CFA Level 3 Topic Weights

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Even though the focus for each level will change as the exams progress, the CFA program exams actually cover most of the topic areas across all three levels. At the level III, half the exam or more focuses on fixed income investing and portfolio management.

If you want to pass the CFA exam for each level, you may need to know about CFA Topics by Weight, since they are an important building block for your study plan. If you have a plan to pass the CFA level 3, it’s a great time for you to learn more about CFA Level 3 Topic Weights. Let’s dive into our post to get information about it!

CFA Weights by Topic Level

It is known that CFA topic weights display a range for the percentage of available points that are represented by each topic on the exam. Contrary to popular opinion, the exam weight does not directly relate to how much time a candidate must spend studying the topic.

There are some other factors such as mastering the tools that are needed to understand the topic, personal difficulty learning the material and prior familiarity with the topic itself will finally shape the study plan. However, the candidates will really want to ensure that they sufficiently master the material in the most heavily weighted topics.

Here’s the latest topic weighting for all three levels!

2022 Topic Areas (%) Level I Level II Level III
Quantitative Methods 8-12% 5-10% 0%
Economics 8-12% 5-10% 5-10%
Financial Statement Analysis 13-17% 10-15% 0%
Corporate Issuers 8-12% 5-10% 0%
Equity Investments 10-12% 10-15% 10-15%
Fixed Income 10-12% 10-15% 15-20%
Derivatives 5-8% 5-10% 5-10%
Alternative Investments 5-8% 5-10% 5-10%
Portfolio Management & Wealth Planning 5-8% 10-15% 35-40%
Ethical & Professional Standards 15-20% 10-15% 10-15%

CFA Level III Weight by Topic

Reportedly, there have been no recent changes to weighting of the level III CFA exam. In this case, weighting was set in 2019 to boost Equity and Fixed Income and reduce Derivatives, Alternative Investments and Portfolio Management. However, there have been no changes from 2020 – 2022.

Let’s see the latest CFA topic areas and CFA topics weights for the CFA level III exam!

2022 Topic Areas (%) Level III
Quantitative Methods 0%
Economics 5-10%
Financial Statement Analysis 0%
Corporate Issuers 0%
Equity Investments 10-15%
Fixed Income 15-20%
Derivatives 5-10%
Alternative Investments 5-10%
Portfolio Management & Wealth Planning 35-40%
Ethical & Professional Standards 10-15%

It’s important to note, those weights guide the curriculum and exam development processes. The actual exam weights vary from year to year. In fact, some topics are combined for testing purposes.

CFA Level 3 Exam Subjects

The students should know that different topic areas are united to shape advanced knowledge. Therefore, they differ in their form and structure from Level I and II topic areas. At each level of the program, the curriculum will be organized into study sessions with readings and Learning Outcome Statements (LOS).

The curriculum describes evaluation or other analytical tasks that you must be able to complete. Depending on their level of interrelationship, some of the key knowledge areas will be combined at this level:

  • Study session 1-2: Ethics & Professional Standards
  • Study Session 3: Behavioral Finance
  • Study Session 4-5: Private Wealth Management
  • Study Session 6: Portfolio Management for Institutional Investors
  • Study Session 7: Application of Economic Analysis to Portfolio Management
  • Study Session 8: Asset Allocation and Related Decisions in Portfolio Management
  • Study Session 9: Asset Allocation and Related Decisions in Portfolio Management (2)
  • Study session 10: Fixed-Income Portfolio Management
  • Study Session 11: Fixed-Income Portfolio Management (2)
  • Study Session 12: Equity Portfolio Management
  • Study Session 13: Alternative Investments for Portfolio Management
  • Study Session 14: Risk Management
  • Study Session 15: Risk Management Applications of Derivatives
  • Study Session 16: Trading, Monitoring, and Rebalancing
  • Study Session 17: Performance Evaluation
  • Study Session 18: Global Investment Performance Standards

Tips to Pass the CFA Level III Exam

If you pass the CFA level I and level II, it may not be with the CFA level III exam. If you managed to pass the CFA Level III, you definitely gained a passing score and you successfully finished up all the stages.

The CFA level III exam is a considerable step up from the Level II exam, so if you have a CFA study plan and understand the differences between Level II and Level III, it will really help to make sure that you’re prepared to pass the Level II exam.

If you want to pass the exam, you will have to reach at least the minimum passing score (MPS) set by the CFA Institute Board of Governors after each exam. On average, the all-time CFA Level III pass rate is only around 56%, and 2021 pass rates have been even lower, meaning you should have a study plan and obey it.

1) Start to prepare for the CFA level III exam early

All you have to do to pass the CFA Level III exam is to prepare about 6 to 9 months before your exam day and be completed three months out from your exam date. A lot of successful CFA charterholders commend their study routine for their success in taking the CFA exam.

You do not have to study the material, but you shouldn’t be able to apply what you learned to scenarios on the exam. The level of understanding and practical application really needs time to develop. Thus, you should get into a study routine early and stick to it.

2) Know CFA exam level III curriculum and weights

It is known that level III is a computer-based 4 hours and 24 minutes, that is split into two equal sessions of 2 hours and 12 minutes, with an optional break in between. If you really want to pass the CFA level III exam, you must know the CFA exam level III curriculum and weights.

3) Learn the CFA exam Level III question format

In this session, there will be multiple-choice questions. Of course, you will be prompted a multiple-choice question to choose the portfolio (A, B, or C) which meets a particular objective, followed by an essay question to confirm that response.

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