[Updated May 2023 CFA Exam - details below. To help us with our assessment, please send a PDF of your results toRezultati@300hours.com.]
This article describes the minimum passing grade. forPassing the CFA exam, look atthis articleinstead of that.
Important Note: Do not use our MPS assessments as a basis for requesting a CFA Institute reexamination.Our MPS estimate is just an estimate– No results will be achieved by using our MPS estimates to challenge your results. Your individual MPS may also vary.
What is the passing score for CFA?
Unfortunately, the CFA Institute does not publish an official minimum passing score (MPS), which varies by exam. We understand why CFA Institute does this.
However, since 2012, with the help of our readers, we have been evaluating the MPS for the CFA exam as a mental exercise. We do this because it is useful for CFA candidates to have a target range of scores when taking practice exams.
Without further ado, here's everything you need to know about the CFA Pass Score: what it is, how it's determined, and our MPS assessments for all CFA exams since 2012.
- What is the minimum passing score (MPS) for the CFA exam?
- Do candidates have to pass the MPS to pass each subject or do they only need to pass the general exam?
- How is a passing grade for the CFA determined?
- Why does the CFA Institute not publish a minimum passing score for each level?
- Passing Scores at All CFA Levels: Our Predictions Based on 2012-2023 Data.
- 2012-2023. CFA level 1 passing score (assessed)
- 2012-2022. CFA level 2 passing score (assessed)
- 2012-2022. CFA level 3 passing score (assessed)
- My results don't seem to match your MPS estimates!
- Help us with our MPS research by sending us a PDF of your results!
What is the minimum passing score (MPS) for the CFA exam?
Simply put, the minimum passing score (MPS) is the lowest score a candidate can get if they pass the CFA exam.
It is not published by CFA Institute.
This should not be used withCFA passIt is published annually, is usually smaller and represents the percentage of candidates who have passed a particular exam.
Do candidates have to pass the MPS to pass each subject or do they only need to pass the general exam?
There is no passing grade for a specific course.
So as long as your total score exceeds the minimum passing score, you should pass.
How is a passing grade for the CFA determined?
In the beginning, the MPS was a simple formula - 70% of the candidates with the best score that year. If the highest scoring candidate scored 90%, the MPS would be 70% * 90% = 63%.
Some candidates still mistakenly believe that this is how MPS is determined today.
Currently, the MPS is determined by a customized methodology designed by the CFA Institute, and one of the main inputs is a series of workshops based on the Angoff model.
Here is how the MPS is determined for each level:
- A large and diverse group of CFA charterholders individually evaluates the entire exam question by question and makes an assessment of the performance of the candidates who have just passed. In other words, by imagining a candidate they think is good enough to pass, they estimate the likelihood that the candidate will answer the question correctly.
- After all evaluations are completed, the charter owner reviews the candidate's actual performance and repeats the evaluation process again.
- A psychometrician supervised the whole process, and the results of this workshop were the main reference (but not the final conclusion) for formulating the MPS.
- Then the CFA Institute Board of Directors put all the information on the table. Taking into account all available information, including recommendations from the Angoff workshop (most important entry), thereforeMPS makes the final decision. The goal is to set a consistent level of competence over the years.
As a result, you performed better than what the CFA Institute defines as a "just right" candidate.
This may be indirectly affected by the performance of candidates taking the same exam as you, but it is definitely not the main driver. So statements like "pull the curve down" are not entirely accurate.
Chris Wiese, director of exam development at the CFA Institute, succinctly summarized the standards development process:
Why does the CFA Institute not publish a minimum passing score for each level?
The CFA Institute's position is that certification programs are designed to measure whether a candidate possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform a specific job function.
They are not intended to indicate the relative performance of these skills.
Although the MPS may vary from year to year depending on the difficulty of the questions asked, it is intended to be a consistent base of required knowledge, skills and abilities.
The focus of MPS publishing is on cracking certain "scores" rather than gaining the knowledge needed to become a qualified financial professional.
Is CFA Institute correct?
We think the CFA Institute's reasoning makes sense. The exam is only one part of the CFA Institute, and with that in mind, it makes sense to de-emphasize the desire to compare CFA charters and different exam years by MPS and/or actual scores. Of course, that doesn't stop candidates from wondering!
Will CFA Institute change this policy in the future?
This is unlikely.We have previously discussed this issue with the CFA InstituteThey replied: "Among other things, this serves to prevent people (such as employers) from comparing candidates based on scores and to maintain a consistent benchmark over the years.“
Passing Scores at All CFA Levels: Our Predictions Based on 2012-2023 Data.
So why do we evaluate MPS?
- Because as former candidates, we also understand the need for a target score when preparing for the CFA exam.
- Because thanks to our fantastic reader input, we have collective information that no one else needs to collect.
- Because we are curious.
