Candidate Survey

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This survey was created following the June 2018 exams with the goal of helping r/CFA, along with other future candidates, gain insight into exam preparation and results distributions. We have had nearly 3,500 responses to date and with every data point collected, the data improves. Responses are collected for two weeks following results day.


The links below will bring you to the results survey(s) and the sections in this wiki will highlight certain areas, along with providing potential answers to questions frequently asked by candidates including "I am scoring xx% on mocks, will I be okay?" or "when should I begin studying?"



Important Disclosure: The nature of how this data was collected involves bias for the following reasons. a) test-takers who receive a fail result may have less desire to respond to a survey about the exam. b) responses were almost entirely sourced from the subreddit r/CFA. In the collection of this data and sharing of the results some have commented that this sample is more likely to be well versed in, or socially involved with, the CFA curriculum. This causes the sample to be more representative of the r/CFA community than the entire population of test-takers.


Resulting from the inherent bias, each level's sample pass rate is considerably higher than the populations, I encourage you to interpret the data with this in mind. The way I choose to interpret the pass rates in my own analysis is to use each level's sample pass rate as a benchmark. For example, say the Level I sample pass rate is 91.6% and 93.0% of respondents that took three mock exams passed - this could suggest that taking three mocks would provide a slight edge when compared to a sample of over 1,800 test-takers that accomplished a 91.6% pass rate. I have included the 'relative' column in each pass rate table for this purpose, though it must still be viewed relatively to the sample for each respective response.


Survey Sample and Population

As mentioned above, the sample for the surveys is more likely to be well versed in, or socially involved with, the CFA curriculum than the entire population of test-takers. Additionally, those who fail are less likely to complete a survey on their exam result, which seems to be reflected in the higher pass rate for the survey compared to the population pass rate. As a testament to this, here is how the sample compares to the population, across levels.

Level I

Exam Date Sample Population Share Sample Pass Rate Population Pass Rate
December 2020 96 26,212 0.37% 95.8% 48.9%
December 2019 568 73,688 0.77% 93.0% 41.6%
June 2019 476 83,656 0.57% 89.7% 41.3%
December 2018 442 77,245 0.57% 91.4% 44.9%
June 2018 220 79,507 0.28% 90.9% 43.5%
Total Level I 1,802 340,308 0.53% 91.6% 42.7%

Level II

Exam Date Sample Population Share Sample Pass Rate Population Pass Rate
December 2020 135 18,136 0.74% 85.2% 55.3%
June 2019 575 74,735 0.77% 88.2% 44.1%
June 2018 317 64,216 0.49% 83.9% 44.9%
Total Level II 1,027 157,087 0.65% 86.5% 44.4%

Level III

Exam Date Sample Population Share Sample Pass Rate Population Pass Rate
December 2020 106 11,330 0.94% 91.5% 55.5%
June 2019 384 38,377 1.00% 93.2% 55.7%
June 2018 158 35,518 0.44% 91.1% 56.1%
Total Level III 648 85,225 0.76% 92.6% 55.8%

MPS Estimates

The CFA Institute does not disclose what the Minimum Passing Score (MPS) is. The survey has two parts, the first focuses on preparation and learning more about the sample. The second part asks respondents to provide detail about where they scored and to provide estimates for the 10th and 90th percentiles. Using the responses and the methodology below, an attempt to estimate the MPS is made for each exam. Only approximately one-third of respondents elect to complete this portion, making the data set smaller.


MPS Estimates
Level December 2020 December 2019 June 2019 December 2018 June 2018
I N/A 64.8% 63.8% 64.2% 63.8%
II 57.9 N/A 62.8% N/A 63.2%
III 52.7 N/A 57.4% N/A 55.3%


Methodology: Only responses that completed every topic area were used. Topic areas were weighted as assigned by the CFA Institute and multiplied by the estimated scores broken out in the performance section. The methodology behind the estimated scores can be found in the table below. If a respondent scored between two levels (e.g. between 70% and the 90th percentile) and selected an estimate for proximity to a level (on a scale of 1 - 3, 1 being closer to 70% & 3 being closer to the 90th percentile) they were assigned the product of 0.25 multiplied by the proximity they chose multiplied by the difference between the upper and lower bound. This figure was then added to the lower bound. All other topic areas were weighted as assigned by the CFA Institute and multiplied by the estimated scores broken out in the performance section. Topic areas were weighted as assigned by the CFA Institute and multiplied by the estimated scores broken out in the performance section. The midpoint between the max score estimate recorded by respondents who failed and the minimum score estimate recorded by respondents who passed was assigned a 25% weight. The midpoint between the 90th percentile of fail responses and the 10th percentile of pass responses was assigned a 75% weight. The sum of these two values is how I arrived at my MPS estimate.


A more detailed breakdown by topic area score estimates can be found in each level's respective 'Topic Area Breakdown' portion. The table below shows how the responses were used to determine the different topic area's score estimates.


Response Methodology
Above the 90th percentile 15% of the distance between the 90th percentile & 100%
Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile The estimated mean of the 90th percentile
Between 70% and the 90th percentile Midpoint between the mean of the 90th percentile & 70%
Pretty darn close to 70% 70%
Between 50% and 70% 60%
Pretty darn close to 50% 50%
Between the 10th percentile and 50% Midpoint between the mean of the 10th percentile & 50%
Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile The estimated mean of the 10th percentile
Below the 10th percentile Midpoint between 20% & the mean of the 10th percentile


Level I

The Level I MPS appears to be around 65% using the methodology above.


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Pass 42 77.2% 67.0% - 85.0% 4.8% 82.9%
December 2019 - Pass 267 74.6% 61.3% - 84.6% 6.3% 65.7%
June 2019 - Pass 177 74.4% 60.8% - 84.5% 6.0% 64.0%
December 2018 - Pass 142 75.1% 59.2% - 85.7% 6.6% 66.2%
June 2018 - Pass 58 72.4% 58.5% - 84.5% 6.7% 63.8%
Total Level I - Pass 686 74.6% 58.5% - 85.7% 6.3% 65.9%


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Fail 0 N/A N/A - N/A N/A N/A
December 2019 - Fail 13 57.0% 43.2% - 68.8% 6.6% 63.9%
June 2019 - Fail 16 58.3% 51.4% - 65.0% 4.2% 64.3%
December 2018 - Fail 12 57.5% 43.5% - 64.0% 5.7% 64.0%
June 2018 - Fail 1 51.9% 51.9% - 51.9% N/A 51.9%
Total Level I - Fail 42 57.5% 43.2% - 68.8% 5.4% 63.9%



  • L1EstimatesTS.D20.PNG
  • Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 10.8% 77.4% 10.2% 64.2% 11.4%
    Corporate Finance 8.8% 77.7% 10.1% 59.1% 11.0%
    Economics 10.0% 71.0% 11.9% 52.5% 13.7%
    Equity Investments 10.6% 78.4% 9.4% 58.1% 12.9%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15.0% 75.2% 8.2% 65.9% 11.8%
    Fixed Income 10.6% 71.9% 11.0% 56.3% 12.8%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 17.0% 70.3% 11.8% 49.2% 10.8%
    Portfolio Management 6.4% 72.3% 11.2% 61.4% 13.3%
    Quantitative Methods 10.8% 71.4% 12.4% 52.8% 14.7%


Overall it appears that the most difficult areas are Quantitative Methods, Economics, and Financial Reporting & Analysis while the best performing areas are Corporate Finance, Equity Investments, and Ethical & Professional Standards. Below the topic area score estimates are broken down by each exam. Observing the changes in mean scores by topic area through the years may imply that certain areas have become more difficult over time, while others have become easier. A more detailed breakdown of score estimates by topic area can be found in the "Topic Area Breakdown" section for Level I.


    December 2020
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 12% 79.2% 9.5% N/A N/A
    Corporate Finance 10% 80.2% 13.1% N/A N/A
    Economics 10% 75.5% 9.9% N/A N/A
    Equity Investments 11% 84.1% 7.1% N/A N/A
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 78.3% 4.5% N/A N/A
    Fixed Income 11% 73.5% 8.8% N/A N/A
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 73.1% 9.3% N/A N/A
    Portfolio Management 6% 70.7% 11.6% N/A N/A
    Quantitative Methods 10% 77.1% 11.0% N/A N/A
  • L1EstimatesD20.PNG



  • L1EstimatesD19.1.PNG
  • December 2019
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 12% 77.4% 9.3% 61.8% 13.6%
    Corporate Finance 10% 78.4% 9.4% 62.2% 13.5%
    Economics 10% 74.1% 10.5% 57.0% 14.6%
    Equity Investments 11% 81.2% 8.6% 57.0% 15.1%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 74.6% 8.1% 64.0% 14.3%
    Fixed Income 11% 72.3% 10.8% 57.3% 16.5%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 69.1% 12.5% 43.7% 13.0%
    Portfolio Management 6% 74.1% 11.0% 60.2% 12.5%
    Quantitative Methods 10% 72.5% 12.0% 55.5% 17.6%


    June 2019
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 12% 78.4% 9.3% 67.3% 11.2%
    Corporate Finance 10% 76.0% 9.4% 57.4% 10.8%
    Economics 10% 69.2% 13.0% 49.2% 15.4%
    Equity Investments 11% 76.7% 9.0% 59.7% 10.7%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 75.6% 8.9% 68.5% 11.8%
    Fixed Income 11% 75.5% 9.8% 59.5% 9.0%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 72.2% 11.2% 51.6% 7.3%
    Portfolio Management 6% 72.0% 10.5% 65.4% 12.2%
    Quantitative Methods 10% 71.4% 11.1% 51.2% 11.5%
  • L1Estimates.PNG


  • L1EstimatesD18.PNG
  • December 2018
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 9% 77.9% 8.2% 63.2% 9.5%
    Corporate Finance 7% 77.5% 11.4% 58.5% 10.4%
    Economics 10% 68.2% 11.8% 51.9% 10.8%
    Equity Investments 10% 74.8% 9.5% 57.8% 13.9%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 74.8% 8.2% 64.8% 9.8%
    Fixed Income 10% 67.3% 11.1% 51.3% 12.8%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 20% 72.7% 9.4% 51.9% 11.7%
    Portfolio Management 7% 71.6% 11.8% 58.5% 15.0%
    Quantitative Methods 12% 70.7% 13.7% 53.2% 14.1%


    June 2018
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 9% 71.8% 12.8% 60.0% N/A
    Corporate Finance 7% 78.4% 12.2% 50.0% N/A
    Economics 10% 66.5% 12.2% 50.0% N/A
    Equity Investments 10% 77.1% 9.5% 43.7% N/A
    Ethical & Professional Standards 15% 75.2% 8.3% 60.0% N/A
    Fixed Income 10% 69.6% 11.7% 50.0% N/A
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 20% 62.5% 11.9% 50.0% N/A
    Portfolio Management 7% 65.8% 10.5% 50.0% N/A
    Quantitative Methods 12% 63.8% 13.0% 26.8% N/A
  • L1EstimatesJ18.PNG

Level II

The Level II MPS appears to be around 62% using the methodology above.


