CFA Level I Pass Rate Drops to 35%

(Bloomberg) — The pass rate for the first level of the chartered financial analyst exam fell further below its historic average, another sign that test-takers are still dealing with disruptions that became common after the Covid-19 outbreak.

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In November, 35% of candidates passed the Level I test, down from 37% for those who sat for the exam in August and 39% in May, the CFA Institute said Tuesday. That’s the lowest pass rate since 2021, when results hit record lows across all levels of the CFA exam as performance was hurt by test-taking deferrals following the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s also below the 40% average for the past decade, according to the institute.

Though rates were starting to trend back toward historic averages, the latest results show the impact of those disruptions hasn’t subsided completely. The CFA Institute continues to attribute the Level I pass-rate decline to exam deferrals. Candidates are more likely to benefit from their earlier studies and retain their study material if they stay on schedule for taking their tests, according to the institute.

“Prior exam deferrals impacted results for many candidates again,” Chris Wiese, managing director for education at the institute, said in a statement. “Some Level I candidates choose to defer their exams, and this continues to impact the overall pass rate.”

Almost 29,000 candidates sat for the Level I exam in November, which was administered at 480 testing centers around the world. Historically, the institute offered the exam on paper, but transitioned to computer-based testing during the pandemic.

Those who took Level II of the exam in November are scheduled to receive their results next week, the institute said.

(Updates with details on deferrals in second, third paragraphs.)

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