Home > CFA L2, fixed income > CFA Exam – Level 2 2011… (after) thoughts

CFA Exam – Level 2 2011… (after) thoughts

I went into the exam pretty confident and well prepared after learning my lessons from my first unsuccessful attempt last year… but I certainly wasn’t prepared enough… I give myself only a 60% chance of passing vs 50/50 last year.

I think the exam was pretty difficult and I was surprised at the topic area coverage…

  • I believe the Schweser instructors mention that anything is fair game on the exam and it couldn’t be far from the truth for Level 2 2011.
  • I had not seen about 30% of the questions in any of the 3 mock exams I did (CFA 2010 & Schweser)…
  • The focus is on testing the theoretical understanding and you definitely need to understand the concepts… memorizing will not go very far.
  • I would say all of the new material introduced for 2011 was thoroughly tested…

All in all… a difficult exam.

I enjoyed writing the summaries and I referred to them during review. I will continue doing to do so after the exam results… hopefully I will only write for Level 3 material.

Best luck!

Update: I removed some exam information on request from CFA Institute.

  1. pe
    June 6, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    Thought the test was fair. Made some stupid mistakes.

    • June 6, 2011 at 9:15 AM

      that is good to know. Thanks

  2. Sam
    June 8, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    I took the Level 2 and that was brutal!!! I certainly did my preparations through Stalla and went through the material more than once but still not sure of passing (hoping I will pass). I felt like I had to put to work each and every brain cell that I have and was totally exhausted by the time the exam was over. During the lunch break I felt that the morning exam was difficult one and hoping that the afternoon session will be at-least slightly easier. I was WRONG!!! and by the end I was thinking morning was far better.

    I can only say, the difficulty level is what makes the credential worth it otherwise lot many people will show the letters CFA in-front of their names. Kudos to CFA Institute!!!

  3. Nikki
    June 8, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    I totally identify with Sam! It was BRUTAL! I read all the lessons from the CFA material, prepared my own notes (170 pages), took 3 mock exams and OMG, man, it was hard!
    I also though the afternoon session was harder — albeit 2 girls I met thought the morning was more difficult — and I left the exam with a strong headache.
    It was super hard… I hope I passed but I cannot assess it this time. For Level 1, I was pretty confident I passed when I left the testing room…

    • June 8, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      @Sam, @Nikki

      I also thought the afternoon session was brutal… although my neighbour felt the opposite. I thought the morning session wasn’t too bad and was fair.

      It is next to impossible to remember all of the material covered in Level 2. Very little of the material is ‘common sense’ or ‘common knowledge’ even if you work in the industry.

      I do agree that making the exam difficult makes the CFA designation that much more coveted but then how much value does it really add?

  4. Peter
    June 8, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    All, i hate to say it but i didn’t think the exam was that hard and i only spent two weeks studying for it. There was not one question in the exam that wasn’t covered off by the course material.

    • June 8, 2011 at 7:39 PM

      what can I say, you were well prepared Neil 🙂

    • Mike
      June 29, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      LOL this is funny shit. You gotta be Kim Peek or something to crack this in 2 weeks. Or maybe you are a 4th time re-taker.

    • thomas
      August 12, 2011 at 4:37 PM

      I spent 1week mate! lol

  5. Grant
    June 9, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    Hi All, I would have to agree with Peter that I didn’t think the overall exam was too hard but unlike Peter I spent considerably longer than 2 weeks studying for the exam (est. about 500 hrs preparing).

    I felt that morning exam was trickier and found the afternoon exam much easier and only had a handful of questions in the afternoon that I didn’t feel like I knew the answer to straight off (not that it means they were right). The morning exam had more like about 15 q’s I had to go back to and give more thought.

    My personal feelings is that the exam is set in such a way that if you either simply rote learn formulas (without really understanding the basis behind the formula) or only sort of understand a topic you will be found out in the exam as they will blend multiple topics to test how deep understanding is. In my opinion this testing style is appropriate as it is only those who have really internalised this stuff who will get through to the next level.