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Pass 56 73.4% 60.7% - 85.1% 6.5% 65.8%
June 2019 - Pass 228 69.4% 48.8% - 81.3% 6.5% 60.4%
June 2018 - Pass 69 72.1% 58.3% - 81.3% 6.5% 67.1%
Total Level II - Pass 353 72.3% 48.8% - 85.1% 6.4% 59.0%


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Fail 10 58.4% 46.8% - 64.6% 5.6% 64.6%
June 2019 - Fail 21 59.0% 45.2% - 70.8% 7.6% 67.2%
June 2018 - Fail 11 57.3% 46.6% - 65.9% 5.3% 65.9%
Total Level II - Fail 42 58.2% 45.2% - 70.8% 6.7% 65.9%


    Total Sample
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 18.3% 71.3% 10.6% 59.2% 14.3%
    Corporate Finance 7.7% 73.5% 16.0% 67.4% 17.1%
    Economics 7.7% 71.5% 16.0% 63.6% 17.5%
    Equity Investments 14.0% 73.1% 10.7% 62.9% 16.1%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 10.0% 71.4% 9.8% 64.8% 12.1%
    Fixed Income 10.7% 78.0% 10.8% 67.1% 16.1%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15.0% 63.5% 15.8% 54.1% 15.2%
    Portfolio Management 8.3% 64.6% 14.5% 54.2% 17.3%
    Quantitative Methods 8.3% 73.4% 13.9% 60.5% 17.2%
  • L2EstimatesTS.D20.PNG


Overall it appears that the most difficult areas are Financial Reporting & Analysis, Portfolio Management, and Economics while the best performing areas are Fixed Income, Quantitative Methods, and Equity Investments. Below the topic area score estimates are broken down by each exam. Observing the changes in mean scores by topic area through the years may imply that certain areas have become more difficult over time, while others have become easier. A more detailed breakdown of score estimates by topic area can be found in the "Topic Area Breakdown" section for Level II.


    December 2020
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 15% 73.5% 10.9% 52.7% 11.8%
    Corporate Finance 8% 80.3% 10.1% 67.8% 14.4%
    Economics 8% 77.6% 11.8% 61.0% 12.3%
    Equity Investments 12% 79.0% 7.9% 62.7% 12.9%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 10% 69.1% 10.9% 60.3% 10.3%
    Fixed Income 12% 78.5% 10.4% 64.0% 11.5%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 70.0% 20.2% 60.1% 21.6%
    Portfolio Management 10% 69.8% 12.3% 59.3% 16.0%
    Quantitative Methods 10% 78.0% 14.2% 56.5% 15.2%
  • L2EstimatesD20.PNG


  • L2EstimatesJ19.PNG
  • June 2019
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 20% 70.0% 11.0% 62.6% 15.9%
    Corporate Finance 5% 69.2% 17.5% 69.9% 18.7%
    Economics 5% 69.6% 17.5% 68.2% 19.2%
    Equity Investments 15% 72.3% 11.2% 64.1% 18.7%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 10% 72.0% 8.9% 68.7% 12.2%
    Fixed Income 10% 78.1% 11.2% 72.3% 14.8%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 59.3% 13.2% 51.8% 15.9%
    Portfolio Management 10% 63.3% 13.7% 55.8% 16.1%
    Quantitative Methods 10% 72.3% 13.0% 66.1% 15.9%


    June 2018
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 20% 73.4% 7.9% 58.1% 9.8%
    Corporate Finance 10% 76.8% 11.0% 57.8% 14.1%
    Economics 10% 72.6% 11.2% 53.4% 14.2%
    Equity Investments 15% 71.3% 9.5% 60.0% 12.1%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 10% 71.3% 11.5% 60.1% 12.0%
    Fixed Income 10% 77.0% 9.7% 55.2% 18.1%
    Financial Reporting & Analysis 15% 72.3% 19.1% 61.7% 13.7%
    Portfolio Management 5% 64.3% 17.8% 43.1% 17.2%
    Quantitative Methods 5% 73.4% 15.5% 44.8% 14.4%
  • L2EstimatesJ18.PNG

Level III

The Level III MPS appears to be around 57% using the methodology above.


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Pass 3 68.4% 63.6% - 74.3% 5.4% 63.6%
June 2019 - Pass 121 66.6% 63.9% - 78.3% 6.8% 56.6%
June 2018 - Pass 36 65.7% 48.8% - 74.1% 7.5% 55.3%
Total Level III - Pass 160 66.4% 48.8% - 78.3% 6.9% 56.3%


Exam Date & Result Sample Mean Range Std. Dev. 10th Percentile
December 2020 - Fail 2 43.1% 40.4% - 45.9% 3.9% 45.9%
June 2019 - Fail 7 51.1% 39.7% - 58.8% 6.6% 58.8%
June 2018 - Fail 4 40.0% 37.7% - 41.8% 1.7% 41.8%
Total Level III - Fail 13 46.5% 37.7% - 58.8% 7.2% 58.8%



    Total Sample
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Essay 50.0% 64.3% 8.2% 43.4% 14.1%
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 7.8% 75.4% 10.5% 55.6% 11.5%
    Behavioral Finance 14.0% 66.6% 9.4% 51.5% 8.4%
    Economics 7.3% 67.0% 11.7% 53.7% 19.4%
    Equity Investments 4.7% 67.0% 16.5% 52.0% 15.6%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 5.0% 72.1% 11.5% 68.7% 11.7%
    Fixed Income 7.3% 61.6% 13.4% 43.4% 15.4%
    Trading 3.8% 70.2% 15.6% 54.1% 17.5%
  • L3EstimatesTS.D20.PNG


Overall it appears that the most difficult areas are Fixed Income, the Essay, and Behavioral Finance while the best performing areas are Alternatives & Derivatives, Ethical & Professional Standards, and Trading. Below the topic area score estimates are broken down by each exam. Observing the changes in mean scores by topic area through the years may imply that certain areas have become more difficult over time, while others have become easier. A more detailed breakdown of score estimates by topic area can be found in the "Topic Area Breakdown" section for Level III.


    December 2020
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Essay 50.0% 68.0% 4.9% 33.3% 6.4%
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 7.5% 88.4% 1.1% 72.5% 5.8%
    Behavioral Finance 14.5% 71.0% 6.9% 50.7% 16.1%
    Economics 5.5% 54.6% 14.4% 47.9% 22.3%
    Equity Investments 5.0% 69.8% 6.2% 61.8% 11.4%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 5.0% 76.9% 5.7% 78.6% 6.9%
    Fixed Income 8.5% 67.5% 12.0% 40.9% 19.8%
    Trading 4.0% 73.7% 6.6% 59.5% 18.5%
  • L3EstimatesD20.PNG


  • L3EstimatesJ19.PNG
  • June 2019
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Essay 50.0% 64.0% 8.1% 50.5% 11.6%
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 8.0% 79.0% 9.3% 51.2% 10.8%
    Behavioral Finance 12.5% 65.6% 9.7% 52.3% 6.5%
    Economics 7.5% 70.8% 10.6% 56.1% 19.6%
    Equity Investments 6.5% 72.3% 11.6% 52.3% 13.1%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 5.0% 71.4% 12.3% 65.5% 9.6%
    Fixed Income 8.0% 60.1% 13.5% 39.7% 15.4%
    Trading 2.5% 71.8% 16.0% 58.8% 21.9%


    June 2018
    Topic Area Weight Mean (Pass) St. Dev. (Pass) Mean (Fail) St. Dev. (Fail)
    Essay 50.0% 64.2% 8.7% 39.4% 17.3%
    Alternatives Investments & Derivatives 8.0% 68.3% 10.9% 45.2% 14.2%
    Behavioral Finance 15.0% 68.6% 8.0% 51.5% 5.7%
    Economics 9.0% 60.2% 12.0% 46.8% 16.9%
    Equity Investments 2.5% 54.8% 17.9% 40.1% 11.9%
    Ethical & Professional Standards 5.0% 73.6% 9.5% 65.7% 14.6%
    Fixed Income 5.5% 64.7% 12.6% 52.3% 7.7%
    Trading 5.0% 65.5% 15.0% 46.5% 4.9%
  • L3EstimatesJ18.PNG

Compensation Data

This portion of the survey was added for the December 2020 exams, so the data are limited. Many take an interest in salary progression through CFA candidacy, as obtaining the designation is often seen as a means to elevate ones career. More granular employment detail can be found in each Level's respective Work Experience section, as high level compensation data is important to supplement with role and organization type, among other things.

Level Avg Salary St. Dev Sample Avg Bonus St. Dev Sample Avg Total Compensation St. Dev Avg Hours per Week St. Dev Sample
Level I $62,857 $19,287 14 $11,250 $14,913 7 $68,482 $24,496 47.5 9.5 15
Level II $75,581 $31,014 43 $14,712 $23,942 39 $88,924 $46,214 45.0 7.9 44
Level III $88,235 $37,981 51 $28,827 $43,831 49 $115,931 $73,031 46.3 9.4 52
Total $79,907 $34,285 108 $21,737 $35,083 95 $99,028 $60,988 46.0 8.8 111


The samples total compensation increased 29.9% between Level I and Level II, increasing another 30.4% from Level II to Level III. As the sample progresses through the levels, incentive compensation also becomes a larger portion of total compensation. The sample is currently small, and there are many things that impact each individuals compensation besides progress toward CFA. Some of these factors can be found in each Level's Work Experience section.

Level I

L1comp.D20.PNG

Level II

L2comp.D20.PNG

Level III

L3comp.D20.PNG

Level I

The charts, tables, and commentary below will display highlights of exam preparation and corresponding results distributions, in addition to providing potential answers to questions that are frequently asked by candidates.


Mock Exam Performance

The CFA Institute provides three mock exams. The averages suggest that passers typically will go beyond this amount while those who failed, on average, completed less than the provided mock exams.


Full Mock Exams Completed
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 4.4 2.4 92
December 2019 (Pass) 3.7 2.3 528
June 2019 (Pass) 4.1 2.6 427
December 2018 (Pass) 3.5 2.4 404
June 2018 (Pass) 3.9 2.4 200
Total Level I Pass 3.8 2.5 1,651
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 2.0 2.2 4
December 2019 (Fail) 2.8 1.8 40
June 2019 (Fail) 2.7 2.0 49
December 2018 (Fail) 2.5 2.1 38
June 2018 (Fail) 2.3 2.2 20
Total Level I Fail 2.6 2.0 151


    Full Mocks Taken Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 170 9% 85.9% -5.7%
    1 124 7% 79.0% -12.6%
    2 233 13% 88.0% -3.6%
    3 456 25% 93.0% +1.4%
    4 234 13% 93.6% +2.0%
    5 211 12% 93.4% +1.8%
    6 171 9% 95.9% +4.3%
    7 77 4% 96.1% +4.5%
    8 46 3% 97.8% +6.2%
    9 27 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    10 27 1% 96.3% +4.7%
    11 4 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    12+ 22 1% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1mockstaken.D20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying the average MPS estimates for respondents by number of mock exams completed. It is important to note that only approximately one-third of all exam respondents fully complete the performance section used to calculate the MPS estimate. Keep this reduced sample in mind when interpreting the MPS estimate charts both immediately below and in the other segments MPS estimate data is available for.


L1mockest.D20.PNG


Looking in to mock exam scores by prep provider may also offer candidates comfort or insight in to their performance leading up to the exam date.


