CFA ESG Exam: Cost, Registration Fees, & Exam Dates

CFA ESG Exam: Cost, Registration Fees, & Exam Dates

The current world is undergoing unpredictable times, so much so that knowledge of ESG issues (environmental, social, and governance) is quintessential. Just when the matter had cooled down from the pandemic blast, other woes jumped right in. The world is evolving and placing certain corrective matters to the front. While we did well with the pandemic and took the good of the adversity, it’s now high time we added more weapons to our arsenal.

We’re talking about agility to respond to adverse situations in the finance world. This clearly shows that the demand for professional knowledge of green finance and responsible investing is going to remain buoyant for some time. The CFA ESG certification is one of these weapons to add to your credentials arsenal and bolster your skill set. 

As the exam is dynamic, you will constantly need to stay in the loop of what changes so you get everything right.

ESG Investing Certificate in a Nutshell

ESG investing is a high-tier global credential. The certification grew in popularity way so fast that the CFA Institute registered more than 16,000 candidates as of January 2021. A huge chunk of the registered people come from the UK as other countries like the US, France, Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong follow suit. The interest is stirring up all over the world as Australia also joins the boat.

The certificate has gone through thorough professional scrutiny to ensure that it comprehensively addresses the core areas of the investment sector. Hence, with this kind of training, learners can match the ESG standards and fill the growing investment gap.

The certification takes a broad approach to matters of investing, imparting learners with analysis skills and how to integrate ESG issues that affect day-to-day investment. There’s literally something new to learn, regardless of your area of expertise, like asset management, ESG analysis, sales distribution, and newbies who’re simply seeking to shape their careers.

ESG certification has earned a few recognitions from renowned agencies like the UN PRI. The UN PRI is a non-profit supported by the UN that majorly focuses on encouraging responsible investment procedures. The non-profit is not part of the UN, though. However, it targets companies and investors which it encourages to invest responsibly for better revenues and safer business risks.

Prometric joins the CFA Institute in administering the course and exams. The duo work together to ensure that applicants can get both in-person and online proctored exams. However, it’s worth noting that these sessions’ availability is limited in some countries, hence, you want to inquire before making a registration.

The CFA ESG Certificate

This is a high-tier certification that demonstrates a learner’s prowess in integrating ESG factors in an investment process. The certificate is compatible with not only investment professionals but anyone with an interest in learning how to understand and navigate ESG issues. The certification doesn’t require you to be an investment officer, for that matter.

The CFA ESG exam carries 100 standard multiple-choice questions, which are either computer-based or conducted remotely. Luckily, you will no longer have to deal with item set questions. The exam lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes. Compared to the Garp SCR, CFA ESG is preferred because its numerous questions provide little room for mistakes.

You’ll notice one thing – CFA ESG is self-directed, just like other courses like CIM, FRM, CAIA, and CFA. The course starts by delving into a shallow coverage of ESG factors. Candidates then learn how to implement the factors in valuation, portfolio construction, and analytic reporting. The course requires you to dedicate at least 100 hours of study time. However, novice learners might need more time just to get a good grip.

The CFA ESG curriculum for 2023 was published in December 2022. The curriculum is refreshed every year, hence be cautious when choosing your syllabus. Unlike other courses, the CFA ESG exam is available all year round for the online option. The remote version is limited to certain locations, so be sure to find your nearest exam center. Unlike in previous years, candidates are now required to partake in their exams within 6 months of registration.

Pass marks and success rates

The ESG Investing certificate is ranked as a Level 4 exam. This means that its difficulty level is more or less the same as a first-year undergraduate degree. If you have an Investment Management Certificate (IMC) or a Certificate in Climate Investing (CCI), the level of difficulty is no different from these two. About a quarter of the exam questions challenge your quantitative knowledge. That speaks to more study time, even repetitive revision, so you can hit the pass mark.

The exam currently has a success rate of 81%, with its pass mark ranging from 60% to 70%.

CFA ESG Topics

This course’s major learning objective is the development of ESG investing. It also incorporates technical topics like valuation and portfolio construction. The following are the topic areas:

  • Overview of ESG Investment and its Market
  • Environmental Factors
  • Social Factors
  • Governance Factors
  • Engagement Stewardship
  • ESG Analysis, Valuation, and Integration
  • ESG Management and Integrated Portfolio Construction
  • Investment Mandates, Client Reporting, and Portfolio Management

Note that the ESG Analysis, Valuation, and Integration topic has more weight (twice as much) than other topics like ESG Factors (3 combined) and Overview of ESG Investing and its Market. Engagement and Stewardship, as well as Investment Mandates, Client Reporting, and Portfolio Management, are way lighter compared to other topics.

Course Pricing and Exam Fees

For 2023, candidates will pay $795 for the registration fee and online learning requirements. If you happen to fail the exam and need a retake, you’ll spend $595. The exam allows for a reschedule at a $30 fee. However, this is only applicable 3 days before the date of the exam. 

Exam Dates and Restrictions

CFA Institute and Prometric are working toward making the remote exam program more available all over the world. Meanwhile, it is available in a few test centers. The exam is, as previously mentioned, available all year round and closed on major holidays and weekends. 

The certificate is currently available for candidates from all over the world. The CFA Institute oversees the registration and sends confirmation emails to shortlisted candidates. The email also contains scheduling directions, a username, and a password. This allows candidates to check exam registration from the company’s website. 

After registration, the learner will wait for 48 hours before they can schedule an exam. The waiting period can take longer if you register on a Friday. After two working days, however, you’ll determine where to sit your exam among the hundreds of test centers available worldwide.

You won’t get a retake if you happen to hit the pass mark. On the other hand, failing the exam allows you one retake within 6 months. If you still don’t attain the pass mark, you’ll have to wait for 6 months from the date of your first registration before applying for another retake.


Clearly, the CFA ESG exam is efficiently programmed to ensure you get the most out of the course. Besides, its all-year availability allows you to schedule yourself well and get enough revision time within the 6-months timeframe.

Be sure of your availability as you register for exams because that also has an expiry time. The program gives you 6 months after your date of registration to sit the paper. Beyond this time, you’ll not be viable for exams, yet no refunds will be issued.

Now that you know about the CFA ESG exam, it’s time to explore the ESG prep materials available at AnalystPrep to practice adequately.

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