what to bring to cfa level 1 exam

CFA Exam Day Checklist: What To Bring To CFA Level 1 Exam

You don't know how to prepare for your upcoming CFA exam? Let us walk you through a full list of what to bring to CFA Level 1 exam in this article. Let's go!

Updated at March 11, 2023

The last thing you want is to miss or flunk the CFA exam after spending several weeks studying and poring through countless study resources. This could happen if you forget to bring your ID or a calculator. To ensure that you are well prepared for the exam day, let us walk you through a comprehensive list of what to bring to the CFA level 1 exam.

To help you pass the test on your first attempt, let’s get started with our free CFA level 1 practice exam.

CFA exam rules and regulations during COVID-19 pandemic

what to bring to cfa level 1 exam

CFA Institute will implement the following COVID processes in addition to the standard exam procedures:

  • Distancing from society: Candidates will be seated approximately 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart, with the distance adjusted to meet local needs.
  • COVID testing or application: Depending on local regulations, you may need to complete a questionnaire about COVID-19 symptoms. It’s possible that you’ll need to get your temperature checked as well.
  • Examine the ID and the calculator: The proctor will ask you to hold your ID and calculator(s) for inspection. Your items will not be touched by the testing professionals. During ID verification, you will be requested to remove your face covering for a brief moment so that proctors can match your face to your passport photo.
  • To avoid the (really ridiculous) crowds that occur at the end of every CFA exam, candidates will be discharged by room or section. To maintain social distance, procedures will be in place.

CFA exam days are now different from paper-based exams due to the altered scheduling windows/times with the new computer-based testing (CBT).

Here’s what happens on your exam day, in terms of time, with the decreased exam length of 2 hours and 15 minutes per session:

  • Pledge, tutorial, and survey: 30 minutes
  • Session 1 exam: 135 minutes
  • Optional break: 30 minutes
  • Session 2 exam: 135 minutes

The tests can take up to 4.5 hours, and the appointment can take up to 5.5 hours. As a result, please remember to arrive at least 30 minutes early, as the check-in process can take some time. A level 1 candidate in February 2022 reported that checking in took 45 minutes, and he was 15 minutes late for his official start time, but this did not affect his exam time.

CFA exam day checklist

what to bring to cfa level 1 exam

ID/ International passport

A valid international passport is the sole form of identification that will be allowed for the CFA exam. Check that your passport isn’t expired, and bring two copies of your admittance ticket in case the first one is lost. It makes no difference if you’ve never visited outside of the country before. It makes no difference if you have a government-issued ID or license. You will be sent away if you show up for the exam without a valid international passport.

Unfortunately, one of the most frequently overlooked items on exam day is the passport. Plan ahead of time, grab your passport, and make sure it’s in your exam bag.


Don’t forget to bring a pencil for the CFA exam. Make sure you have HB or No. 2 pencils on hand, as well as a blue or black ink pen. Scanning equipment reads multiple-choice questions, which could be overlooked if you use the wrong ink. Bring a manual sharpener and eraser, as well as multiple pre-sharpened pencils (without the paper cover). In CFA computer-based exams. pencils are now not allowed since it’s not necessary.


You’ll also need an approved calculator, such as the TI BAII Plus, in addition to your entry ticket and passport. Extra calculator batteries or even a spare calculator should be considered.

Please note that only Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional) and Hewlett Packard 12C business calculators will be accepted into the exam (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C 30th-anniversary edition, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige).

Calculators will be checked before and/or during the exam, so keep them visible on your desk. You may also bring loose batteries and calculator covers, as well as a small screwdriver to change the batteries if necessary. Just in case a proctor resets your calculator, you should rehearse how to adjust the settings. Some applicants have reported that the proctor reset their calculator before the exam, however, this does not occur in every case.

