CFA Program Policies

To protect the integrity of the CFA Program and ensure the exam process is fair for all candidates, we enforce the following policies and procedures. Failure to comply may result in voiding of your exam results and suspension or termination of your candidacy in the CFA Program. Find out some of the more common accidental exam rule violations and how to avoid them (PDF).

It is your responsibility to read and understand all testing policies set forth by the CFA Program. Testing personnel will report to CFA Institute any violations of testing rules or policies that occur during the exam. Learn more about misconduct and rules violations.

Testing Policies

Admission and Departure Policy

Admission and Departure Policy

You must present your international travel passport and one copy of your admission ticket, printed on clean, unused paper, to be admitted into the test center. Your ticket is only valid for the test center and exam date listed.

  • We close the testing room doors before the timed portion of each exam session begins. Arrive at the test center at least one hour early so you can complete check-in before we close the doors.
    • If you arrive after the doors are closed you will not be allowed to enter until after the instructions have been read. Instructions will not be repeated, and no additional testing time will be granted.
    • If you arrive more than 30 minutes after the start of the timed portion of the exam session, you will not be permitted to take the exam and you will forfeit your registration fee.
  • You must remain seated in the designated, secure, proctored test area during the exam, including when the instructions are being read, until all candidates are dismissed. Brief water and toilet breaks are permitted within the secure area. 
    • Early departures are not permitted. If you leave the testing room before you are dismissed by testing personnel, you will not be allowed to re-enter and you may be subject to a professional conduct investigation and disciplinary sanctions. 
  • The official time on exam day is the time announced by the designated proctor.
  • If you do not sit for the morning session, you cannot sit for the afternoon session. You must sit for both the morning and afternoon sessions or you will not receive an exam result.

Answer Sheet and Exam Book Policy

Answer Sheet/Exam Book Policy

It is your responsibility to complete the answer sheet and/or complete the essay book in accordance with the instructions. You must bring appropriate pens or pencils on exam day. 

For the multiple-choice or item-set questions, your score is determined solely by how your marks are read by the scanning equipment. Marks made by a writing instrument other than a No. 2 or HB, or marks that do not completely fill the oval may not be read by the scanning equipment. For the essay portion of the exam, it is strongly recommended that you use a No. 2 or HB pencil or a blue or black ink pen. 

For Level I, Level II, and the item-set portion of Level III, answers written in the exam book are not graded. For the essay portion of Level III, only answers written on the designated answer page for each question part are graded. Answers written on answer pages designated for other question parts, question pages, or pages marked “This Page Intentionally Left Blank,” are not graded. 

You must not open, read, or work on the exam before being instructed to do so by testing personnel. You must not write or erase after being instructed to stop writing. You will be given new exam materials for each session; your morning exam material will not be returned to you in the afternoon.

You are permitted to do scratch work only in the exam book. You may not remove any pages from the book, including pages marked “This Page Intentionally Left Blank.” You may not use your desk, table covering, hand, paper, admission ticket, or any other surface as scratch paper. 

Calculator Policy

Calculator Policy

Only two calculator models are authorized for use during CFA Program exams:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional)
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)

Bring the approved calculator with you on exam day; calculators will not be available at the test center. You may not borrow from or share a calculator with another candidate during the exam.

Find a Texas Instruments calculator distributor or purchase online.

Find a Hewlett Packard calculator distributor or purchase online.

CFA Institute does not profit from the sales of these calculators and does not endorse, warrant, or guarantee the calculators or any other products or services provided by these distributors.

Your calculator will be inspected prior to the start of the exam. Your calculator must remain on your desk in full view and proctors will continue to inspect calculators throughout the administration of the exam. Failure by the proctors to detect an unauthorized calculator prior to the start of the exam, or your possession and/or use of an unauthorized calculator at any time during the exam, does not imply you are in compliance with the calculator policy.

Calculator covers, keystroke cards, and loose batteries are permitted in the testing room; instruction manuals are not. You may keep a small screwdriver with you if necessary to replace batteries in the BA II Plus.

Identification Policy

CFA Program Identification Policy

A valid international travel passport is the only form of identification accepted for the CFA Program. This policy establishes one global standard we use to confirm the identity of our candidates.

A valid international travel passport

  • Is issued by a national government which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, your identity and nationality (learn more about unacceptable forms of identification);
  • Is an original document (photocopies are not allowed) and is current (not expired);
  • Contains your name,* date of birth, passport number, expiration date, and the name of the country that issued the passport;
  • Is machine readable** (handwritten passports will not be accepted); and
  • Includes a recognizable photograph on the passport data page.

See how the information above appears on your passport

*Acceptable Name Variations

Name on Passport
Name on Admission Ticket
Doe Maria Jane Maria Jane Doe
Maria Jane Doe Jane Maria Doe
Maria Jane Doe
Maria Jane Doé
Maria Jane Doe

**The United Nations agency ICAO has determined that all non machine-readable passports are considered expired as of 24 November 2015. Therefore, international travel passports that are not machine-readable (including handwritten passports) will be considered invalid for entry into the CFA exam. Please note: A machine readable passport has two lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (<<<<<) at the bottom of the data page (the page containing your photo and personal information) of your passport. See sample passport below.

When do you need your international travel passport?

  • When you register for the exam (you must present and/or verify your passport information); and
  • During check-in for both the morning and afternoon sessions on exam day.

