CFA® Level 3 Exam Pattern 2021
CFA® Level 3 Exam Pattern 2021 - The Chartered Financial Analyst® Insitute has released the exam pattern for CFA® level 3 2021 on its official website. The institute conducts 2 CFA® Level 3 exams each year. The CFA® level 3 exam 2021 consists of constructed response questions and multiple-choice questions supported by vignettes.
Each exam has 2 sessions and 10-15 item set questions. Each session is 2.25 hour long. There will also be an optional break-in of 30 minutes between sessions. The total testing time is 4.5 hours. The CFA® level 3 2021 exam pattern will be using a combination of item set questions and essay-based questions. The CFA® Level 3 exam will be conducted in May 2021 and November 2021. Check out the complete article to know more about the exam pattern, structure and topic wise weights.
CFA® level 3 Exam - Structure
The CFA® level 3 exam date has been announced by the CFA Institute. The CFA® level 3 exam 2021 will consist of a combination of item set questions and constructed response based essay questions. The exam duration has been reduced to 4.5 hours owing to the computer-based test format. The per question average time will remain the same.
CFA® Level 3 Exam structure
Mode of exam
Medium of exam
Number of questions
10-15 item set questions (Tentative)
Number of sessions
2 sessions (2.25 hours each)
Type of questions
Item set questions+essay based questions
CFA® level 3 exam 2021- Question format
The level 3 exam consists of two types of questions. The only change in the exam pattern for CFA® level 3 2021 will be in terms of the exam duration and the computer-based test. The question format will remain the same. The format of each question is explained below:
Item Set Format- Item sets are also known as mini-cases. Each mini-case statement has 4-6 multiple choice questions based on it. There are different types of mini-cases and it may also include tables with information.
Essay Format- The essay-based questions require two types of responses. Either word-based or calculation based. The responses have to be written and are not multiple choice answers.
CFA® level 3 subjects
It is important to go through the CFA level 3 syllabus as it helps the candidates in preparing a proper study plan. Candidates can focus their time based on the weightage of the topic. The CFA Level 3 exam is based on 7 core topics and 38 readings. The core curriculum topics along with their topic wise weights are given in the table below:
Topic Wise weights
Ethical and Professional Standards
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
CFA Level 3 Sample Papers 2021
Candidates can go through the pdf of CFA level 3 sample papers available on the official website. This helps to give an understanding of the CFA level 3 exam pattern, exam difficulty and the type of questions to be expected in the exam.
Level 3 sample papers for CFA 2021
How is CFA Level 3 different from the previous levels?
CFA Level 3 exam is similar in format to CFA level 2 in terms of item set questions. The difference is that the Level 3 exam also consists of essay type questions in addition to item set questions. The exam is divided into two sessions- morning and afternoon. The morning session consists of 10-15 essay type questions. The afternoon session consists of around 10 item set questions. The essay type questions consist of A, B, C parts which help the students in creating a solution based on the template. Candidates should keep the answers comprehensive as the scope of scoring is high in CFA Level 3 essay questions. Candidates need to focus more on topics like portfolio management.
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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) - CFA® Level 3 Exam Pattern 2021
Question: How many hours long is the CFA Level 3 exam?
The computer-based test will be 4.5 hours long for CFA Level 3.
Question: How many hours are required to prepare for each Level of CFA exam?
Around 300 hours are required to prepare properly for each Level of the exam.
Question: Does the CFA level 3 exam have multiple choice questions?
Yes, the CFA Level 3 has multiple choice questions too but its a little bit different from the Level 1 and Level 2 format. Level 3 exam has a combination of essay-based and item set questions.
Question: How many essay style questions will be there in the CFA Level 3 exam?
CFA Level 3 exam typically has 8-15 essay-style questions. They are also called constructed response based questions.
Question: Does the format of CFA Level 3 questions change in 2021?
No, the question format will not change for the CFA Level 3 exam in 2021.
Question: Will there be calculation based questions in the CFA Level 3 exam?
Yes, there will be calculated based questions in the CFA Level 3 exam. Candidates need to use escalators in some essay-based questions.