CFA® Program Exam Prep FAQ

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Since 1999, we’ve been asked a lot of questions. Find answers to the most common CFA FAQ by scrolling down to browse, or by clicking a heading below to jump to that section:


The prep must go on, even during COVID-19!

We know that the pandemic is deeply disrupting your life. To support you during these tough times while prioritizing health, we’ve moved Exam Success' in-person prep for the CFA exams to an online on-demand learning model.

While the pandemic has forced certain practical adjustments, it has also motivated the Exam Success team to get even more innovative. Since taking our in-person programming virtual in March of 2020, students and Exam Success staff have been making amazing progress and discoveries with amazing results, all at a safe distance and commute-free!

Thank you to all of our students who have been so game to try new things with us!

About Prof. Gordon, CFA, CFP, CIM, MBA, FCSI

Prof. Brian Gordon, CFA, CFP, CIM, MBA, FCSI, is a top CFA Program exam prep authority who is known for his his enthusiastic teaching style and powerful no-nonsense exam prep approach and study solutions that simplify the path to passing.
Home grown in Toronto
Brian officially launched Exam Success in 1999, from a University of Toronto classroom, with the motivation to create Financial Services Industry exam prep training that would set students free from their study struggles and actively engage and empower them to pass the increasingly competitive and challenging exams.

“I founded Exam Success with the basic idea that preparing to pass the exams the conventional way was too hard – that big words, 1000s of pages of dry and dense material didn’t help candidates understand the material and, that the study process didn’t have to feel like torture.”- Prof. Brian Gordon

Today, more than two decades later, combined with a passion for people and learning, Brian continues to lead Exam Success, and is hands-on in almost every aspect of the organization's operation; from content creation and prep program design to delivery and student support.

So whichever Exam Success CFA prep product you choose to prepare with, we can guarantee that our study solutions are exam calibre, and that our teaching style, substance, activities and energy remain consistent throughout your experience with us.

Meet Prof. Gordon
Study Smarter, Not Harder.
Built-in ease of use is a key need for every candidate preparing for the high-stakes CFA exams and Exam Success understands that... so every solution we deliver is designed by Prof. Brian Gordon for busy candidates who want fail-proof prep that makes it easier to get through the study process and eliminate any curve balls the exam sends their way.

Prof. Gordon has arguably created the briefest, most strategic, no-nonsense study solutions in the industry... powerful study solutions written in every-day language, that cut the fat, focus on the knowledge and applications you need to pass, and deliver a deeper understanding of the elements of the curriculum that are likely to be tested on the exam.

About Exam Success™

In addition to top notch instructor caliber, our approach to course content and our focus on providing the most strategic, straightforward, succinct and engaging CFA Program exam prep possible, also differentiates us from other CFA Program exam prep companies and are the key reasons why Exam Success has thrived since 1999.

Did we mention Exam Success is Canada's longest-serving CFA Program prep provider? Prof. Gordon started Exam Success at the University of Toronto more than 2 decades ago, and we're still going strong.

We do the hard work for you.

Our powerful study solutions by exam prep trailblazer Prof. Brian Gordon, CFA, CFP, CIM, MBA, FCSI leverage his 20+ years of proven CFA Program prep know-how, and do the hard work for you. Aligned with the CFA Program curriculum, our courses and materials cut the fat, simplify the material and actively show you exactly where to invest your time (so you don't spend anymore hours studying than absolutely necessary), efficiently guiding you to exam success.

In short, Exam Success helps match the right prep efforts at right depth to the right big-picture goals, and then use right guidance and study supports to comfortably get you there.

It's that simple;
  • No-nonsense
  • No guesswork
  • No wasted time: breathing room to do other things that are important to you, whatever they are – chiseled abs, improved relationships, better sleep... (it’s possible).

Simplifying the pass to a pass (and bettering lives) since 1999.

In the wake of the pandemic, Exam Success has made the decision not to continue its participation in the Approved Prep Provider program as of 2021.

Exam Success is proud to have been the first Canadian prep provider to be awarded the respected CFA Institute Approved Prep Provider accreditation and to have been a select participant since the program's inception until 2021. As Canada's longest-serving CFA Program prep provider, with a world-wide reputation for delivering the profession's best, Exam Success continues to be committed to following CFA Institute rigorous best practices in exam prep services and products, ensuring our exam prep offerings meet the highest standards.

Exam Success is accredited as a Certified Educational Institution by the Government of Canada (ESDC) and is award-nominated. Our students come from leading organizations including Manulife Securities, Mackenzie Financial, National Bank of Canada, Aon, Husky Engery, HSBC, OMERS, Deloitte, Cornell University, Desjardins Group, Scotiabank Group, University of Toronto...

