CFA Program Level I Exam Details

For Registered Candidates

Some of the items you'll review when preparing for the Level I exam:

Exam Structure and Timing

Structure: The Level I exam consists of 240 multiple choice questions, split among two 3-hour sessions. Candidates must attend both sessions.

  • Morning session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics
  • Afternoon session (3 hours): 120 multiple choice questions, covering all topics

Timing: On average you should allow approximately 90 seconds for each multiple choice question. You may need more or less time, depending on the question and how well you understand the topic.

Exam Question Format

Multiple Choice Questions

Each item on the Level I multiple choice exam consists of a question, a statement, and/or table and three answer choices: A, B, and C.

Two basic formats are used:

  1. Sentence completion with three unique choices
  2. Questions with three unique choices

Example 1 (Sentence completion)
An analyst suspects that a particular company’s U.S. GAAP financial statements may require adjustment because the company uses take-or-pay contracts. The most likely effect of the appropriate adjustments would be to increase that company’s

A. return on assets.
B. debt-to-equity ratio.
C. interest coverage ratio.

Example 2 (Question)
An analyst suspects that a particular company’s U.S. GAAP financial statements may require adjustment because the company uses take-or-pay contracts. Which of the following is most likely to increase as a result of the appropriate adjustments being made to that company’s financial statements?

A. Return on assets.
B. Debt-to-equity ratio.
C. Interest coverage ratio.

All questions are equally weighted and there is no penalty for an incorrect answer.

More details referencing item stem and item construction (PDF).

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Examples of Level I Exam Questions

Below are some examples of Level I questions, but remember: the exam is based on the current curriculum. You can expect to see similar questions in terms of structure, format and level of difficulty, but don't expect to see the same questions repeated on future exams.

Examples of Level I exam multiple choice questions (PDF)

Already registered for the next Level I exam? Login to access your practice topic tests and mock exam.

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2016 Exam Topics and Study Session Outlines

2016 Level I Study Sessions combined | 2016 Level I Study Sessions index

Ethical and Professional Standards
Exam Weight: 15%
Quantitative Methods
Exam Weight: 12%
Economics
Exam Weight: 10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis
Exam Weight: 20%
Corporate Finance
Exam Weight: 7%
Portfolio Management
Exam Weight: 7%
Equity Investments
Exam Weight: 10%
Fixed Income
Exam Weight: 10%
Derivatives
Exam Weight: 5%
Alternative Investments
Exam Weight: 4%

2017 Exam Topics and Study Session Outlines

2017 Level I Study Sessions index | 2017 Level I Study Sessions combined

Ethical and Professional Standards
Exam Weight: 15%
Quantitative Methods
Exam Weight: 12%
Economics
Exam Weight: 10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis
Exam Weight: 20%
Corporate Finance
Exam Weight: 7%
Portfolio Management
Exam Weight: 7%
Equity
Exam Weight: 10%
Fixed Income
Exam Weight: 10%
Derivatives
Exam Weight: 5%
Alternative Investments
Exam Weight: 4%

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Examples of Tips for Taking the Level I Exam

  • Be comfortable with your calculator. Make sure you know how to use the calculator features needed to address the learning outcome statements (LOS).
  • Exam questions referring to Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA) are based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) unless otherwise specified. When a question is based on U.S. GAAP, it will be stated in the question.
  • Answer all questions: There is no penalty for incorrect answers.

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