Man sitting for Level II CFA Exam

Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Updated: August 6, 2020

You’ve reached your first milestone on the way to becoming a CFA® charterholder by passing the Level I exam! So next up is Level II. As a recognized leader in CFA exam prep, Kaplan Schweser fields a wide variety of questions from candidates preparing for the Level II exam. Here, we compiled those questions (and answers) into one simple place for Level II candidates to get the information they need.

What is the difference between Level II of the CFA® exam and Level I?

Level I tests your understanding of the basics of investment valuation. Level II begins to test your ability to put that understanding to practical use. You will be presented with real-life scenarios and be asked to put your knowledge of investment management and portfolio concepts to the test.

What is the date for Level II of the CFA exam?

Level II of the CFA exam is offered twice a year. To learn the dates, read this article, which breaks the changes to the Level II exam dates, and provides information on Levels II and III also.

Can I postpone my CFA exam after I’ve registered?

You can only postpone your CFA exam after you’ve registered in specific circumstances, mostly related to medical reasons. It’s easier to withdraw, but unless you withdraw within three days of registering, you will have to pay the registration feeds again and re-register. Read this article to learn all the options you have if you think you can’t take the exam on the scheduled date.

Note: Due to the change of the 2021 Level II exam to a computer-based format, CFA Institute has a few excwptions to their postponement rules.

What is the format of Level II of the CFA® exam?

Level II of the CFA exam is a multiple-choice exam, like Level I. These questions are divided into question sets, and you will be tested on half of the item sets in the morning, and half in the afternoon. For each item set, you will be provided information, and the questions will require you to use the information provided to solve them.

What subjects are tested on Level II?

When sitting for Level II of the CFA exam, you will be tested on the following topics:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivative Investments
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Management

Considering the CFA charter? Before you choose your CFA exam date, download this free Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA Exam eBook.

What are the Level II topic weights?

The Level II exam topic weights are subject to change yearly at the discretion of CFA Institute. For Level II of the CFA exam in 2020, the topics are weighted as follows:

TopicExam Weight
Ethical and Professional Standards10–15%
Quantitative Methods5–10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis10–15%
Corporate Finance5–10%
Equity Investments10–15%
Fixed Income10–15%
Derivative Investments5–10%
Alternative Investments5–10%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Management5–15%

How much time do I need to dedicate to studying for Level II

The general consensus is that you should dedicate a minimum of 300 hours to studying for Level II. In the CFA Institute June 2017 CFA Candidate Survey, respondents reported spending an average of 328 hours preparing for Level II of the CFA exam. Typically, candidates will spread that time over a 6-month period, which averages out to about 12.5 hours per week. However, some candidates do not begin studying as early and compress their study time into a shorter window. How intense your study schedule is depends greatly on how early you begin preparing.

How hard is the exam?

Don’t let anyone tell you any level of the CFA exam is easy. They all require focused study and preparation. That’s because the CFA charter is an exclusive designation, designed to truly demonstrates mastery.

How is Level II graded?

CFA exam grading is done by machines and charterholders. CFA Institute then uses a methodology to determine a minimum passing score that is applied to each exam. Our article on how the CFA exam is graded has all the details.

What is the Level II CFA exam pass rate?

The pass rate for the June 2019 Level II CFA exam was 44%. According to CFA Institute, only 20% of candidates who begin the program actually earn the charter. Preparation is critical to reaching the finish line. We’ve outlined other candidate experiences and some of the common pitfalls people encounter to help you along the way.

How much does it cost to sit for Level II of the CFA exam?

The cost to sit for the exam varies depending on when you register. CFA Institute has three registration windows for each exam offering: early, standard, and late. The early registration fee is $700. Registering by the standard deadline will cost $1,000; late registration comes at a cost of $1,450. We suggest registering by the end of the standard registration period for two reasons. First, you will save $450, which you can put toward a CFA exam prep course. Second, the earlier you commit to sitting for the exam, the sooner you can begin preparing.

We hope we’ve answered some of your questions about sitting for Level II of the CFA exam. If not, you’re always welcome to reach out to our Student Support team, or get additional information in our blog. When you’re ready to start formulating your study plan, be sure to check our Level II manager Dr. B.J. Tolia’s video “How to Pass Level II of the CFA Exam.”

Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA Exam

Free eBook: Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA® Program Exam

CFA Fundamentals eBook

Free eBook: CFA® Program Fundamentals, 2nd Edition

Ready to Begin Studying?

Be a Guest Writer

Have your voice heard as a published guest writer in our blog.