Two decades (Since 1999).

Exam Success has been in business for more than 20 years — making us Canada's longest-serving independant CFA Program Prep Provider.

Prof. Brian Gordon, CFA, CFP, CIM, MBA, FCSI, introduced the first Exam Success CFA Program exam prep course in Toronto in 1999, sparking a national CFA Program exam prep industry transformation.

We're still based in Toronto but thanks to the ease of online teaching, digital media and access to travel, Exam Success has since helped 1000s of exam candidates around the world.

We are honoured to have garnered a strong following of Exam Success alumni and students from some of the most recognized organizations including: HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Scotiabank, Citigroup, Harvard, University of Toronto (U of T) and Queen's University... to name only a few.

Exam Success is also incredibly proud to be 5-star Google rated, award nominated and a Canadian Government Certified Educational Institution.
Quoting passing rates is not permitted by CFA Institute becasue they are not verifiable and can be misleading.

We don't mean to toot our own horn But...
Here are a few compelling facts about Exam Success for you to consider:

  • 1. We're proven. We're Canada's longest-serving CFA Program Exam Prep Provider, since the introduction of the Euro.

  • 2. We're respected. We're voted #1 in the business.*

  • 3. We're trusted. We're recommended by more than 98% of our students**.

And if that's not enough, we're also easy on the wallet!

Our prices are in Canadian Dollars, not USD (meaning we are a better bargain than most others), and we offer free repeat privileges with our Success Guarantee!***

*Top Choice Award Nominee 2019. **Based on >1000 surveys of students who took an Exam Success CFA Program exam prep course between 2014 and 2019. ***Available on select courses.

With Exam Success, you can be more than halfway to a pass before you even start! On average, Exam Success Complate Study Package students prepare to pass in just 120 hours, while the average typical successful candidate spends 303 study hours (Source: 2019 CFA Institute Survey Level I candidates).

Or think of it like this: Assuming you pass each exam level on the first try, your total time-savings would be 540 hours (183 hours saved per exam x 3 exams) or nearly 1 year at a part-time job.

That's some serious study time Exam Success can help to free up.
We're not for everyone.

Exam Success's CFA Program prep is best suited to those candidates who:

    • 1. Want to follow a no-nonsense, streamlined CFA Program prep process;
    • 2. Want to reduce their CFA Program study hours and stress;
    • 3. Are business school students or grads or working professionals with foundational skills in key CFA Program curriculum topic areas like Accounting, Finance, Economics or Statistics or those who have failed the CFA exam before;
  • 4. Want to be shown how to earn just enough marks to confidently clear the CFA exam.

And, did you know that all our prices are in Canadian Dollars? With us, exam success doesn't come with a hefty USD price tag!
Exam Success is based in downtown Toronto Canada but we work worldwide, in more than 30 countries.

Exam Success is Canada's longest-serving CFA Program prep provider. Prof. Gordon launched our flagship CFA course in Toronto back in 1999. Since then, Exam Success has been providing in-person classes at the University of Toronto, at SAIT in Calgary as well as at many other education institutions and firms across Canada. We have also been offering online CFA courses and materials for several years, all with great success.

As a practical adjusment to the pandemic, Exam Success shifted all programming online in March 2020; a move that helped students make amazing progress, with maximum scheduling flexibility, from anywhere around the globe.

Originally, our shift away from in-person classroom learning was expected to be temporary, however after receiving so much positive student feedback and experiencing first-hand the many positive outcomes of going exclusively online, Exam Success has made asynchronous e-learning our ‘new normal’ .

CFA Program Content

Prof. Brian Gordon, CFA, CFP, CIM, MBA, FCSI, company founder and one of the most gifted CFA Program exam prep designers and educators in the profession, with 20+ years of expertise, is personally involved in every aspect of Exam Success' operation — from course development and writing content to teaching the lessons and providing support.

Who says exam prep has to be boring?
Brians' unique blend of expertise, experience and entertaining teaching style sets Exam Success way ahead of the rest. And since we believe it is crucial that you prepare using actual CFA curriculum content, all Exam Success content is aligned with the CFA Program curriculum LOS.

So whichever Exam Success study solution you prepare with for your CFA exam, you can feel confident that the energy, teaching style, activities and substance, remains consistent. It's no wonder Exam Success students remain engaged and motivated, frequently laugh out loud, and come away with a deeper understanding of the material and how to apply it — because they actually enjoy learning with us!
Content updates are made in accordance with each new curriculum release to ensure that our students are studying the most current information on the exam. When updates to our online resources are made, they are noted for all to see on our online site’s course dashboard.

