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Level II Retake - Any suggestions on what to do different this time?

Failed Level II, for a second time now. Certainly felt better going into the exam than last year and had several questions stone cold locked that I would have missed last year. If you threw me a interest rate swap question last year I would have given up but this year I was able to tackle it better.

Last year I only used Mark Meldrum videos, went through EOCs, and then did a few mock exams; clearly wasn’t enough both going into the exam and in hindsight. This year I read all the Schweser books, did a bunch of their Qbanks, and did every single CFAI Qbank question as well as all four parts of their mocks.

One thing I didn’t do much of this year was topic tests and EOCs since I spent a lot of time just doing the CFAI Qbanks.

For those who have retaken and passed, what did you do differently?

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I would suggest you go over all examples in Schweser notes, practice it again and again until you understand well. Couple each study chapters with CFAI topic tests, BB, EOCs. Review them as often as possible. 

I did 14 full mocks. Hiw many you did this year?

In my experience, I make sure that I know all the topics and formulas before digging into the question banks. For instance, when talking about FRA, clearly list out all the concepts included without looking at my notes (DB vs DC…)

Most exam questions do not contain many steps, but the topics are very broad and you have to know everything.

Best luck next time :)

The primary prep material I used last year was schweser and their live classes in NYC (which I personally think are useless/waste of time and money), this year I sticked strictly to the CFAI curriculum/qbank/mocks and used schweser as a quick review resource. I would recommend schweser for level 1, not for the second tho. I felt like Schweser examples and qbanks were way too simplified and easier compared to the CFAI material. 

I did 14 full mocks. Hiw many you did this year?

I just stuck with the CFAI ones, so four different sessions to add up to two.

Plus all their Qbank questions and a bunch of Kaplan’s Qbanks

ali.hamrayev wrote:

The primary prep material I used last year was schweser and their live classes in NYC (which I personally think are useless/waste of time and money), this year I sticked strictly to the CFAI curriculum/qbank/mocks and used schweser as a quick review resource. I would recommend schweser for level 1, not for the second tho. I felt like Schweser examples and qbanks were way too simplified and easier compared to the CFAI material. 

Yes I did think that their mocks and Qbanks were very different (simplier might be the right word as you said) than the CFAI Qbanks and mocks.

They felt…cheaper and not as direct as the CFAI stuff. But yet I did all the CFAI questions and mocks and no luck. Maybe doing the blue boxes and topic tests as well would have helped (obviously).

kimngan wrote:

I would suggest you go over all examples in Schweser notes, practice it again and again until you understand well. Couple each study chapters with CFAI topic tests, BB, EOCs. Review them as often as possible. 

What I did was read through the physical Kaplan book then answer the module questions they have online (which are the same as in the book - you can just keep track of them better online).

My humble submission… I failed L2 last year because I tried to startegise, but exam was on unexpected lines. For this year, I did all the topics ( I guess this is most important and believe me it paid). Referred Mark videos and I do not think,.there is any better video resource available ( and is quite affordable). Did around 7-8 mocks. My suggestion would be

Read all topics and know them well

Mark videos plus schweser for.reading should be enough

EoCs, topic test and practice ques ( from whatever resource you cud lay your hand on, I used Fitch)

Don’t start prep to early, fatigue may creep in by the time you will reach close to exam.

Don’t fall in trap of doing tough/ challenging ques. CFAi test has very few of them and if at all though ques appear on exam, every one will be on same page

Keep reviewing and practising.

All the Best!!!

Just focus on schweser and do all questions in it many times. Don’t confuse yourself by looking at too much material. For derivatives n portfolio management do  curriculum CFAI book questions. Rest it is all schweser read it n practice 10 times. 

Shun,

I passed this year on my 3rd attempt. Its def a rough feeling to see you failed (since I passed level 1 the first try) but seeing that my results improved a lot helped. I started my studying again by going through everything all over again but much quicker just to get a refresh of the material (its interesting to see what i forgot and what i remembered). Probably by March I was done and then spent those months cracking through practice tests. I never once took a full mock because I never liked the idea of spending 6+ hours then going back over and see what I got wrong. What I would do instead is go item set by item set and review each answer when I was done with one set. Doing it that way gave me a sense of the actual questions then I was able to immediately get feedback on how I did and make myself understand where I went wrong/right. I don’t like the Kaplan or CFA question banks as I think they are too wordy and time consuming compared to how they are worded on the exam. The kaplan mock exam item sets were more direct and closer to the actual exam. Also as I went through my answers on each item set I created an excel sheet to record my performance on each item set for each category and would insert the date i did those questions. Doing it this way helped me see my progression as well as utilize my time better.

I know I am probably in the minority by not ever sitting down and taking a full mock but I think your time is better spent taking an item set then looking at the answer explanations and moving onto the next. I did it for all 3 times so I guess it wasn’t too efficient but in the end it worked for me.

Feel free to reach out for any other questions. 