CFAI Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 70.1% 6.7% 83
December 2019 (Pass) 69.3% 6.7% 434
June 2019 (Pass) 70.1% 6.4% 362
December 2018 (Pass) 69.0% 6.3% 326
June 2018 (Pass) 70.0% 6.0% 172
Total Level I Pass 69.6% 6.5% 1,377
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 55.0% 5.6% 3
December 2019 (Fail) 61.2% 7.6% 32
June 2019 (Fail) 62.4% 5.8% 38
December 2018 (Fail) 61.2% 6.9% 21
June 2018 (Fail) 58.2% 6.6% 13
Total Level I Fail 61.1% 6.7% 107



    CFAI Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 1 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    45 - 49% 6 0% 33.3% -58.3%
    50 - 55% 39 2% 56.4% -35.2%
    56 - 59% 39 2% 51.3% -40.3%
    60 - 62% 125 7% 85.6% -6.0%
    63 - 64% 109 6% 91.7% +0.1%
    65 - 67% 281 16% 91.1% -0.5%
    68 - 69% 159 9% 95.6% +4.0%
    70 - 72% 299 17% 98.3% +6.7%
    73 - 74% 91 5% 98.9% +7.3%
    75 - 77% 170 9% 99.4% +7.8%
    78 - 79% 54 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    80 - 82% 75 4% 100.0% +8.4%
    83 - 84% 12 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    85 - 87% 13 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    88 - 89% 3 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    90% + 6 0% 83.3% -8.3%
  • L1CFAITS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their CFAI Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L1cmockest.D20.1.PNG


Kaplan Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 70.6% 8.8% 40
December 2019 (Pass) 69.7% 8.4% 215
June 2019 (Pass) 70.1% 8.0% 197
December 2018 (Pass) 69.3% 8.1% 175
June 2018 (Pass) 70.0% 7.4% 102
Total Level I Pass 69.8% 8.1% 729
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 55.5% 3.5% 2
December 2019 (Fail) 58.0% 8.9% 12
June 2019 (Fail) 63.0% 5.4% 20
December 2018 (Fail) 62.6% 6.7% 14
June 2018 (Fail) 63.0% 4.0% 4
Total Level I Fail 61.4% 6.8% 52



    Kaplan Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 3 0% 66.7% -24.9%
    45 - 49% 2 0% 50.0% -41.6%
    50 - 55% 41 2% 78.0% -13.6%
    56 - 59% 27 1% 81.5% -10.1%
    60 - 62% 75 4% 89.3% -2.3%
    63 - 64% 34 2% 85.3% -6.3%
    65 - 67% 126 7% 88.9% -2.7%
    68 - 69% 69 4% 95.7% +4.1%
    70 - 72% 147 8% 95.9% +4.3%
    73 - 74% 39 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    75 - 77% 84 5% 100.0% +8.4%
    78 - 79% 28 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    80 - 82% 69 4% 100.0% +8.4%
    83 - 84% 10 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    85 - 87% 13 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    88 - 89% 4 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    90% + 5 0% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1KTS.D20.1.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Kaplan Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L1kmockest.D20.PNG


Wiley Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 68.0% 1.0% 3
December 2019 (Pass) 67.8% 8.7% 24
June 2019 (Pass) 66.5% 9.8% 33
December 2018 (Pass) 69.2% 6.7% 23
June 2018 (Pass) 70.0% 7.3% 9
Total Level I Pass 67.9% 8.4% 92
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) N/A N/A 0
December 2019 (Fail) 62.0% N/A 1
June 2019 (Fail) 57.3% 4.6% 4
December 2018 (Fail) 70.0% N/A 1
June 2018 (Fail) 55.0% 7.1% 2
Total Level I Fail 58.9% 6.4% 8



    Wiley Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 1 0% 100% +8.4%
    40 - 44% 0 0% N/A N/A
    45 - 49% 0 0% N/A N/A
    50 - 55% 8 0% 62.5% -29.1%
    56 - 59% 2 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    60 - 62% 14 1% 71.4% -20.2%
    63 - 64% 8 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    65 - 67% 17 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    68 - 69% 6 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    70 - 72% 21 1% 95.2% +3.6%
    73 - 74% 3 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    75 - 77% 6 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    78 - 79% 2 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    80 - 82% 10 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    83 - 84% 2 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    85 - 87% 0 0% N/A N/A
    88 - 89% 0 0% N/A N/A
    90% + 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L1WTS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Wiley Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L1wmockest.D20.PNG

Study Materials

In addition to the prep provider mock exam scores compared to results, seeing what resources others have commonly used could help a candidate narrow their focus more when selecting study materials.


    Resources Utilized Sample Share Pass Relative
    CFAI Mocks 1,380 77% 93.8% +2.2%
    CFAI Q Bank 1,1231 68% 93.8% +2.2%
    CFAI Books 981 54% 90.7% -0.9%
    Kaplan Schweser Textbooks 988 55% 92.9% +1.3%
    r/CFA 693 38% 93.2% +1.6%
    Kaplan Schweser Mocks 663 37% 93.8% +2.2%
    Kaplan Schweser Q Bank 668 37% 93.1% +1.5%
    Mark Meldrum (paid) 241 13% 91.7% +0.1%
    Kaplan Schweser SecretSauce 367 20% 92.4% +0.8%
    Mark Meldrum (free) 479 27% 93.5% +1.9%
    Kaplan Schweser Videos 128 7% 89.1% -2.5%
    Analyst Forum 132 7% 94.7% +3.1%
    Live Mock 94 5% 96.8% +5.2%
    IFT 147 8% 91.8% +0.2%
    300hours.com 123 7% 93.5% +1.9%
    Wiley Mocks 74 4% 90.5% -1.1%
    Wiley Textbooks 69 4% 88.4% -3.2%
    Wiley Q Bank 59 3% 89.8% -1.8%
    Other 73 4% 90.4% -1.2%
    AnalystNotes 96 5% 95.8% +4.2%
    Wiley Videos 40 2% 92.5% +0.9%
    Study Group 32 2% 93.8% +2.2%
    Local CFA Society Sponsored Study Session 26 1% 92.3% 0.7%
    Bloomberg Exam Prep 23 1% 87.0% -4.6%
    LevelUp 0 0% N/A N/A
    Fitch Learning 17 1% 94.1% +2.5%
    Mentor 11 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Tutor 15 1% 80.0% -11.6%
    N/A (I didn't study) 10 1% 80.0% -11.6%
    GoStudy 3 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    U of T (Toronto) 4 0% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1resources.D20.PNG

Duration of Study

Data on when respondents began studying and how many hours they committed may be useful for a candidate hoping to plan their own pacing schedule. The 300 hours rule of thumb appears to hold true, and respondents typically begin studying in January or February (July or August) and begin revision some time in May (November).


    Hours Studied Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 50 36 2% 83.3% -8.3%
    50 - 100 87 5% 85.1% -6.5%
    100 - 150 154 9% 87.7% -3.9%
    150 - 200 216 12% 86.6% -5.0%
    200 - 250 283 16% 91.9% +0.3%
    250 - 300 306 17% 92.2% +0.6%
    300 -350 301 17% 93.4% +1.8%
    350 - 400 186 10% 95.2% +3.6%
    400 - 450 114 6% 95.6% +4.0%
    450 -500 51 3% 96.1% +4.5%
    500 - 550 27 1% 96.3% +4.7%
    550 - 600 6 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    600+ 35 2% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1hrsP.D20.PNG
  • L1hrsF.D20.PNG


The chart below shows MPS estimate averages for hours studied. Unsurprisingly, there seems to be a clear positive correlation between hours studied and exam score.


L1hrsest.D20.PNG


    When did you begin studying? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Previous June (December) or Prior 26 1% 96.2% +4.6%
    Previous July (January) 15 1% 73.3% -18.3%
    Previous August (February) 34 2% 97.1% +5.5%
    Previous September (March) 63 3% 90.5% -1.1%
    Previous October (April) 73 4% 94.5% +2.9%
    Previous November (May) 108 6% 94.4% +2.8%
    Previous December (June) 136 8% 93.4% +1.8%
    January (July) 329 18% 93.0% +1.4%
    February (August) 375 21% 91.5% -0.1%
    March (September) 335 19% 89.3% -2.3%
    April (October) 162 9% 91.4% -0.2%
    May (November) 117 6% 90.6% -1.0%
    June (December) 27 1% 85.2% -6.4%
  • L1beginP.20.PNG
  • L1beginF.20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying MPS estimates by start date. There is less of a correlation here than hours studied, though it does noticeably decline as the exam date approaches.


L1studyest.D20.PNG


    When did you finish the curriculum? Sample Share Pass Relative
    January (July) or Prior 18 1% 88.9% -2.7%
    Early February (August) 13 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Late February (August) 13 1% 92.3% +0.7%
    Early March (September) 25 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Late March (September) 45 2% 93.3% +1.7%
    Early April (October) 99 5% 96.0% +4.4%
    Late April (October) 195 11% 97.4% +5.8%
    Early May (November) 449 25% 93.5% +1.9%
    Late May (November) 367 20% 91.8% +0.2%
    Early June (December) 250 14% 88.8% -2.8%
    Didn't follow explicit curriculum 42 2% 97.6% +6.0%
    I never finished a curriculum 153 8% 79.7% -11.9%
    I chose not to read a curriculum 133 7% 87.2% -4.4%
  • L1endP.20.PNG
  • L1endF.20.PNG

Work Experience and Compensation

The work experience portion of the survey was initially intended to gain an understanding of the candidate population's attributes at each level. With the addition of the compensation portion of the survey in December 2020, several other questions including job responsibility, organization type, hours worked, etc. were added. These new attributes have the ability to paint a more comprehensive picture of ones career evolution through candidacy, which prospective candidates may find helpful.

    Years of Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 705 39% 91.6% 0.0%
    1 - 2 428 24% 93.0% +1.4%
    2 - 3 207 11% 91.8% +0.2%
    3 - 4 128 7% 93.8% +2.2%
    4 - 5 126 7% 89.7% -1.9%
    5 - 10 147 8% 88.4% -3.2%
    10 - 15 44 2% 88.6% -3.0%
    15+ 17 1% 88.6% -3.4%
  • L1jobexp.D20.PNG


One insight that I personally draw from the years of investment related experience compared to job experience is that it seems many candidates may be pursuing the designation in an attempt to break in to the investments industry, or have recently done so.