If the name, passport number, and expiration date on your passport do not exactly match the information printed on your admission ticket or you present an invalid ID, you will not be permitted to take the exam and you will forfeit your registration fee. Failure by proctors to detect an invalid ID does not imply that the ID is valid or that you will receive an exam result. More information about what to do if you can't obtain a passport (or will not have it on exam day).

What if your passport expires?

You can update the expiration date, passport number, and country of issuance in your account. All other identification changes, including name, must be updated by submitting an Name/Identification Change Form (PDF). Processing time is 3-5 business days upon receipt, with the exception of peak exam periods.

Sample passport

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about our identification policy.

Personal Belongings Policy

CFA Exam Personal Belongings Policy

You are strongly encouraged to leave your personal belongings at home or in your car. As a courtesy, your test center will have an area designated for personal belongings. If you must bring items to the test center, ensure they are clearly identifiable as many look the same, particularly mobile phones.

If proctors or security personnel find items in the testing room that are not permitted, they will be confiscated or placed in the personal belongings area. CFA Institute, testing personnel, the test center, and vendors are not responsible or liable for stolen, lost, misplaced, or damaged personal property in the personal belongings area or at the test center.

The following items must be kept on your desk:

  • Exam admission ticket
  • Valid international travel passport
  • Approved calculators
  • Approved writing instruments 

The following items may be kept on your desk, if needed:

  • Manual pencil sharpeners (no knives)
  • Erasers, with no paper holder or cover
  • Loose calculator batteries (no packaging) and screwdriver for battery replacement
  • Calculator cases and keystroke cards
  • Eyeglasses, but not the eyeglasses case
  • Earplugs
  • Wristwatches (analog and digital) with alarms and timers silenced; however, all smart watches are prohibited 

The following items are permitted in the testing room but must remain in your pockets or under your chair when not in use:

  • Wallet (money purse)
  • Medicine, tissues, and other necessary medical or personal items
  • Gum, hard candy, cough drops
  • Eyeglasses case
  • Keys

The following items are not permitted:

  • Food or drinks
  • Baggage of any kind, including transparent bags, backpacks, handbags, tote bags, briefcases, luggage, carrying cases, passport covers, or pencil cases
  • Study materials, including notes, papers, textbooks, or study guides
  • Scratch paper, present/future value tables, or calculator manuals
  • Highlighters, correction fluid, correction tape, or rulers
  • Weapons of any kind
  • Mobile phones, cameras, headsets, computers, tablets, wearable technology (such as fitbit® or other fitness tracking devices), smart watches, or any Bluetooth®-enabled or any remote communication or photographic devices
  • Any type of desk clock or timer

Registration Policies

CFA Program Refund Policy

CFA Program Refund Policy

A full refund of your enrollment and registration fees is available within two (2) business days of payment if you change your mind. Due to fluctuating exchange rates outside our control, we cannot guarantee that the exact amount paid to CFA Institute will be the same amount (in other currency) returned. Thereafter, enrollment and registration fees are nonrefundable, even in the event of a medical condition or other extreme circumstance. Enrollment and registration fees are non-transferrable. Payments for print curriculum orders are nonrefundable once the order has been placed.

Level I Withdrawal Option

CFA Exam Level I Withdrawal Option

CFA Institute only offers a withdrawal option for Level I candidates. There are no withdrawal options for Levels II and III.

The CFA exams are paper-and-pencil which require a full day of testing. We reserve and pay for test center space, equipment, furniture, support services, and exam printing and shipping based on paid registrations. All test centers have limited seating. When a candidate wishes to defer from one exam to the next, his/her space at the test center cannot be filled by another candidate. Therefore, we cannot offer deferrals.

The Level I withdrawal form must be received by CFA Institute by the deadline date listed on the form. Late withdrawal forms will not be processed or returned. If you do not withdraw by the deadline, you will not be able to re-register for the next Level I exam until Level I results for the current exam have been released (approximately 60 days after the exam date).

As a re-registering candidate, an additional program enrollment fee is not necessary; however, you are required to pay an exam registration fee for each exam as determined by the fee schedule.

  • You cannot defer registration fees from one exam to the next.
  • You will not receive any refund of fees.
  • You may only be registered for one exam at any time.
  • Registration forms must be received by CFA Institute no later than the final registration deadline for that exam.
  • The curriculum and suggested readings will change from year to year and the exam is based on the curriculum assigned that year. The Level I curriculum does not change from June to December.
  • Even after submitting your withdrawal form, you will be unable to register online until your withdrawal has been processed. Please allow 7-14 days for processing.
  • Once processed, withdrawals will not be reversed.

Once your withdrawal has been processed, another registration and another online registration fee must be submitted if you want to re-register for the original exam. CFA Institute will not accept registrations submitted after the published deadlines. After you receive e-mail confirmation of your withdrawal being processed, you may register online for an upcoming exam.

CFA Level I Exam Withdrawal Request Forms

Policy Changes

CFA Institute may change its conditions, requirements, policies, and procedures governing the CFA Program and CFA Institute membership from time to time. Candidates and members are required to adhere to the revised conditions, requirements, policies, and procedures, which will be published in various CFA Institute publications, including the CFA Institute Bylaws, and on this website.

Notify Us

If you have witnessed or know of a violation of the CFA Program exam policies by a candidate, we encourage you to report violations here.