followed by May, August, and November.
  • You’ll be able to choose your exam day from a 7-day exam window.

Is the Exam Format going to change for Level I now it’s moving to CBT?


  • The exam format will now comprise of 180 multiple choice questions, split evenly into a morning session (90 questions) and afternoon session (90 questions)
  • Both sessions will be timed at 2 hours and 15 minutes.

If its computer-based, I’ll have more location choice, right?


  • Previously you had a choice of 87 locations, now you can pick from over 400 locations globally to take Level I in 2021.

And I’ll get my results a lot quicker too?


  • They won’t be giving you your score on the day, but the hope is that you will see your results much quicker than you would with the current paper-based exam.

If I fail, can I take Level I in the next window?


  • You have to have at least 6 months between your exams; so you can sign up for the August Level I exam window.
  • So, if you PASS in February, you CAN take Level II in June.

When will be the last paper-based testing?

  • The last paper-based exam for Level 1 candidates is the December 2020 exam window, which allows you time to register for the Level 2 exam in June 2021 if you pass Level 1.

Will Level 2 and 3 of the CFA Exam move to computer-based testing?

  • At this time, there are no plans to transition CFA Level 2 and 3 exams to computer-based testing.

At Wiley, we’re here to help. Please contact us if you have any other questions about the Level 1 format changes or the digital transformation of the CFA Program.