When have you passed your CFA level 1 exam? Last June? Or were you a December candidate who just found out about the passed L1 exam roughly a month into the new year?
Regardless of that, you must have waited for your L1 exam score with bated breath. Because it told you whether you needed to retake your level 1 exam or if it's the CFA level 2 examination ahead of you now. For all those who start their level 2 exam prep in February, here's our advice on the optimal 4-month CFA level 2 study plan and preparation.
Looking for a specific study schedule?
Choose your JUNE 2020 CFA Study Plan:
Looking for a specific study schedule? Choose your JUNE 2020 CFA Study Plan:
- 2-month L1 Study Plan
- 3-month L1 Study Plan
- 4-month L2 Study Plan
- 4-month L1 Study Plan
- 4.5-month L1 Study+Review Plan
- 5-month L1 Study Plan
- 5-month L2 Study Plan
- 6-month L1 Study Plan
- 7-month L1 Study Plan
- 8-month L1 Study Plan
CFA Level 2 is Different than CFA Level 1
Before we proceed with the CFA study plan for level 2 candidates, first let us name 3 key issues that distinguish CFA level 2 from CFA level 1:
1. CFA LEVEL 2 EXAM FORMAT
The format of CFA level 2 exam is different compared to CFA level 1 exam. No longer will you get a standard multiple-choice test. Level 2 exam consists of the so-called item sets (mini-cases). An item set includes a case statement called vignette (it's like a short story description) and from 6 to 4 multiple-choice questions to match the description. What stays the same is that for every multiple-choice question 3 answers are provided and only one is correct.
What's the consequence of such a change in level 2 compared to level 1 exam format?
It's more difficult owing to the item set format but you have more time per question.
Approximately, it's 3 minutes to cope with one multiple-choice question (it was 1.5 minutes in L1 exam) it's about 12 to 18 minutes per one item set you can expect from 10 to 15 vignettes in one exam session, i.e. 20-30 vignettes in total (recall: one vignette supports from 4 to 6 multiple-choice questions).
2. CONTENTS OF THE EXAM & CFA LEVEL 2 CURRICULUM
Even though you will be tested in the same 10 topics you studied during your level 1 exam, you need to be prepared to apply your knowledge more deeply this time.
The problems you will have to solve when taking your CFA level 2 exam are highly detailed problems. Based on the opinions of those who took the exam, you can expect practically anything from your CFA level 2 Curriculum.
It means that you need to be more analytical while studying and pay more attention to detail.
3. CFA LEVEL 2 TOPIC WEIGHTS
In comparison with the level 1 exam, CFA level 2 topics have different weights. The most important topics for CFA level 2 candidates are Equity, FRA, Fixed Income, and Ethics (all with the topic weight of 10-15%). Then, there's Portfolio Management with a weight of 5-15%. All other topics, namely Derivatives, Corporate Finance, Quantitative Methods, Economics, and Alternative Investments, are given a weight of 5-10%.
As you can see, all the topic weights for level 2 are given in ranges, which means that the exact number of questions per topic is less predictable and may vary from exam to exam (to see our prediction, go here >>).
Also, as of June 2019 exam, there's a change in topic weights. In the past, Equity was the most important topic with a weight of 15-25%, which had to be taken into account when planning the CFA exam prep. Now, as many as 4 topics are given the same importance ranging from 10 to 15%. This means you should devote a similar effort to all these topics because you may expect a similar number of questions for these 4 topics.
Managing CFA Level 2 Exam Prep
Because of the crucial differences in both the FORMAT and the CONTENTS of level 2 vs level 1 exam, you should arrange your level 2 exam preparation accordingly.
First of all, you have to solve as many mini-cases as possible to get thoroughly familiar with the form of the exam.
Secondly, to get acquainted with all the required study content, we recommend that you generally use your CFA level 2 Curriculum. To facilitate your studying process, however, you might want to use some complementary study materials like video lectures, tests, or formulas app. They can definitely be helpful in getting the big picture, revising the study content, and getting the necessary practice.
Thirdly, our advice is that you take the 4 most important CFA level 2 topics seriously. We think that's the right way to go when you know you can expect the greatest number of questions on these 4 topics.
That's why we allowed for lots of Equity, Ethics, FRA, and FI in our free CFA Study Planner for level 2 candidates:
If you go for the paid version, you will also get access to 50 exam-type item sets and tons of videos, tests, and formulas!
CFA Level 2 Study Plan: Assumptions & Timing
We begin our 4-month CFA level 2 study plan on 3 February and end it on 5 June, i.e. the day before the exam. The last three weeks are devoted to Final Revision when you should try to do as many mock exams as possible.
The study plan is divided into topics (5 Study Blocks) and we believe that the sequence is just optimal as it focuses on Ethics, Equity, Fixed Income, and FRA first. The time scheduled for each topic depends on its difficulty, the number of pages in the Curriculum and the number of questions devoted to the topic on the exam.
START on 3 February 2020
1st Study Block (3 Feb – 25 Feb)
1st Study Block (3 Feb – 25 Feb)
- Equity Investments
- EI Review
2nd Study Block (26 Feb – 13 March)
- Fixed Income
- Derivative Investments
- FI+DI Review
- EI Review
3rd Study Block (14 March – 6 Apr)
- Financial Reporting & Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- FRA+CF Review
- EI+FI+DI Review
4th Study Block (7 Apr – 3 May)
- Quantitative Methods
- Portfolio Management
- QM+PM Review
- EI+FI+DI+FRA+CF Review
5th Study Block (4 May – 17 May)
- Alternative Investments
- ECO+AI Review
- Ethics Review
FINAL REVIEW (18 May – 5 June)
END on 5 June 2020
CFA Level 2 Study Schedule in 4 Months
|Level 2 Topics||June 2020 Exam Deadlines|
|Ethics||7 Feb 2020|
|Equity Investments||23 Feb 2020|
|EI Review 1||25 Feb 2020|
|Fixed Income||6 March 2020|
|Derivative Investments||10 March 2020|
|FI Review||13 March 2020|
|DI Review||13 March 2020|
|EI Review 2||13 March 2020|
|Financial Reporting and Analysis||23 March 2020|
|Corporate Finance||3 Apr 2020|
|FRA+CF Review||6 Apr 2020|
|EI+FI+DI Review||6 Apr 2020|
|Quantitative Methods||17 Apr 2020|
|Portfolio Management||27 Apr 2020|
|QM+PM Review||3 May 2020|
|EI+FI+DI+FRA+CF Review||3 May 2020|
|Economics||9 May 2020|
|Alternative Investments||15 May 2020|
|ECO+AI Review||17 May 2020|
|Ethics Summary||17 May 2020|
|Final Review||5 June 2020|
This is a sample 4-month CFA level 2 study plan. But you can have your own personalized study schedule, available in both free and paid version:
See below your 4-month L2 study plan screens:
All Weeks That’s where you can view all the weeks of your CFA exam prep to see how much you’ve done and how much is still ahead of you.
Current Week You will be asked to focus on your current week of studying. You will know what to study, when to study, and how much to study. At the end of the week, your hard work will be evaluated (hit the ‘Sum Up’ button).