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The CFA Program

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is a mark of distinction that is globally recognized by employers, investment professionals, and investors as the definitive standard by which to measure serious investment professionals. The CFA Program reflects a broad Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) developed and continuously updated by active practitioners in countries around the world to ensure that charterholders possess knowledge grounded in the real world of todays global investment industry.

Candidate Body of Knowledge Topical Outline


I. Ethical and Professional Standards A. Professional Standards of Practice B. Ethical Practices II. Quantitative Methods A. Time Value of Money B. Probability C. Probability Distributions and Descriptive Statistics D. Sampling and Estimation E. Hypothesis Testing F. Correlation Analysis and Regression G. Time Series Analysis H. Simulation Analysis I. Technical Analysis III. Economics A. Market Forces of Supply and Demand B. The Firm and Industry Organization C. Measuring National Income and Growth D. Business Cycles E. The Monetary System F. Inflation G. International Trade and Capital Flows H. Currency Exchange Rates I. Monetary and Fiscal Policy

J. Economic Growth and Development K. Effects of Government Regulation L. Impact of Economic Factors on Investment Markets IV. Financial Reporting and Analysis A. Financial Reporting System (IFRS and GAAP) B. Principal Financial Statements C. Financial Reporting Quality D. Analysis of Inventories E. Analysis of Long-Lived Assets F. Analysis of Taxes G. Analysis of Debt H. Analysis of Off-Balance-Sheet Assets and Liabilities I. Analysis of Pensions, Stock Compensation, and Other Employee Benefits J. Analysis of Inter-Corporate Investments K. Analysis of Business Combinations L. Analysis of Global Operations M. Ratio and Financial Analysis V. Corporate Finance A. Corporate Governance B. Dividend Policy C. Capital Investment Decisions D. Business and Financial Risk E. Long-Term Financial Policy F. Short-Term Financial Policy G. Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Restructuring VI. Equity Investments A. Types of Equity Securities and Their Characteristics B. Equity Markets: Characteristics, Institutions, and Benchmarks C. Fundamental Analysis (Sector, Industry, Company) and the Valuation of Individual Equity Securities

D. Equity Market Valuation and Return Analysis E. Special Applications of Fundamental Analysis (Residual Earnings) F. Equity of Hybrid Investment Vehicles VII. Fixed Income A. Types of Fixed-Income Securities and Their Characteristics B. Fixed-Income Markets: Characteristics, Institutions, and Benchmarks C. Fixed-Income Valuation (Sector, Industry, Company) and Return Analysis D. Term Structure Determination and Yield Spreads E. Analysis of Interest Rate Risk F. Analysis of Credit Risk G. Valuing Bonds with Embedded Options H. Structured Products VIII. Derivatives A. Types of Derivative Instruments and Their Characteristics B. Forward Markets and Instruments C. Futures Markets and Instruments D. Options Markets and Instruments E. Swaps Markets and Instruments F. Credit Derivatives Markets and Instruments IX. Alternative Investments A. Types of Alternative Investments and Their Characteristics B. Real Estate C. Private Equity/Venture Capital D. Hedge Funds E. Closely Held Companies and Inactively Traded Securities F. Distressed Securities/Bankruptcies G. Commodities H. Tangible Assets with Low Liquidity

X. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning A. Portfolio Concepts B. Management of Individual/Family Investor Portfolios C. Management of Institutional Investor Portfolios D. Pension Plans and Employee Benefit Funds E. Investment Manager Selection F. Other Institutional Investors G. Mutual Funds, Pooled Funds, and ETFs H. Economic Analysis and Setting Capital Market Expectations I. Tax Efficiency J. Asset Allocation (including Currency Overlay) K. Portfolio Construction and Revision L. Equity Portfolio Management Strategies M. Fixed-Income Portfolio Management Strategies N. Alternative Investments Management Strategies O. Risk Management P. Execution of Portfolio Decisions (Trading) Q. Performance Evaluation R. Presentation of Performance Results View topic areas weights for each exam level