Personal belongings

You are still able to sit for the CFA exam if you forget the following items, but you’ll be at your best if you’re comfortable and well prepared for whatever comes your way on exam day. These are some of the items that we recommend for you:

  • A jacket or a sweater. If you feel too hot, you can simply remove a layer. However, if you aren’t prepared for an exam room that is a few degrees cooler than your usual temperature, you may be taken off guard.
  • Mobile phones, cameras, computers, tablets, and bags (including clear ones) are not permitted in the exam room, although eyeglasses and wristwatches (but not smartwatches or fitness trackers) are. You may bring your wallet, keys, and eyeglass case into the exam room, but any gum, medicine, or tissues must be kept in your pockets.
  • Earplugs: this is a case where you should expect the unexpected. While there is no reason why unwanted noise should be a problem in the testing facility, you should consider how noise from outside the room, or even outside the building, could be a distraction. If you need silence to perform at your best, bring some earplugs with you to create your own silence if necessary.

While some exam sites include cafeterias (and you are permitted to leave the building during the one-hour lunch break), those who have taken the exam suggest bringing your own meal to fill up between the morning and afternoon sessions. That way, you won’t waste your valuable hour off fighting crowds and can instead relax and prepare for the day ahead. Past candidates have also said that cafeterias are sold out and that exiting the building means risking being late.

Read more >> CFA level 1 exam day tips

COVID-related items to bring to the exam: 

Face mask 

At all times, you must wear a facial covering that covers both your mouth and nose. According to the CDC’s guidelines, both medical masks and fabric face coverings are permitted. Due to the lack of viral particle filtering provided by these masks, they are not permitted to be worn at the testing center. Wearable technological masks are also prohibited. During ID verification, you will be requested to remove your facial covering for a brief period of time.

The CFA Institute has said that you will not be allowed to take the exam if you do not have or refuse to wear a face mask (no refunds). Face masks will not be provided by CFA Institute/Prometric, so please remember to bring your own. Bring several masks just in case you lose one.

Additional Personal Protective Equipment (not obligatory)

Sanitizing gear (not obligatory)

What are items not allowed in the CFA exam room

what to bring to cfa level 1 exam

There are a few things you may not be aware of. On exam day, the CFA Institute strictly prevents you from leaving your desk area. These are some of the items:

  • Food and beverages: get your coffee and nourishment fix before entering the testing center.
  • Notes and textbooks or any kinds of learning materials should be kept at home or in your backpack in the personal belongings section.
  • Mobile phones, cameras, computers, tablets, and other technology that have become a part of daily modern life are examples of tech tools.
  • Highlighters, rulers, and correction fluid or tape
  • Any type of luggage, including pencil boxes and huge purses. It is permissible to bring a small wallet or money purse.
  • Calculator manuals, scratch paper, and present/future value tables
  • Any form of timer or desk clock is not allowed.

FAQs – What to bring to CFA Level 1 exam?

What are the most challenging topics for the CFA level 1 exam?

Almost surveys show that the hardest part of CFA level 1 for CFA test candidates is often FI, followed by Derivatives, and FRA

Should I use the 30-minute break? 

Yes, taking a break is beneficial. You can utilize time to have a light snack, drink some water, and use the restroom before starting the second session. It isn’t a particularly long break. When you factor in the time it takes to check in when you return from your break, you only have approximately 15-20 minutes of actual break time to grab a drink, snack, or go to the restroom. Returning late for the second session will damage your exam time, so keep this in mind.

Is there a place where I can keep items that I can’t bring into the exam room?

At the CBT test centers, there will be a personal belongings room with lockers.

Is it okay if I borrow or share calculators during the exam?

No. You must request a calculator before each exam session begins if you need one. If you run into any difficulties during the exam, ask a proctor for assistance before doing anything else.

Passing the CFA test won’t be aided by slack preparation or depending solely on chance. If you make sure you have the things you need and don’t have anything that is prohibited, you’ll be better equipped to take the CFA exam without unnecessary barriers and distractions.

All of the above pertains to what to bring to the CFA level 1 exam. You’ve invested a lot of time, money, and effort into your exam preparation. Don’t let a lack of planning prevent you from succeeding right now. We wish you the best of luck in passing your forthcoming test and successful exam preparation.