    Years of Investment Related Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 1,246 69% 91.5% -0.1%
    1 - 2 266 15% 93.2% +1.6%
    2 - 3 118 7% 94.1% +2.5%
    3 - 4 62 3% 93.5% +1.9%
    4 - 5 49 3% 83.7% -7.9%
    5 - 10 39 2% 87.2% -4.4%
    10 - 15 18 1% 88.9% -2.7%
    15+ 4 0% 75.0% -16.6%
  • L1invjobexp.D20.PNG


    Base Salary (Approximately in USD) Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $0 - $30k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $30k - $40k 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    $40k - $50k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $50k - $60k 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    $60k - $70k 5 5% 100.0% +8.4%
    $70k - $80k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $80k - $90k 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    $90k - $100k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $100k - $110k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $110k - $120k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $120k - $130k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $130k - $140k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $140k - $150k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $150k - $175k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $175k - $200k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $200k - $225k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $225k - $250k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $250k - $300k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $300k - $350k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $350k - $400k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $400k - $500k 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L1sal.20.PNG


    Bonus / Performance Compensation (Approximately in USD) Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 3 3% 100.0%% +8.4%
    I am not eligible for a bonus 5 5% 100.0% +8.4%
    $0 - $2.5k 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    $2.5k - $5k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $5k - $7.5k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $7.5k - $10k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $10k - $12.5k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $12.5k - $15k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $15k - $17.5k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $17.5k - $20k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $20k - $22.5k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $22.5k - $25k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $25k - $30k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $30k - $35k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $35k - $40k 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    $40k - $45k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $45k - $50k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $50k - $60k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $60k - $70k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $70k - $80k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $80k - $90k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $90k - $100k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $100k - $125k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $125k - $150k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $150k - $175k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $175k - $200k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $200k+ 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L1bon.D20.PNG


    What is your primary role / job responsibility? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Research / Investment Analyst 4 4% 100.0% +8.4%
    Financial Analyst (Corporate, Treasury, etc.) 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Portfolio Manager 0 0% N/A N/A
    Consultant 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    Financial Advisor / Planner 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    Operations / Reconciliation 0 0% N/A N/A
    Compliance / Risk 0 0% N/A N/A
    Investment Banking 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Sales / Trading 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Client Services / Relationship Management 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Accountant / Auditor 0 0% N/A N/A
    Unemployed 0 0% N/A N/A
    Manager 0 0% N/A N/A
    Intern 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Other 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1resp.D20.PNG


    What best describes your organization type? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Asset Management 4 4% 100.0% +8.4%
    Wealth Management 4 4% 100.0% +8.4%
    Investment Bank 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Pension, Endowment, Foundation, Other Not-For-Profit 0 0% N/A N/A
    Commercial Bank 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Financial Advisory 0 0% N/A N/A
    Consultancy 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Insurance Company 0 0% N/A N/A
    Accounting Firm 0 0% N/A N/A
    Government 0 0% N/A N/A
    Academia 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Unemployed 0 0% N/A N/A
    Other 4 4% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1org.D20.PNG


    How many employees does your firm employ? Sample Share Pass Relative
    > 100 7 7% 100.0% +8.4%
    100 - 499 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    499 - 999 0 0% N/A N/A
    1,000 - 4,999 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    5,000+ 5 5% 100.0% +8.4%
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L1emp.D20.PNG


    How is the AUM of your firm? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < $1B 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    $1B - <$5B 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    $5B - $20B 0 0% N/A N/A
    $20B+ 12 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    N/A 7 7% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1aum.D20.PNG


    How many hours do you typically work in a week? Sample Share Pass Relative
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 0 0% N/A N/A
    30 or less 1 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    31 - 35 0 0% N/A N/A
    36 - 40 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    41 - 45 5 5% 100.0% +8.4%
    46 - 50 3 3% 100.0% +8.4%
    51 - 55 0 0% N/A N/A
    56 - 60 2 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    61 - 65 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    66 - 70 1 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    71 - 80 0 0% N/A N/A
    80+ 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L1hrsw.D20.PNG

Education and Other Designations

This section may not assist a candidate in their preparation, but it could help provide a better understanding of the candidate population and how they compare, credential-wise.


    Degrees Obtained Sample Share Pass Relative
    Bachelor's Degree (Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 1,264 70% 91.7% +0.1%
    Bachelor's Degree (Non-Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 397 22% 91.9% +0.3%
    MBA 87 5% 94.3% +2.7%
    Post-work / Masters (Non-MBA, MS in Finance) 122 7% 95.1% +3.5%
    MS in Finance 114 6% 94.7% +3.1%
    Associates Degree 50 3% 86.0% -5.6%
    Doctorate 16 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    Juris Doctor 10 1% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1degrees.D20.PNG


    Other Designations Sample Share Pass Relative
    CPA 102 6% 96.1% +4.5%
    FRM 28 2% 100.0% +8.4%
    CFP 27 1% 92.6% +1.0%
    CAIA 17 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    ACCA 27 1% 100.0% +8.4%
    ASA 16 1% 93.8% +2.2%
    CIM 8 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    FSA 6 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    CIMA 6 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    CERA 2 0% 100.0% +8.4%
    AACI 2 0% 100.0% +8.4%
  • L1designations.D20.PNG

Other

Description (Age, Gender, Continent, English Speaking, etc.)


    What is your age? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < 25 988 55% 92.6% +1.0%
    25 - 29 592 33% 91.6% 0.0%
    30 - 34 160 9% 86.9% -4.7%
    35 - 39 42 2% 95.2% +3.6%
    40 - 49 13 1% 69.2% -22.4%
    50+ 7 0% 85.7% -5.9%
  • L1age.D20.PNG


    What Continent are you from? Sample Share Pass Relative
    North America 982 54% 90.3% -1.3%
    Asia 372 21% 93.5% +1.9%
    Europe 257 14% 92.2% +0.6%
    Australia / Oceania 83 5% 92.8% +1.2%
    Africa 69 4% 94.2% +2.6%
    South America 39 2% 94.9% +3.3%
  • L1cont.D20.1.PNG



    Gender Sample Share Pass Relative
    Male 1,540 85% 92.0% +0.4%
    Female 232 13% 89.7% -1.9%
  • L1gender.D20.1.PNG
  • Is English your first language? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 1,241 69% 90.7% -0.9%
    No 561 31% 93.8% +2.2%
  • L1eng.D20.PNG


    First time sitting for that level? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 1,601 89% 92.1% +0.5%
    No 201 11% 87.6% -4.0%
  • L1first.D20.PNG

Topic Area Breakdown

This section dissects the responses to each individual topic area more.


Sample: Using the mean of respondents estimated scores, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows.


1. Financial Reporting & Analysis (Mean 69.1%, St. Dev. 12.6%)

2. Economics (Mean 69.9%, St. Dev. 12.2%)

3. Quantitative Methods (Mean 69.9%, St. Dev. 13.3%)

4. Fixed Income (Mean 71.0%, St. Dev. 11.7%)

5. Portfolio Management (Mean 71.6%, St. Dev. 11.7%)

6. Ethical & Professional Standards (Mean 74.6%, St. Dev. 8.8%)

7. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (Mean 76.6%, St. Dev. 10.3%)

8. Corporate Finance (Mean 76.6%, St. Dev. 11.6%)

9. Equity Investments (Mean 77.3%, St. Dev. 10.7%)


Population: Using respondents estimates for the 90th percentile, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows.



1. Ethical & Professional Standards (78.7%)

2. Fixed Income (79.3%)

3. Financial Reporting & Analysis (79.4%)

4. Portfolio Management (80.3%)

5. Economics (80.9%)

6. Quantitative Methods (82.3%)

7. Equity Investments (83.8%)

8. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (83.8%)

9. Corporate Finance (85.4%)


It appears that the sample struggles with Quantitative Methods and Economics, while excelling in Fixed Income and Ethical & Professional Standards when compared (relatively) to the total population. The samples scores are slightly lower than the estimated 90th percentile of all test-takers, it is worth noting that none of the sample means for an individual topic area falls below the estimated MPS for Level I.


    Alternative Investments and Derivatives (Weight: 10.8%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 205 1 206 86.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 115 0 115 83.8%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 202 12 214 76.9%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 88 7 95 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 77 12 89 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 10 7 17 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 2 3 5 42.8%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 3 0 3 35.6%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 0 0 27.8%
  • L1ad.D20.PNG
    Corporate Finance (Weight: 8.8%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 177 0 177 87.6%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 112 1 113 85.4%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 226 4 230 77.7%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 95 4 99 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 76 21 97 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 15 6 21 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 3 4 7 43.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 1 2 3 36.5%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 0 0 28.2%
  • L1cf.D20.PNG
    Economics (Weight: 10.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 140 0 140 83.8%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 94 0 94 80.9%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 137 5 142 75.5%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 129 4 133 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 126 10 136 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 46 5 51 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 21 12 33 42.9%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 5 5 10 35.7%
    Below the 10th percentile 2 2 4 27.9%
  • L1ec.D20.PNG
    Equity Investments (Weight: 10.6%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 243 0 243 86.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 117 1 118 83.8%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 182 2 184 76.9%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 83 9 92 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 64 18 82 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 9 3 12 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 4 5 9 43.7%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 1 1 37.4%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 3 3 28.7%
  • L1eq.D20.PNG
    Ethical & Professional Standards (Weight: 15.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 295 3 298 81.9%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 108 4 112 78.7%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 95 5 100 74.4%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 103 12 115 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 84 13 97 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 13 2 15 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 4 1 5 44.6%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 1 1 2 39.1%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 1 1 29.6%
  • L1et.D20.PNG
    Fixed Income (Weight: 10.6%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 228 1 229 82.4%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 66 1 67 79.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 117 2 119 74.7%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 88 4 92 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 157 18 175 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 30 8 38 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 17 5 22 41.5%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 1 1 33.1%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 2 2 26.5%
  • L1fi.D20.PNG
    Financial Reporting & Analysis (Weight: 17.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 180 0 180 82.5%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 76 0 76 79.4%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 114 0 114 74.7%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 96 1 97 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 170 16 186 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 42 8 50 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 19 10 29 41.7%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 4 5 9 33.4%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 2 3 26.7%
  • L1fra.D20.PNG
    Portfolio Management (Weight: 6.4%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 218 2 220 83.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 82 3 85 80.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 106 5 111 75.1%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 82 5 87 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 158 16 174 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 29 6 35 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 17 6 23 41.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 0 0 32.2%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 0 1 26.1%
  • L1pm.D20.PNG
    Quantitative Methods (Weight: 10.8%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 167 1 1568 85.0%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 69 1 70 82.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 143 2 145 76.2%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 90 2 92 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 160 14 174 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 50 9 59 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 21 8 29 42.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 2 3 5 34.3%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 3 3 27.1%
  • L1qm.D20.PNG

Level II

The charts, tables, and commentary below will display highlights of exam preparation and corresponding results distributions, in addition to providing potential answers to questions that are frequently asked by candidates.


Mock Exam Performance

The CFA Institute provides three mock exams. The averages suggest that passers typically will go beyond this amount while those who failed, on average, completed less than the provided mock exams.


Full Mock Exams Completed
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 4.2 2.2 115
June 2019 (Pass) 3.9 2.8 507
June 2018 (Pass) 4.4 3.0 266
Total Level II Pass 4.1 2.8 888
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 3.0 1.9 20
June 2019 (Fail) 3.5 2.4 68
June 2018 (Fail) 3.5 2.8 51
Total Level II Fail 3.4 2.5 139


    Full Mocks Taken Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 95 9% 83.2% -3.3%
    1 72 7% 84.7% -1.8%
    2 197 19% 85.3% -1.2%
    3 132 13% 76.5% -10.0%
    4 152 15% 94.1% +7.6%
    5 128 12% 84.4% -2.1%
    6 95 9% 90.5% +4.0%
    7 73 7% 87.7% +1.2%
    8 27 3% 96.3% +9.8%
    9 19 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    10 13 1% 92.3% +5.8%
    11 5 0% 60.0% -26.5%
    12+ 19 2% 94.7% +8.2%
  • L2mockstaken.D20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying the average MPS estimates for respondents by number of mock exams completed. It is important to note that only approximately one-third of all exam respondents fully complete the performance section used to calculate the MPS estimate. Keep this reduced sample in mind when interpreting the MPS estimate charts both immediately below and in the other segments MPS estimate data is available for.