CFA Exam Topic Area Weights

Topic Area
Ethical and Professional Standards (total)

Level I
15

Level II
10

Level III
10

Investment Tools (total)

50

30-60

Corporate Finance

5-15

Economics**

10

5-10

Financial Reporting and Analysis

20

15-25

Quantitative Methods

12

5-10

Asset Classes (total)

30

35-75

35-45

Alternative Investments

5-15

5-15

Derivatives

5-15

5-15

Equity Investments

10

20-30

5-15

Fixed Income

12

5-15

10-20

Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning (total)

5-15

45-55

Total

100

100

100

*Note: These weights are intended to guide the curriculum and exam development processes. Actual exam weights may vary slightly from year to year. Please note that some topics are combined for testing purposes. **Economics is part of Portfolio Management at Level III.

Review the CFA Program enrollment and exam registration deadlines, view the CFA exam fee schedule, and get started.

CFA Program Exam Calendar


The calendars below provide approximate timelines for upcoming exams. Candidates may register for only one exam at a time, and must wait to receive their exam results before registering for the next exam. Candidates who fail an exam are encouraged to re-take the exam.

December 2011 Exam Schedule (Level I only)


Mid-January 2011 Upon registration December 2011 exam registration opens Sample exams become available at time of registration

Mid-January 2011

December 2011 exam registration opens

16 March 2011 31 August 2011 1 September 2011 6 September 2011 14 September 2011 20 September 2011

First deadline to enroll and register for the December 2011 exam Second deadline to enroll and register for the December 2011 exam Exam scholarship application deadline Mock exams become available (login required) Final deadline to enroll and register for the December 2011 exam Final deadline for disability and religious alternate date accommodations requests to be received by CFA Institute Exam admission tickets available online Test center change request deadline (login required) Exam days Exams graded

27 October 2011 11 November 2011 34 December 2011 December 2011 January 2012 January 2012

Exam results available

June 2012 Exam Schedule (Levels I, II, and III)


Late July 2011 Upon exam registration 21 September 2011 February 2012 15 February 2012 March 2012 14 March 2012 19 March 2012 June 2012 exam registration opens Sample exams become available when candidate registers for the exam

First fee schedule deadline for the June 2012 exam Exam scholarship application deadline Second fee schedule deadline for June 2012 exam Mock exams become available Final deadline to register the for June 2012 exam Final deadline for disability and religious alternate date accommodations requests to be received by CFA Institute

13 April 2012 May 2012 23 June 2012 JuneJuly 2012 JulyAugust

Test center change request deadline (login required) Exam admission tickets available online Exam days Exams graded Exam results available

Completing the CFA Program


Completing the CFA Program exams can take as little as 18 months, but on average, it takes about four years to earn a CFA charter.

Preparing for the Exams


Successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam. Your preparation time will vary based on your prior education and experience. For each level of the curriculum, there are 18 study sessions, so a good plan is to devote 1520 hours per week, for 18 weeks, to studying the material. Use the final four to six weeks before the exam to review what you've learned and practice with sample and mock exams.

When Should You Take Your Exam?


The Level I exam is offered twice a year, in June and December. The Level II and III exams are offered once a year, in June. Registration usually opens about 11 months before each exam; register early to take advantage of the fee schedule and to have enough time to study and prepare for the exam.

CFA Exam Fee Schedule


CFA Program applicants pay an initial one-time enrollment fee. In addition, applicants are required to pay an exam registration fee. Returning candidates pay only the exam registration fee. The enrollment fee and the exam registration fee increase with each deadline

June 2012 Exam (Levels I,II, and III)


All fees are in U.S. dollars. We offer three options for the CFA Program curriculum: eBook only, print only, or both.

by 21 September
11:59 p.m. ET

by 15 February
11:59 p.m. ET

by 14 march
11:59 p.m. ET

Program Enrollment (new Level I only) Exam Registration CurriculumPrint


version

$420

$420

$505

$650 $20 shipping Past deadline

$745 $20 shipping $1,185

$1,005 $20 shipping $1,530

Total

2012 curriculum pricing details

When you register for the June 2012 exam, you can choose from three curriculum options (all fees are in U.S. dollars):

