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CFA Institute Opens Registration For Last Paper-Based Level I CFA Program Exam

Computer-based testing for Level I begins in 2021

New York City, United States 04 Feb 2020

CFA Institute, the global association of investment management professionals, announces that the opening of registration for the December 2020 Level I Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) exam on 5 February will represent the final time candidates can register to take the Level I exam on paper. Beginning in February 2021, CFA Institute will commence with computer-based testing for Level I, as previously announced in March 2019.

“This milestone represents a logical progression in our transition to computer-based testing and is in keeping with global testing best practices,” said Margaret Franklin, CFA, President and CEO, CFA Institute. “Our new digital testing capabilities will better reflect the workplace practices of today, while allowing us to modernize the exam and increase access to more candidates around the globe. In doing so, our highest priority is to uphold the integrity, rigor, and value of the world-renowned CFA Program.”

CFA Institute first began planning for the transition in 2016 and embarked on an in-depth analysis as part of a multi-year initiative entitled “Future of Exam Delivery.” Following a global procurement process, CFA Institute selected Prometric, the global leader in service excellence for the testing and assessment industry, as its primary vendor for the move to computer-based testing.

With the launch of computer-based testing in February 2021, candidates will sit for the exam in secure test centers with strict security and proctoring. Level I will include the following changes: four testing windows throughout the year (February, May, August, November) with up to a seven-day window for testing. This will provide more flexibility for candidates -- and the investment firms who employ them -- to schedule the exams around their work schedules. CFA Institute expects faster processing of exam results.

With the transition to computer-based testing, CFA Institute will implement a change in exam length. The Level I CFA Program exam will be reduced from 240 to 180 questions, resulting in a proportional reduction in exam length. 

“CFA Institute invested in independent psychometric research to inform this transition. It clearly showed that a shorter exam would not affect our ability to reliably determine who has demonstrated the required competency to pass the exam,” said Lisa Plaxco, CFA, Head of the CFA Program. “This change will not impact the passing standard, the integrity, or the rigor of the exam.”

“We encourage all candidates to consider their upcoming options for taking Level I,” said Plaxco. “For those who want to take the exam on paper, December 2020 will be the last opportunity. Following that, we look forward to giving our candidates around the globe more scheduling flexibility in 2021 and beyond with the adoption of computer-based testing.”

In order to become a charterholder, candidates must pass all three levels of the exam and complete work-experience requirements before, during, or after participation in CFA Program. Fewer than one in five candidates who begin the process go on to earn the charter. There are more than 170,000 CFA charterholders worldwide. Levels II and III remain as paper-based exams.

For more information, see:

March 2019 press release: https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/about/press-releases/2019/cfa-program-digital-transition

FAQs: https://info.cfainstitute.org/Transition-to-computer-based-testing.html

CFA Program: https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/programs/cfa

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 170,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 162 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide, and there are 158 local member societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFAInstitute and on Facebook.com/CFAInstitute.