fbpixel If You Fail the Level I CFA Program exam | IFT World

Advice for those who failed the Level I exam

By Arif Irfanullah

Posted on 06-08-19 at 5:40 pm

If you failed the Level I exam it is natural to feel disappointed, but you must put this temporary set-back behind you and move on.


Failure was never meant to be a signal to turn back, but instead an obstacle that the stronger and wiser use to boost themselves up and attain greater heights. Your recent failure might cause you to wonder whether or not to continue with the CFA Program, and if so, when to re-take the exam.

Let us consider the first question: whether to continue with the CFA Program or not. For those who did not pass, the typical advice is to keep trying; however, I suggest a more thoughtful approach.   Put the result on the side for a moment and ask yourself:  did I really enjoy the subject matter? Try doing a post-audit on why you did not pass. Was it because you did not have enough time to prepare for the exam? Or did you have a very hard time understanding the concepts? Is the CFA Program aligned with you career aspirations? Carefully thinking through these questions will help you decide whether or not to continue with the program.

If you fundamentally enjoyed the material and you have an interest in investment management, then I’d recommend that you continue. Now for the next question: when to take the exam?  If you failed with a relatively high band (6 – 10), and have time to study/practice over the next few months, then take the exam in coming December. For a given calendar year, the curriculum for the June and December is exactly the same. If you failed badly (band 5 or below) and/or don’t have much time to study/practice, then I’d suggest retaking the exam next year.

If you did not enjoy studying the Level I curriculum, and you are not particularly interested in investment management, I would not recommend continuing with the CFA Program. This might come across as a harsh, but in the long-run you are much better off pursuing a line of work that you enjoy and where you can make a decent living.

For whichever decision you finally go with, I wish you the best of luck.


Arif Irfanullah, CFA

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