"One thing is just to memorize a formula, the other thing is to understand the concept behind it. Attending the CFA courses at CfBS helped me to understand the concepts. In the end there was almost no formula I had to memorize."

Ursula La Roche, CFA, FINMA, Berne

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have the necessary qualifications for the CFA® exam (entrance requirements)?

You need a bachelor's degree (BA/BSc), or you should be in the final year of your bachelor degree program (exam window must be 11 months or fewer from your graduation) or a minimum of 4,000 hours over three years of acceptable work experience (e.g. portfolio manager, analyst, economist, securities trader, and people working in the investment valuation process).

What are the requirements to be awarded the CFA charter?

The requirements are: 1) pass all three levels of the CFA exam, 2) have four years of acceptable professional work experience, 3) and be a member of CFA Institute. The work experience may be accrued while you are in the CFA program, after you have passed all three levels, or from previous positions. At least 50% (or 2 years) must be spent in activities that qualify as professional work experience. The work experience guidelines can be found at www.cfainstitute.org

Am I enrolled for the CFA exam after I have registered for the CfBS prep course?

No, in order to take the CFA exam, you need to enroll directly with CFA Institute in Charlottesville/USA. The enrollment form can be filled in online at www.cfainstitute.org. Please make sure that your completed form is received by CFA Institute before their registration deadline expires. The longer you wait the higher the registration fee is.

What is the format of the CFA exam?

The CFA program has three disctinct levels, each culminating in an exam. The computer-based exam has a duration of 4 1/2 hours (270 minutes) and consists of two sessions of 135 minutes with an optional break of 30 minutes between the two sessions. The examinations must be taken in order and each passed before moving on to the next level. Each level builds on the prior level and becomes increasingly complex. Candidates must wait a minimum of 6 months to retake a level or to take the next level. 

Level I exam: 4 1/2 hours multiple-choice test consisting of 180 questions. The level I exams can be taken quarterly in February, May, August, and November.

Level II exam: 4 1/2 hours test consisting of 20 to 30 tem set questions. An item set consists of a case with extensive information followed by four or six multiple-choice questions. The level II exams can be taken twice a year in February and August.

Level III exam: 4 1/2 hours test consisting of constructed response questions (essays) and 10 to 15 item set questions which follow the same format as level II. The level III exams can be taken twice a year in May and November.

The computer-based CFA exams can be taken in Prometric test centers in Switzerland (Zurich, Winterthur, and Geneva). 

What is the pass rate on the CFA exams?

The 10-year average pass rates are: 42% for level I, 45% for level II, and 54% for level III. - The pass rates demonstrate that success in the CFA program requires a rigorous study effort (on average approx. 300 hours of study per level).

How can the four-month prep course help me to pass the exam?

The prep course will teach you the most complex and frequently asked concepts and gives you a framework to structure your exam preparation. The course is designed so that you can gradually build up the knowledge and strategy to pass the exam successfully. In addition to attending class you will need to put in rigorous self study depending on your academic and professional background. We suggest that you take two weeks off before the exam to concentrate fully on your final preparation.

Where do I find the curriculum readings (books)?

The curriculum readings are included in the registration fee for the CFA exam. We strongly recommend that our students work with the Curriculum Readings to familiarise themselves with the material CFA Institute uses to prepare the exam. Please bear in mind that CFA Institute compiles exam questions based on the Curriculum Readings.

Which calculator is permitted for the exam?

For the exams CFA Institute only allows the use of the following two calculators: Hewlett Packard 12C and Texas Instruments BAII Plus. In the CfBS exam preparation courses the two approved calculators will be explained and used. The calculaters can be purchased for example from www.taschenrechner.ch or in specialised shops.

For more information regarding the CFA program, please visit www.cfainstitute.org and/or contact us by e-mail to info@cf-studies.ch or by phone to (0041) 044 240 04 50.