How to Pass the CFA Level 2 Exam

Instructor: Jessica Munk
Many consider Level II of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam to be the most difficult of the three. However, there are many resources that can help you pass the exam. Read on to learn how to access these resources.

Understand the Exam Structure

While it tests the same general topics, the Level II CFA Exam differs significantly from the Level I Exam in structure, which is the reason many consider it to be the most difficult of the three exams. Because the Level II Exam is so different, to pass the exam, you must become familiar with its structure.

Instead of solely having multiple-choice questions, the Level II Exam tests you on a series of 20 vignettes, each of which are 1-2.5 pages in length. The vignettes could include financial statements, statistical information or fixed-income tables. You will then have to answer six multiple-choice questions, determining your answer solely from the information presented in the vignette. You can access sample vignettes with questions and answer explanations at

Sign Up for the CFA Program

You may have to devote at least 300 hours of study time to prepare for this exam. When you sign up for the CFA Program offered through the CFA Institute, you will receive a Candidate Body of Knowledge that will help you prepare for each topic presented on the exam. The Level II study sessions provide detailed learning outcomes and reading assignments.

Utilize Test Banks and Mock Exams

You can find practice exams for each topic on the exam, as well as full mock exams online when you register through the CFA Institute. You can also purchase access to test banks, which provide thousands of practice questions, as well as quizzes and answer explanations. You may even be able to find some practice questions free online.

Further, you can register for mock exams offered through local colleges. Mock exams are intended to closely represent your experience taking the CFA Exam, and should also include test answers, explanations, and references. With lots of practice, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses to focus your studies on areas where you need the most work.

Take a Prep Course

Many colleges and universities offer review or prep courses for the Level II Exam. You can find review programs that last weeks, or you can find intensive programs that only last a few days. Many of these programs offer incentives if you complete the program but do not pass the exam. For example, you could retake the review for free or a program may refund your course fees. Other companies offer a variety of options for taking a review course.

Find a Study Group

People who have passed the Level II Exam advocate finding a study group. You may be able to locate a study group through your local professional organization. Through your local CFA affiliate, you may also be able to connect with a study group through Twitter or LinkedIn.

Use Your Portable Devices to Study

The CFA Program offers an eBook that can be downloaded to your portable devices. The program also offers a study planner that will adjust how much time you have left to study for each topic. You can also find apps for your Android and Apple devices. If you sign up for a review or prep course, you will likely have access to those programs from your portable devices as well. also offers a number of courses that you can access from your computer or portable device that will help you as you study the topics tested on the Level II exam, including:

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