180,000 young Wall Streeters took the grueling CFA exam this year - nearly 100,000 of them failed

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Digital Trends

  • Results of the 2018 Chartered Financial Analyst exam were released to candidates on Tuesday.
  • The CFA Institute confirmed the results for Levels I, II, and III of the exams.
  • 56% of candidates passed the Level III exam, up 54% from last year.
  • In total 179,241 people sat the exams in June 2018, with almost 100,000 people failing.
  • The CFA is considered one of the most grueling exams in finance.

Finance professionals who took the final level of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams in June just found out how they did in the grueling test of financial know-how.

The exam, which asks candidates questions on everything from financial modeling to the ethics of business, is considered one of the most grueling tests in the world. Less than 50% of people pass each year.

The test is split into three levels, with candidates who took Levels I and II finding out their results two weeks ago. Those who took Level III found out from 9.00 a.m. ET (2.00 p.m. BST).

Here's how candidates did at each level:

  • Level I pass rate - 43%
  • Level II pass rate - 45%
  • Level III pass rate - 56%

Given the 56% pass rate at Level III, we now know that 82,975 people passed one level of the CFA so far this year, out of a total 179,241 people who took the exams. That's an overall pass rate of 46.3% and means 96,266 candidates failed their exam.

Roughly 80,000 people took Level I, 65,000 sat Level II, and around 35,000 took Level III.

Generally speaking, pass rates increase on each ascending level as Level I tends to flush out underprepared candidates. This year, the pass rate on Level I was unchanged, while the Level II pass rate fell from 47% last year, and the Level III rate increased from 54%.

Only about one in five people who start the CFA program make it through all three levels and complete the other requirements to become a charter holder.

Becoming a CFA charter holder is a huge leg up for anyone hoping to build a career in investment management. It's also a much cheaper credential than an MBA - a CFA costs about $2,500 in total, while an MBA can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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