CFA exam checklist: What to bring to the CFA exam

After logging in 300 hours of studying and ploughing through thousands of pages of material, the last thing you want is to get to the CFA exam and realize you forgot to bring your financial calculator.

That’s kind of like the CFA equivalent of the dream where you’re giving a speech in an auditorium and suddenly realizing you’re not wearing pants.

Who needs that?

To help keep stress levels down on the big day, let’s do a bag check to make sure you have everything you need to bring on CFA exam day.


You’ll need to bring your exam admission ticket (with the date and site of the exam) as well as a valid international travel passport to check into the exam. Make sure your passport isn’t expired, and consider bringing two copies of your admission ticket, in case something happens to the first.


Make sure you have No. 2 or HB pencils or a blue or black ink pen. Multiple-choice questions are read by scanning equipment and could be missed if you use the wrong ink. Bring several pre-sharpened pencils as well as a manual sharpener and eraser (without the paper cover).


Only two models of business calculator will be allowed into the exam: Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional) and Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige). Calculators will be inspected before the exam and/or during it, so they should be visible on your desk. Loose batteries and calculator covers are also allowed, as well as a small screwdriver to change batteries if needed, but you can’t bring in instruction manuals, so make sure you know how to use it.


While some exam sites have cafeterias (and you’re allowed to leave the building during the one-hour lunch break), those who’ve written the exam recommend bringing your own lunch to get some fuel between the morning and afternoon session. That way, you won’t be fighting crowds in your precious hour off, and can instead focus on unwinding and preparing for what’s ahead. Past candidates also report cafeterias selling out, and leaving the building comes with the risk of coming back late.

Personal belongings

Eyeglasses, earplugs (but not headphones or headsets of any kind) and wristwatches (but not smart watches or fitness trackers) are allowed into the exam room, but mobile phones, cameras, computers, tablet and bags (including transparent ones) are not permitted. You can bring your wallet, keys and eyeglasses case into the exam room but they must be kept in your pockets, along with any gum, medicine or tissues.

Things not to bring

Food or drinks, passport covers, pencil cases, study materials, scrap paper, highlighters and rulers aren’t permitted in the exam room. While there is usually a designated spot for personal belongings elsewhere in the testing centre, it typically isn’t secure and your bags will be mixed with everyone else’s, so it’s recommended that you leave your belongings at home or in the car.

For more information on the packing Dos and Don’ts, check out:

2 years ago