L2mockest.D20.PNG


Looking in to mock exam scores by prep provider may also offer candidates comfort or insight in to their performance leading up to the exam date.


CFAI Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 66.7% 5.8% 102
June 2019 (Pass) 66.7% 6.9% 414
June 2018 (Pass) 66.7% 6.6% 224
Total Level II Pass 66.7% 6.7% 740
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 69.1% 6.3% 17
June 2019 (Fail) 64.1% 8.1% 49
June 2018 (Fail) 59.4% 5.4% 36
Total Level II Fail 61.6% 7.3% 102



    CFAI Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 2 0% 50.0% -36.5%
    45 - 49% 6 1% 50.0% -36.5%
    50 - 55% 48 5% 68.8% -17.8%
    56 - 59% 43 4% 74.4% -12.1%
    60 - 62% 142 14% 81.0% -5.5%
    63 - 64% 70 7% 85.7% -10.8%
    65 - 67% 180 18% 88.3% +1.8%
    68 - 69% 95 9% 94.7% +8.2%
    70 - 72% 129 13% 96.9% +10.4%
    73 - 74% 24 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    75 - 77% 54 5% 100.0% +13.5%
    78 - 79% 12 1% 91.7% +5.2%
    80 - 82% 24 2% 87.5% +1.0%
    83 - 84% 2 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    85 - 87% 6 1% 83.3 -3.2%
    88 - 89% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    90% + 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
  • L2CFAITS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their CFAI Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L2cmockest.D20.PNG


Kaplan Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 69.6% 6.1% 45
June 2019 (Pass) 67.6% 8.1% 194
June 2018 (Pass) 67.8% 7.4% 132
Total Level II Pass 67.7% 7.6% 371
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 64.0% 9.0% 8
June 2019 (Fail) 62.6% 12.6% 21
June 2018 (Fail) 61.9% 6.0% 19
Total Level II Fail 62.6% 9.7% 48



    Kaplan Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 3 0% 33.3% -53.2%
    40 - 44% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    45 - 49% 1 0% 100% +13.5%
    50 - 55% 22 2% 68.2% -18.3%
    56 - 59% 22 2% 63.6% -22.9%
    60 - 62% 65 6% 86.2% -0.3%
    63 - 64% 27 3% 88.9% +2.4%
    65 - 67% 67 7% 92.5% +6.0%
    68 - 69% 33 3% 97.0% +10.5%
    70 - 72% 79 8% 91.1% +4.6%
    73 - 74% 16 2% 93.8% +7.3%
    75 - 77% 35 3% 97.1% +10.6%
    78 - 79% 13 1% 92.3% +5.8%
    80 - 82% 24 2% 91.7% +5.2%
    83 - 84% 4 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    85 - 87% 5 1% 80.0% -6.5%
    88 - 89% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    90% + 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L2KTS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Kaplan Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L2kmockest.D20.PNG


Wiley Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 64.6% 3.8% 5
June 2019 (Pass) 64.9% 8.1% 28
June 2018 (Pass) 67.9% 8.4% 18
Total Level II Pass 65.9% 7.9% 51
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 59.0% 1.4% 2
June 2019 (Fail) 63.0% 9.2% 4
June 2018 (Fail) 65.0% N/A 1
Total Level II Fail 62.1% 6.9% 7



    Wiley Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 0 0% N/A N/A
    45 - 49% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    50 - 55% 5 0% 80.0% -6.5%
    56 - 59% 3 0% 33.3% -53.2%
    60 - 62% 10 1% 90.0% +3.5%
    63 - 64% 4 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    65 - 67% 10 1% 80.0% -6.5%
    68 - 69% 5 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    70 - 72% 11 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    73 - 74% 0 0% N/A N/A
    75 - 77% 3 0% 66.7% -19.8%
    78 - 79% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    80 - 82% 3 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    83 - 84% 0 0% N/A N/A
    85 - 87% 1 0% 100.0% +13.5%
    88 - 89% 0 0% N/A N/A
    90% + 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L2WTS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Wiley Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L2wmockest.D20.PNG

Study Materials

In addition to the prep provider mock exam scores compared to results, seeing what resources others have commonly used could help a candidate narrow their focus more when selecting study materials.


    Resources Utilized Sample Share Pass Relative
    CFAI Mocks 804 78% 88.4% +1.9%
    CFAI Q Bank 764 74% 88.7% +2.2%
    CFAI Books 626 61% 87.7% +1.2%
    Kaplan Schweser Textbooks 553 54% 89.2% +2.7%
    r/CFA 447 44% 89.5% +3.0%
    Kaplan Schweser Mocks 392 38% 89.5% +3.0%
    Kaplan Schweser Q Bank 334 33% 85.9% -0.6%
    Mark Meldrum (paid) 428 42% 85.0% -1.5%
    Kaplan Schweser SecretSauce 251 24% 88.8% +2.3%
    Mark Meldrum (free) 55 5% 85.5% -1.0%
    Kaplan Schweser Videos 96 9% 81.3% -5.3%
    Analyst Forum 78 8% 94.9% +8.4%
    Live Mock 66 6% 90.9% +4.4%
    IFT 43 4% 88.4% +1.9%
    300hours.com 45 4% 91.1% +4.6%
    Wiley Mocks 38 4% 78.9% -7.6%
    Wiley Textbooks 48 5% 72.9% -13.6%
    Wiley Q Bank 38 4% 71.1% -15.4%
    Other 29 3% 75.9% -10.6%
    AnalystNotes 17 2% 94.1% +7.6%
    Wiley Videos 24 2% 75.0% -11.5%
    Study Group 26 3% 76.9% -9.6%
    Local CFA Society Sponsored Study Session 20 2% 90.0% +3.5%
    Bloomberg Exam Prep 10 1% 80.0% -6.5%
    LevelUp 1 0% 0.0% -86.5%
    Fitch Learning 8 1% 75.0% -11.5%
    Mentor 11 1% 72.7% -13.8%
    Tutor 5 1% 60.0% -26.5%
    N/A (I didn't study) 4 0% 50.0% -36.5%
    GoStudy 1 0% 0.0% -86.5%
    U of T (Toronto) 6 1% 83.3% -3.2%
  • L2resources.D20.PNG

Duration of Study

Data on when respondents began studying and how many hours they committed may be useful for a candidate hoping to plan their own pacing schedule. The 300 hours rule of thumb appears to hold true, and respondents typically begin studying in Late January and begin revision in Early May.


    Hours Studied Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 50 7 1% 71.4% -15.1%
    50 - 100 29 3% 75.9% -10.6%
    100 - 150 47 5% 87.2% +0.7%
    150 - 200 88 9% 85.2% -1.3%
    200 - 250 127 12% 85.0% -1.5%
    250 - 300 158 15% 86.1% -0.4%
    300 -350 198 19% 79.8% -6.7%
    350 - 400 155 15% 91.6% +5.1%
    400 - 450 94 9% 95.7% +9.2%
    450 -500 48 5% 87.5% +1.0%
    500 - 550 24 2% 87.5% +1.0%
    550 - 600 16 2% 93.8% +7.3%
    600+ 36 4% 91.7% +5.2%
  • L2hrsP.D20.PNG
  • L2hrsF.D20.PNG


The chart below shows MPS estimate averages for hours studied. Unsurprisingly, there seems to be a clear positive correlation between hours studied and exam score. It also appears that Level II requires more hours of study than Level I.


L2hrsest.D20.PNG


    When did you begin studying? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Previous June (December) or Prior 41 4% 90.2% +3.7%
    Previous July (January) 24 2% 79.2% -7.3%
    Previous August (February) 16 2% 87.5% +1.0%
    Previous September (March) 37 4% 86.5% 0.0%
    Previous October (April) 72 7% 87.5% +1.0%
    Previous November (May) 73 7% 84.9% -1.6%
    Previous December (June) 78 8% 88.5% +2.0%
    January (July) 230 22% 87.4% +0.9%
    February (August) 226 22% 86.7% +0.2%
    March (September) 116 11% 82.8% -3.7%
    April (October) 61 6% 86.9% +0.4%
    May (November) 42 4% 90.5% +4.0%
    June (December) 11 1% 72.7% -13.8%
  • L2beginP.D20.PNG
  • L2beginF.D20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying MPS estimates by start date. There is less of a correlation here than hours studied, though it does noticeably decline as the exam date approaches.


L2studyest.D20.PNG


    When did you finish the curriculum? Sample Share Pass Relative
    January (July) or Prior 19 2% 89.5% +3.0%
    Early February (August) 15 1% 93.3% +6.8%
    Late February (August) 8 1% 87.5% +1.0%
    Early March (September) 19 2% 94.7% +8.2%
    Late March (September) 32 3% 87.5% +1.0%
    Early April (October) 89 9% 93.3% +6.8%
    Late April (October) 141 14% 83.0% -3.5%
    Early May (November) 235 23% 86.4% -0.1%
    Late May (November) 187 18% 85.6% -0.9%
    Early June (December) 158 15% 86.1% -0.4%
    Didn't follow explicit curriculum 25 2% 84.0% -2.5%
    I never finished a curriculum 48 5% 81.3% -5.3%
    I chose not to read a curriculum 51 5% 88.2% +1.7%
  • L2endP.D20.PNG
  • L2endF.D20.PNG

Work Experience and Compensation

The work experience portion of the survey was initially intended to gain an understanding of the candidate population's attributes at each level. With the addition of the compensation portion of the survey in December 2020, several other questions including job responsibility, organization type, hours worked, etc. were added. These new attributes have the ability to paint a more comprehensive picture of ones career evolution through candidacy, which prospective candidates may find helpful.

    Years of Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 152 15% 83.6% -2.9%
    1 - 2 221 22% 87.8% +1.3%
    2 - 3 209 20% 90.0% +3.5%
    3 - 4 122 12% 85.2% -1.3%
    4 - 5 119 12% 83.2% -3.3%
    5 - 10 142 14% 88.0% +1.5%
    10 - 15 42 4% 83.3% -3.2%
    15+ 20 2% 80.0% -6.5%
  • L2jobexp.D20.PNG


One insight that I personally draw from the years of investment related experience compared to job experience is that it seems many candidates may be pursuing the designation in an attempt to break in to the investments industry, or have recently done so.