If you select the eBook version of the curriculum only, we offer a US$40 discount: Enrollment + exam registration - $40 = total cost. If you select the printed version of the curriculum only, you do not receive the $40 discount: Enrollment + exam registration + $20 (shipping*) = total cost. If you select both the eBook version and the printed version of the curriculum , you pay the cost of the additional curriculum ($30) plus shipping: Enrollment + exam registration + $30 (+$20 shipping for the printed version*) = total cost.

Become a CFA Charterholder


To earn a CFA charter, you must:

Have four years of qualified investment work experience, Become a member of CFA Institute, Pledge to adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, Apply for membership to a local CFA member society, and Complete the CFA Program. The CFA Program is organized into three levels, each culminating in a six-hour exam.Completing the Program takes most candidates between two and five years (there is no limit to the number of times you can take each exam), but you can take as much time as you need. To become a CFA charterholder:

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Enter the CFA Program Program entrance requirements Course of study

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Program fee schedule Study for and pass the three levels of exams Study session outlines Sample and mock exams Become a regular member of CFA Institute (required to receive your charter) Membership types Work experience requirements Maintain your charterholder status

Value for Your Career

The CFA Program equips you with the practical and fundamental knowledge you need for a wide variety of career choices in the investment profession. Completing the program confirms your mastery of the rigorous CFA curriculum and your success in passing all three exam levels. How can the CFA Program benefit your career?

Value for Employers


Employers cite the extensive knowledge charterholders possess in investment topics outside their own specializations as one of the primary reasons for hiring them. Employers can post jobs and gain access to this highly qualified, exclusive group of investment professionals through our job board. Why hire a charterholder?

Enroll & Register


Before you enroll in the CFA Program and register for your first exam: Meet the entrance requirements:

Have a bachelor's (or equivalent) degree - or be in the final year of your bachelor's degree program at the time of registration - or have four years of professional work experience (does not have to be investment related) - or have a combination of professional work and college experience that totals at least four years. Parttime positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment. - If you initially enroll/register as a final year undergraduate student with a degree in progress, you may not register for the Level II exam until you have earned your degree, or obtained professional work experience that meets the programs entrance requirements. At the time your degree is awarded, you may update your account education information to certify that your degree has been received. Understand the professional conduct requirements (you will be asked to sign the Professional Conduct Statement and Candidate Responsibility Statement) Be prepared to take the exams in English Effective 1 January 2011: Have a valid international travel passport (required for enrollment and exam registration). Read the ID policy.

June 2012 Level I Study Sessions

Topic
Ethical and Professional Standards

Weight
15

Outline and LOS Readings


Study Session 1 (PDF) 1-4 (PDF)

Quantitative Methods

12

Study Session 2 (PDF)

5-8

Study Session 3 (PDF)

9-12

Economics

10

Study Session 4 (PDF)

13-16

Study Session 5 (PDF)

17-19

Study Session 6 (PDF)

20-21

Financial Reporting and Analysis

20

Study Session 7 (PDF)

22-24

Study Session 8 (PDF)

25-28

Topic

Weight

Outline and LOS Readings


Study Session 9 (PDF) 29-32

Study Session 10 (PDF)

33-35

Corporate Finance

Study Session 11 (PDF)

36-42

Portfolio Management

Study Session 12 (PDF)

43-46

Equity

10

Study Session 13 (PDF)

47-49

Study Session 14 (PDF)

50-52

Fixed Income

12

Study Session 15 (PDF)

53-56

Study Session 16 (PDF)

57-59

Derivatives

Study Session 17 (PDF)

60-65

Alternative Investments

Study Session 18 (PDF)

66-67

CFA Program Curriculum


A committee of practicing CFA charterholders, in conjunction with CFA Institute staff, design the curriculum to deliver the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) to CFA Program candidates. The curriculum for each exam level is organized into 18 study sessions, including assigned readings, learning outcome statements (LOS), and problem sets.