    A further thought after reading multiple blogs on the Level II exam is that most who fail seem to do the min 250 hrs of preparation but after having a second round (of probably a further 250 hrs) they seem to succeed at their second attempt. I do feel that upwards of 400hrs prep for Level II is mandatory, well for meer mortals anyway (this seems to exclude you Peter).

    I’ll stop getting all “Holier than thou” now and await my result (hopefully a pass) before any more pontification and recommendations in case they are coming from a deluded failure!!!

    • June 9, 2011 at 7:52 AM


      I haven’t read any blogs/comments on the exam but from what you have read, would you conclude that on average the candidates are 50/50 fair/difficult?

      I concur with your thoughts on revisiting questions…I had 12-14 in AM and 15-20 in PM. I verified a couple of my changed answers…and I was wrong to change it. I should have stuck with my instinct… oh well.

      best luck on the results! enjoy life till the next gruelling 🙂

  6. Seeko
    June 9, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    I thought some sections were hard but htat’s only becuase I don’t think I studied enough for those. The exam was pretty fair and there was plenty of time available to those who prepared well – that’s why I concur with a couple of people here who thought the exam wasn’t bad.

    Lesson learnt: you absolutely HAVE to put in the time to not only learn but also ‘understand’ what you are reading. I have a feeling I will be writing again next year. 😦

  7. Grant
    June 9, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Hi Takloo,

    This is the first blog I have come across on this years Level II post exam discussion so my only gauge on peoples opinions are those contained above.

    A lot of the Level II exam blogs I have read are from previous years but the message seems to stay the same. People who have admitted to going to into Level II underprepared, or with only having a cursory knowledge of some major sections tend to make post exam comments around being 50/50 or finding it difficult. On balance, most previous blogs hold about the same stats as above with around 3/4 of comments being that they found the exam hard or at least difficult in spots.

    Sadly, most of the people who have listed that the exam was hard (from previous years) later posted that they had failed but in most cases in either the 8th, 9th or 10th decile of failers (if that’s any solace?). If it’s any saving grace about 1 in 3 who doomed themselves to failure or felt substantial diffculty actually passed. To my amazement, one in particular (who posted his printout) had actually only got in the 70%+ bracket for 5 areas, was in the 50-70% bracket in 4 areas and the under 50% bracket in one area. My most optomistic assessment is that this person could only have scored in the low 70’s and that is if all scores where near the top end of each band so it’s more likely that they were passed with a score in the mid to high 60’s.

    Hope springs eternal. Best of luck to all on their results!!

    • June 9, 2011 at 6:37 PM


      Thanks for replying.

      That is good to know… I scored in band 9 on my first attempt last year… and not it is no solace mostly because I I t have to wait for another year before rewriting.

  8. Grant
    June 9, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    While this was my first attempt at Level II I almost feel like I can empathise with your situation Takloo.

    My extended preparation was largely driven by the fear of failure or more importantly the spine-chilling fear of putting my all into this exam to have my heart ripped out in the knowledge that I would have to start all over again for another 10 mths.

    This CFA exam cycle is sole destroying at its first attempt and I hold the utmost respect to those who get knocked down by a fail and pick themselves up to give it another crack.

    Here’s hoping that I can only ever feel sympathy and not genuine empathy for this situation.

    On a seperate topic, one thing that has rarely been addressed in previous blogs is the number of people who actually work directly in the industry and either pass or fail at each level. More importantly, whether having actual experience in working with this stuff helps in passing the exams? I’d be interested in all feedback?

    • June 9, 2011 at 9:45 PM

      it is rather soul enhancing… need more perseverance!

      you read my mind – I work in IT and for the last 8 months I have been working on wealth mgmt software for high net individuals… I have probably used less than 5% of my level 2 knowledge… and probably about 20-25% of level 1 knowledge (which probably also made level 1 easier). And my formal education is not in finance/econ.

