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Practice Management > Building Your Business

CFA Institute Moving to Online Exams for 2021

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CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, said Tuesday that it will transition to computer-based testing for all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst Program in 2021.

Level II and Level III exams for 2021 will be administered via computer, as will the previously announced transition for Level I. The tests will still be given at exam sites, not remotely.

December 2020 administrations will be the final paper-based tests for any CFA Program exam.

The move to computer-based testing for Levels II and III is in response to the impact of COVID-19, the institute said.

The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, also said on July 22 that its exam, covering the global alternative investment industry will be offered, for the first time, the online exam option for the September exam cycle.

“While the last paper-based test marks the end of an era for CFA Institute, technological advances in computer-based testing enable us to meet the growing global testing demands of candidates and will improve their experience with a wider selection of test venues and more flexible scheduling options,” Margaret Franklin, president and CEO of CFA Institute, said in a statement.

“We are working diligently to ensure a seamless transition and superior exam experience for our candidates. It goes without saying that we will uphold the rigor of the passing standard to earn the CFA charter.”

The CFA Institute said in August that it’s seeing growth in the number of women taking CFA exams, with Australia seeing the biggest increase, 23%, in female test takers in 2019 compared to 2018.

Over the past five years, the number of female test takers in the CFA Program has more than doubled, and now accounts for 39% of candidates.

Registration for all 2021 computer-based exams starts on Aug. 20.

Several changes will offer candidates “greater flexibility and an enhanced exam” experience:

  • The Level I computer-based exam will be offered four times a year, beginning in 2021.
  • The Level II and Level III computer-based exams will be offered two times a year, starting in 2021.
  • To earn the charter, a candidate must pass all three levels in sequential order and complete work-experience requirements.

As part of the move to computer-based testing in 2021, candidates will be offered windows of up to 10 days for scheduling their exams at a secure test center (testing will be in-person only, not remotely) as opposed to the current single-day testing.

The schedule for 2021 is:

  • February: Level I only
  • May: All Levels
  • August: Level I and Level II
  • November: Level I and Level III

Currently registered December 2020 candidates can keep their exam date or postpone it to one of the CBT dates in 2021. Details about changes to the exam cycle, information on computer-based testing and exam policies are available here.


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