I only used official CFA Institute materials and the website. I also did Schwesser mocks and live mock test, not sure how much it helped but I passed. Good luck my man

rlax333 wrote:

Shun,

I passed this year on my 3rd attempt. Its def a rough feeling to see you failed (since I passed level 1 the first try) but seeing that my results improved a lot helped.

I made big strides in some areas I did so poorly on last year like econ and quant, that I think if I my section scores from last year on a few held serve I would have easily been there.

Quote:
I started my studying again by going through everything all over again but much quicker just to get a refresh of the material (its interesting to see what i forgot and what i remembered). Probably by March I was done and then spent those months cracking through practice tests.

Yeah I’m trying to decide if I should re-read everything or just start cracking on questions again to refresh

Quote:
I never once took a full mock because I never liked the idea of spending 6+ hours then going back over and see what I got wrong. What I would do instead is go item set by item set and review each answer when I was done with one set. Doing it that way gave me a sense of the actual questions then I was able to immediately get feedback on how I did and make myself understand where I went wrong/right.

This is exactly what I did. I did both of the available CFAI mocks this way, just doing a vignette and then grading it

Chumkayz wrote:

For derivatives n portfolio management do  curriculum CFAI book questions. Rest it is all schweser read it n practice 10 times. 

The portfolio management section had several questions I had never seen before and I did every single CFAI Qbank question for PM. I couldn’t believe it.

IFT videos are helpful if you are having conceptual issues but only for level 1&2. For level 3 they are not  up to the mark. Try to get the concepts right. I have never done a singe mock at any level n have passed on first attempts. Just grasp the core concepts n read schweser several times. I must have read it more than 5 times n each questions 20-30 times. IFT videos will help building core concepts.

Quote:
Yeah I’m trying to decide if I should re-read everything or just start cracking on questions again to refresh

If you are doing well on the questions I would say start there. I realized though that I had forgotten a lot of the “nuts and bolts” of each section so I decided to re-read big sections (multinational, Pension, Deriv, Cashflow). I then started doing questions. Another trick I did that I forgot to mention was I bought a big white board and put it in my room and every night I would erase and write the formulas I was looking at that day, keep them up there and just go over them during your study months. 

I feel your pain. I failed last year, but got straight back on the horse and registered for June 2019. Started studying again in January, mainly focussed on writing notes for new readings and condensing all my 2018 notes from last year. Biggest change was ensuring I left myself a full 2 months to hit up all CFAI qbank, EOCs and mocks. I did over 15 mocks this year which helped get me match fit. Found out I passed today, which makes the last 12 months very satisfying.

Use today as motivation to smash it in 2020. It will be hard to take today, but trust me use this to your advantage next year. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll remember next year - you’re not starting from scratch. Retake next year, focus on condensing notes, new readings, questions and mocks would be my advice. Sometimes you have to fail to realise how much you want it. That’s what happened to me. Now go and crush it next year. You got this.

****edited my last comment because the table did not work properly. it looks like from my estimation I had a 53% last year (including weights) and a 63% last year just from eying where the line for each section fell but this isnt exact. 

Hi Shuancore,

It is sad to see that you failed level 2 again, I can definitely feel your pain since I failed band 9 a few years ago. I finally passed this time round with a better strategy in my preparation.

For the notes, I sticked with schweser and  always referred back to the CFAI official book for deeper understanding in some of the topics, especially in derivatives, fixed income and portfolio management. For example, I went through the entire derivation of FRA pricing and valuation in the CFAI book, rather than just memorizing the formulas and methodologies. Actually I spent quite a lot of time in reading the materials, trying to understand the underlying theories in every topic. (I am more of a theoretical person since I studied maths in uni)

For the exam preparation, I would recommend focusing on the practice problems inside the CFAI books since they cover every single knowledge point that will possibly appear in the exam.Indeed in the real exam a lot of the questions are similar to what I have encountered in the practice problems. I completed all the problems for equity ,financial reporting, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments and most of the problems in economics, portfolio management,quantitative methods. I strategically gave up corporate finance since this is an old topic. I only had time to work on online topic tests for the last few days before the exam so I took priority on topics that I thought with more preparation, there would be significant improvement in my performance, which included portfolio management, alternative investments and economics.

Luckily my strategy worked and I passed! I did well in the topics that I focused on, getting >90% in financial reporting, fixed income, portfolio management and economics, 80% to 90% in  derivatives and alternative investments, quantitative methods,except for equity though, which I got slightly less than 70%.

Good luck in your future preparation and feel free to ask any further questions. I am sure you can pass next year with hard work and determination! 

I did Meldrum last year and band 9 failed. Signed up with Meldrum again because the video lectures are so useful. This year, I decided I wasn’t going to take any notes. Just listened closely (really listen) to the videos and after each video, I’d take 10-20 questions in CFAI Q bank on that section. Did this for all the material and sped through the videos. Then, within two months, I was “done” with all the material. The remaining 4 months (I started studying mid December last year) I pounded quizzes and mocks. The topics I did poor in I would go back and watch full Meldrum videos. Really helped me narrow down what I didn’t know and focus on those topics. I didn’t touch the actual CFA material aside from Q bank. Also, just making sure I was at least somewhat familiar with all sections. Last year focusing mostly on just Equity, FI, and FRA killed me. More well rounded knowledge helped me a lot this year. You’ll pass next year. 

