CFA® Program Overview

The CFA Program, administered by the CFA Institute, helps investment and financial professionals to build a strong foundation of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.

Complete the program and you’ve earned the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) credential, one of the most respected and recognized investment designation in the world.

Topic Weights By CFA Exam Level

All three levels of the CFA exam cover nearly all the same topics but at different weightings and depths. Here is the latest breakdown of topic weighting for all three levels.

Topic Area Level I Level II Level III
Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 10-15% 10-15%
Quantitative Methods 12 5-10 0
Economics 10 5-10 5-105
Financial Reporting & Analysis 20 15-20 0
Corporate Finance 7 5-15 0
Equity Investments 10 15-25 5-15
Fixed Income 10 10-20 10-20
Derivative Investments 5 5-15 5-15
Alternative Investments 4 5-10 5-15
Portfolio Management & Wealth Management 7 5-10 40-55
Total 100% 100% 100%

Specifics for Each Level

Level I

Focus on investment valuation and portfolio management, and how these processes fit within the guidelines of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

Exam Format

  • 240 multiple-choice questions, equally weighted
  • Half in a morning session, half in the afternoon

Level II

Requires demonstration of the candidate’s understanding of Level I concepts as well as application of asset valuation within the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

Exam Format

  • 20 item sets (“mini case studies”), each with a vignette and six multiple-choice questions
  • Half in a morning session, half in the afternoon

Level III

Requires demonstration of high-level understanding of Level I and Level II concepts plus knowledge of the entire portfolio management process.

Exam Format

  • 12-15 essay questions and 10 item sets (each with six multiple-choice questions)
  • Essay questions in the morning session, item sets in the afternoon