    Years of Investment Related Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 423 41% 85.3% -1.2%
    1 - 2 228 22% 86.4% -0.1%
    2 - 3 152 15% 91.4% +4.9%
    3 - 4 77 7% 90.9% +4.4%
    4 - 5 70 7% 77.1% -9.4%
    5 - 10 51 5% 90.2% +3.7%
    10 - 15 21 2% 81.0% -5.5%
    15+ 5 0% 80.0% -6.5%
  • L2invjobexp.D20.PNG


    Base Salary (Approximately in USD) Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $0 - $30k 2 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $30k - $40k 1 1% 0.0% -86.5%
    $40k - $50k 2 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $50k - $60k 8 6% 100.0% +13.5%
    $60k - $70k 5 4% 80.0% -6.5%
    $70k - $80k 14 10% 92.9% +6.4%
    $80k - $90k 2 1% 50.0% -36.5%
    $90k - $100k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $100k - $110k 5 4% 60.0% -26.5%
    $110k - $120k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $120k - $130k 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $130k - $140k 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $140k - $150k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $150k - $175k 2 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $175k - $200k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $200k - $225k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $225k - $250k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $250k - $300k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $300k - $350k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $350k - $400k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $400k - $500k 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L2sal.20.PNG


    Bonus / Performance Compensation (Approximately in USD)? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 2 1% 100.0%% +13.5%
    I am not eligible for a bonus 3 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    $0 - $2.5k 8 6% 87.5% +1.0%
    $2.5k - $5k 5 4% 80.0% -6.5%
    $5k - $7.5k 4 3% 50.0% -36.5%
    $7.5k - $10k 5 4% 100.0% +13.5%
    $10k - $12.5k 4 3% 100.0% +13.5%
    $12.5k - $15k 4 3% 75.0 -11.5%
    $15k - $17.5k 3 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    $17.5k - $20k 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $20k - $22.5k 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $22.5k - $25k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $25k - $30k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $30k - $35k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $35k - $40k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $40k - $45k 2 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    $45k - $50k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $50k - $60k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $60k - $70k 1 1% 100.0% 100.0%
    $70k - $80k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $80k - $90k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $90k - $100k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $100k - $125k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $125k - $150k 1 1% 0.0% -86.5%
    $150k - $175k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $175k - $200k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $200k+ 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L2bon.D20.PNG


    What is your primary role / job responsibility? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Research / Investment Analyst 18 13% 88.9% +2.4%
    Financial Analyst (Corporate, Treasury, etc.) 8 6% 75.0% -11.5%
    Portfolio Manager 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Consultant 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Financial Advisor / Planner 2 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Operations / Reconciliation 4 3% 100.0% +13.5%
    Compliance / Risk 4 3% 75.0% -11.5%
    Investment Banking 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Sales / Trading 1 1% 0.0% -86.5%
    Client Services / Relationship Management 0 0% N/A N/A
    Accountant / Auditor 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Unemployed 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Manager 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Intern 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Other 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
  • L2resp.D20.PNG


    What best describes your organization type? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Asset Management 13 10% 76.9% -9.6%
    Wealth Management 11 8% 81.8% -4.7%
    Investment Bank 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Pension, Endowment, Foundation, Other Not-For-Profit 3 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    Commercial Bank 4 3% 100.0% +13.5%
    Financial Advisory 5 4% 100.0% +13.5%
    Consultancy 0 0% N/A N/A
    Insurance Company 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Accounting Firm 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Government 0 0% N/A N/A
    Academia 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Unemployed 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    Other 4 3% 75.0% -11.5%
  • L2org.D20.PNG


    How many employees does your firm employ? Sample Share Pass Relative
    > 100 10 7% 90.0% +3.5%
    100 - 499 9 7% 100.0% +13.5%
    499 - 999 7 5% 71.4% -15.1%
    1,000 - 4,999 8 6% 75.0% -11.5%
    5,000+ 9 7% 88.9% +2.4%
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
  • L2emp.D20.PNG


    How is the AUM of your firm? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < $1B 5 4% 100.0% +13.5%
    $1B - <$5B 11 8% 81.8% -4.7%
    $5B - $20B 3 2% 66.7% -19.8%
    $20B+ 16 12% 87.5% +1.0%
    N/A 9 7% 88.9% -2.4%
  • L2aum.D20.PNG


    How many hours do you typically work in a week? Sample Share Pass Relative
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 0 0% N/A N/A
    30 or less 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    31 - 35 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    36 - 40 6 4% 100.0% +13.5%
    41 - 45 20 15% 80.0% -6.5%
    46 - 50 8 6% 87.5% +1.0%
    51 - 55 3 2% 66.7% -19.8%
    56 - 60 3 2% 100.0% +13.5%
    61 - 65 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    66 - 70 0 0% N/A N/A
    71 - 80 1 1% 100.0% +13.5%
    80+ 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L2hrsw.D20.PNG

Education and Other Designations

This section may not assist a candidate in their preparation, but it could help provide a better understanding of the candidate population and how they compare, credential-wise.


    Degrees Obtained Sample Share Pass Relative
    Bachelor's Degree (Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 761 74% 86.9% +0.4%
    Bachelor's Degree (Non-Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 200 19% 83.0% -3.5%
    MBA 78 8% 83.3% -3.2%
    Post-work / Masters (Non-MBA, MS in Finance) 93 9% 89.2% +2.7%
    MS in Finance 94 9% 90.4% +3.9%
    Associates Degree 43 4% 90.7% +4.0%
    Doctorate 13 1% 76.9% -9.6%
    Juris Doctor 3 0% 0.0% -86.5%
  • L2degrees.D20.PNG


    Other Designations Sample Share Pass Relative
    CPA 73 7% 94.5% +8.0%
    FRM 37 4% 89.2% +2.7%
    CFP 2 2% 63.6% -22.9%
    CAIA 16 2% 81.3% -5.3%
    ACCA 15 1% 53.3% -33.2%
    ASA 4 0% 75.0% -11.5%
    CIM 9 1% 77.8% -8.7%
    FSA 3 0% 66.7% -19.8%
    CIMA 5 0% 60.0% -26.5%
    CERA 1 0% 0.0% -86.5%
    AACI 2 0% 50.0% -36.5%
  • L2designations.D20.PNG

Other

Description (Age, Gender, Continent, English Speaking, etc.)


    What is your age? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < 25 361 35% 88.1% +1.6%
    25 - 29 450 44% 86.2% -0.3%
    30 - 34 151 15% 84.8% -1.7%
    35 - 39 46 4% 82.6% -3.9%
    40 - 49 16 2% 87.5% +1.0%
    50+ 3 0% 66.7% -19.8%
  • L2age.D20.PNG


    What Continent are you from? Sample Share Pass Relative
    North America 630 61% 85.6% -0.9%
    Asia 176 17% 90.9% +4.4%
    Europe 112 11% 83.9% -2.9%
    Australia / Oceania 63 6% 88.9% +2.4%
    Africa 24 2% 87.5% +1.0%
    South America 22 2% 81.8% -4.7%
  • L2cont.D20.PNG



    Gender Sample Share Pass Relative
    Male 832 81% 86.4% -0.1%
    Female 114 11% 83.3% -3.2%
  • L2gender.D20.PNG
  • Is English your first language? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 755 74% 85.6% -0.9%
    No 272 26% 89.0% +2.5%
  • L2eng.D20.PNG


    First time sitting for that level? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 813 79% 85.4% -1.1%
    No 214 21% 90.7% +4.2%
  • L2first.D20.PNG

Topic Area Breakdown

This section dissects the responses to each individual topic area more.


Using the mean of respondents estimated scores, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows (sample).


1. Financial Reporting & Analysis (Mean 62.6%, St. Dev. 15.9%)

2. Portfolio Management (Mean 63.4%, St. Dev. 15.3%)

3. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (Mean 69.8%, St. Dev. 11.7%)

4. Economics (Mean 70.5%, St. Dev. 16.4%)

5. Ethical & Professional Standards (Mean 70.6%, St. Dev. 10.3%)

6. Equity Investments (Mean 71.8%, St. Dev. 12.0%)

7. Quantitative Methods (Mean 71.8%, St. Dev. 15.0%)

8. Corporate Finance (Mean 72.2%, St. Dev. 16.2%)

9. Fixed Income (Mean 76.6%, St. Dev. 12.1%)



Using respondents estimates for the 90th percentile, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows (population).


1. Financial Reporting & Analysis (72.2%)

2. Ethical & Professional Standards (76.8%)

3. Portfolio Management (76.9%)

4. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (77.7%)

5. Equity Investments (82.3%)

6. Economics (83.0%)

7. Quantitative Methods (85.0%)

8. Fixed Income (87.3%)

9. Corporate Finance (91.3%)



Compared to the total populations 90th percentile estimate, the sample struggled in similar topic areas - underperforming in Economics and Corporate Finance while outperforming in Ethical & Professional Standards.


    Alternative Investments and Derivatives (Weight: 18.3%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 125 8 133 81.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 42 1 43 77.7%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 43 6 49 73.9%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 64 2 66 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 70 14 84 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 20 8 28 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 4 7 11 42.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 4 5 9 34.5%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 0 1 27.3%
  • L2ad.D20.PNG
    Corporate Finance (Weight: 7.7%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 33 3 36 92.6%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 47 4 51 91.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 124 14 138 80.6%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 76 7 83 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 30 8 38 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 43 10 53 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 2 2 4 42.8%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 16 3 19 35.7%
    Below the 10th percentile 4 1 5 27.8%
  • L2cf.D20.PNG
    Economics (Weight: 7.7%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 106 6 112 85.6%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 66 10 76 83.0%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 23 1 24 76.5%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 65 10 75 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 33 8 41 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 35 10 45 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 3 2 5 42.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 21 3 24 34.3%
    Below the 10th percentile 6 3 9 27.1%
  • L2ec.D20.PNG
    Equity Investments (Weight: 14.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 76 6 82 84.9%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 49 3 52 82.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 99 10 109 76.1%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 62 6 68 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 58 12 70 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 17 6 23 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 7 3 10 45.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 2 3 5 40.3%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 4 5 30.2%
  • L2eq.D20.PNG
    Ethical & Professional Standards (Weight: 10.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 113 10 123 80.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 77 7 84 76.8%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 37 5 42 73.4%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 51 3 54 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 68 15 83 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 11 6 17 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 3 3 6 46.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 8 2 10 42.1%
    Below the 10th percentile 3 1 4 31.1%
  • L2et.D20.PNG
    Fixed Income (Weight: 10.7%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 75 5 80 89.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 55 1 56 87.3%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 149 18 167 78.6%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 38 6 44 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 35 10 45 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 10 4 14 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 2 6 8 46.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 3 0 3 46.5%
    Below the 10th percentile 2 3 5 33.3%
  • L2fi.D20.PNG
    Financial Reporting & Analysis (Weight: 15.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 85 2 87 76.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 40 1 41 72.2%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 40 5 45 71.1%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 43 9 52 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 74 13 87 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 43 11 54 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 34 8 42 40.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 9 2 11 30.2%
    Below the 10th percentile 2 2 4 25.1%
  • L2fra.D20.PNG
    Portfolio Management (Weight: 8.3%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 74 3 77 80.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 49 3 52 76.9%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 24 4 28 73.4%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 37 4 41 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 84 11 95 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 54 6 60 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 24 10 34 41.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 10 5 15 32.4%
    Below the 10th percentile 3 3 6 26.2%
  • L2pm.D20.PNG
    Quantitative Methods (Weight: 8.3%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 81 5 86 87.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 48 3 51 85.0%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 104 8 112 77.5%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 36 3 39 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 57 13 70 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 22 8 30 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 4 2 6 45.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 15 8 23 40.3%
    Below the 10th percentile 2 3 5 30.2%
  • L2qm.D20.PNG

Level III

The charts, tables, and commentary below will display highlights of exam preparation and corresponding results distributions, in addition to providing potential answers to questions that are frequently asked by candidates.


Mock Exam Performance

The CFA Institute provides three mock exams. The averages suggest that passers typically will go beyond this amount while those who failed, on average, completed less than the provided mock exams.


