2 months to go and struggling... Any Advice?

Hi Everyone,

My apologies for the length of this post

I have been studing for Level 2 since September, read the CFAI then started Schweser in January and read it twice, went through all the CFAI EOCs. I took notes on everything, made note cards, etc… I have started the schweser practice exams and 80% the material feels foreign to me. I split each test up (morning/afternoon) and focus on one segment of the test at a time so I can learn from my mistakes without using up too much material too quickly. I am able to pull through on average between 65-70% due to lucky guessing and logically working through the problems. It seems as though everytime I (re)learn a calculation or process I forget another. Its getting down to to test day and I am afraid that this will continue. I remember with Level 1 something similar happening but I was able to do enough questions to where the questions helped me learn the material, however level 2 a) doesn’t have as many questions b) questions can be asked on a more vast sea of knowledge, so I don’t want to rely on muddling through questions and just “getting better.” Any advice would be much appreaciated as well as any study tips (things that you found helped you remember the material). Does the Schweser practice exams do a good job of representing the actual exam (aka… am I completely screwed). I am driving myself crazy trying to remember (re-reading/forgetting) all the material!!!

One more thing… The Eleventh Hour from Elan helped me tremendously for level 1 to bring all the info to one place. As Elan has yet to release their Elevent Hour and it is their first year doing Level 2 material I am a bit skeptical. Anybody use Schweser’s Secret Sauce? Is it a good way to prepare for the exam (does it have the same effect for Level 2 as for Level 1)?

Thank you for reading and for all who respond

Yo man. you’ll do yourself and the other readers a favor if you stop panicking and instead enjoy a beer.

Do you have a formula sheet? If not, I suggest making one, I find it helps me focus. I’ve also starting using the Scweser Q-Bank. While most of the q’s are not in vignette format, I find that they help reinforce and remind me of concepts that I’ve read a few months back.

You must not panic, you’ve read all the books, there is no reason to worry, really! You need to take a rest, a week maybe, so that the information settled in your mind. And on the exam, i am sure you will remember all the formulas, just concentrate well.

As for practice questions, take a question where you make a mistake and do it everyday, untill you will learn it by heart )) so no mistakes will be made, and on the exam you will do it automatically.

I would relax a little and take a chill. Sounds like you have definitely put in more than the average joe in terms of study time. There’s no way you can possibly memorize all the material - so strategize and spend time on stuff that you DON’T KNOW instead of everything.

Yeah stop panicking

Even if you started studying TODAY, you would still have a chance to pass. I saw plenty of well-prepared ppl failing on D-day purely because they were so stressed that they just couldn’t concentrate enough…wrong mindset. Maybe you should really take a few days off and calm down. It’s just an exam ( don’t throw stones at me please!), I mean obviously it’s a very important one, all of us work hard, we make a lot of sacrifices while on the road but …if you put a reasonable effort in it ( you do!) there is no way it would not pay off. Except when you slip on the banana peel, i.e. you waste your energy on panicing and driving yourself crazy. On the practical side, maybe you can ease the pain with learning the quicksheet by heart and the formulas at the end of books- that’s something you can rely on as a tiny but strong base. Maybe you also could spend some time with the secret sauce, it’s also a smaller piece- more easily digestible and good to memorize the big picture. Honestly, I believe your current problem is related to the lack of self confidence rather than lack of knowledge. Good luck and hey, just keep your chin up.

I know exactly what you mean about feeling like you lose a little knowledge for every piece you gain. You can’t panic. You know more than you think you do.

I don’t mean for this to scare you, only help you. The Schweser questions are definitely not on par with the exam in terms of difficulty. That said, they are not a waste of time. I’ve found that Schweser will help firm up the broad concepts so you can spend more time in the end focused on the details (without feeling like you lose too much). The details do matter for Level 2.

Focus first on the big picture, feel good about that, and then go back to CFAI EOC questions. I’d say that you should save the mock exams for the very end. Taking them too early does nothing but crush confidence.

Agree. You need to cool it some, i don’t mean that condescendingly or insultingly. I’d venture to say you’ve studied longer and read the material more than 99% of all LII candidates. The stuff is there, you just need to focus.

No shame in correct answers that are correct not becuase you knew the material but rather bc you thought through the result logically. A correct answer is a correct answer. You’re free to use logic on exam day. Now, I agree…guessing is a little unsettling. You neither knew the material nor could rationalize the answer, so it’s hard to bank on that going forward. But it is what it is. You will likely guess on many come exam day, you will hit some and miss some.