      I would definitely think that somebody with a finance/accounting background and experience would find level 2 concepts relatively easy to grasp and remember.

  9. Grant
    June 9, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    I met about 10 people at my exam last year and during our discussions only 2 of the 10 (who were both doing Level III) had passed both exams first time. One of the 10 had failed Level I and was doing it again. Of the other 7 all had failed either Level II or Level III (or both) at least once but none of the last 7 had failed Level I. This somewhat destroyed my confidence as with Level I having the lowest pass % and with me pretty confident I would get through first time, I naively felt it would be a breeze through II and III before picking up my charter at the door on my last exam. How wrong I was!!!!!!!!

    Of the 2 guys (both were male) who had passed first time on Level I and II, one was a broker and the other worked in M&A in an Investment Bank (had just landed the role) after having worked in Corp Finance for another firm for about 3 yrs. Therefore both definitely had industry experience, however of the other 7 a couple of them were also working in Finance Industry roles and therefore I have the feeling that even with industry exposure, this stuff is still very hard.

    I myself work in the Finance Industry as a financial planner (term used in Australia, in other countries I understand that terms such as IFA, Financial Advisor, RIA may be appropriate) which has me dealing directly with individual workers and retirees but 90%(if not more) of the stuff that comes up in the CFA is largely foriegn to my day to day work.

    My first instinct was that Peter may have had direct exposure to CFA Cirriculum through work and hence his god-like ability to study for 2 weeks and still find the exam easy?

  10. Paul
    June 16, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    It’s good to hear what other people thought about the exam.

    Personally, this is the second time I took Level 2 (I passed Level 1 on my first attempt).

    I thought the first half was OK, but found the second half difficult because it dealt with topics that I hadn’t anticipated would be tested all on the same test. There were also some topics–especially in the Financial Analysis area–that I was certain would be tested, but were not.

  11. Johan
    June 18, 2011 at 5:38 AM

    Hey, This was my second attempt at L2, I thought this year’s exam was a bit easier than than last year’s but more trickier, if that makes any sense, but as Paul said a lot of unexpected stuff was tested, port mgmt I thought was a horror, I felt the same last year too, if I do fail…again, I wonder if I have it in me to have one more crack at it.

    • June 25, 2011 at 5:21 AM

      I think if you (or I) have to give it another crack, we will be really good at the level 2 concepts 🙂

      i honestly enjoyed some topic areas the second time around… perhaps I’ll enjoy some more topics the third time!

  12. Mike
    June 29, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Good post. Damn that was one hard paper. I thought I was well prepared. I was doing decently (60%-80%) in the Schweser mocks too. I felt the morning paper was relatively serene. The afternoon one got rather choppy. Derivatives and Fixed Income (in particular) tripped me up. Of course I have no clue if I got any of the others right either. I had to rush through the paper in general and when I got an answer I just marked it and moved on. Oh well, about a month to go for the results. I know the CFA is not the end of the world, but the crazy study lifestyle that would make any Hermit atop the Himalayas proud just makes you not want to retake the paper at any cost.

  13. Grant
    June 29, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    I like the Himilayan Hermit reference Mike. I would seem to me to be the perfect analogy to provide to any new CFA candidate asking about the progam to describe the solitude you are likely to feel in the last few weeks of CFA exam preparations. I remember last year the CFA sent postcards with the study books and being in my first attempt at Level I, my thoughts were “WTF have they sent this for”. Beginners mistake!!!

    I have read a number of forums on Analyst Forum over the last few weeks and it would appear that the overall sentiment towards the exams (amongst retakers) seems to be higher this year than last year and on the back of this it would not surprise to see the pass rate % increase. In line with Johan’s comments above, there seems to be more reference to “tricky” questions. I do remember a few myself from the exam but don’t remember too many of this nature which of course has melted away my confidence with the thoughts “If I didn’t see too many tricky questions, does this mean I was tricked on multiple occasions and therefore will score much lower than I expected”.

