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September 2018 CAIA Level II - How is everybody doing? Share Ideas, report progress and share your EXAM RESULTS !!!

Hey Folks,

Just wanted to start this group for a general discussion for those, who are like me, writing L II in September 2018. I am studying with Kaplan Schweser (They do not have any either their e-books nor the printed books ready yet, which is frustrating).

Please share how do you plan to tackle L II since it is a bit different from L I given the structured response makes 30% of the total exam.

How Long are you planning to allocate for reading the books/materials before starting practicing questions? Are you going to start in the same order the books are written or have a different order in mind? After reading a topic, are you planning to do your Kaplan/UpperMark practice exam questions or planning to leave it to the end? And most importantly, what is best way to study for and get as much points for the Constructive Response questions? I have not taken any test in the past with essay-type questions, so I am hoping to see some of your techniques to best deal with these types of questions.

I hope that this thread would be an ongoing group chat through our journey where we all share our best practices and struggles until we PASS CAIA LEVEL II.

Best of luck everyone and I hope to see your feedbacks.


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Currently up to Private Equity - Chapter 7. I’ve also read the articles while waiting for the Uppermark guides to come through. Skipped Ethics for now, but will come back to it last. The study notes are great to read. Just doing the practise questions at the end of each chapter for now.

This is the rough timetable I’m working towards:

  • Finish readings by mid June.
  • Review and practise questions and CAIA workbook July.
  • Mock exams August.
  • Holiday for two weeks in early September (light revision).
  • Mid September to exam day, crank more mocks and practise questions.

Not sure about the constructed response, I’ll probably do detailed bullet points.  

Kaplan books should be coming soon.  Their Qbank just became available to me today.  Over 1000 questions in there.  Probably 700 of them are too easy and a waste of time!  I’ll probably supplement with the UpperMark QBank, but we’ll see.  Can’t wait to hit the books again!

Already started. Read first three of the articles but skipped over ethics. Not doing the breakneck BS I did last time.

Not sure what you mean by breakneck BS but having ethics in short essay form is entirely different than multiple choice. I found it to be much more difficult. 

FiftyFiv3 wrote:

Not sure what you mean by breakneck BS but having ethics in short essay form is entirely different than multiple choice. I found it to be much more difficult. 

I screwed around too much when I should have been studying and had to go full tilt mid-January till test time.

Got my Kaplan books in the mail today.

Nice! I just placed my order so when I get back home ….. I can have something to look forward to! ;P

Just went printed versions this time, never used my digital copies for L1

I must say, these Current and Integrated Topics in the Kaplan book are boring!  Hopefully the questions on the exam are relatively straight forward.  So many lists! 

I’m through ethics and the first three sections of Current and Integrated Topics.  It’s tough getting back into the swing of things.

Looks like most people got started cracking the books. I have been on and off but I need to be discipline. it is tough to dive in with summer, kids’ activity, and how the curriculum starts with these dry CIT section.

I looked at Kaplan study plan and it looks like they suggest going directly to Topic 3 after Ethics. They are leaving the CIT section for last. I like that and I think I will follow that plan. I have skipped Ethics and read the first 3 CITs but I will stop and start with Topic 3.

I feel that L II will take more time to prepare and I am a little concerned because I feel I am behind…

I really don’t think you’re behind, Gogo.  We have a long time until the exam.  Don’t be worried yet!  I agree that these CIT’s are dry as anything.  The third one, which you stopped at, really took a toll on me.  It was brutal.  I can see why Schweser recommends skipping them until closer to exam day. These CIT’s are going to be tough come exam day.  Hopefully the multiple choice evens it all out though. But either way, this will require more time than Level 1 for sure.


Glad to hear that it was not only me whi felt that CIT # 3 was taking forever. Thanks for the encouragement and i am planning to start seriously this weekend. Happy studying.

How’s everyone doing with level 2 studying?  I just started real assets, but skipped CIT.  At about 35 hours between reading and QBank.  Level 2 certainly is much harder than level 1!  I feel like I have to read then re-read the material to understand it better.  Fortunately we have a long way to go! But it will get tougher with summer coming around.