Not sure why everyone is panicing with 7 1/2 weeks left. Sure you have less now than you did in January, but that’s still a lot of time.

I’m somewhat baffled when people come on here knowing full and well that they’ve probably studied waaaaay more than most and are therefore likely in a waaaaay better position than most, yet they need reassurance. Bro, i’d change places with you any day of the week. I’m not even done reading my first go around yet (albeit close). You’ve run circles around me to this point. You’re doing just fine. Head up. Maybe take a couple days off, then focus. All you can do.

There is a life outside the CFA.

Agree with most of the above posts. Dude, you’re burnt out. And it wont get any better if you dont take some time to play tennis or do something active. I started playing rugby in February on tues/thurs and it made a night and day difference. I was able to read faster and the material stuck.

I hate reading all these posts about freaking out. Freaking out doesn’t help you at all, and then people have the worst reactions as a result of their freaking out. There are huge diminishing marginal returns to studying. Two sessions per day on the weekend that total to 3-4 hours and then a couple 3 hour sessions during the week is so much better than locking my self in a room for 30 hours each week and hating my life.

I’m just not going to retain very much if I sit in a room by myself and read dull material for 10 hours hating my life every second. I have to study with someone for at least a couple sessions per week, then we talk through questions and compare thought processes, and I remember so much more when I have to argue over the answer of a question than if I just read the answer and found out whether I got it wrong or right.

Even if I’m cramped for time, I’m not gonna lock myself in a room. I’ll probably just start working backwords. So instead of reading an entire Study Session I’ll just jump straight to the EOC questions and start trying to work through them, and then flip back through the chapter to find the info I need to answer the question and try to talk through as much of it as possible with someone (pretty much anyone that will listen).

It’s all about finding a balance, where I’m getting enough study hours in but when I’m not studying I’m doing something that is completely un finance related. I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3-4 times a week, and everytime I walk out of the gym I feel great and it makes it so much easier to hit the books the next day.

Agreed 1logic.

I study Weekdays 2 hours a day. Usually go for a run in between 1 hour sessions. On weekends I study 2 hours when I wake up and another 2 hours usually before dinner or before going out for the evening. Gives me 18 hours a week study time and I feel pretty good. Will probably pick it up a bit a few weeks before the exam.

I wonder if they’ll actually ask us to calculate the black scholes model by memory? I have given a bit more emphasis to calculating using the binomial method. The black scholes formula for call/put price isn’t hard, but the d1 and d2 formulas are a little crazy because I can’t understand them intuitively. Well, I’ll just focus on mastering the big, important stuff for now.


This is an awesome article that one of the CFAI institute guys on twitter retweeted. It talks about the difference between left brain and right brain problem solving and how the two interact. They talk about when you’re trying to solve a problem, the moment you get frustrated is when the brain switches from mostly using the left brain to using the right brain to solve the problem, and the right brain activity isn’t verbalized well, so it results in the epiphany moment where the solution just appears in your head.

I think this article relates alot to the frustation that alot people are feeling when they first take mock exams or just get recall everything they’ve read at a moment’s notice. We aren’t just trying to memorize all this information, we are trying to internalize it. So it may in some cases be harder to recall, but doing practice problems helps internalize the information as well as helps you recall the information more effciently.

You do not have to calculate the Black Scholes Model by memory. Read the LOS. You do have to know how the components of the model each affect the outcome if they are adjusted.

Thanks everybody for the time to read and give advice. I appreaciate all of your input. Sounds like a few days off would be the best idea. That being said… as far as efficiency goes does anybody have opinions on Schweser’s Secret Sauce? Is it a good all over review or does it miss too many major points. I used Elan’s Eleventh Hour for Level 1 and it was the difference between passing and failing. Everytime I didn’t know a subject I would re-read the section in the Eleventh Hour until I knew the concept by heart. It was a good concise way to reinforce (or re-learn) problem areas. I am a little unnerved that my scores in the Kaplan Mock exams are not getting any better (normally practice boosts them a bit) and that they are susposed to be a bit easier then the actual test. I am saving the CFA mock for the end. I like the idea of reviewing with the CFAI EOC. Thanks a lot for your input everybody!