CFA Institute Says Level 3 Exam Pass Rate Rose to 51%, Higher Than in 2010

A higher percentage of hopefuls for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation passed the third level of their three-part exam in June compared with a year earlier.

Fifty-one percent of applicants succeeded, the CFA Institute said on its website today, up from 46 percent on the June 2010 exam. The group said last month that 39 percent passed Level 1 and 43 percent passed the second exam.

A record 144,900 candidates registered to take the three CFA exams in June, aiming to gain a hiring edge after the number of U.S. financial-industry jobs dropped for four straight years. Applicants take the test hoping the certification can lead to better jobs, higher salaries and a deeper understanding of finance.

Almost 27,000 applicants registered for the third test, while about 22,800 sat for the exam, according to an e-mail from the CFA Institute.

Successful charter recipients spend an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam and typically take four years to complete all three tests, according to the not-for-profit institute. Candidates must have at least four years’ professional experience in the investment industry to receive the designation.

The institute formed in 1990 with the merger of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts and the Financial Analysts Federation. The CFA program, previously administered by the ICFA, started in 1963 with 284 applicants. It stems in part from Benjamin Graham, a pioneer of value investing who mentored Warren Buffett and advocated a rating system for financial analysts.

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