Before starting the CFA Institutenew result formatIn June 2018, respondents were not given grades, but were given "grade categories" (0-50%, 51-70%, 71-100%) in each subject area.
To evaluate MPS, we analyzed thousands of actual, detailed, self-reported candidate outcomes. We can derive MPS by considering extreme cases, namely
- Candidates who passed despite poor grades in the subject area, and;
- Candidates who failed despite a grade of good or good in the subject area
We believe that our method is very robust and the accuracy becomes higher the more cases we analyze.
althoughnow reports different results, we develop a new method to estimate MPS. We prefer to keep things under wraps for now, but we believe our new method is just as robust as the old one, if not better.
So here we go:
2012-2023. CFA level 1 passing score (assessed)
We estimate the MPS range for CFA Level 1 from 2012 to 2023 to be 56%-74%, with an 11-year average of 64%.The latest estimated MPS for CFA Level 1 (ie the May 2023 exam) is estimated to be approximately 69%.
The latest estimated MPS for the upcoming CFA Level 1 exam is:
- May 2023: 69%
- February 2023: 69%
- November 2022: 67%
fromIntroduction of computer-based testing (CBT), with the exception of the most recent exams in May and August 2022, our MPS estimates are consistently above 70%.
The CFA Institute's official guidelines state that the minimum passing score reflects the score that a "qualified" candidate can achieve, which should be consistent across calendar years, whether it's 2010, 2015, or 2020. So if the MPS experiences a gradual change to 70+%,This meansCBT Exam FormatEasier to grade than the old paper format.
Aiming for the target used to be good advice for candidates.The result of the simulation is 70%. We expect this to continue and 2021 to be an outstanding value, based on the latest MPS estimates.
While we have seen some evidence that CFA Level 1 transients are reverting to long-term averages, until more data emerges, we would be cautious in recommending targeting a lower MPS.
Why are February 2021, March 2021 and April 2021 merged together?
When we did our MPS analysis of the March and April 2021 CFA exams, we realized that the MPS, 90%, 10%, and topic weights were the same as for the February 2021 exam, so we grouped them into one exam. This means:
- February 2021, March 2021 and April 2021 use the same exam or the same combination of subject percentages or the same question bank
- February 2021, March 2021, and April 2021 use the same applicant cohort to determine MPS, 90th percentile, and 10th percentile. March 2021 and April 2021 are probably just using the February 2021 talent pool, which statistically should be fine since there are more applicants in February 2021.
2012-2022. CFA level 2 passing score (assessed)
We estimate that the MPS for CFA Level 2 will be between 60% and 71% from 2012 to 2023, with a 10-year average of 65%.The latest estimated MPS for CFA Level 2 are:
- May 2023 = 70%
- November 2022 = 62.0%
- August 2022 = 68.0%
MPS CFA Level 2 valuations have risen significantly since 2021 and remain high. Although that number fell in November 2022, it looks like it will return to high levels in May 2023. It will be interesting to see if this lower MPS threshold holds - and my hunch - it looks like it will.
If you are preparing for CFA Level 2, my advice is to aim for a high passing score. Don't expect a low MPS - that seems unlikely these days.
Permanent change or Covid/CBT flash? Now, who knows? We will always evaluate and publish MPS estimates as they become available, so we will have a clearer picture when we get more data.
We were not able to get as much data as we didLevel 2 exams are held three times a year, but in future exams we will see a pattern emerge to see ifThe CFA Institute says it's temporary, and rightfully so. But for added security, make sureAim for slightly higher scores for your simulations.
2012-2022. CFA level 3 passing score (assessed)
We estimate the MPS range for CFA Level 3 to be 55%-62% from 2012 to 2023, with a 10-year average of 58.7%.
The latest estimated MPS for CFA Level 3 (ie February 2023 exam) is estimated to be approximately 62%. (To help us narrow down the selection, send your Level 3 results toRezultati@300hours.com！）
Important note about L3 MPS accuracy:Since the changes in computer-based testing (and the fact that the CFA Institute only distributes detailed scores to candidates who fail L3), the MPS L3 assessment requires more work and has a larger margin of error - the weights vary too much to produce extremely accurate results. However, we do our best.
Assessment of MPS after CBT has been mixed. The August 2021 MPS estimate is significantly lower than May 2021, which is a record low but less unusual compared to historical data. By May 2022, the situation appears to have "recovered" - but at this stage we don't have enough data to draw firm conclusions.
However, transience is another story:Recent pass rates for Level 3 have fallen to 39-42% (May 2021 – November 2021), which shows that betweenChange to computerized testing formatiRevised test plan, ovoThe CFA Level 3 exam may be more difficult to pass than ever. Additionally, CFA Level 3 pass rates also show a return to historical averages.
