Pass rates for those taking the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams tanked in 2021, reaching a record-setting low. It’s a phenomenon that’s led to a lot of hand-wringing among current and future candidates for the charter who wonder if the three-level exam was just "too hard" that year or whether disruptions caused by the pandemic, or other reasons, factored into the dramatic decline.
And it was dramatic. In the years leading up to 2021, pass rates on the CFA Level 1 exam hovered around 42% to 43%. However, in 2021 that number fell precipitously to 25% in May, to 22% in July, to 26% in August, and to 27% in November. Level 2 exam pass rates also dropped significantly, with just 29% of test-takers passing in August 2021. Level 3 also saw a significant dip: while pass rates have historically been in the 54% to 56% range, only around 40% of test-takers passed the last exams.
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