    3 weeks ago I would have given myself a 80%+ chance of passing as the overall experience was pretty much in line with my Mock and Schweser exams were I got solid mid 70’s to mid 80’s results. Once you start shaving off about 10pts for missed tricks your mind starts to tell you “Well now your in the high 60’s big boy. Not so confident now are you” and the heart rate hits about 110 while visualising that e-mail opening with “Level II : Fail” written at the top.

    Anyway, all of our fears will be put to rest on the 26th July at 9am ET according to today’s e-mail. I would like to thank all readers for listening to my ramblings to all me to come to terms with my own self-doubting and fears. This forum has really felt like a confession and not being catholic I can at least have some understand why they go through this process every week at church as it really clears the soul.

    Best of luck to all on the 26 1/2 day countdown. May your nerves stay intact and your wishes come to fruition on the 26th July.

  14. Grant
    July 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Hi Guys,

    Just got my results and managed to get clear of this beast.

    Q# Topic Max Pts 70%
    – Alternative Investments 18 – – *
    – Corporate Finance 36 – * –
    – Derivatives 36 – – *
    – Economics 18 – – *
    – Equity Investments 72 – – *
    – Ethical & Professional Standards 36 – – *
    – Financial Reporting & Analysis 72 – – *
    – Fixed Income Investments 36 – – *
    – Portfolio Management 18 – – *
    – Quantitative Methods 18 – * –

    • July 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      that was quick!

      me too… wondering how considering i scored <50% in 4 sections

      – Alternative Investments 18 – – *
      – Corporate Finance 36 * – –
      – Derivatives 36 – – *
      – Economics 18 * – –
      – Equity Investments 72 – – *
      – Ethical & Professional Standards 36 – * –
      – Financial Reporting & Analysis 72 – – *
      – Fixed Income Investments 36 * – –
      – Portfolio Management 18 – * –
      – Quantitative Methods 18 * – –

    • thomas
      August 12, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      congrats.!u absolutely murdered the exam! well done!

  15. Johan
    July 26, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Congrats Guys, I passed too , They must have read this blog and took pity !!

  16. vijesh
    July 26, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    i didn’t get thru level 2 this yr…which is very depressing….
    i got a score band of 6….does this mean that i am between 51% an 60% of the top candidates who failed….?

    • Johan
      July 27, 2011 at 3:18 AM

      Hey man , sorry about that, but if I can offer any words, I failed my 2010 attempt , I got a band 4, which I guess is quite bad,but I made it this year. so don’t lose heart and best of luck for the next year

  17. Mike
    July 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    i got through too!! Not the prettiest of scores, but not too bad…..looks like most people had not very great scorecards this time around, and hence possibly a much lower MPS than usual…..nevertheless, a pass is a pass 🙂

  18. Grant
    July 26, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Congrats go out to Mike, Johan and Takloo.

    @Johan and Takloo, I guess your internal queries around having the strength to give this exam another crack will now have to remain unanswered. I am sure you are happy enough to leave them unanswered though and take Level III instead.

    @ vijesh, my understanding of your assessment of a band 6 result is correct. Please be sure to understand that this probably means you were no more than perhaps 10q’s at most from passing and some further review should be enough to get you over the line next year.

    Also, my own conclusion around this exam is that it was deemed a difficult exam by the CFAI (during their CFA Camp) as all indications from seeing results on Analyst Forum would suggest that the MPS was in the low 60’s.

    I witnessed 2 passing matrices that had 4 and 5 (respectively) <50% results with the 5 one also having 2 51%-70% results. What I think was important in this particular persons case was the they got 70%+ in both Ethics and FRA and 51%-70% in Equity which covers half the exam but also contains the all important Ethics differentiator for marginal passing papers.

    I also withnessed a pass with 1 <50%, 8 51%-70% and only 1 70%+ that passed.

    Moral of this story (for Vinesh) is get those big 3 nailed and I think you are most of the way to a pass (not sure how you did this year on these topics?)

