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CFA Level 3 Syllabus & Subjects 2024 - Exam Pattern, Important Topics

CFA Level 3 Syllabus & Subjects 2024 - Exam Pattern, Important Topics

Edited By Team Careers360 | Updated on Dec 22, 2023 11:58 AM IST | #CFA Exam

Institute of Chartered Financial Analyst has prescribed the syllabus for CFA exam level 3. Aspirants can access the CFA level 3 syllabus 2024 from the official website - Candidates eligible to appear in CFA level 3 exam are advised to go through the exam pattern, important topics and the weight given to each topic.

The CFA Level 3 exam is conducted twice a year, in the months of February and August. It is the final level in the CFA exam and some of the subjects present in the earlier levels are absent from the CFA Level 3 syllabus due to zero weight. Read the full article to know more about the CFA Level III syllabus, pattern, topics and more.

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CFA Level 3 Exam Pattern 2024

The CFA institute officially prescribes the CFA level 3 exam pattern such as exam duration, type of questions asked, exam language, and marking scheme. The CFA level III exam consists of item sets consisting of vignettes with accompanying multiple-choice items and constructed response (essay) questions.

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Exam pattern of CFA level 3



Medium of exam


type of questions


  • Essay questions

  • Multiple choice questions

Duration of exam

4 hours and 24 minutes

Marking scheme

  • No negative marking

  • Each question is worth 3 points

Mode of exam


CFA Level 3 Syllabus 2024

The CFA Institute provides syllabus of CFA level III exam and the list of important topics on its official website. The official curriculum of CFA level 3 covers complete details related to the CFA Level 3 topics, sub-topics covered as well as the weightage carried by each topic.

CFA Level 3 Subject Weightage

CFA level 3 topicsWeightage
Portfolio Management35–40%
Fixed Income15–20%
Equity Investments10–15%
Alternative Investments5–10%
Ethical and Professional Standards10–15%
Quantitative Methods0%
Financial Reporting and Analysis0%
Corporate Issuers and Finance0%

Detailed CFA Level 3 Syllabus

Candidates must go through the entire syllabus of CFA level 3 before starting the preparation. Following listed are the topics covered under each subject of CFA level 3:

Portfolio management and wealth planning

Portfolio management and wealth planning covers 35%-40% of the entire syllabus of CFA level 3 exam. Behavioural finance, private wealth and institutional topics covers 15%-25% and asset allocation, trading, performance evaluation covers 10%-20% of the entire topic. The sub-topic of portfolio management and wealth planning are:

  • The investment policy statement

  • Modern portfolio management concepts

  • Investment vehicles (including etfs and mutual funds)

  • Market efficiency and passive investing

  • Market indexes

  • Behavioural finance

  • Technical analysis

  • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing

  • Management of individual/family investor portfolios

  • Tax impact of investment decisions

  • Management of institutional investor portfolios

  • Investment manager selection

  • Asset allocation

  • Portfolio construction and revision

  • Currency management

  • Liability – driven investments (including asset liability management and Goal-based investing)

  • Risk management (including environmental risk)

  • Execution of portfolio decisions (including trading and market microstructure)

  • Performance attribution and appraisal

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Fixed income

Finance income subject covers 15 to 20% of the CFA level 3 syllabus. The sub topics of fixed income are:

  • Types of fixed-income securities and markets

  • Fundamental fixed income analysis

  • Term structure determination and yield spreads

  • Valuation of individual fixed income securities

  • Analysis of interest rate risk

  • Analysis of credit risk

  • Valuing bonds with embedded options

  • Structured products

  • Fixed-income portfolio management

Ethical and professional standards

Ethical and professional standards subject covers 10 to 15% of the entire syllabus of CFA level. The subtopics of Ethical and professional standards are:

  • Professional standards of practice

  • Ethical practices

  • Asset manager code of professional conduct

  • Presentation of performance results (GIPS)

Equity investments

Equity investment subject covers 10 to 15% of the CFA level 3 syllabus. The subtopics of equity investments are:

  • Types of equity securities and markets

  • Fundamental equity analysis

  • Valuation of individual equity securities

  • Equity market valuation

  • Equity portfolio management


Economics subject of CFA level 3 covers around 5 to 10% of the complete syllabus of CFA level 3. The importance of economics are:

  • Market forces of supply and demand

  • The firm and industry organization

  • Business cycles

  • Inflation and deflation

  • International trade and capital flows

  • Currency exchange rates

  • Monetary system, monetary and fiscal policy

  • Economic growth and development

  • Effects of regulations

  • Economic analysis and setting capital market expectations

  • Effects of geopolitics on economies and investment markets

  • Applications of economic indicators in the investment process


Derivatives subject comprise 5 to 10% of the entire CFA level 2 syllabus. Important topics of derivatives are as under:

