Starting from year 2021, all the levels of the CFA Program will shift from paper-based (PBT) to computer-based testing (CBT). This means the last paper-based test will be offered in December 2020. This is a significant move by CFA Institute to provide smaller group sizes, better social distancing, easier scheduling with more locations, and less uncertainty about planning for our candidates.
Previously, the paper-based CFA Level I exam used to take place in June and December each year. The Level II and Level III exams used to take place only in June every year. Starting from the year 2021, the Level I computer-based exam will be offered four times per year. The Level II and Level III computer-based exam will be offered two times per year. Moving to computer-based testing and more frequent scheduling in a year will provide candidates the operational flexibility to quickly and reliably adjust to the changing landscape in response to either global or local situations; particularly relevant in a COVID-19 impacted world. This will also enable CFA Institute to retire single-day test administration in favor of more convenient, socially distant computer-based test administration. Doing this offers options for candidates around the globe by increasing the number of exam administrations for every level, providing multi-day exam windows to eliminate the practice of all candidates sitting in a single day, and a broader footprint of test areas to improve flexibility.
Highlights of the Announcement
- Starting from 2021, all the levels of the CFA Program will be computer based tests.
- The June 2021 Level II and III paper-based administration will not proceed.
- There will be no more June exams for any level.
- The Level I computer-based exam will be offered four times per year.
- The Level II and Level III computer-based exam will be offered two times per year.
- Candidates will not be permitted to test in adjacent windows. This means, for example, a Level I candidate who takes the February 2021 administration and does not pass may not sit again until the August administration. Or, a Level II candidate who passes the exam during the August administration will not be able to sit for Level III until the May 2022 administration.
- There will be 10-day exam windows instead of one uniform date.
- The total testing time for all levels is reduced to approximately 4.5 hours from existing 6 hours. The number of questions will be reduced so that candidates will have the same average time per question that they had under paper-based testing.
- Topic weights have not been altered. Percentage ranges for each level can be found on the CFA Institute website.
- The CBT examinations will now include a few trial questions on each examination that will not contribute to a candidate’s score. These will appear randomly during the exam and candidates will have no way of knowing which questions are scored and which are trial questions. The time to complete experimental questions is included within total testing time and so the trial questions do not reduce the average time candidates have available to complete scored questions.
- The exam format will remain the same. The Level I exam will continue to be in a multiple-choice format. Level II and Level III will use the same item set (vignettes) and essay format (Level III) used for the paper-based exams. The total number of item sets on the exam might vary slightly.
- The December exam schedule for the current year (2020) will remain the same.
The December 2020 Exam Schedule
|Region||Dec 5, 2020||Dec 6, 2020|
|EMEA & AMER||All Levels||N/A|
|APAC||Level I Exam||Level II & III Exam|
The 2021 CBT Exam Schedule
|CFA Exam||Level I||Level II||Level III|
Exam Schedule for Year 2022 and Onwards
|CFA Exam||Level I||Level II||Level III|
Relevant for Dec Candidates and June 2020 Postponed Candidates
- All candidates who have registered for – what is now – the final paper-based exam in December 2020 may stay with this option or switch to any of the available 2021 computer‑based administrations.
- Candidates who have registered for June may revert to the December 2020 paper-based exam or select any of the available 2021 computer‑based options.
- If you were postponed from June 2020 and the exam you subsequently registered for is postponed as well, you will have the option to defer again or to request a refund.
- Postponed candidates have until 20 October to register for an exam. If you do not choose an alternate date before 21 October, your deferral will be void.
- Postponed candidates may register for the December 2020 paper-based exam until registration closes on 19 August.
- Postponed candidates may choose any Level I computer-based exam in 2021.
- Registration is currently open for the February Level I exam. Registration will be open on 20 August for all levels and all dates for 2021 computer‑based exams.
Exam Registration Options
|Options for Candidates||Level I Exam||Level II Exam||Level III Exam|
|For June 2020 Postponed Candidates who not yet registered(Registration window Aug 4, 2020-Oct 20, 2020)||-Dec 2020 PBT (Registration closes 19 Aug)-Feb 2021 CBT-May 2021 CBT-Aug 2021 CBT-Nov 2021 CBT||-Dec 2020 PBT (Registration closes 19 Aug)-May 2021 CBT-Aug 2021 CBT||-Dec 2020 PBT (Registration closes 19 Aug)-May 2021 CBT-Nov 2021 CBT|
|For Registered Dec Candidates(If you want to change exam date, you may register changes between Aug 4, 2020-Oct 20, 2020)||-Dec 2020 PBT (No Action Required)-Feb 2021 CBT-May 2021 CBT-Aug 2021 CBT-Nov 2021 CBT||-Dec 2020 PBT (No Action Required)-May 2021 CBT-Aug 2021 CBT||-Dec 2020 PBT (No Action Required)-May 2021 CBT-Nov 2021 CBT|
|Currently registered Feb Candidates||-Feb 2021 CBT(No Action Required)||N/A||N/A|
|If you are currently registered for June 2021 Exam(Choose a new exam ASAP; Select Dec 2020 exam by Aug 19 or register for a CBT exam between Aug 4, 2020-Oct 20, 2020)||-Dec 2020 PBT (Registration closes 19 Aug)-May 2021 CBT-Aug 2021 CBT||-Dec 2020 PBT (Registration closes 19 Aug)-May 2021 CBT-Nov 2021 CBT|
Potential Path for a CFA Level I Candidate
Potential Path for a CFA Level II Candidate
Potential Path for a CFA Level III Candidate
Candidates will not be able to register for adjacent windows. For example, a Level I candidate who takes the February 2021 administration and does not pass may not sit again until the August administration. Or, a Level II candidate who passes the exam during the August administration will not be able to sit for Level III until the May 2022 administration.
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