    Again, Congrats to all that passed and look forward to sharing the Level III experience with you in June 2012.

    • Johan
      July 27, 2011 at 3:23 AM

      Congrats to you too Grant, You really nailed it, impressive scores, Just to help you with your analysis, I scored 3 + 70%, ( all minor topics) , 6 (50-70) all major one’s and 1 below 50 (again minor), so either I was in the high 65’s in the biggies, or I don’t know jack whats happening.. all the same to me

  19. Sam
    July 27, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    This was my first crack at Level 2 and I Failed. The result said I am in Band 9, whatever it means a fail is a fail.

    Here is my scoreline.
    Ethics: 51-70
    Econ: <50
    Quant: <50
    FRA: 51-70
    Corp: 70
    Derivatives: 70

  20. Sam
    July 27, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    Looks like the scoreline did not appear properly.
    Ethics: 51-70
    Econ: <=50
    Quant: <=50
    FRA: 51-70
    Corp Finance: 70
    Derivatives: 70

    • Sam
      July 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Not sure why it is not posting the score properly for those who are taking the statistics.
      Ethics -*- Quant *– Economics *– FRA -*- Corp Finance *– Equity -*- Alt Investments -*- Fixed Income –* Derivatives *– Portfolio Mgmt –*.

      So I have 2 in above 70, 4 in 50-70 and another 4 in 50 or below.

    • Grant
      July 27, 2011 at 8:04 PM

      @ Sam, from what I can gather from the matrix (still a bit garbled) you got 51-70 across the board in Ethics, Equity and FRA and from the look of other passing matricies, if you could get at least one or 2 (or preferably 3) up into the 70+ you will nail it.

      It would seem that the areas you scored sub-50 were all the small ones and picking up a few extra marks in them would also likely see you well clear of the MPS. In saying this, I am all too aware that focusing hard on the smaller areas can be dangerous as you feel like you understand the topic well and then get one obscure vignette on exam day and your whole efforts are wasted but just another thought for how you can get those few extra marks that you’ll need to clear this.

      Hope this helps and best of luck.

      • Sam
        July 27, 2011 at 8:21 PM

        Thank you for the suggestions Grant and I agree with you. Yes, I got 50 or below in 3 small areas and Derivatives which may not be small as there were two vignetts. The ones I scored 70+ were also small (Bonds and Portfolio), hence the ‘Band 9’. I think I will nail it next time with a pretty decent margin. (Problem is I have absolutely no finance or accounting background).

  21. Cory
    July 27, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    From those who passed, how much time did you spend on practice exams and problems?

    • Kevin
      July 27, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      Someone I work with passed with 5 subjects bellow 50% and 3 subjects above 70%. The three subjects above 70% were ethics, equity and alt. investments.

    • Grant
      July 28, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      Hi Cory, I would have spent about 40hrs on practice exams. I did this year and last years CFA Mock Exams along with the 6 practice exams by Schweser and each generally took about 5 hrs.

      Time spent on problems is a bit harder to define. I read through the CFA text initially and just did a selection of the easier (and typically multi-choice) questions leaving the bulkier ones to ensure I had a grasp of the material. I spent perhaps, 15 to 30 mins on each reading therefore 70 x 20mins = 25hrs.

      I would then work through Schweser notes and do all EOC problems at the back plus the longer problems from CFA Curriculum which would take a further, say 25hrs.

      I did all online Study Session tests from Schweser and each took about 45min-1hr x 18 SS so another 15hrs.

      Finally, I would randomly do QBank tests from different chapters throughout Jan-June and my question counter read about 1,200 by the end so at 1 min each this would be a further 20hrs.

      So based on all this about 80-90 hrs on problems.

      I would throw in the caveat that when describing like this above it all appears very time consuming and overwhelming, but when spread out over 6-8 mths it only represents a few hours a week of practice and was probably a bit of overkill on my part.

