- About 45% of the 77,000 December test-takers for the CFA Institute’s Level I exam passed.
- The exams are increasingly popular in Asia-Pacific, which had about 46,000 candidates in December – a 19% increase compared with last year.
- To accommodate the growth in Level I test-takers, Business Insider reported in November that the first round of exams will be offered electronically, allowing them to be administered more often.
One of finance’s most gruelling exams only continues to grow in popularity – and it’s just as difficult as ever to pass.
About 45% of the 77,245 candidates who took the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam in December passed, the CFA Institute said on Wednesday.
The test has seen explosive growth in Asia-Pacific in particular, which had about 46,000 candidates for December’s Level I exam, a 19% increase compared with the year earlier. About 24,000 of those candidates came from mainland China.
“As financial markets continue to develop and the growth in wealth continues to outpace developed economies, the need for investment management acumen is growing more strongly in APAC than other parts of the world,” Stephen Horan, the CFA Institute’s managing director of credentialing, told Business Insider.
The exam, which asks candidates questions on everything from financial modelling to the ethics of business, is considered one of the most difficult tests in the world. Less than 50% of people pass each year. The Level I exam is administered in both June and December, with 43% of candidates passing Level I in June. The second and third exams are only given in June.
To meet the rising demand, the CFA Institute plans to move the Level I exam online, Business Insider reported in November. The test, currently offered in June and December, would also be administered more often. To be clear, test-takers would still need to head to physical locations for the exam, but the paper test would be replaced with an online one.
Test-takers could see different types of questions through online exams than the paper tests allow. For example, an online format offers more options to incorporate spreadsheets into questions, Anne O’Brien, the CFA Institute’s head of communications, said in an interview.
The CFA Institute is still finding vendors for online exam administration, so the changes are a few years away, O’Brien said.
Only about one in five people who start the CFA program make it through all three levels and complete the other requirements to become a charter holder. It takes most CFA charterholders about four years to finish the program.
Overall, there are more than 159,000 CFA charterholders worldwide.
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