Firstly many congratulations on clearing your CFA level- II Exam, I’m sure it must have been a very proud moment for you and your family.

Now, the CFA Level-III Exam is the last exam of the 3 levels and there are quite a few changes to it from every perspective and hence it is very crucial to understand everything about it and then move forward with the preparations.

Although this journey comes to and end with the end of this exam but the memories of the same will remain forever with you, those sleepless nights, multiple coffees every night, high pressure, focus and devotion, endless mocks and whatnot.

So let’s understand everything there is to know about it and end this beautiful journey with flying colors.

Syllabus

So there are 7 subjects in total in the CFA level-III curriculum, unlike Level-I & II which both have 10 subjects. Below are the subjects along with their respective exam weightages:

Equity(10- 15%)
Fixed Income(15- 20%)
Derivatives(5- 10%)
Alternate Investments(5- 10%)
Economics(5- 10%)
Portfolio Management(35- 40%)
Ethical and Professional Standards(10- 15%)

As you can clearly see Portfolio Management here carries the highest weightage with 40% weight and hence is the most important subject in Level-III exam and in-fact the key to clearing Level-III Exam is to look every question, every content from a portfolio manager’s point of view. Also as there are only 7 subjects in Level-III, so the content is also less compared to other levels which is why it is highly suggested to read the entire CFA Curriculum for Level-III.

Fees

There is the standard registration fee for the CFA Level-III Exam just like there was previously for level I &II which again varies depending on the time of your enrollment.

Early registration fees USD 700
Standard registration fees USD 1000
Late registration fees USD 1400

Exam Pattern

The CFA Level-III Exam is not a completely Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) based exam unlike the other two levels, here apart from MCQ Questions there is also essay based questions which is why it is crucial to understand how to frame the answer and go about it as this is where most candidates face the issues, i.e. – despite knowing the answers many are unable to frame the answers in a structured manner, the key to which is to think like a portfolio manager and then answer it.

In simple terms the answer should be from a firm’s view and not just a department of it. It is an Offline exam just like previous exams. It is a 6 hour based exam which is divided into two parts of equal time. There is a 2 hour break in between for your lunch and other activities.

  • Morning session– This is the 1st part of the exam and is called Structured Response Exam sometimes also called Essay Exam of 3 hours which consists of (8 – 12) questions, each with several subparts and has a maximum of 180 points (The point value of each question is provided in the exam booklet) and the questions can be based on any of the subjects.
  • Afternoon session– This is the 2nd part of the Exam which also is of 3 hours and consists of 11 item sets also called vignettes, 8 of them have 6 questions each and the remaining 3 item sets have 4 questions each making a total of 60 questions just like in Level-II, which again can be based on any of the subjects.

Documents and Eligibility required to enroll for the CFA level- III Exam

All the documents that were required to appear for Level-I & Level-II are required for Level-III also.

Average Salary of a CFA Level- III cleared

These Figures are for the ones who have no prior work experience and have just started with their careers:

  • In India: Average Pay for a CFA Level- III cleared in India is around 7 – 15 L.P.A. for someone who has just started out with his career. Note- getting into a core finance profile such as Valuations, Investment Banking, etc. right after CFA Level- III is not very easy and you might have to gain some prior work experience or right connections in the industry, financial modeling skills is a very crucial skill for most of the roles.
  • In US: Average Pay for CFA Level- III cleared in US is about $50,000 – $75,000 annually for a newbie who has just stared out.

JOB Profiles post Level- III

Most of the job profile one can expect after completing all 3 levels are-

  • Equity Research Analyst
  • Corporate Financial Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Credit Research Analyst
  • Valuation Analyst

How much time it requires to study for CFA Level- III:

On an average it is estimated by the CFA Institute that a minimum of 300 hour preparation is required for CFA Level- III, although this is a very ballpark figure as it very much depends upon prior knowledge, experience, grasping skills and various other factors. On an average candidates say it takes about 450- 600 hours to completely grasp the concept and be confident about it.

How to prepare for CFA Level- III

The part where most candidates make mistake is that they take Level III slightly for granted by looking at the passing rate and getting over confident by clearing Level II. The passing sure is 50% for Level III which is the highest among all 3 levels but the part to consider here is that it is 50% of those who have already cleared the previous 2 levels so you are already competing amongst the best students.

Also, another factor here is that candidates are not used to the essay writing exams of the morning session and this is where most candidates suffer. It is very crucial to prepare well for the morning session especially, as we are well versed with the MCQ type questions but not the essay questions.

One major point here is to frame the answers very structurally and answer every question from the perspective of a portfolio manager, considering effects on every asset class. Also answering more and more questions and giving a minimum of 10-12 mocks is also very crucial to get hands on the timing and type of questions.

Things you should carry in the Exam hall

  • BA Plus II Calculator/ Ba Plus II Professional Calculator
  • A set of Pencils
  • A set of black ballpoint pens
  • A rubber
  • A Pencil sharpener
  • A watch (Not a Smart Watch)
  • An extra battery for your calculator along with a screwdriver
CA Manoj Goel
Author

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