Exam Success provides quality no-nonsense options that can be used together with other Exam Success prep products or as a complement or full replacement to the original texts or other providers' offerings.

If you are looking for a one-stop CFA Program prep shop, consider our Complete Study package. It provides the most comprehensive preparation we offer for the CFA exam.

Plus, like all our other study solutions, is based on CFA Institute's Text Books, follows the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS), and is best suited to CFA candidates who already have a basic understanding of the topics.

That said, we always encourage students who are using Exam Success as their primary study source to reference the CFA curriculum directly should they have any knowledge gaps to fill.

Prices, Payments & Access

Canadian Dollars (CAD).

Exam Success is proud to be a Canadian company and our prices reflect that, making our CFA Program prep an even better bargain — most providers price in USD. So with Exam Success, you are looking at a 25% or so currency advantage (you are actually keeping money in your pocket), which is nice for a change.

All fees are charged in Canadian Dollars and are subject to applicable taxes. If you are from outside of Canada, your payment will calculate the exchange rate and your final charge will be shown in Canadian dollars on either your receipt or credit card statement.

Exam Success CFA Program prep doesn't come with a hefty USD price tag!
Exam Success accepts payments made by credit card, debit card and even by e-transfer.

Credit card and debit payments are made online in the Exam Success website ( and e-transfers are made by email. Enrollment processing times may vary depending on your method of payment. Credit card payment are processed instantaneously. Debit card payments also attract fast processing times (usually within fifteen minutes to two hours) while e-transfers tend to take slightly longer.
Your access is unlimited all the way to the exam-window date that corresponds with your purchase and even beyond. All Exam Success products are for your personal use and are non-transferable.

Note: If you purchased a PDF resource, it is yours to save, print, use and re-use.

Exam Success Online Access and products are for your personal use only, and are non-transferable. Please see our Terms page for more information on our sharing policy.
Absolutely! Prep from work, home or on the go...

Our web-based Online Access is possible using just about any of your favourite devices (all laptops, Android powered tablets and phones, Apple products), one devise at a time, and from anywhere with an internet connection; which makes our online products extremely portable and a great fit for busy candidates.

And many of our resources are offered in a PDF format which means you can print them, and afterwards no internet access is required.

Our online products are web based. Access is possible using just about any type of devise (all laptops, Android powered tablets and phones, Apple products), one devise at a time, from anywhere with an internet connection; which makes our online products extremely portable and a great fit for busy candidates.

And many of our resources are offered in a PDF format which means you can print them, and afterwards no internet access is required.

You can print any of our PDFs that you've purchased. And as expected, all your materials that are in PDF format are yours to keep. We do not provide hard copies of our materials.

Ordering online with Exam Success is an easy one step process:

1. Use our secure online payment system to create an account and you receive immediate access to your study resources.

Our payment system automatically generates and e-mails you your Exam Success transaction confirmation receipt. If this receipt is not sufficient for your income tax or corporate reimbursement purposes, contact us with any specific program and/or curriculum details you require the receipt to include. Unless otherwise requested, Exam Success will then directly email you payment receipt within TWO weeks provided that your final payment has been made.

Free Trials, Repeats & Cancellations


We recognize that exam prep can be a big investment. Exam Success is a leader in the Financial Services exam preparation industry and student success and satisfaction are our top priorities. We are committed to giving all of our customers a fair experience. That's why we provide plenty of opportunities to get a feel for Prof. Gordon's teaching style and materials totally free of charge, before you decide to continue. Try our proven online CFA Program exam prep for Free.

After you've gotten to know us, we think you'll agree we offer the best CFA Program exam prep around.
We offer a Success Guarantee.

Our Success Guarantee (free course repeat privilege) is an exclusive benefit for the Complete Study Package students.

In contrast to most CFA Program prep providers, Exam Success provides this Free perk for ANY REASON — not just a CFA exam fail!* And as expected, all your materials that are in PDF format are yours to keep. There's no substitute for peace of mind.

*Success Guarantee free repeat privilege is exclusively provided with the Complete Study Package, our most comprehensive program and is valid for a new exam attempt that falls within a year of the exam date that corresponds to the original purchase.

Our Success Guarantee (free repeat privilege) is an exclusive benefit that is provided in our Complete Study Package.

