Understanding Your CFA Exam Result
Your Performance on the Exam
After you complete the CFA® Program exam, we want to ensure you have the information needed to prepare you for the next step in your journey, whether that is preparing for the next level, signing up to re-take the same level, or pursuing other opportunities. Your score report gives you important information to use in your decision. Let’s look at the elements one by one.
The first thing to notice is the thin solid gray line (). For the overall exam, this line represents the minimum passing score (MPS).
The thick gray line () represents your score on this exam.
- If it lies above the MPS line, you passed.
- If your score lies below the MPS line, you unfortunately did not pass.
Note: Due to the scale and the way the graphics are rendered, scores that were very close to the minimum passing score may appear to brush against or slightly overlap the minimum passing scoreline.
CFA Institute permits candidates to make factual statements about their exam performance, which includes posting the details of exam performance on social media. However, please note that any such posting must be accurate and should include the year in which the results were achieved. Further, please note that aggregate percentile scores are provided so candidates get a sense of relative performance of the other candidates. Comparisons between personal and aggregate scores should not be used to imply superior performance, as the CFA exam is designed to demonstrate competency, rather than to measure relative performance.
Your score on the exam is influenced by many factors. The most important of these is your true ability, or how thoroughly you know the material. If we could ask you an unlimited number of questions under ideal circumstances, we would eventually be able to determine your true ability. That is not possible, so other factors may influence your score either favorably or unfavorably.
- We sampled from topics and learning outcomes for which you were better prepared
- You ate and slept well prior to the exam
- You had particularly lucky guesses
- The testing environment was comfortable
- We sampled from topics and learning outcomes for which you were less prepared
- You slept poorly or were particularly nervous
- Your guesses were unlucky or you made a simple error on a question you would normally get correct
- The testing environment was distracting or uncomfortable
The light blue box around your score () represents a 90% confidence interval. Based on the characteristics of the exam, your true ability (as of exam day) probably lies somewhere in this range, as would your scores on similar exams with different questions.
Score and Confidence Interval Above the MPS
A candidate who scores very well could have high confidence that they would have passed under nearly any circumstance.
Score and Confidence Interval Below the MPS
A candidate who scores very poorly can have high confidence they would not have passed under nearly any circumstance, and would need to study much more in order to pass in the future.
Score Below the MPS but Confidence Interval Overlaps the MPS
A candidate who scored close to the MPS might have passed under some sets of circumstances, but in most cases would not have passed. With a little more studying, this candidate can push the odds in his or her favor.
Performance Relative to Others
Finally, we give you an idea of your performance relative to other candidates.
- The thick purple dashed line () represents the 90th percentile score. 10% of candidates scored higher than this on the exam.
- The thick black dotted line () represents the 10th percentile score. 10% of candidates scored lower than this on the exam.
Your Performance by Topic Area
Signal of Topic Mastery
Note there is not a separate passing score for each topic. Strong performance in one topic area can offset weak performance in another. Therefore, instead of representing the minimum passing score, the thin gray lines () represent 50% and 70% of the available points in that topic. Although this level is somewhat arbitrary, consistent scores above 70% of the available points is a reasonable signal of topic mastery. If you plan to take another (or the same) level of the CFA Program exam in the future, knowing how your score measured up for various topics on this exam may help you focus your future studies for the next exam.