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CFA December exam results show passes at highest level for 20 years

December's CFA® exam  pass rates are out, and - guess what - they're up! 

Following 2019's miserable showing, when the December pass rate for the CFA Level I exam was at a seven year low of just 42%, the December 2020 pass rate increased to 49% for Level I, and to 55% (from 44% in 2019) for Level II. 

The last time that 49% of people or more passed the CFA Level I exams was 2001. The last time that 55% of people or more passed level II was 1998.

After all the chaos surrounding last year's exams, the results - released on CFA Institute's own website - suggest there was some advantage to sitting the exams in the pandemic. 

CFA Institute awards exam passes based on a 'minimum passing score' which varies annually and is calculated using the 'Angoff Standard Setting Method' to determine the pass rate. The process involves CFA Charterholders sitting down and working out how difficult the questions really were and how easy it ought to have been to pass.

2020's unusually high pass rate is therefore unlikely to be because December 2020's exams were any easier than usual. It may, potentially, have been because exams were cancelled in areas of the world where pandemic-related lockdowns meant exam centers were closed, or because December's exam takers had additional time to revise after the June 2020 exams were largely cancelled. 

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Photo by Anthony Roberts on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ma
    29 January 2021

    Candidates were given the option to defer up until 1.5 months before the Dec 2020 exam - lots of people who felt unprepared probably deferred. I definitely think this helped raise the pass rates.

  • I_
    28 January 2021

    There wasnt a dec 2020 exam though?? Mine was cancelled so what r they talking about

  • Wi
    William Poon
    28 January 2021

    Then that’s the nightmare and very bad news for level 3 exam candidate in dec 2020. Overcrowding for level 3 exam in 2021

  • ke
    28 January 2021

    i didnt pass...

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