How to Study for CFA Level II Quick Facts

  • According to the CFA Institute, CFA Level II pass rates are currently at around 45%.
  • CFA candidates can expect to study for over 300 hours over the course of six to nine months to prepare for the exam.
  • The format of the Level II exam consists of item sets or mini-cases rather than individual multiple-choice questions found on the Level I exam.
  • Investment Management and Portfolio Concepts and your ability to apply these concepts in real-life scenarios are a focal point of the Level II exam.

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Plan Your Study for CFA Level II

Use the following information and expert tips on how to study for the Level II CFA exam to set yourself up for success on exam day and beyond.

How Much to Study for CFA Exam Level II

Just like the Level I CFA exam, you can expect a lot of studying for Level II, and likely even more. Successful candidates report studying for over 320 hours to prepare for exam day, an amount that works out to over 13 hours per week if you begin exam prep six months before the actual exam. Make sure to leave the final month exclusively for practice and review.

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How to Study Reading Material for CFA Level II Exam

There is plenty of reading to do as you prepare for the Level II exam. Make sure you have several months blocked off to read the content, highlighting along the way and re-reading sections that don’t come as easily to you.

On top of reading your study materials, you must also watch lecture videos to make the most of your study time. Keep the exam topic weights in mind as well, and prioritize topic areas that are areas of weakness as you go.

The topic weights are a bit more evenly distributed at Level II, although these can change from year to year. Be sure to prioritize areas like Portfolio Management, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Equity, Fixed Income, and the always crucial Ethical and Professional Standards.

Learn more about CFA Level II Topic Weights.

Next, you’ll want to cover Derivatives, Economics, Alternative Investments, Corporate Finance, Valuation, and Quantitative Methods.

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Prepare with Wiley’s popular CFA study guides to master the Level II CFA Program Curriculum.

Apply Level II CFA Exam Concepts to Real Life

Due to the exam format of Level I, you likely did a good deal of memorizing content. This can be helpful at Level II as well but one of the added challenges is applying those concepts to real-life situations. This means that you’ll need to understand each concept rather than just being able to recite facts about them.

This stage provides a great opportunity to explore a study group. Study groups are a great way to interact with other CFA candidates that are on the same path, learn together, and offer and receive feedback. Groups can also help with motivation and discipline and can help you absorb materials better than when you study by yourself. Check out Wiley’s Study Groups page to connect with other CFA candidates.

Studying for CFA Level II Vignettes

While the CFA Level I exam was packed with multiple-choice questions, the CFA Level II exam changes things up with the addition of vignettes. Your Level I experience with practice questions will come in handy, but the format change and upgrade in difficulty demands a new approach to your study sessions.

Since questions are now part of a group, your time per question will decrease, and each question is worth more. With that being said, learning how to manage your time is more important than ever and you must avoid information overload.

During mock exams try peeking at the questions before reading the entire vignette, giving you a better idea of what to look for when you read them more thoroughly. Wiley’s popular CFA Test Bank was created by experts in the field, designed to give you the edge you need to pass.

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Wiley’s extensive archive of study materials is perfect for your exam prep as well, giving you everything you need to be ready on exam day.

How to Practice Taking the CFA Level II Exam

Mock exams and practice questions are an excellent way to prepare for the Level II CFA exam. And unlike the first exam, you can’t afford to skip any questions. If you attempt to skip a vignette, you’ll potentially cost yourself 4-6 questions as a result.

Wiley offers plenty of mock exams to help maximize your study time.

How to Pace Yourself for CFA Level II Exam

The Level II exam can change from year to year but was most recently made up of item sets of vignettes with 88 multiple-choice questions. Time management is key, and keeping track of your pace can make a big difference when you take the actual exam.

As you prepare and drill with practice exams, you’ll want to set aside 12-18 minutes per vignette depending on the number of questions presented. With this in mind, you may want to consider implementing deadline times during your study sessions to keep yourself on track.

Wiley’s CFA Level II Review Courses cover each and every Learning Outcome Statement (LOS) in the CFA Program Curriculum and are designed to help you stay on track–telling you exactly where you need to focus so you study smarter, not harder.

How to Study CFA Level II – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how to study for the Level II CFA exam.

  • The CFA Institute reports that it will take around 328 hours spread across at least six months to prepare for the CFA Level II exam.
  • Many CFA charterholders feel that the Level II exam can be the hardest exam in the CFA curriculum.
  • Six months should be enough time to prepare for the Level II exam, though many candidates spread their preparation time out to nine months.
  • The best way to study for the CFA Level II exam is with a good plan, consistent study habits, and resources and materials from a trusted prep provider like Wiley.