CFA Level 3 Syllabus & Subjects – Exam Pattern, Important Topics

CFA Level 3 Syllabus & Subjects : The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts specifies the syllabus for the level 3 CFA test. The CFA level 3 syllabus 2023 is available to candidates on the CFA Institute’s official website, Candidates who are eligible to sit for the CFA level 3 test are recommended to review the exam format, key subjects, and topic weightings.

Exam Pattern for CFA Level 3 in 2023

The CFA institute formally specifies the CFA level 3 exam format, including the length, style, and language of the test as well as the scoring system. The CFA level 3 exam includes of item sets that include vignettes and multiple-choice and constructed response (essay) questions that go along with them.

Exam pattern of CFA level 3

Medium of examEnglish
type of questionsVignette-supportedEssay questionsMultiple choice questions
Duration of exam4 hours and 24 minutes
Marking schemeNo negative markingEach question is worth 3 points
Mode of examComputer-based

CFA Level 3 curriculum 2023 – topics weightage

Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning35-40%
Fixed Income15-20%
Ethical and Professional Standards10-15%
Equity Investments10-15%
Alternative Investments5-10%
Financial Statement Analysis0%
Corporate Issuers/ Finance0%
Quantitative Methods0%

2023 CFA Level 3 Syllabus

On its official website, the CFA Institute lists the syllabus for the CFA level 3 exam as well as a list of key topics. The official CFA level 3 curriculum provides all pertinent information regarding the topic, subtopics addressed, and the weight assigned to each topic.

CFA Level 3 Syllabus in Detail

CFA Level 3 Syllabus & Subjects

Before beginning the preparation, candidates must complete the CFA level 3 course in its entirety. The subjects covered for each CFA level 3 subject are given below:

Wealth management and portfolio management

For the CFA level 3 test, portfolio management and wealth planning make up 35%–40% of the whole course. 15%–25% of the topic is devoted to behavioral finance, private wealth, and institutional topics, and 10%–20% is devoted to asset allocation, trading, and performance evaluation. Portfolio management and wealth planning are subtopics that include:

  • The investment policy statement
  • Modern portfolio management concepts
  • Investment vehicles (including etfs and mutual funds)
  • Market efficiency and passive investing
  • Market indexes
  • Behavioral 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

Fixed income

The 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 is:

  • Market forces of supply and demand
  • The firm and industry organization
  • Business cycles
  • Inflation and deflation
  • International trade and capital flows
  • Currency exchange rates
  • The 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 subjects 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 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

Format of CFA Level 3 Exam Questions

Each of the two exam sessions for the CFA level 3 exam will contain a mixture of item sets and constructed response (essay) sets, therefore each session will either have 6 item sets and 5 essay sets or 5 item sets and 6 essay sets.

CFA Level 3 Study Advice

Candidates could consult the level 3 past question papers of the CFA level 3 exam for preparation purposes and take some CFA level 3 sample papers/mock tests to acquire a feel for the topics covered. Along with MCQs, the CFA level 3 exam paper also includes essay questions, thus understanding how to address these is just as crucial.

CFA Level 3 test pointers

Unless otherwise stated, exam questions about financial statement analysis are based on international financial reporting standards (IFRS). The question will make it clear if it is based on US GAAP.

Be at ease using your calculator. Verify that you are familiar with how to use the calculator’s capabilities so you can respond to the learning outcome statements.

  • Respond to all inquiries. Incorrect answers are not penalized in any way.
  • Don’t overdress. There is no set attire, but layering is recommended for comfort.
  • Use a practise test to become used to answering exam questions. The purpose of this event is to simulate the day of the exam.
  • learn how the hardware and software in the testing facilities may affect how you feel on exam day.
  • For important dates and pre-exam deadlines, consult the CFA exam calendar.


Is level 3 of CFA simpler than level 2?

The CFA level 3 test is more difficult than the level 3 exam. To pass the test, candidates must organise their study programme well in advance.

What is the CFA Level 3 passing mark?

The pass rate for the CFA level exam in August 2022 was 48%. However, the pass rate in May 2023 was 49%. Since 2013, the overall CFA level 3 pass rate has been 52%.

CFA Level 3 is MCQ-based, right?

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

Does 4 Months suffice for CFA Level 3?

Since the CFA level 3 exam is harder than the level 2 exam, candidates should begin studying well in advance.

What courses are offered at CFA level 3?

Answer: Portfolio management and wealth planning, fixed income, ethical and professional standards, equity investments, economics, derivatives, and alternative investments are the topics covered in the level 3 CFA test.

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