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CFA Institute reveals much-anticipated Level III exam pass rate

The following post is by CFA Institute.

More than 172,000 people registered for one of the three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam on June 4. Today CFA Institute announced that of 28,884 candidates who sat for the Level III CFA exam in June 2016, 54 percent passed the third and final exam. For the Level II exam, 46 percent were successful and for the Level I exam, the pass rate was 43 percent.

According to Bill Trent, director of examination development for CFA Institute, the pass rates at all three levels are higher than in 2015, and at the high end of the 10-year range. “This suggests that candidates came well prepared this year,” Trent said.

The minimum score required to pass the exam varies slightly from year to year, reflecting the relative difficulty of the questions on the exam. “What is important is to maintain a consistent standard,” Trent notes. “The investment industry has evolved quite a bit since I earned my charter in 1999, but passing Level III still means the same thing: you have shown the required level of mastery of the knowledge, skills and abilities someone with 3-5 years of experience in the field ought to have.”

Although the passing score does vary somewhat, Trent says that candidates who earn 70% of the available points should feel confident of passing. CFA Institute also reports to candidates the range of their performance in each of the 10 topic areas. It is not necessary to score well in all 10 topics, as the total score is what counts. Strong performance in one area can offset weak performance in another.

For candidates who do not pass the exam, CFA Institute also reports a score band that indicates how close the candidate was to the passing score. “This is to help candidates decide whether to pursue a retake, and how they might want to change their study plans,” Trent says. “It could be frustrating to see you were really close, but also encouraging. And if you thought you could get away without studying hard, finding out you were pretty far away could tell you to step up your game.”