  • Types of derivative instruments and markets

  • Valuation of forwards and futures contracts

  • Valuation of option contracts

  • Valuation of swap contracts

  • Uses of derivatives in portfolio management

Alternative Investments

Alternative investments subject covers the 5 to 10% of the CFA level 3 syllabus. The important topics of alternative investment are:

  • Types of alternative investments

  • Real estate

  • Real assets (including infrastructure, timber and farmland)

  • Private capital (including private equity, private credit and venture capital)

  • Hedge funds

  • Commodities

  • Alternative investments portfolio management

CFA Level 3 Exam Question Format

According to CFA Level 3 paper pattern, item sets and constructed response (essay) sets will be mixed within each of the two exam sessions, so each session will have either 6 item sets and 5 essay sets or 5 item sets and 6 essay sets.

Constructed response (essay) format

The first session will be vignette-supported essay sets that have items with three different methods of entering a response: essay, numerical entry, multiple choice. Each essay set will have a variable number of items, and each one is worth a variable-number points. There may be multiple questions within one essay item.

Item set format

The second session of the CFA Level 3 exam consists of 44 multiple choice items, each worth 3 points. Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette followed by 4 multiple-choice questions.

Example Level 3 Exam Questions - Level 3 item set questions (PDF)

CFA Level 3 Preparation Tips

For the preparatory purpose, candidates should refer to the level 3 past question papers of CFA level 3 exam, attempt some CFA level 3 sample papers and mock tests to get a grasp on the topics covered. CFA level 3 question paper also has essay questions, hence knowledge on how to solve the essay questions is equally important along with solving MCQs.

CFA Level 3 exam tips

  • Exam questions referring to Financial Statement Analysis are based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) unless otherwise specified. When a question is based on US GAAP, it will be stated in the question.

  • Be comfortable with your calculator. Make sure you know how to use the calculator features needed to address the learning outcome statements (LOS).

  • Answer all questions. There is no penalty for incorrect answers.

  • Dress comfortably. There is no dress code, but dress in layers for comfort.

  • Take a mock exam to practice answering exam questions. This experience is designed to mimic the actual exam-day.

  • Learn how hardware/software at the test centres may impact your exam-day experience.

  • Review the CFA exam calendar for key dates and to meet pre-exam deadlines.

CFA Level 3 Study Material

The CFA Institute also releases study material for CFA Level 3 so that candidates can prepare for the exams in a bettern manner. Students preparing for the exam must thoroughly go through the CFA Level 3 official curriculum given by the CFA institute. The CFA institute has released the 2024 exam curriculum of CFA Level 3 too. Apart from the curriculum, candidates can refer to the CFA Level 3 Learning Ecosystem to access study resources. Students can also take help of CFA practice questions, mock exams, practice packs and more for their CFA Level 3 preparation. Here is a list of CFA Level 3 study resources available for preparation:

  • CFA mock exams
  • CFA practice questions
  • CFA official curriculum
  • CFA Practice Pack (additional purchase required)
  • CFA approved prep providers
  • CFA learning ecosystem

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What are the subjects in CFA level 3?

The subjects covered in level 3 of CFA exam are portfolio management and wealth planning, fixed income, ethical and professional standards, equity investments, economics, derivatives and alternative investments.

2. Is 4 Months enough for CFA Level 3?

Aspirants must start preparing for the CFA level 3 exam well in advance as the exam is tougher than the CFA level 2.

3. Is CFA Level 3 MCQ based?

In CFA level 3 exam, item sets and constructed response (essay) sets will be mixed within each of the two exam sessions, so each session will have either 6 item sets and 5 essay sets or 5 item sets and 6 essay sets.

4. What is CFA Level 3 passing rate?

The overall CFA level 3 pass rate is 52% since the last ten years.

5. Is CFA level 3 easier than level 2?

CFA level 3 is tougher than the CFA level 2 exam. Candidates must plan well in advance and stick to the study schedule to clear the exam.

6. How many questions in CFA Level 3?

The CFA Level 3 will have 8 to 10 vignette-supported essay sets in the morning session and 44 vignette-supported multiple-choice questions in the afternoon session.

7. What is the hardest topic in CFA Level 3?

Some of the hardest topics in CFA Level 3 are are Fixed Income, Ethics, Equity Investments, Alternative Investments and Derivatives.

8. What is the paper pattern of CFA Level 3?

The CFA Level 3 exam basically consists of a vignette followed by 4 multiple-choice questions.


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