I’d say that your best bet would be to attack main curriculum first, then move to CIT once complete.  Intermittently sprinkle ethics in there across the way.  Look to be able to reproduce all list-type questions across both CIT and curriculum.  For those that are not well versed in ethics, make sure you are able to explain the in’s & out’s of each Standard as well as be able to apply to hypothetical situations.  CIT short answers should be straight forward and directly related to topics.  You’ll either remember it or you won’t; just try to know each case at a high level and be able to deploy specifics for testable lists/definitions.  The curriculum short answer can literally be anything, so hold on to your butts! But in all seriousness, if you know the topic covered in a general sense, you should be able to garner a fair amount of points allotted.  Always fun to have to type out formulas and show calculations, so tread lightly. Good luck!

ya don't know what ya don't know until ya know it.

I’ve just finished the second Uppermark book, so another 400 pages to go. Starting commodities tonight, which is by far my worst subject (it killed me throughout the CFA). At my current rate I’m right on track to finish the readings by mid-June.

Well just finished my first read through and starting to work on answering questions. Running about a week behind schedule but apart from that going okay.

I cringe thinking about the constructed response section. Think I’m still scarred from the CFA Level 3 version of it. Is CAIA as bad?

finished my 1st round of reading all the Schweser Notes and QBank…getting ready for 2nd round of fine reading and understanding.

rexkicker wrote:

Well just finished my first read through and starting to work on answering questions. Running about a week behind schedule but apart from that going okay.

I cringe thinking about the constructed response section. Think I’m still scarred from the CFA Level 3 version of it. Is CAIA as bad?

i would say that CFA prepares you for the absolute worst case scenarios across constructed response questions.  CAIA’s versions are very straightforward and to the point; 3 topic sections (CIT, Ethics, & random curriculum area) with multiple sub-questions and sub-sub-questions.  Thinking back to the exam, there were probably, in total, 25-30 individual questions asked in the short response section.  Most were very to the point, i.e. “list” type responses or “calculate” X, etc. Some others were a bit more involved and required some explaining, but brevity is usually key here.  Kinda weird typing out formulas and calculations in order to show work, but overall, much nicer to have to type responses out, given the ease of editing.

ya don't know what ya don't know until ya know it.

Just finished section 5.8. I started June 1 and will finish material one month ahead of the exam allowing for review. I do all Schweser questions at the end of the chapter and qBank questions as I progress.

As a Schweser QBank user I have always been curious as to how many people have taken a full subsection. I backed into it tonight. For subsection 5.9 it looks like 22 people have completed the QBank questions*. Far fewer than I would have guessed. Of course we are still early (and this is about 40% through the material), not everyone reads in the order the material is laid out and some save QBank for after they have read through material the first time.

*For those unfamiliar with Schweser QBank, it allows you to compare your score for subsections (e.g. 3.1) whole sections (e.g. 3) and all questions relative to the total population of question takers.

Looks like I mistakenly commented on the March exam thread. Started yesterday, as I was writing CFA. Looks like my social life for 2018 will only start in November.

I wish the Kaplan qbank was a bit more challenging. After reading a topic (ie: 7.5 in the hedge fund topic with the structural models, etc.), I feel overwhelmed like there’s no way I’ll memorize all this and I feel like I need to re-read it again two more times. But Then I do the qbank for that topic and score like in the mid 80’s.   Not bad!  But the questions are fairly easy and probably not realistic for the real test.  I’m pondering if it’s worth it to buy the Uppermark qbank as another supplement. Thoughts?

Also, is anyone doing the Kaplan online class? I got the email today about session 2 of the class. Is it worth it? 

My advice, I would purchase the UpperMark QBank.  I think it will be money well spent! 

