CFA exam day checklist – What to bring to CFA exams

CFA exam day checklist – What to bring to CFA exams

Aspiring Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) must prepare themselves to take the grueling exams designed to test their knowledge and skills in finance, investment management, and related fields. Proper preparation is vital for exam success, but knowing what to bring on exam day is equally important. 

Now that you’ve had enough time with your study materials and counting the days to the exam, here are some tips to help you stay organized with your CFA exam day checklist.

The CFA Exam Format

Understanding the exam’s framework is vital before discussing what to bring to the CFA tests. There are three levels to the CFA tests, and the exam format varies depending on the level, as stated below:

  • Multiple-Choice Questions at Level I
  • Item Set Questions at Level II
  • Item Set and Built Answer Questions at Level III

The Level II and III exams consist of item-set questions, while the Level I test has 240 multiple-choice questions. Item set questions are inquiries built around a particular situation or case. Constructed response questions, which call for students to create quick responses or essays, are also part of the Level III exam.

Now that we are familiar with the CFA exam structure, let’s talk about what to bring to the exam.


To take the CFA tests, you must bring identification. One government-issued picture ID (such as a passport or driver’s license) and one non-photo ID are required as your two forms of identity (e.g., credit card, social security card). Ensure the name on your ID and your exam registration match. Otherwise, it’s going to be challenging to get admission into the test center.

Exam Ticket

Moreover, remember to provide your exam ticket. It’s an essential part of the CFA exam day checklist. This ticket, generated once you sign up for the exam, contains essential details, including the date, time, and place of the exam. Print out your exam ticket and bring it with you on the day of the exam.

Approved Calculators

An approved calculator is one of the most important things to bring to the CFA exam. The CFA Institute permits only specific models of calculators, which are designed to ensure fairness and consistency across all test takers. The approved calculators for the CFA exam are

The Texas Instruments BA II Plus or the Hewlett Packard 12C.

Before the exam, it’s critical to become familiar with the features and capabilities of your calculator. You should get some practice utilizing it to address issues and make sure it’s working correctly. You should also bring extra batteries and a backup calculator.

Exam Pencils and Erasers

The CFA tests require you to carry pencils and erasers. The CFA exam is administered using scantron sheets, which require a specific type of pencil. You must fill in the answers on the CFA exam using a soft lead (No. 2 or HB) pencil. You should bring at least two sharpened pencils to the exam. It is also a good idea to bring a pencil sharpener if your pencils become dull during the exam. However, no need to carry scratch paper as you’ll get this from the exam center.


The CFA exam is long and grueling, and it can be challenging to concentrate with distractions. Earplugs can help block out noise and make it easier to focus on exam questions. You can bring your earplugs or use the ones the test center provides.

Snacks and Water

The CFA exam is a six-hour test, and it is essential to keep your energy up throughout the exam. You can bring snacks and water in clear plastic bags to the exam hall. Ensure you do not bring noisy or strong-smelling foods that may disturb other candidates.


The CFA exam is time-limited, and you must manage your time correctly. You will not be allowed to bring any electronic devices, including cell phones, into the exam room. Bringing a watch will enable you to keep track of the time and ensure you answer the questions within the allotted time.

The watch should be analog, and you should ensure it has no alarms or other electronic features.

Test Center

The CFA exam is administered at designated test centers around the world. Regardless of your location, the CFA Institute recommends arriving at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. Nevertheless, it’s essential to arrive at the test center early to allow check-in time and familiarize yourself with the testing environment.

Here are some things to keep in mind when arriving at the test center:

  • Be sure to bring a valid form of identification, such as a passport or driver’s license.
  • Dress in comfortable and appropriate clothing for the testing environment. The exam room may be cold, so consider bringing a sweater or jacket.
  • Bring a clear plastic bag to hold your approved calculator, ID, and other small items during the exam.
  • Make sure you know the location of the restrooms, water fountains, and other facilities before the exam begins.
  • You must arrive at the test center feeling calm and prepared to help you perform your best during the exam.

Another essential thing to bring to the CFA exam is a solid understanding of key financial terms and concepts. These include terms related to financial statements, accounting principles, economics, investment analysis, and portfolio management. Having a good grasp of these concepts is essential because they form the foundation of the CFA curriculum and will be tested extensively on the exam. Some of the keywords you should be familiar with include:

  • Financial statements: Balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement
  • Accounting principles: GAAP, IFRS, accrual accounting
  • Economics: Supply and demand, inflation, GDP, interest rates
  • Investment analysis: Fundamental analysis, technical analysis, valuation methods
  • Portfolio management: Asset allocation, risk management, performance evaluation

To ensure you have everything you need for the CFA exam, creating a checklist is a good idea. Here is a sample checklist that you can use:

  1. Approved calculator (Texas Instruments BA II Plus or Hewlett-Packard 12C)
  2. Extra batteries for the calculator
  3. Backup calculator
  4. Pencil(s) and eraser
  5. Valid government-issued ID
  6. CFA Institute exam ticket
  7. Water bottle and snacks (optional)
  8. Watch (optional)
  9. Solid understanding of key financial terms

In conclusion, bringing the right items to the CFA exam can significantly impact your exam experience. Ensure you have all the necessary items ready and in good working condition to avoid any last-minute stress. You can ace the CFA exam and achieve your career goals with proper preparation and the right mindset. Check AnalystPrep’s CFA study materials to get ready for your exams.

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