Learning Outcome Statements


Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) - What They Are
LOS are descriptions of specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that you should be able to apply after completing a curriculum reading and all associated exercises and problems. Each LOS includes a command word, such as demonstrate, formulate, or evaluate, that indicates the degree of understanding required. Reading-specific LOS are listed prior to each reading in the curriculum.

LOS command words (PDF)

LOS What They Are Not


LOS are not intended to help you browse a reading to find simple facts that may be the subjects of exam questions. Readings may contain one or more paragraphs or pages that most directly relate to each LOS, but LOS do not have easy answers. Similarly, LOS should not be viewed as direct proxies for exam questions.

CFA Exam Format


CFA Exam Team members are generally asked to write two or three item set or essay questions or approximately 30 multiple choice questions in their assigned topics. The CFA Exam Team develops more questions than needed so that theCouncil of Examiners (COE) leadership can select the best portfolio of questions to appear on the exams. Level I exams: multiple choice Level I multiple choice questions are crafted with each of the incorrect responses (distracters) carefully constructed to represent common mistakes in either calculation or logic. A Level I examination consists of 240 questions to be completed in a six-hour time frame. Learn more Level II exams: item set The Level II CFA exam consists of 20 item sets 10 on the morning session of the exam and 10 on the afternoon session. Item sets are sometimes called mini-cases. Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette (or case statement) and six multiple choice items (questions). Learn more Level III exams: item set and essay The Level III exam uses the essay format in the morning, and the item set format, with 10 item sets, in the afternoon. The Level III essay exam is given in the morning session and has a maximum score of 180 points. The essay exam typically has 1015 questions, and questions may have multiple parts. The points for each question and each question part are given in the exam. Learn more about the formatting of CFA exam questions

CFA Exam Question Formats


The CFA exams include three types of question formats. The Level I exam is composed of multiple choice questions only. The Level II exam is composed of item set questions only. The Level III exam morning session is composed of essay questions and the afternoon session is composed of item set questions. Multiple Choice

About the Level I Questions

The Level I exams include 240 total multiple choice questions, 120 on the morning session of the exam and 120 on the afternoon session. Each multiple choice question is free-standing (not dependent on other questions) and has three possible answers: A, B, and C. All questions are equally weighted and there is no penalty for guessing. While you are taking the Level I multiple choice exam, remember:

Carefully manage your time. Dont spend too much time on any one question or topic area. On average, you should allocate 1.5 minutes to each multiple choice question, including time to record your answer on the answer sheet.

Read the questions carefully. A careless skimming of the question may lead you to a completely different, and incorrect, answer. Read each item carefully and eliminate obviously incorrect answers . If you have to guess and you can eliminate one of the responses, your odds of answering the question correctly are much higher. There is no penalty for guessing.

Mark your answers on the answer sheet as you complete each question. Some candidates mark their answers in the exam book and wait until the end of the exam to complete the answer sheet. This is not an advisable strategy.

Expect to encounter questions that you will not be able to answer correctly . There is a great deal of material to master and exam questions are challenging. Standard setters and the Board of Governors (at all three levels) take account of exam difficulty in setting Minimum Passing Scores. For a full description of how the MPS is established, see The CFA Program: Our Fifth Decade (PDF).

Examination writers use a standard set of formatting conventions on the multiple choice questions. Many sample exams produced by third parties do not follow these conventions, so review the CFA Institute format presented below.

Familiarize yourself with the instructions for filling out your answer sheet (PDF). Instructions are also available at the time of the exam.

