Level 1 Overview

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General information[edit]

Cost: $450 One-time Enrollment Fee, in addition to an Early ($700), Standard ($1,000), or Late ($1,450) Registration Fee.

Level 1 is offered twice per year, once in June and once in December.

The Early Registration period for the June 2020 exams ended on October 2, 2019; the Standard Registration period will end on February 12, 2020; and the Late Registration period will end on March 11, 2020.

December 2020 exam registration is now open, Early Registration period will end March 25, 2020; the Standard Registration period will end on August 19, 2020; and the Late Registration period will end on September 9, 2020.

Current Exam Format[edit]

Duration: 6 hour exam time, one three hour AM session from 9 am to 12 pm followed by two hours break and then another three hour PM session from 2 pm to 5 pm

Question Format: 240 multiple choice questions with 120 per session. There are three answer choices per question.

New Computer-based Exam Format (after December 2020 exam)[1][edit]

Duration: Two sessions, AM and PM, each session consisting of 90 questions in 2 hours 15 minutes.

Question Format: 180 multiple choice questions, computer-based test. There are three answer choices per question.

Topics Covered[edit]

There are 10 topics covered in the exam, below are the topic areas and their corresponding weights:

Topic Area Weight
Ethical and Professional Standards 15%
Quantitative Methods 10%
Economics 10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 15%
Corporate Finance 10%
Equity Investments 11%
Fixed Income 11%
Derivatives 6%
Alternative Investments 6%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 6%

Topic Changes: Each year, select readings from the curriculum are removed and replaced. This allows for the subject matter to stay up to date with the current practice of finance and has altered these topic area weightings over time. As the readings and content are refreshed annually, after several years there will be a material amount of new concepts introduced. Typically, the change year over year may be manageable for those hoping to save on prep cost, though after several years some information may be stale and ones time may be better spent reviewing the CFA Institute material that is provided with the registration cost. The CFA Institute details these annual changes for candidates, this information can be found by following this link(login required).

2020 Level 1 Curriculum changes:

  • There were no new readings added from 2019 to 2020
  • 1 reading (28 pages) was removed
    • Discounted Cash Flow Applications
  • 14 readings had either "Learning Outcome Statement (LOS)" changes, or significant content changes
    • 1 Quantitative Methods reading
    • 1 Economics reading
    • 5 Financial Reporting and Analysis readings
    • 1 Corporate Finance reading
    • 1 Fixed Income reading
    • 1 Derivatives reading
    • 4 Portfolio Management readings
  • 75 pages of End-of-Reading Practice Problems were added
    • 3 Ethical and Professional Standards readings
    • 1 Quantitative Methods reading
    • 1 Fixed Income reading
    • 2 Derivatives readings


Materials become available once the previous years exams results have been released. With the registration fee, an eBook along with an online study resource including study resources, a large question bank, and mock exams. The eBook may be purchased in print for an additional $150. For the 10 topics covered there are 19 study sessions across 57 readings containing 3,295 pages of study content. 300 hours is the recommended study duration, but ultimately it will depend on each individuals own pace.

Approved Prep Providers

Follow this link to browse the list of approved prep providers. There are 54 commercial and 8 society sponsored prep programs. 32 offer an online format and 55 offer an in-person format. Some providers are equipped with both while others may only offer one or the other.