The Truth About the Difficulty of CFA Level 3 Exam

Find out the truth about the difficulty level of CFA Level 3 exam and how to effectively prepare for it.

The Truth About the Difficulty of CFA Level 3 Exam

As a CFA certificate holder, I am often asked which level of the CFA exam I found to be the most challenging. And without a doubt, my answer is always level 2 or level 3.However, there is a common misconception that Level 3 of the CFA is the hardest of them all. While it is true that Level III is a tough nut to crack, I do not believe it is necessarily the most difficult exam in the series. The main reason for this is because of its unique essay-based format, which sets it apart from the multiple-choice format of the other two levels. But let me be clear, passing any level of the CFA exam requires a significant amount of dedication and hard work.

Without a well-planned study schedule and strict adherence to it, it is nearly impossible to pass this rigorous exam. In order to create an effective study plan, it is crucial to first assess your priorities and obligations for the week. This will help you better integrate your study sessions into your daily routine. According to candidates who have successfully passed the exam, an average of 300 hours of studying is required for each level. This breaks down to approximately 303 hours for CFA level 1, 328 hours for CFA level 2, and 344 hours for CFA level 3.It is worth noting that the difficulty level of each exam can vary from year to year.

For example, while level 2 may have been more challenging in a particular year, it does not necessarily mean that it will always be harder than level 1 or level 3.This is because the exam format and administration can also play a significant role in determining its difficulty level. While the topics covered in CFA level 1 and 2 exams are similar, level 1 has a broader scope but at a fundamental level. On the other hand, level 2 covers a narrower range of topics but in greater depth. Therefore, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the theories and concepts related to CFA Level 3 to excel in this exam. Candidates who have a strong grasp of the material covered in CFA level 1 usually find it easier to prepare for the subsequent levels. However, it is important to remember that every candidate's experience, knowledge base, and academic background are unique.

Therefore, the amount of time required to study for each level may vary from person to person. Once you have created a study schedule, it is crucial to determine how many weeks or months you will need to prepare for each level of the CFA exam. Regardless of which level of the CFA exam you are taking, the key to success lies in having an effective study plan. The afternoon session of the exam consists of 10 vignettes with multiple-choice questions, similar to those in level 2.However, there is a general consensus that the volume of curriculum for level 2 is significantly greater than that of level 3.Since every candidate's schedule is different, it is impossible to determine exactly how much time one needs to study and prepare for the exam. However, third-party practice tests such as Schweser and other mock exams can provide a reliable reference point for what to expect on the actual exam day.