2021 Level 2 CFA® Exam Topic Weights

CFA Exam: Level 2 / Topics / 2021 Weights



Last Updated: Apr 9, 2021


Level 2 CFA exam topic weights are given in ranges. Five level 2 topics take the higher 10-15% exam weight range, and the other five level 2 topics take the lower 5-10% exam weight range.

That the level 2 topic weights are given in ranges isn’t very helpful, though. It's hard to say how many questions each topic will get in your exam. But we try to help


Your CFA Exam:
2021 Level 2 Weights

CFA Exam Topics Level 2 Exam Weight
(MIN-MAX)
Ethics 10-15%
Quantitative Methods 5-10%
Economics 5-10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 10-15%
Corporate Finance 5-10%
Equity Investments 10-15%
Fixed Income Investments 10-15%
Derivative Investments 5-10%
Alternative Investments 5-10%
Portfolio Management 10-15%

The table shows the current 2021 weights of all level 2 CFA exam topics.

As you can see, the topics with the highest number of questions in your 2021 exam include:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Eth),
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA),
  • Equity Investments (EI),
  • Fixed Income (FI), and
  • Porfolio Management (PM).


MORE on CFA exam level 2 topics


How Many Questions for Level 2 CFA Exam in 2021?

As 2021 CFA exams move to computer-based testing, level 2 CFA exam includes a total of 88 multiple-choice questions, 44 in SESSION 1 and 44 in SESSION 2. The number of questions has been reduced, e.g. in 2020 it was 2 x 60, i.e. 120 multiple-choice questions overall. It's because the total testing time is now down to 4.5 hrs (2 hrs 15 min per exam session) instead of 6 hrs (2 x 3 hrs).

Importantly, level 2 exam questions are arranged into item sets. What it means is that the 44 questions per each exam session are divided into the sets of 4 or 6 multiple-choice questions. Each set is topped by a vignette, i.e. a case description forming the basis for the multiple-choice questions grouped for the case. So, theoretically in your 2021 level 2 CFA exam you can expect:

  • 11 item sets with 4 multiple-choice questions per exam session,
  • 5 item sets with 4 and 4 item sets with 6 multiple-choice questions per exam session,
  • 2 item sets with 4 and 6 item sets with 6 multiple-choice questions per exam session.

Possibly, SESSION 1 and SESSION 2 testing experience may differ as far as the number and structure of item sets are concerned. But we need to wait and see.


Predicted Number of Questions in 2021 CFA Exams

Level 2 Topics

We think that it is more likely that both sessions will have mixed item sets, i.e. consisting of both 4 and 6 multiple-choice questions. This is the assumption of our prediction about the number of questions per topic.

Our prediction is just an educated guess and the actual number of topic questions may differ when you take your exam. However, when all the 2021 CFA exam changes and the MIN and MAX weight ranges are considered, this is what you can expect in your 2021 level 2 CFA exam:


MIN no. of Questions MAX no. of Questions Predicted no. of Questions Predicted no. of Item Sets
Ethics 10 12 10 (6+4) 2 item sets
Quantitative Methods 6 8 8 (4+4) 2 item sets
Economics 6 8 6 1 item set
Financial Reporting and Analysis 10 12 12 (6+6) 2 item sets
Corporate Finance 6 8 6 1 item set
Equity Investments 10 12 12 (4+4+4) 3 item sets
Fixed Income Investments 10 12 10 (6+4) 2 item sets
Derivative Investments 6 8 8 (4+4) 2 item sets
Alternative Investments 6 8 6 1 item set
Portfolio Management 10 12 10 (6+4) 2 item sets
SUM 80 100 88 18
MIN-MAX no. of Questions Predicted no. of Questions
Ethics 10-12 10 (6+4)
2 item sets
Quantitative Methods 6-8 8 (4+4)
2 item sets
Economics 6-8 6
1 item set
Financial Reporting and Analysis 10-12 12 (6+6)
2 item sets
Corporate Finance 6-8 6
1 item set
Equity Investments 10-12 12 (4+4+4)
3 item sets
Fixed Income Investments 10-12 10 (6+4)
2 item sets
Derivative Investments 6-8 8 (4+4)
2 item sets
Alternative Investments 6-8 6
1 item set
Portfolio Management 10-12 10 (6+4)
2 item sets
SUM 80-100 88

We assume there'll be no item sets with questions from various topics, which however happened in the past.

Before 2019, there used to be 20 item sets altogether (10 per exam session), where each item set included 6 multiple-choice questions. So, there was a total of 120 multiple-choice questions to be solved in 6 hrs, with a break meanwhile. However, as of June 2019 level 2 CFA exam, CFA Institute decided to have item sets with a varying number of questions. So, in June 2019 exam, there were 21 item sets: 18 with 6 and 3 with 4 multiple-choice questions. Then, in 2020 level 2 candidates were told to expect from 20-30 vignettes altogether supporting 120 multiple-choice questions, which could be divided into item sets of 4 or 6 questions. Now, with the total testing time getting reduced down to 4.5 hrs, the number of questions also gets reduced but the varying structure of item sets stay.


Also, before June 2019, level 2 topic weights were different. The highest values of 15-25% were for Equity. Other level 2 topics weights were as follows: FRA (15-20%), FI (10-20%), Ethics (10-15%), CF (5-15%), DI (5-15%), QM (5-10%), PM (5-10%), ECO (5-10%), and AI (5-10%). Now, level 2 exam weights are less varied.


CFA Exam: Difficulty of Level 2 Topics

Although over the last years the exam weights or the number and structure of questions changed, the difficulty of the level 2 CFA exam topics stays pretty much the same. Of course, topic difficulty is a subjective criterion but you’ll surely agree that EI with its current weight of 10-15% and still more than 500 pages in your CFA Program curriculum seems both important and difficult. In our CFA Exam Study Planner, you get lots of extra time scheduled to study Equity and other important topics, e. g. Ethics, FRA, or Fixed Income.

We propose what we call Soleadea Topic Sequence, which is: EI, FI, DI, FRA, CF, QM, PM, ECO, AI, ETH. However, while creating your personalized CFA exam study schedule, you can change the topic sequence according to your liking:

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