CFA Institute Says Pass Rate for June Level III Exam Fell to 53%

A smaller percentage of candidates passed the third and final level of the Chartered Financial Analyst designation exam in June as a record number of people took all three parts of the test.

Fifty three percent of those taking the level-three exam were successful, according to a statement Tuesday from the Charlottesville, Virginia-based CFA Institute. That’s down from 54 percent in June 2014, when the pass rate was the highest since 76 percent in 2006.

About 100 candidates accessed preliminary results for the third level of the exam when they were prematurely posted to the CFA Institute’s website in July. The accidental release happened one day after the organization said 42 percent of June’s testing hopefuls passed the first part of the exam and 46 percent passed the second.

More than 125,000 people sat for all three parts, according to the statement. The institute saw a 10 percent increase in the number of new Level I candidates, according to John Bowman, a managing director at the institute. Bowman said that’s a sign of the health and relevancy of the examination.

“We’re seeing a real shift from the industry post-global financial crisis to moving back to what the industry is all about, which is we’re about investor outcomes,” Bowman said in a telephone interview. “I think this is a reflection of the asset-management industry moving away from an asset mindset to an outcomes-based mindset.”

Candidates can take all three levels in June. In December, only the first level is given. The three-part exam takes four years and costs hopefuls $3,000 on average, according to the CFA Institute. Those who took the third part of the test in June probably spent about 300 hours studying for each part, which tests knowledge of investment tools, portfolio management and wealth planning.