The CFA Level 1 results are in

In December, 52,315 aspiring finance buffs took the first level of the notoriously tough Chartered Financial Analyst exam.

Only 42% of them passed.

That’s in line with historical pass rates for Level I of the three-part exam.

In June, 42% of candidates passed the Level 1, while 44% passed last December’s test.

Level II and III exams are only offered once a year — in June.

Becoming a CFA charter holder is a huge leg up for anyone hoping to build a career in investment management. It’s also a much cheaper credential than an MBA degree. (The CFA costs $2,300 altogether, including registration fees and test fees.)

More people took the exam in December than ever before. The total was up 11% from the year before, and it was taken in 102 centres in 71 cities and 40 countries around the world. 

Level I tends to have the lowest pass rate of all three exams because that’s the stage where the amateurs are weeded out from the serious players. Only about one in five people who start the CFA program make it through all three levels and successfully complete the other requirements to become charter holders.

Successful candidates often put in up to 300 hours of study per exam. The more than 22,000 people who passed this time around can now move onto Level II.

Here are the historical pass rates dating back to 1963 from the CFA Institute:

Historical CFA Results

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