Thousands of young Wall Streeters got the results of one of the toughest exams in the world — over half failed

The CFA is one of the toughest exams in the world.

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The CFA is one of the toughest exams in the world.
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Natalie Behring/Getty Images

  • The results of the 2018 Chartered Financial Analyst exam were released to candidates on Tuesday.
  • According to an email to candidates seen by Business Insider, 43% of people passed Level I. That was unchanged from last year.
  • Bloomberg reports that 45% of people passed the Level II exam, down from 47% in 2017.
  • Pass percentages for this year will not be officially made public until August 28, when Level III results will also be released.
  • The CFA is regarded as one of the most grueling exams in finance.

In June, after countless hours of studying, lots of late nights, and gallons of coffee, more than 100,000 aspiring financial analysts around the world took the notorious Chartered Financial Analyst exam.

The exam, which asks candidates questions on everything from financial modeling to the ethics of business, is considered one of the most grueling tests in the world. Less than 50% of people pass each year.

The test is split into three levels and candidates who took Levels I and II were given their results on Tuesday.

According to an email sent by the CFA to successful candidates, and seen by Business Insider, 43% of people taking the Level I test passed the exam. That was the same percentage as in January 2018, and June 2017.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that 45% of candidates passed Level II, down from 47% in 2017.

The CFA confirmed the numbers with Business Insider.

“Each candidate who sits for a CFA Program exam is provided with a ‘pass’ or ‘did not pass’ exam result as well as detailed information on their performance,” the CFA Institute, which administers the exam, said on its website.

Generally speaking, pass rates increase on each ascending level as Level I tends to flush out underprepared candidates.

Only about one in five people who start the CFA program make it through all three levels and complete the other requirements to become a charter holder.

While people who took Levels I and II find out how they did on Tuesday, pass percentages will not be officially released until August 28, when information about performance on all three levels of the exam will be made public.

Becoming a CFA charter holder is a huge leg up for anyone hoping to build a career in investment management. It’s also a much cheaper credential than an MBA – a CFA costs about $2,500 in total, while an MBA can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.