Full Mock Exams Completed
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 5.7 3.0 97
June 2019 (Pass) 5.7 3.4 358
June 2018 (Pass) 5.7 3.3 144
Total Level III Pass 5.7 3.3 599
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 4.2 2.7 9
June 2019 (Fail) 3.9 3.2 26
June 2018 (Fail) 4.5 3.2 14
Total Level III Fail 4.1 3.0 49


    Full Mocks Taken Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 44 7% 81.8% -10.6%
    1 24 4% 83.3% -9.1%
    2 59 9% 91.5% -0.9%
    3 58 9% 91.4% -1.0%
    4 75 12% 90.7% -1.7%
    5 95 15% 94.7% +2.3%
    6 57 9% 96.5% +4.1%
    7 60 9% 95.0% +2.6%
    8 47 7% 87.2% -5.2%
    9 38 6% 89.5% -2.9%
    10 306 6% 100.0% +7.6%
    11 12 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    12+ 43 7% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3mockstaken.D20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying the average MPS estimates for respondents by number of mock exams completed. It is important to note that only approximately one-third of all exam respondents fully complete the performance section used to calculate the MPS estimate. Keep this reduced sample in mind when interpreting the MPS estimate charts both immediately below and in the other segments MPS estimate data is available for.


L3mockest.D20.PNG


Looking in to mock exam scores by prep provider may also offer candidates comfort or insight in to their performance leading up to the exam date.


CFAI Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 67.2% 6.8% 78
June 2019 (Pass) 68.1% 7.6% 284
June 2018 (Pass) 68.7% 6.2% 117
Total Level III Pass 68.1% 7.1% 479
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 59.0% 1.4% 5
June 2019 (Fail) 63.3% 5.7% 20
June 2018 (Fail) 63.9% 7.9% 8
Total Level III Fail 62.8% 6.0% 33



    CFAI Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    45 - 49% 3 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    50 - 55% 17 3% 82.4% -10.0%
    56 - 59% 9 1% 77.8% -14.6%
    60 - 62% 75 12% 85.3% -7.1%
    63 - 64% 24 4% 91.7% -0.7%
    65 - 67% 108 17% 92.6% +0.2%
    68 - 69% 42 6% 95.2% +2.8%
    70 - 72% 114 18% 97.4% +5.0%
    73 - 74% 12 2% 91.7% -0.7%
    75 - 77% 66 10% 98.5% +6.1%
    78 - 79% 9 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    80 - 82% 19 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    83 - 84% 3 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    85 - 87% 5 1% 100.0 +7.6%
    88 - 89% 0 0% N/A N/A
    90% + 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3CFAITS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their CFAI Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L3cmockest.D20.PNG


Kaplan Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 68.1% 6.8% 44
June 2019 (Pass) 68.9% 6.9% 138
June 2018 (Pass) 67.7% 6.2% 59
Total Level III Pass 68.5% 6.7% 241
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 60.8% 6.8% 5
June 2019 (Fail) 61.0% 15.6% 2
June 2018 (Fail) 66.4% 6.5% 5
Total Level III Fail 63.2% 8.2% 12



    Kaplan Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 0 0% N/A N/A
    45 - 49% 0 0% N/A N/A
    50 - 55% 11 2% 81.8% -10.6%
    56 - 59% 7 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    60 - 62% 35 6% 85.7% -6.7%
    63 - 64% 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    65 - 67% 47 9% 97.9% +5.5%
    68 - 69% 25 4% 100.0% +7.6%
    70 - 72% 65 12% 95.4% +3.0%
    73 - 74% 7 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    75 - 77% 25 5% 96.0% +3.6%
    78 - 79% 9 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    80 - 82% 16 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    83 - 84% 0 0% N/A N/A
    85 - 87% 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    88 - 89% 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    90% + 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3KTS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Kaplan Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L3kmockest.D20.PNG


Wiley Mock / Q Bank Scores
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Pass) 67.5% 3.5% 2
June 2019 (Pass) 72.2% 7.4% 19
June 2018 (Pass) 66.8% 9.7% 14
Total Level III Pass 71.7% 8.1% 35
Exam Date Mean St. Dev Sample
December 2020 (Fail) 60.0% N.A 1
June 2019 (Fail) N/A N.A 0
June 2018 (Fail) N/A N/A 0
Total Level II Fail 60.0 N/A 1



    Wiley Mocks / Q Bank Average Sample Share Pass Relative
    <40% 0 0% N/A N/A
    40 - 44% 0 0% N/A N/A
    45 - 49% 0 0% N/A N/A
    50 - 55% 2 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    56 - 59% 0 0% N/A N/A
    60 - 62% 4 1% 75.0% -17.4%
    63 - 64% 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    65 - 67% 3 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    68 - 69% 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    70 - 72% 5 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    73 - 74% 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    75 - 77% 7 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    78 - 79% 3 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    80 - 82% 2 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    83 - 84% 0 0% N/A N/A
    85 - 87% 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    88 - 89% 0 0% N/A N/A
    90% + 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3WTS.D20.PNG


The chart below displays the average MPS estimates for respondents according to their Wiley Mock Exam / Q Bank average.


L3wmockest.D20.PNG

Study Materials

In addition to the prep provider mock exam scores compared to results, seeing what resources others have commonly used could help a candidate narrow their focus more when selecting study materials.


    Resources Utilized Sample Share Pass Relative
    CFAI Mocks 509 79% 94.7% +2.3%
    CFAI Q Bank 450 69% 94.7% +2.3%
    CFAI Books 448 69% 92.4% 0.0%
    Kaplan Schweser Textbooks 300 46% 93.0% +0.6%
    r/CFA 310 48% 91.6% -0.8%
    Kaplan Schweser Mocks 255 39% 92.9% +0.5%
    Kaplan Schweser Q Bank 189 29% 95.2% +2.8%
    Mark Meldrum (paid) 243 38% 92.2% -0.2%
    Kaplan Schweser SecretSauce 157 24% 94.3% +1.9%
    Mark Meldrum (free) 27 4% 88.9% -3.5%
    Kaplan Schweser Videos 75 12% 93.3% +0.9%
    Analyst Forum 81 13% 93.8% +1.4%
    Live Mock 44 7% 86.4% -6.0%
    IFT 50 8% 90.0% -2.4%
    300hours.com 29 4% 93.1% +0.7%
    Wiley Mocks 31 5% 96.8% +4.4%
    Wiley Textbooks 14 2% 92.9% +0.5%
    Wiley Q Bank 10 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Other 30 5% 100.0% +7.6%
    AnalystNotes 8 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Wiley Videos 9 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Study Group 19 3% 78.9% -13.5%
    Local CFA Society Sponsored Study Session 14 2% 92.9% +0.5%
    Bloomberg Exam Prep 7 1% 85.7% -6.7%
    LevelUp 49 8% 87.8% -4.6%
    Fitch Learning 7 1% 85.7% -6.7%
    Mentor 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Tutor 0 0% N/A N/A
    N/A (I didn't study) 2 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    GoStudy 13 2% 92.3% -0.1%
    U of T (Toronto) 3 0% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3resources.D20.PNG

Duration of Study

Data on when respondents began studying and how many hours they committed may be useful for a candidate hoping to plan their own pacing schedule. The 300 hours rule of thumb appears to hold true, and respondents typically begin studying in December or January and begin revision some time in Late April.


    Hours Studied Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 50 3 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    50 - 100 9 1% 77.8% -14.6%
    100 - 150 26 4% 88.5% -3.9%
    150 - 200 47 7% 91.5% -0.9%
    200 - 250 76 12% 92.1% -0.3%
    250 - 300 109 17% 93.6% +1.2%
    300 -350 117 18% 90.6% -1.8%
    350 - 400 91 14% 98.9% +6.5%
    400 - 450 49 8% 89.8% -2.6%
    450 -500 34 5% 91.2% -1.2%
    500 - 550 28 4% 92.9% +0.5%
    550 - 600 14 2% 85.7% -6.7%
    600+ 45 7% 93.3% +0.9%
  • L3hrsP.D20.PNG
  • L3hrsF.D20.PNG


The chart below shows MPS estimate averages for hours studied. Unsurprisingly, there seems to be a clear positive correlation between hours studied and exam score.


L3hrsest.D20.PNG


    When did you begin studying? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Previous June (December) or Prior 42 6% 90.5% -1.9%
    Previous July (January) 19 3% 94.7% +2.3%
    Previous August (February) 12 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Previous September 26 4% 92.3% -0.1%
    Previous October (March) 37 6% 94.6% +2.2%
    Previous November (April) 73 11% 94.5% +2.1%
    Previous December (June) 56 9% 96.4% +4.0%
    January (July) 188 29% 91.0% -1.4%
    February (August) 106 16% 90.6% -1.8%
    March (September) 37 6% 86.5% -5.9%
    April (October) 31 5% 93.5% +1.1%
    May (November) 16 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    June (December) 5 1% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3beginP.D20.PNG
  • L3beginF.D20.PNG


Below is a chart displaying MPS estimates by start date. There is less of a correlation here than hours studied, though it does noticeably decline as the exam date approaches.


L3studyest.D20.PNG


    When did you finish the curriculum? Sample Share Pass Relative
    January (July) or Prior 21 3% 95.2% +2.8%
    Early February (August) 15 2% 86.7% -5.7%
    Late February (August) 14 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Early March (September) 21 3% 90.5% -1.9%
    Late March (September) 48 7% 95.8% +3.4%
    Early April (October) 81 13% 97.5% +5.1%
    Late April (October) 127 20% 92.1% -0.3%
    Early May (November) 133 21% 91.7% -0.7%
    Late May (November) 77 12% 89.6% -2.8%
    Early June (December) 48 7% 85.4% -7.0%
    Didn't follow explicit curriculum 13 2% 92.3% -0.1%
    I never finished a curriculum 22 3% 86.4% -6.0%
    I chose not to read a curriculum 28 4% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3endP.D20.PNG
  • L3endF.D20.PNG

Work Experience and Compensation

    Years of Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 18 3% 88.9% -3.5%
    1 - 2 64 10% 89.1% -3.3%
    2 - 3 95 15% 96.8% +4.4%
    3 - 4 119 18% 89.9% -2.5%
    4 - 5 116 18% 96.6% +4.2%
    5 - 10 175 27% 92.0% -0.4%
    10 - 15 45 7% 91.1% -1.3%
    15+ 16 2% 81.3% -11.2%
  • L3jobexp.D20.PNG


One insight that I personally draw from the years of investment related experience compared to job experience is that it seems many candidates may be pursuing the designation in an attempt to break in to the investments industry, or have recently done so.


