Views on improving the integrity of global capital markets
19 July 2018

Ethics in Practice: Sharing CFA® Exam Experience Is Fine, Right? Case and Analysis

CFA Institute Ethical Decision-Making Framework

Check the analysis of this week’s case (16 July) to see if you made the right choice.

Preparing for and taking a rigorous exam is quite a process, so it is natural to want to celebrate and talk about the experience with others. But how much detail should you go into about what was on the exam? Join the conversation to let us know what you believe is the right choice in this week’s case.


Taveras is a CFA® charterholder who leads an exam preparation course given by his local CFA® Society for candidates in the CFA® Program. The society hosts a celebration for the students after the exam is over. During the celebration, a number of Taveras’s students describe their experience sitting for the exam. Most give their opinion about the relative difficulty of the exam given their expectations and some describe their surprise about areas of the curriculum that were not tested. Taveras asks his students their opinion on the most difficult questions on the exam. Taveras

  1. is free to pass along information about the exam to candidates in future prep classes to help prepare them for the exam.
  2. can provide the opinions of his students about the difficulty of the exam to candidates in future prep classes to emphasize the need to thoroughly prepare.
  3. can solicit information about the exam questions from students in an effort to improve the course for future prep classes.
  4. must not discuss the exam with students after it is over.


This case relates to CFA Institute Standard VII(A): Conduct as Participants in CFA Institute Programs, which states that candidates must not engage in any conduct that compromises the integrity, validity, or security of CFA Institute Programs. It is natural and expected that a group of colleagues who have collectively gone through the rigorous process of studying for and taking the CFA® exam will want to celebrate the accomplishment and discuss the exam after it is over. Candidates can discuss their exam experience with Taveras in general terms. But they cannot provide specific information about the exam regarding the questions or the general areas tested.

And Taveras cannot pass along that information to future candidates and should not be soliciting information about specific questions or he would be in violation of the standard, which is designed to protect the integrity and security of future exams. The best answer is B because it is acceptable for Taveras to advise future prep classes that his previous students found the CFA exam to be more difficult than expected, so they should study the curriculum and prepare as much as possible.

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More About the Ethics in Practice Series

Just as you need to practice to become proficient at playing a musical instrument, public speaking, or playing a sport, practicing assessing and analyzing situations and making ethical decisions develops your ethical decision-making skills. The Ethics in Practice series gives you an opportunity to “exercise” your ethical decision-making skills. Each week, we post a short vignette, drawn from real-world circumstances, regulatory cases, and CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigations, along with possible responses/actions. We then encourage you to assess the case using the CFA Institute Ethical Decision-Making Framework and through the lens of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Then join the conversation and let us know which of the choices you believe is the right one and explain why. Later in the week, we will post an analysis of the case and you can see how your response compares.

Image Credit: ©CFA Institute

About the Author(s)
Jon Stokes

Jon Stokes is the Director of Ethics and Standards Education at CFA Institute. His responsibilities include design and creation of on-line ethics education, development and maintenance of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, and the design and management of the CFA Institute Ethical Decision-Making and Giving Voice to Values education programs. Stokes holds a JD degree.

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