In contrast to most CFA Program prep providers, Exam Success provides this Free perk for ANY REASON — not just a CFA exam fail!* And as expected, all your materials that are in PDF format are yours to keep. There's no substitute for peace of mind.

*Success Guarantee free repeat privilege is exclusively provided with the Complete Study Package, our most comprehensive program and is valid for a new exam attempt that falls within a year of the exam date that corresponds to the original purchase.

We understand, sometimes you push that buy button without really thinking it through — so we give you 24 hours after your purchase time to cancel and get a full refund of the online digital product you bought, as long there have been no logins. Following 24 hours, your purchase is non-refundable and non-transferable. See full terms here.

We recommend that you Try Us For Free before you decide to prepare with us so you can choose Exam Success with full confidence.

We offer free course trials, product demos, samples and tips... Take your pick. (You can't go wrong.) We also provide generous, free repeat privileges with our Success Guarantee.

Exam Success really wants and expects you to succeed on your CFA exam with our help.

Become a CFA Charterholder

Becoming a CFA charter is an acheivement that can be very rewarding. Considered the global gold-standard in the Investment Management Industry, The CFA designation is as much a marketing credential as much as it is an investment credential. It can unlock improved job prospects, improve income and security all of which in turn can lead to an improved quality of life. According to 2019 CFA Institute study of charterholders worldwide, 83% of charterholders said the designation boosted their careers.

Awarded by the American-based CFA Institute, the first charter was given in 1963; and today, The Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA) is held by more than 178,000 professionals worldwide in more than 160 markets.

Each year, nearly 200,000 candidates from more than 90 countries enroll in the CFA Program and take the exams in test centers all over the world.

Completing the CFA Program is one of the steps required to becoming a CFA Charterholder.
Careers for CFA charterholders

Finance professionals seek the CFA charter because it typcially offers the promise of better jobs and earning power.Earning the CFA designation however is not going to turn you into an expert investor nor is it going to automatically get you a job. It’s not a magic potion. What it can do however, is prove you have a basic to intermediate understanding of finance and the knowledge and skills that are up to the latest in international standards. It also connects you to a network of CFA professionals employed in the world's top organizations. Being a CFA charterholder demonstrates that you have the ability, the desire, and the commitment to work in financial markets.

There are varied career options you can choose from once you become a CFA charterholder. CFA charterholders earn their salary across a wide range of sectors and corporate finance roles (Source: CFA Society Canada):

Typical Employment Sectors for CFA Charterholders

    • Asset Management
    • Investment Banking
    • Equities
    • Research and Wealth Management.
    • Private wealth management
    • Commercial banking
    • Investment Banking
    • Insurance
    • Fintech

Typical Job Functions for CFA Charterholders

  • Portfolio Manager
  • Research Analyst
  • Chief Executive
  • Consultant
  • Risk Manager
  • Corporate Financial Analyst
  • Financial Advisor
  • Trader/Sales
  • Accountant/Auditor

Compensation for CFA Charterholders*

Entry-Career (< 5 year experience): 95,922 CAD
Early-Career (5-9 years of experience): 157,486 CAD
Mid-Career (10-30 years of experience): 216,713 - 506,294 CAD
Late-Career (30 years of experience): 538,284 - 694,243 CAD

*Mean Total Compensation by Experience. (Source: CFA Society Canada National CFA® Charterholder Compensation Study 2015)
To become a CFA charterholder, there are 4 criteria:

  • 1. Pass the Level I, II and III CFA Program exams.
  • 2. Achieve qualified work experience.
  • 3. Submit supporting membership application reference letters.
  • 4. Join CFA Institute with a regular membership.
The minimum time needed is 18 months; it may take longer depending on your other time commitments, such as a full-time job, etc. The average time to complete the 3 exams is between 4 and 5 years. Exam Success’s goal is to help make it easier for you to pass your exams by minimizing your study time commitment, struggles and stress.

The CFA exams are considered to be very tough, probably the most difficult you’ll ever write.

Here are key points to consider:

    • 1. The CFA curriculum is voluminous. It's nearly as much content as what is covered in 5 or 6 university business courses.

    • 2. The CFA exam preparation time committment can be very taxing. On average a successful candidate dedicates between 303 and 344 hours of study time per exam. Level I: 303 hours; Level II: 328 hours; Level III: 344 hours respectively. Source: 2019 CFA Institute Survey.

  • 3. The CFA exam pass rates are low. Pass rates vary between 43-56% (Source: 2021 CFA Insitute).