Formatting Conventions Used for Level I Exams


Item Construction Each item on the Level I multiple choice exam consists of a stem (question, statement, and/or table) and three choices, A, B, and C. Two basic formats are used: 1. Stems using sentence completion with three unique choices 2. Stems phrased as questions with three unique choices Example 1 (Stem using sentence completion) An analyst suspects that a particular companys U.S. GAAP financial statements may require adjustment because the company uses take-or-pay contracts. The most likelyeffect of the appropriate adjustments would be to increase that companys A. return on assets. B. debt-to-equity ratio. C. interest coverage ratio. Example 2 (Stem phrased as question) An analyst suspects that a particular companys U.S. GAAP financial statements may require adjustment because the company uses take-or-pay contracts. Which of the following is most likely to increase as a result of the appropriate adjustments being made to that companys financial statements? A. Return on assets. B. Debt-to-equity ratio. C. Interest coverage ratio. Item Stems

The Level I CFA exam does not use except, true, or false in item stems and avoids the use of not in item stems whenever possible. When appropriate, stems will include one of the following qualifiers: most likely, least likely, best described, most appropriate, most accurate, least appropriate, or least accurate. Each stem supports only one item on the exam. Choices The Level I CFA exam does not use any of the following choices: all of the above, none of the above, A and B only, B and C only, cannot determine, cannot calculate, or not enough information to determine. Choices consisting of words or sentences are typically ordered from shortest to longest; choices that are quantitative are ordered from the smallest number to largest number. The choices agree grammatically with the stem; language common to all choices is placed in the stem. Item Sets

About the Level II and Level III Item Sets

The Level II CFA exam consists of 20 item sets 10 on the morning session of the exam and 10 on the afternoon session. The Level III exam uses the essay format in the morning, and the item set format, with 10 item sets, in the afternoon. Item sets are sometimes called mini-cases. Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette (or case statement) and six multiple choice items (questions). The length of a vignette ranges from about 1 page to 2.5 pages. The longer vignettes are those that include several tables of information, such as for a financial statement analysis, statistics, or fixedincome item set. The average length of the vignettes on the exam is about 1.5 pages. The six items in each item set can only be answered based on the information in the vignette. Hence, the items are not free-standing (as in Level I), but are drawn from the vignette. You will need to read the vignette before answering the items, and you will need to refer back to the vignette for information. The six items can be answered independently of each other, but they do require information in the vignette. On the Level II exam, you will have a total of 120 items (20 vignettes with 6 items each) compared to 240 multiple choice items on the Level I exam. The exam formats (including the essays at Level III) adapt to the changing topic focus and learning focus at each level. The topic focus on Level I is on investment tools, the topic focus on Level II is on asset valuation, and the topic focus on Level III is on portfolio management. The learning focus also changes, from knowledge and comprehension (Level I), to application and analysis (Level II), to synthesis and evaluation (Level III). The Level II and III exams are graded for 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam. The 120 Level II items are equally weighted, 3 points each, with no penalty for guessing. At Level III, the morning essay exam is 180 points and the afternoon item set exam is 180 points. While you are taking the Level I multiple choice exam, remember:

Read the formatting conventions for writing multiple choice questions at Level I. These same best practices are followed for item sets questions at Levels II and III. Expect to go slower on the Level II exam than on Level I. You are answering 50 percent fewer questions, but spending twice as much time thinking about each one (including time for reading and analyzing the vignettes).

You may mark up your exam book. Circle or underline important information in the vignette and write down your equations or logic. However, only your final answers recorded on the answer sheets are graded.

Mark your answers on the answer sheet as you complete each question. Some candidates mark their answers in the exam book and wait until the end of the exam to complete the answer sheet. This is not an advisable strategy.

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If you do not know the answer to a question: You might be able to eliminate one or more choices based on what you know about the topic. There is no penalty for guessing. Use reasoning and logic. The concepts that you know on one topic often apply to another topic.

Expect to encounter questions that you will not be able to answer correctly . There is a great deal of material to master and exam questions are challenging. Standard setters and the Board of Governors (at all three levels) take account of exam difficulty in setting Minimum Passing Scores. For a full description of how the MPS is established, see The CFA Program: Our Fifth Decade (PDF). Essay

About the Level III Essay Questions


The Level III essay exam is given in the morning session and has a maximum score of 180 points. The essay exam typically has 1015 questions, and questions may have multiple parts. The points for each question and each question part are given in the exam.