This may be a dumb question, but is there a way to just get the UpperMark QBank?  On their website, I see I can exclude some items such as the final review, note cards, etc.  But I can’t figure out how to just get the TestBank.  It seems like I must get the study handbooks - printed and / or ebooks.  I’d ideally like to continue to use Schweser’s books and not get the UpperMark books, but get just the UpperMark TetsBank.  Is that possible?  Thanks in advance!

Hey Holden - I think you will see the caliber of CAIA candidates is much different than the caliber of CFA candidates. 

Very cool that you were able to back into how many people completed the Qbank questions.  I’m one of them.  Well, I did all Qbank for the sections I read - not done reading yet.  I like to read the section in the book, do the QBank, and as I move forward reading more sections, periodically go back to re-do Qbank to make sure things stay somewhat fresh.  So my scores are quite high, but I’ve seen the Qbank questions several times now.

I just finished the curriculum in 7 weeks, reading all Kaplan and taking very good notes (like I did a few years ago on CFA).  I think I made the mistake of finishing too early but have travel plans in August where I want to just be reviewing.   I have to admit I didn’t think the CAIA curriculum was as interesting as some people state.  The only area I found hard was a few readings in the Hedge Fund section.  Much of the material seems like so many lists of memorization!

I work in real estate finance and have a masters of Real Estate.  The real estate/real assets curriculum is mostly based on indices and then a strange chapter on timberland and farmland.  it’s like the alts of the alts!!!!  why not just focus on basic real estate, like office/multifamily/retail/industrial???? 

You can get the QBank by itself. Here is the link:

Thanks, Gogo!  $269 doesn’t sound too bad. 

Hey guys and gals.

I finished reading the entire material and did all Kaplan’s Qbank questions (I took the QBank questions after i read each chapter). I felt good then I scored in the low to mid 70. However, I can not remember anything from what I read 2-3 months ago and I am almost in a panic mood. There is no way that I will re-read the books again. I know that this is somehow normal but I feel a lot worst for L II than L I. I just went back to review 3.1 and 3.2 and almost couldn’t remember a thing.

Has anyone felt/feeling this way or it is just me? Also, can you suggest how do you plan to wrap things up for your final review given that we are only 5 weeks away?

Just like all of you, I want to take this exam once. I have invested a lot of time away from my family reading for this and do not think I can do it again.


Hi Gogo - the hedge fund sections are crushing me right now.  I read everything from Schweser once (except CIT) and now am going through them again.  Almost done with my second read of hedge funds, just leaving me to get through structured products again.  7.4, 7.5, and the like are really challenging for me and taking a lot of my time.  I also did not read the CIT section yet and I’d like to give ethics another read.  So I have a lot to get through with five weeks to go!  And that doesn’t count mock exams.  I actually did half of an AM exam yesterday though (multiple choice) and did fairly well (78%).  But we’ll see how the second half goes and how the essays go.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed too.  I did pretty well on the QBank, but I know it’s not a good representation of the real exam.  So that’s why I’m trying to do some mocks now.  But, again, I still have a good amount of reading to do (ethics, CIT, structured products).  I wish I had a few more weeks to work with. 

Hopefully what you read will come back to you.  Keep pounding the Qbank is my advice and re-read the LOS of the questions you got wrong or simply forgot.  And then hammer the mocks.  You got this!

Don’t panic!  Reading only once is not enough for a kind of volume of material, but you don’t have to go back and re-read everything.  Trust me, those material is in back of your brain somewhere.  Focus on the questions and mock exam now, those will help you to remember what you read, or, at least, expose all your weakness.  I went through that feeling at each level of CFA and doing the questions and exam helps.  Also, don’t waste your lunch time, by merely flipping through the pages as you chew on your burger wil help you too.  CONSTANT EXPOSURE to the material is the key.

Neil202 - Thanks for the words of encouragement. I thin kwe are all feeling overwhelmed by the curriculum and specially with the exam approaching. I am sure you and all of us will do fine. I will start to redo some Schweser Qbank questions in each Topic and will jump to the practice and Mock exams and pound these too until exam day. You got this too!

My apologies for any negative energy I have caused to anyone.