To significantly faciliate and shorten the CFA Program prep process many CFA candidates turn to Exam Success. We're Canada’s longest-serving independent CFA Program Prep Provider and the simplest path to a pass for CFA Program candidates everywhere.
You must register in the CFA Program directly with CFA Institute at:

There are are 5 requirements for registration:

    • 1. You must be either a university of college Bachelor degree graduate or equivalent or in your final year of the program or have a combined work experience and/or higher education of 4,000 hours that was acquired sequentially over a minimum of 3 years.

    • 2. You must have a valid international passport.

    • 3. You must be prepared to take exams in English.

    • 4. You must meet the professional conduct admission criteria.

  • 5. Living in a CFA Program participating country.

CFA Exam Details and Dates

CFA Institute is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia and all fees paid to the organization are billed in USD.

The minimum amount you will pay to CFA Institute for the CFA Program (all three exam levels) $2550 USD. This total includes the one-time $450 USD enrollment fee and the lowest possible registration fee (early registration fee) for the 3 levels of the CFA exam. This total does not take into account any extra costs such as printing, supplementary study materials, prep courses, exam re-takes or rescheduling.

Access Scholarship: This scholarship is given to eligible candidates by CFA Intitute and it can significantly reduce the exam fees by waiving the enrollment fee and slashing the registration fee down to $250 USD. If you are awarded this Scholarship at each of the three levels of the CFA Program, you could reduce your total exam costs to just $750 USD (3 x $250 UDS), assuming you pass each exam on the first go.

Women's Scholarship: This scholarship is given to eligible candidates by CFA Intitute and it waives the enrollment fee and reduces the registration fee to $350 USD. If you are awarded this Scholarship at each of the three levels of the CFA Program, your total exam costs may be reduced to just $1050 USD (3 x $350 USD), assuming you pass each exam on the first go.
Registration is done directly with CFA Institute.

First, visit the CFA Program exam calendar page on CFA Institute's website ( to view the timeline and keep track of key dates (from registration to results) for your exam journey.

Second, visit the registration section on the same page. Registration is a 2-part process:

    • Step 1: Enroll in and pay for the CFA exam through the CFA website (

  • Step 2: Schedule your exam (select from vailable testing centers with dates and times by the scheduling deadline).

Note: You are required to create an account before you are allowed to register.

The CFA exams are offered:

  • Level I: February, May, August, November
  • Level II: February August
  • Level III: May, November


The CFA Program curriculum is based on a Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) established by the CFA Institute. There are three exams that test the academic part of the CFA Program.

To view the key differences among the three CFA exams (Levels), including variations by curriculum topics and weightings,

We are here to help

Whether you’re already an Exam Success student or new to our network, if you still have questions or need our assistance, please let us know. An Exam Success team member will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Exam Success follows CFA Institute Prep Provider Guidelines. Required Disclaimer: CFA Institute does not endorse, promote or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by Exam Success. CFA Institute, CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst are trademarks owned by CFA Institute.

Chartered Financial Analyst

The gold standard designation in the financial services industry.


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"Your materials are clear, simple and strategically focused on exam-critical concepts and questions and kept me on track to a pass.

"If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I'd have ever cleared this exam... I’m even thanking the guy who told me about you.

"Thanks for your level II Calgary class. I passed and I couldn't have done it without your to-the-point tips."

"Thanks for removing the CFA curriculum drudgery and helping me confidently and efficiently get to the finish line. Exactly what I needed."

"Your classes were incredibly helpful! Thanks for answering my many questions and being so encouraging. You're the best! "

"I passed...first try! Your online study program & final review class contributed a great deal."

"Your course kept me on pace, explained the material in much simpler terms than the CBOK, played a huge part in my passing L1 & L2!"

"I passed! I found your review course incredibly useful, especially in helping me focus my efforts in the final few days before the exam. Katie G.

"I passed! Your Queens MFIN CFA course helped me shape the areas I needed to focus on in the final stretch and was a HUGE help."

"I couldn't have done it without your simplified, to-the-point, slimmed down Level II material. The Exam Success program truly made all the difference."

"Thanks for giving us Queen's MFins the extra push. You put the pro in Professor!"

"Prof. Gordon made it easy. His teaching style is simply fantastic. He provides concept clarity, is concise and yet detailed enough."

"Overwhelmed with joy to be awarded the CFA charter. It has been a very rewarding experience. I owe it to your guidance Brian!"

"Having written Level 1 twice before, I can confidently say I wouldn't have been able to do it without your classes."

"I'm crying with joy right now... you are the very reason that I passed... You are amazing, professor. I'm speechless."

How about special offers?

    Phone: 416.843.4357, 1.800.558.9796