Each essay question consists of one or more parts (A, B, C, etc.). Some parts will direct you to write your answer in a template. Instructions in bold print immediately following the question will direct you to the page number of each template. All other questions should be answered on the lined page(s) following the question. For these questions, label each part of your answer clearly (A, B, C, or i, ii, iii, etc.)

If you use all of the designated lined pages, extra lined pages are provided at the back of the book. To use these pages, place a check mark in the box at the bottom of the last page designated for that answer and label the extra pages with the appropriate question number The following are some general tips for Level III candidates on the essay exam:

The published guideline answers on past essay exams are more complete and better written than actual exam answers that receive full credit. The published guideline answers may not reflect all alternative approachesto the question that received full or partial credit. Answers are graded only on content. They are not graded for language and style. Use short phrases and bullet points to save time, but be sure your meaning is clear. Handwriting is rarely so poor that the answer cannot be graded. Points are awarded for direct answers to a question. No points are awarded for general knowledge that is not responsive to the question. Do not spend too much time writing an answer. This is particularly tempting when you know the topic well. Formulate a direct response to the command words, and use the amount of time allotted.

You should expect to encounter questions that you will not be able to answer correctly. There is a great deal of material to master and exam questions are challenging. Standard setters and the Board of Governors (at all three levels) take account of exam difficulty in setting Minimum Passing Scores. For a full description of how the MPS is established, see The CFA Program: Our Fifth Decade (PDF). Review the essay question format details The following are common reasons that graders give for poor candidate performance on the essay portion of the Level III:

Not responsive to command word list (list, define, etc.) Answered a question they wish they had been asked instead of the question that was asked. No work shown on a calculation question and the answer is incorrect. Hedged on questions that asked for a recommendation and justification (e.g., recommended A, but justified B). Neglected to answer part of the question (especially if a several part question). Note that you can still answer part E, even if you do not know the answer to part D. Content area experts spent too much time on their area of expertise, leaving too little time for weak areas. Providing more items or responses than requested. If a question asks for three factors, only the first three that you list will be graded.

CFA Exam ResultsJune 2011 CFA Exam Pass Rates



Level I: 39% Level II: 43% Level III: 51%

December 2010 CFA Exam Pass Rate

Level I: 36%

Exam Results Availability


Exam results are reported to candidates as "pass" or "fail" within 90 days (60 days for Level I and Level II) of the exam date. You must attend both sessions or your exam will not be graded and you will not receive results. If you do not sit for the morning session, you will not be permitted to sit for the afternoon session. Individual candidate results are only released to the candidate and are never released to a third party; however, lists of passing candidates are provided to societies for membership purposes. Print a copy of your results as a permanent record. Results will be available for approximately one year after the exam date. Subsequently, an official letter can be provided indicating only a pass or fail result; the analysis grid will not be available.

View the June exam results timeline (PDF)

View the December exam results timeline (PDF)

Exam Scores
The minimum passing score (MPS) for each level of the exam is determined by the CFA Institute Board of Governors each year after the administration of the exams. Neither the MPS nor individual candidate scores have ever been released. To set the MPS before the administration of the exams would require that an absolute standard be applied without regard to the difficulty of the exams; this could potentially be very unfair to candidates, especially across time. The score matrix provided on the exam results is an indicator of overall performance and cannot be used to determine approximate scores or pass/fail status. The <=50% range is considered poor; 51%70% is considered poor to average; >70% is considered average to above average.

Guiding Principles for Setting the CFA Examination Minimum Passing Score (PDF) Learn more about the minimum passing score (MPS) and how exams are graded (PDF)

Exam Score Retabulation

If you are not satisfied with your exam results, you may request that your exam score be manually retabulated. Should you choose to request a retabulation, your request form and payment must be received within 30 days after results are released. The cost is US$100. Learn more and download the form (form is only available for 30 days after results are released; candidate login required). All exam materials, including answers, are the property of CFA Institute and will not be returned to you in either original or copied form.