      Practice problems and exams are IMO the key to getting through each level and this is especially true in Level II (and I would suspect Level III) as getting use to the vignette style questions is an art in itself and needs practice (with the essay questions supposedly being a whole other beast itself).

      Hope this helps.

  22. Paul
    July 27, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    I’m happy to report that I passed Level 2 as well. I scored 70+ in four categories, 51-70 in three categories and 50 and below in three categories.

    Thanks to Takloo for creating this thread and all those that shared their thoughts about the exam. You all helped to ease some of my anxieties.

    Congrats to all those that passed. And to those that failed, I failed my first time as well as many of the other people on this thread that passed this year so if you didn’t get it done this time don’t get too down.

  23. July 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    congratulations to those who passed…

    …and those who didn’t, it will only make you stronger and more confident for the next attempt… don’t be discouraged because once you get your charter you will cherish & appreciate it more… if it was easy, everybody would have it 😉

    @Grant, if you would like to post a summary of the exam difficulty/MDS, let me know.

    as for me, I couldn’t wait to go through the pains and registered for L3… i’m hoping to start preparing early and resume blogging… work & travel kept me busy since May but i will find the time to post more consistently.

    thank you all for the comments (this is the most active post ever on my blog!)…and best of luck 🙂

  24. henry
    July 31, 2011 at 4:57 AM

    I passed level 1 that i took in December 2010 and level 2 that i took in June 2011 (both in first attempt). Hopefully can pas level 3 in June 2012. The exam is the hardest thing i have ever done. My tips are do all the practice and evaluate your anwers, I got only 48%-55% when i was doing 8 practice exam level 2 (6 from schweser 2011, 1 from CFAI and 1 from schweser 2010). I almost lost hope but i keep working my ass. Thankfully the result is good news. U may think that i’m overprepared but if u see my score, u see that i have to compensate my adequate IQ with a lot of hardwork. Good luck for u guys

  25. Grant
    August 19, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    Hi Takloo,

    I have collected data from passing and failing matrices of Analyst Forum and put them into an Excel spreadsheet and overall some pretty interesting numbers of come through.

    Highlights include:
    * The lowest passing score was just over 64%. This was measured by the fact that this particular matrix could not have scored greater than this even if all scores were in the top end of the band. Fortunately for this matrix, most were in the middle band which is the narrowest and therefore this (I feel) would be a pretty good marker. Additionally, when you took the average score (assuming that on average the matrix sat in the middle of the band) most band 10 failers were scoring about 60-62.

    * Average score for passers was about 71%

    * Highest area scored this year was in FR&A. My spreadsheet used a 1 for =<50%, a 2 for 51-70% and a 3 for 71%+ and the average across all passers in this area was 2.82. Of the 139 matrices in the sample of passes, no one got a 1 and 26 people got a 2 with the remainder scoring above 71%. Amongst failers, FR&A was also the best scored section with an average of 2.45. Of the 33 matrices in the sample of fails, 3 got a 1, 12 got a 2 and 18 got above 71%.

    * Hardest section this year was Quant with an average 1.84 amongst passers and 1.24 amongst failers.

    * After FR&A, next best 2 section were (not surprisingly) the rest of the Big 3 being Equity and then Ethics. Again this held true amongst failers. Of particular interest on this topic though (as it feeds on from my advice to Vijesh above, it that 5 of the 11 reported failers who scored in Band 10 got 2 out of 3 above 71% (in one case all 3 above 71%) in these Big 3 but bombed out on the other sections badly enough to still fail. Message from this, you do need to know the other section alright even if you do have these Big 3 section nailed.

    * My estimate for MPS would be between 62% and 64%. Band 10 averaged around 60-62% and Band 9 averaged around 57-60%. Other bands had so little reporting that it is hard to give even a vague guide.

    Hope you all find this interesting and of course due to the reporting by the CFAI these numbers must be taken with the understand that they are estimates at best but provide some insight all the same.

  26. Paul
    September 7, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    I know it’s early–heck, I haven’t even signed up for it yet, but does anyone on this forum have any insight into the Level 3 exam?

