The CFA pass rate for both level II and the final level three exam that elevates candidates into the coveted charterholder position have risen this year to levels last seen in 2006. 54% of those taking level III made it through and 46% of those taking the second exam, and this is even accounting for the fact that 20% of candidates didn’t turn up.
This may be down to a return to historical pass rates before the 21st century when they started to tumble., or it could be because of the growth of candidates in one particular area of the world. Asia Pacific as a whole now accounts for majority of candidates embarking on the CFA, even if the U.S. remains by far the largest individual country for the qualification with nearly 30,000 candidates for the past three years.
But while candidate numbers in other Asian countries have remained relatively static over the past three years, Mainland China is the one real growth story. In 2012, there were just over 16,000 candidates from China, a figure that has swelled to 19,395 this year. Elsewhere other significant markets like the UK and Canada have kept candidate numbers constant, while CFA candidates in India have declined from nearly 11,000 in 2012 to 9,500 in 2014.
The CFA doesn’t reveal pass rates by country. However, China, of course, produces the best maths students in the world, to the point whether other countries – particularly the UK which recently despatched former undersecretary of state for education and childcare, Elizabeth Truss, to Shanghai for a fact-finding mission – are attempting to emulate its success. The notoriously tough CFA exams may not be such a stretch.