I did Meldrum last year and band 9 failed. Signed up with Meldrum again because the video lectures are so useful. This year, I decided I wasn’t going to take any notes. Just listened closely (really listen) to the videos and after each video, I’d take 10-20 questions in CFAI Q bank on that section. Did this for all the material and sped through the videos. Then, within two months, I was “done” with all the material. The remaining 4 months (I started studying mid December last year) I pounded quizzes and mocks. The topics I did poor in I would go back and watch full Meldrum videos. Really helped me narrow down what I didn’t know and focus on those topics. I didn’t touch the actual CFA material aside from Q bank. Also, just making sure I was at least somewhat familiar with all sections. Last year focusing mostly on just Equity, FI, and FRA killed me. More well rounded knowledge helped me a lot this year. You’ll pass next year. 

read kaplan notes and 7-8 mocks. the more the better

As someone who had finally passed after four (4) Level II fails (though in some years, irl and work got in the way of studying), having enough time to answer 100% of the EOCs in 100% of the CFA topics this year was the key difference.  

This way, by the time you get to the mocks, revision is a lot easier. When I had to do a 2nd pass on some EOCs as part of revision, I will do it with a twist - trying to answer them again with all formulas memorized.

Though people say 300+ hours, I had to put up 400+ hours this year.  Remember, though 300+ hours is the average, less than half clear level II.  

I would also start in December with a lot of extra buffer time.  This is so that if irl stuff did get in the way (yes, it WILL get in the way - e.g., this year, I launched my book on Bitcoins/Blockchains for beginners on Amazon), you can afford to skip a week or two.

Also, since the questions are a randomfest every year (with questions never before seen sometimes coming up), the EOCs are a must.  

As for the emotional aspect, I had to hurdle my Band 10 failure two years ago (and I even paid the $100 for the retabulation).  

Best of luck.  Give yourself a break off, even in failure, and prepare to hit the books this December (even I will have to for the next level).

After I failed L2 I changed my strategy. My old strategy was going through the Wiley books & after finishing the book I would practice the EOC and any extra questions I had (Kaplan, CFAI EOC). When my results came out last year I was almost on the MPS so that really hurt. 

This year I actually used a new prep provider Quartic-> straight to the point even more summarized than Kaplan I would say. The material was fresh in my head still so i felt like i needed just a quick review. What changed this year is that after every reading I would practice the questions (before I would finish the whole topic and then practice ie finished all Equity readings, do all equity EOC). I found this method more helpful because practicing after each reading can tell you if you comprehend the reading or if i would need to go over it again, make notes, what are my weak spots. Then after finishing all books I went back again and did the questions again and compared my score then vs the score now. 2 months before the exam i signed up for the intensive course with quartic, expensive but also i felt like it paid off. 

I took a week off before my exam and just did all the Kaplan mocks & the CFA online mocks, at first i started scoring ~50% then gradually started scoring 60%, 67% and rare occasions 70%>..

The difference between my both methods other than the when to start practicing was that the first time i was so focused on just reading and making notes not going back to the weak topics I was scoring in vs actually seeing if there was improvement. My improvement came from practicing, didnt even make notes this time. 

You have a year now to study and the material is fresh in your mind. Relax then whenever you feel ready start studying.

Hope this helped

You may have done this on your last attempt, but go through the entire curriculum at least once before you start with review providers.  I know this seems daunting…and it is.  But after I failed the first time the first thing I did when I registered again was to go through the curriculum books.  I then supplemented with Schweser, and went back to the curriculum many many times for clarity and practice.  Mocks and q banks are worthless if you don’t understand the material first.

It was as simple as giving myself more time. On a page by page basis, there is nothing difficult in any of these exams. The difficult part, is making time for the material after a busy day. 

dasstienn wrote:

I did 14 full mocks. Hiw many you did this year?

Wow, I guess some people require to put in more efforts to clear an exam :D

Shauncore wrote:

Chumkayz wrote:

For derivatives n portfolio management do  curriculum CFAI book questions. Rest it is all schweser read it n practice 10 times. 

The portfolio management section had several questions I had never seen before and I did every single CFAI Qbank question for PM. I couldn’t believe it.

FYI level 3 revolves around portfolio mgmt only so it would be prudent to spend more time on this

rlax333 wrote:

Quote:
Yeah I’m trying to decide if I should re-read everything or just start cracking on questions again to refresh

 Another trick I did that I forgot to mention was I bought a big white board and put it in my room and every night I would erase and write the formulas I was looking at that day, keep them up there and just go over them during your study months. 

Another good habit is to write down a formula 5-10 times every time it comes up. It’s amazing how much more brain internalizes and logs stuff into long term memory when you write it down. H-model, Yardeni, Fed, FCFE, FCFF, all those will be really easy if you keep doing this. 

If you're the first out the door, that's not called panicking