  27. Khanna
    September 13, 2011 at 3:41 AM

    Hey guys firstly congratulations to all who passed and for those who didnt next yr should definitely be easier for you. Hvaing passed level 1 right now have just signed up for level 2 and am dreading preparing in the same manner I did for one which means completely losing all social/other obligations of life for about 3 months. I have just started doing some other stuff once level 1 finished but have been hearing that since 2 is harder will have to double the amt. of time spent preparing for level 1. Please let me know any of your views on this with respect to how many months I should devote to this exam and the best preparation menthodology in your views.tc

  28. Grant
    September 14, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Hi Khanna,

    It is very hard to say exactly how many months (or total hrs) you should devote to any of these exams. Naturally your ability to learn and retain concepts along with your previous studies are a big factor in answering this question. However, I do understand your position (I was there myself 12 months ago) and will provide my guidance below that you may find to be some assistance.

    Firstly I would say that you should prepare to lose social contact leading up the exam for at least as long if not longer for the Level II exam. The material does go deeper in understanding and I found took longer to prepare for the exam. Also, I would be surprised if you did not spend more hours in studying to pass for Level II than I. From my experience, I spent about 350 hrs studying for Level I and passed first time with all above 71% and for Level II I spent about 500 hrs studying and passed first time with 8 above 71% and 2 between 51%-70%.

    While I personally felt prepared going into both exams, I felt more prepared for Level I despite having done less time in preparation. Level II also had a number of major study areas that I read 4 and 5 times and still had trouble internalising for the exam (Pension accounting and multinational operations accounting are 2 that come instantly to mind).

    My preparation methodology was to use the full 10 months (i.e. registered in Aug for all 3 levels so far) and to take things slow and steady. I notice that many other candidates could not stand this approach but I find it the most stress free approach. I have read CFAI notes from Aug to end of October and not worried about EOC questions on the first run through.

    I have then purchased Essential Pack from Schweser and used the next 3-4 months going through Schweser Notes (with reference again to CFAI Notes on harder areas) and doing all EOC questions for both Schweser and CFAI. I would also periodically go back to sections previously studied and do QBank test of between 30 and 60 q’s to check how well I was retaining information. This took me through to around early March.

    I would then spend about a month of reading Chapter Summaries and should my retention not be crystal clear I would re-read these sections again taking random Qbank quizes, normally in the sections I was scoring the worst overall. My aim was to get all areas above 80%. After completing each Reading I would also take the Schweser Reading Quiz from the Cirriculum section.

    I would then spend April and May completing Mock Exams from Schweser and CFA on each weekend and would then spend the week reading areas I had scored poorly in from that weeks exam.

    While the above seems like overkill to many, and I guess it was as I was well above Min Passing Scores, it is important to remember that it afforded me the ability to enter the exam room with great confidence and also pass well and with luck being a factor. Additionally, while this study was conducted over 10 mths (i.e. a long time) I would not have spent more than 10 hrs per week studying at any stage prior to April (i.e. an hour a day on my commute and a few hours on weekends) and only really had to approach the “no life” stage for about 4 to 6 weeks (which was more out of panic than neccesity).

    Khanna, I tell you this total picture to outline that what is important in my opinion is that you get to a point where you can master the material and consistently score at least 70% on all sections. While cutting corners and shooting for lower scores (i.e. bare minimum passes) may save time I believe it will catch up with your at Level III.

    Hopefully my outline above will give you some scope to plan this achievement.