We reached out to the CFA Institute for comment and received this response:
"Unfortunately, the number of candidates who passed all levels in May was lower than we expected given historical passing trends. While some of the affected candidates were able to pass,We believe that the disrupted nature of deferred candidates' studies is reflected in the overall pass rate at all three levels.
All exams are constructed using industry best practice psychometric data and detailed exam designs. The difficulty of individual exams can vary slightly and we adjust the minimum passing score to compensate, but usually the adjustment required is small - usually just a few points. The difficulty of the May exam is consistent with previous exams, whether it's a paper and pencil test or the computer-based test that was introduced in February this year for the Level 1 exam.
Computer-based tests are neither harder nor easier than paper-based tests. We use robust statistical analysis and processes to ensure that the "standard" of administration remains the same with each exam, and we use proven psychometrician techniques to ensure that the exam is neither easy nor difficult as it takes place in a computer-based environment. As we transition to computer-based testing, we have made every effort to ensure the continued integrity of the exam and the CFA Charter. In short, computer tests are neither harder nor easier. "The CFA Institute announces the results of the CFA Level 3 exam on May 21
My results don't seem to match your MPS estimates!
The computer-based CFA exam is not the same for every candidate, so individual exams may vary in difficulty.
When this happens, the MPS for that particular exam is also adjusted. Our MPS estimate is an aggregate value, so your MPS may be higher or lower than our "typically a few points" estimate.
See related quotes from CFA Institute:
All exams are constructed using industry best practice psychometric data and detailed exam designs.Individual exams can vary slightly in difficulty and we adjust the minimum passing score to compensate, but usually the adjustment required is small - usually just a few points.
So you might be right in thinking that MPS is right for your situation.
Help us with our MPS research by sending us a PDF of your results!
In order for this research to continue, we need your help in evaluating the future MPS for each exam level.
All you have to do is send the PDF to the addressRezultati@300hours.com. thanks for your help!
Send a PDF of your results to 300Hours
We understand the trust you place in us in doing so and will not share your information with anyone else and will only use it to perform anonymous analysis to continue helping current and future CFA exam candidates.
Prayer for your results day!
In the meantime, here are some related articles you might be interested in:
- When will my CFA ratings be released?
- Key deadlines and important dates for the CFA exam
- CFA Journey Planner: Planning Your CFA Registration
- How to interpret your CFA scorecard
- Get it now and customize your free CFA study plan
We estimated that CFA Level 3's MPS ranged from 55%-62% from 2012-2023, with an 10 year average of 58.7%. The latest estimated MPS for CFA Level 3 (i.e. Feb 2023 exams) is estimated to be around 62%. (To help us narrow this down, send your Level 3 result to firstname.lastname@example.org!)What is a passing grade on the CFA? ›
This is considered a borderline MPS line score since general passing rates are around the 70% mark. However, the actual passing rate isn't released by the CFA Institute. This means that scores under the 70% score range can still pass depending on test difficulty.What is the MPS score for CFA Level 1? ›
CFA® Level I MPS
CFA® Exam I minimum passing scores (MPS) over the past ten years range from 56% to 74%. The MPS for CFA® Level I in 2022 was estimated at 69%, while in 2021, you had to meet a 72% MPS to become a chartered financial analyst.
The 90th percentile and 10th percentile lines
Given that the pass rate for the CFA exams are about 40%, this means about 1 in 4 passing candidates would perform above the 90th percentile line. 10% of candidates for that exam performed below the 10th percentile line, or about 1 in 6 failing candidates.
However, with each failed attempt, the chances of abandonment increase, and passing Level II plays a crucial psychological role in winning the battle for the CFA designation. Absorbing the curriculum and body of knowledge is key to advancing in the CFA program and earning your charter.How many people fail CFA? ›
Since 2014, the historical CFA pass rates for: Level 1 ranges from 22%-49%, with a 12-year average of 40%; Level 2 ranges from 29%-55%, with a 12-year average of 45%; Level 3 ranges from 39%-56%, with a 12-year average of 50%.Can you pass CFA with 50%? ›
If you are from the top 45% of candidates then you will certainly pass the exam, even if your score is between 65–70 Percent. If you have scored 70% plus in most weighted subjects and average 50% in other you will manage to pass. Is CFA ethics same for all years? For the most part, Yes!What is a good CFA score? ›
Air Force Academy CFA Considerations
Strive for a percentile score of at least 50%. The higher the better.
Overall, less than 11% of all candidates pass all three levels of the exam and earn their charter. So, in short, yes, the exam is brutally hard. This low overall passage rate can be partially attributable to the time commitment required to make it through all three levels.Is passing CFA Level 1 a big deal? ›
Having cleared level 1 it's much better than nothing. You could say it give you a little edge, but just a little one, as there are thousands of "levels 1" out there. In this case I do believe that something is better than nothing. You will learn some things though.