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The CFA pass rate for December 2019 was at a seven year low

It happened again. The CFA exams have always been notoriously easy to fail, but failure seems to be getting easier and easier.

Results for the December 2019 sitting of the Level 1 exam are out today. It seems the pass rate was lower than it has been for a long while.

The CFA Institute says just 42% of people passed the December '19 exams. This compares to a 45% pass rate for level 1 in December 2018, and pass rates of between 43% and 44% in every year since 2012. 

Only in 2012 itself was the December pass rate lower, at 37%.

December 2019's low pass rate followed an equally low pass rate for the June exams this summer, when just 42% of candidates were successful. 

The falling pass rate has been attributed to everything from rising candidate numbers, to increased candidates for whom English is not a first language, to growing numbers of exam takers without finance backgrounds. China had by far the biggest number of test takers in December, with 22,621 candidates taking the test, followed by the USA (10,649) and India (8,328).

Although 52% of candidates were unsuccessful in December, forums popular with CFA exam takers are full of candidates celebrating their success. "It was an arduous journey and [I] got burnt out along the way many times," said one Singapore test-taker, who said he sacrificed a lot of time with family and friends to study. "Hard work eventually pays off!," said another.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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