  29. September 20, 2011 at 6:27 PM


    you have to have an interest in the material to really master it, if you don’t take an active interest, it is hard to muddle along…

    i wrote level 2 twice and the 2nd time around I spent about 12-15 hrs/week for 6 months

  30. February 2, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Hi all, Congratulations to all who passed their Level 2 exams. I signed up for the CFA level 2 exam and beginning to prepare in a day or two. I was wondering if any one could throw any light on how important it is to know the Level 1 material before starting preparation for the Level 2 material. My recollection of Level 1 is faint at best and I do not wish to waste time floundering in Level 2 prep if it requires Level 1 revision. Thanks

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      you need to know some basic concepts from level 1, at least for financial reporting & analysis, PM & derivatives

    • Grant
      March 1, 2012 at 4:04 AM

      Hi jenikcarl,

      In my opinion, I can’t say that detailed knowledge of anything from Level I is really needed for Level II but a good grounding of all material is essential to provide context for the Level II. I would assume that, it you passed Level I you are likely at this standard, but a marginal pass may mean that higher level material covered in Level II starts to become confusing.

      I am now in the throes of studying for the Level III exam and it really starts to hit home at this level that the CFAI seeks for you to conceptually bring all stuff together from all Levels so the better the grounding on all material, the easier this becomes by this level (I am assuming that this is your ultimate goal so just thought I would make the point here).

      As you may have gleened from all of the posts above, Level II is considerably harder than Level I and with a start in Feb I would be wasting no time on Level I stuff and hooking in hard to those big thick Level II manuals.

      Best of Luck, Grant

  31. EGY
    February 15, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    Hey Takloo!
    I have a question you might help me with :

    – I sat the December 2011 L1 exam and didnt pass. I’m thinking of sitting the June 2012 exam and will have 3 months to study for it again. Do you think its doable if I can dedicate around 15 hours a week?
    Im studying using the Schweser notes.
    You input is very much appreciated.

  32. Linda
    March 6, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Hi, My question is to anyone who was taking the 2011 level 2 exam for at least the second time. Did you find that the topic area weights in the exam were different this time around?

  33. Hai No
    March 17, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Is the Schweser CFA Level 2 Material enough to make you pass?

  34. Tucker NAdon
    April 29, 2012 at 5:14 PM


    I have not finished the CFA level II material yet.. almost there tho.. however im having a hard time picturing how will the CFAI link up the different readings and ask questions in a one viagnette.setting. .ie will the ethics be on its own? or how exactly.. im confused on what to expect, especially that from experience mock and real exams are no similar.
    your help is greatly appreciated..and good luck to all who are writing an exam next month!

    • April 30, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      for the most part, the vignettes are per topic… there are some exceptions: portfolio mgmt combined w/QM or w/Corporate finance, parts of financial reporting combined with equity investments…

      good luck!

      • Tucker NAdon
        May 1, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        thanks takloo. that would make a lil things easier… anyone else have anything to say about this?
        thanks in advance

  35. June 1, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    best luck tomorrow! 🙂

    I’ll be writing level 3 and will try to post a summary after the exam.

  36. Sam
    June 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    So…folks how did it go? Hope you are feeling confident about a positive outcome in late July / August.

    I took the Level 2, and that went OK. I felt the morning session was difficult but the afternoon was much better. Please post your experiences and expecations for Level 2 as well as Level 3.

  37. Raj
    September 9, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Very good input from all the test takers and congrats to all who have passed and good luck to those who haven’t for the next one. On a note, thanks to Grant for being explanatory on each note.
    I just picked up the Schweser Level 2 book and started studying but already stumbled on Pension and foreign conversion ( looks like those 2 topics needs lot more devotion ). Just like Level 1, I am thinking to prepare from Schweser note only, but is that enough? Do I absolutely need to refer the CFAI material too ? I did hear from time to time, exam can be a stunner even for the best prepared candidates and cannot relate the questions tested in the exam to the prepared materials. What should be the best study referral,
    People who are CA designated finds CFA relatively easy since I know 2 guys who passed all the 3 levels at one shot but thats not the case for rest of us and have to work our sweat off since cutting corners will take us nowhere.

  38. Mehul
    January 6, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Thanks Grant, Takloo et all. You all have provided so much valuable information as I will be giving my first attempt in Jun 2013. It will need lot of hard work from my side as I dont work in finance and I cleared Level 1 only in second attempt. thanks once again.

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