    Years of Investment Related Job Experience Sample Share Pass Relative
    0 - 1 111 17% 90.1% -2.3%
    1 - 2 79 12% 87.3% -5.1%
    2 - 3 113 17% 95.6% +3.2%
    3 - 4 112 17% 93.8% +1.4%
    4 - 5 116 18% 92.2% -0.2%
    5 - 10 84 13% 94.0% +1.6%
    10 - 15 25 4% 96.0% +3.6%
    15+ 8 1% 87.5% -4.9%
  • L3invjobexp.D20.PNG


    Base Salary (Approximately in USD)? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $0 - $30k 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    $30k - $40k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $40k - $50k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $50k - $60k 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    $60k - $70k 7 7% 85.7% -6.7%
    $70k - $80k 5 5% 100.0% +7.6%
    $80k - $90k 5 5% 80.0% -12.4%
    $90k - $100k 11 10% 100.0% +7.6%
    $100k - $110k 7 7% 85.7% -6.7%
    $110k - $120k 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    $120k - $130k 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    $130k - $140k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $140k - $150k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $150k - $175k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $175k - $200k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $200k - $225k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $225k - $250k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $250k - $300k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $300k - $350k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $350k - $400k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $400k - $500k 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3sal.D20.PNG


    Bonus / Performance Compensation (Approximately in USD)? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Unemployed / Student / Prefer Not to Answer 1 1% 100.0%% +7.6%
    I am not eligible for a bonus 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    $0 - $2.5k 5 5% 100.0% +7.6%%
    $2.5k - $5k 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    $5k - $7.5k 6 6% 100.0% +7.6%
    $7.5k - $10k 6 6% 100.0% +7.6%
    $10k - $12.5k 5 5% 100.0% +7.6%
    $12.5k - $15k 5 5% 100.0 +7.6%
    $15k - $17.5k 2 2% 50.0% -42.4%
    $17.5k - $20k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $20k - $22.5k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $22.5k - $25k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $25k - $30k 3 3% 33.3% -59.1%
    $30k - $35k 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    $35k - $40k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $40k - $45k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $45k - $50k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $50k - $60k 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    $60k - $70k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $70k - $80k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $80k - $90k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $90k - $100k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $100k - $125k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $125k - $150k 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    $150k - $175k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $175k - $200k 0 0% N/A N/A
    $200k+ 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3bon.D20.PNG


    What is your primary role / job responsibility? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Research / Investment Analyst 12 11% 91.7% -0.7%
    Financial Analyst (Corporate, Treasury, etc.) 7 7% 85.7% -6.7%
    Portfolio Manager 10 9% 90.0% -2.4%
    Consultant 6 6% 100.0% +7.6%
    Financial Advisor / Planner 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    Operations / Reconciliation 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Compliance / Risk 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Investment Banking 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Sales / Trading 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Client Services / Relationship Management 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Accountant / Auditor 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Unemployed 0 0% N/A N/A
    Manager 0 0% N/A N/A
    Intern 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Other 4 4% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3resp.D20.PNG


    What best describes your organization type? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Asset Management 14 13% 100.0% +7.6%
    Wealth Management 11 10% 90.9% -1.5%
    Investment Bank 4 4% 75.0% -17.4%
    Pension, Endowment, Foundation, Other Not-For-Profit 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    Commercial Bank 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Financial Advisory 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Consultancy 4 4% 100.0% +7.6%
    Insurance Company 3 3% 66.7% -25.7%
    Accounting Firm 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Government 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Academia 0 0% N/A N/A
    Student 0 0% N/A N/A
    Unemployed 0 0% N/A N/A
    Other 8 8% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3org.D20.PNG


    How many employees does your firm employ? Sample Share Pass Relative
    > 100 13 12% 84.6% +7.8%
    100 - 499 12 11% 100.0% +7.6%
    499 - 999 3 3% 100.0% +7.6%
    1,000 - 4,999 5 5% 80.0% -12.4%
    5,000+ 19 18% 100.0% +7.6%
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3emp.D20.PNG


    How is the AUM of your firm? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < $1B 4 4% 100.0% +7.6%
    $1B - <$5B 6 6% 93.3% -9.1%
    $5B - $20B 8 8% 100.0% +7.6%
    $20B+ 19 18% 94.7% +2.3%
    N/A 15 14% 93.3% +1.1%
  • L3aum.D20.PNG


    How many hours do you typically work in a week? Sample Share Pass Relative
    N/A (Unemployed or Student) 0 0% N/A N/A
    30 or less 1 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    31 - 35 0 0% N/A N/A
    36 - 40 15 14% 100.0% +7.6%
    41 - 45 11 10% 100.0% +7.6%
    46 - 50 11 10% 100.0% +7.6%
    51 - 55 5 5% 60.0% -32.4%
    56 - 60 2 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    61 - 65 4 4% 75.0% -17.4%
    66 - 70 3 3% 100.0% 100.0%
    71 - 80 0 0% N/A N/A
    80+ 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3hrsw.D20.PNG

Education and Other Designations

This section may not assist a candidate in their preparation, but it could help provide a better understanding of the candidate population and how they compare, credential-wise.


    Degrees Obtained Sample Share Pass Relative
    Bachelor's Degree (Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 508 78% 91.3% -1.1%
    Bachelor's Degree (Non-Finance, Econ, Accounting related) 109 17% 96.3% +3.9%
    MBA 73 11% 90.4% -2.0%
    Post-work / Masters (Non-MBA, MS in Finance) 55 8% 92.7% +0.3%
    MS in Finance 49 8% 89.8% -2.6%
    Associates Degree 13 2% 100.0% +7.6%
    Doctorate 9 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    Juris Doctor 6 1% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3degrees.D20.PNG


    Other Designations Sample Share Pass Relative
    CPA 52 8% 92.3% -0.1%
    FRM 20 3% 80.0% -12.4%
    CFP 24 4% 95.8% +3.4%
    CAIA 16 2% 93.8% +1.4%
    ACCA 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    ASA 6 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    CIM 3 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    FSA 5 1% 100.0% +7.6%
    CIMA 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    CERA 1 0% 100.0% +7.6%
    AACI 0 0% N/A N/A
  • L3designations.D20.PNG

Other

Description (Age, Gender, Continent, English Speaking, etc.)


    What is your age? Sample Share Pass Relative
    < 25 101 16% 94.1% +1.7%
    25 - 29 348 54% 91.7% -0.7%
    30 - 34 134 21% 95.5% +3.1%
    35 - 39 45 7% 86.7% -5.7%
    40 - 49 16 2% 87.5% -4.9%
    50+ 4 1% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3age.D20.PNG


    What Continent are you from? Sample Share Pass Relative
    North America 436 67% 90.4% -2.0%
    Asia 104 16% 96.2% +3.8%
    Europe 57 9% 100.0% +7.6%
    Australia / Oceania 29 4% 93.1% +0.7%
    Africa 14 2% 92.9% +0.5%
    South America 8 1% 100.0% +7.6%
  • L3cont.D20.PNG



    Gender Sample Share Pass Relative
    Male 555 86% 92.6% +0.2%
    Female 81 13% 93.8% +1.4%
  • L3gender.D20.PNG
  • Is English your first language? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 498 77% 91.6% -0.8%
    No 150 23% 95.3% +2.9%
  • L3eng.D20.PNG


    First time sitting for that level? Sample Share Pass Relative
    Yes 555 86% 92.8% +0.4%
    No 93 14% 90.3% -2.1%
  • L3first.D20.PNG

Topic Area Breakdown

This section dissects the responses to each individual topic area more.


Using the mean of respondents estimated scores, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows (sample).

1. Fixed Income (Mean 60.2%, St. Dev. 14.1%)

2. Essay (Mean 62.6%, St. Dev. 10.6%)

3. Behavioral Finance (Mean 65.5%, St. Dev. 10.0%)

4. Economics (Mean 65.6%, St. Dev. 12.7%)

5. Equity Investments (Mean 65.8%, St. Dev. 17.0%)

6. Trading (Mean 68.9%, St. Dev. 16.3%)

7. Ethical & Professional Standards (Mean 71.9%, St. Dev. 11.5%)

8. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (Mean 73.6%, St. Dev. 12.5%)



Using respondents estimates for the 90th percentile, the ranking of difficulty for each topic area is as follows (population).


1. Essay (68.4%)

2. Fixed Income (73.7%)

3. Behavioral Finance (74.6%)

4. Equity Investments (78.1%)

5. Economics (80.4%)

6. Alternative Investments & Derivatives (83.7%)

7. Ethical & Professional Standards (83.9%)

8. Trading (85.1%)



Compared to the total populations 90th percentile estimate, the sample struggled in similar topic areas while slightly underperforming in Trading.


    Essay (Weight: 50.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 55 0 55 73.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 27 0 27 68.4%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 8 0 8 69.2%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 9 2 11 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 71 1 72 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 25 4 29 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 1 3 4 40.8%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 4 6 31.6%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 1 1 25.8%
  • L3es.D20.PNG
    Alternatives & Derivatives (Weight: 7.8%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 42 2 44 86.1%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 38 1 39 83.7%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 51 0 51 76.8%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 32 2 34 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 23 3 26 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 8 6 14 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 2 1 3 46.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 3 3 42.5%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 2 3 31.3%
  • L3ad.D20.PNG
    Behavioral Finance (Weight: 14.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 37 0 37 78.4%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 17 0 17 74.6%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 16 0 16 72.3%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 29 0 29 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 56 6 62 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 16 4 20 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 6 3 9 44.0%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 0 0 0 38.0%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 1 1 29.0%
  • L3bf.D20.PNG
    Economics (Weight: 7.3%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 27 2 29 83.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 13 2 15 80.4%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 38 0 38 75.2%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 40 1 41 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 33 3 36 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 25 6 31 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 10 2 12 46.4%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 6 2 6 42.7
    Below the 10th percentile 1 4 5 31.4%
  • L3ec.D20.PNG
    Equity Investment (Weight: 4.7%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 41 1 42 81.4%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 15 0 15 78.1%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 33 0 33 74.1%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 33 1 34 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 32 5 37 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 26 6 32 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 7 1 8 41.2%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 6 2 8 32.3%
    Below the 10th percentile 1 1 2 26.2%
  • L3eq.D20.PNG
    Ethical & Professional Standards (Weight: 5.0%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 30 2 32 86.4%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 27 2 29 83.9%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 50 3 53 77.0%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 31 3 34 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 35 4 39 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 13 2 15 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 6 1 7 47.0%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 2 0 2 44.0%
    Below the 10th percentile 0 0 0 32.0%
  • L3et.D20.PNG
    Fixed Income (Weight: 7.3%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 34 0 34 77.6%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 18 0 18 73.7%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 9 1 10 71.8%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 24 1 25 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 52 2 54 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 34 3 37 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 16 3 19 40.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 4 5 9 30.7%
    Below the 10th percentile 3 2 5 25.3%
  • L3fi.D20.PNG
    Trading (Weight: 3.8%)
    Response Pass Fail Total Est. Score
    Above the 90th percentile 31 0 31 87.3%
    Pretty darn close to the 90th percentile 23 1 24 85.1%
    Between 70% and the 90th percentile 36 2 38 77.6%
    Pretty darn close to 70% 29 1 30 70.0%
    Between 50% and 70% 35 3 38 60.0%
    Pretty darn close to 50% 16 3 19 50.0%
    Between the 10th percentile and 50% 4 4 8 37.0%
    Pretty darn close to the 10th percentile 5 1 6 23.9%
    Below the 10th percentile 2 0 2 22.0%
  • L3t.D20.PNG

Other Surveys

CFA Institute 2019 Compensation Study (login required)

CFA Society Chicago 2018 Financial Compensation Survey

CFA Society Los Angeles 2018 Financial Compensation Survey

CFA Society San Francisco 2018 Financial Compensation Survey

CFA Institute June 2018 Candidate Survey




Created and managed by: Finnesotan