Cal Poly Students Excel on 2015 Chartered Financial Analyst Exam

006_financeA group of Cal Poly finance students in the Orfalea College of Business achieved outstanding success on the latest Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 Exam with a pass rate of 67 percent — well above the exam’s average pass rate of 42 percent.

Cal Poly students who took the 2015 exam also improved upon their peers’ 2014 pass rate of 61 percent.

The CFA Charter designation is the “gold standard for finance professionals worldwide and requires passing a series of three rigorous exams. The Orfalea College of Business is one of about 300 business schools worldwide that incorporate CFA curricula.

Cal Poly students prepare to take their Level 1 exam as part of the CFA Challenge, a senior project created in 2007 by finance Professor Cyrus Ramezani. Each year, Cal Poly students have outperformed the national pass rate by significant margins.

The vast majority of the 125,400 candidates who took the CFA Exam in 2015 were industry professionals with years of experience. The CFA notes that each exam requires about 300 hours of preparation over the course of several months, and candidates need an average of four years to pass the trio of exams.

Candidates who successfully complete the series and take a strict oath of ethics are considered CFA Charterholders, a designation that affords professionals greater employment opportunities and salary potential.

“Our hard-working faculty and students have stepped up to not only sustain success but to improve upon it,” said Scott Dawson, dean of the Orfalea College of Business. “Our Finance area’s commitment to career readiness is the foundation for the success of its graduates and its growing reputation among hiring companies.

Finance area faculty construct the yearlong CFA Challenge to be an intense, self-directed study of financial ethics, economics, accounting and quantitative methods. Students take multiple, full-length practice tests, each spanning six hours. Since Cal Poly established the CFA Challenge in 2007, the course has grown to include undergraduate and MBA candidates in the Orfalea College of Business.

For information on the CFA exam, visit