Advice for those who just failed the Level II exam

Advice for those who just failed the Level II exam

If you failed the Level II exam your natural response is probably to feel disappointed. You might even be wondering whether or not you should continue with the CFA Program.

The typical advice is to keep trying; however, I suggest a more thoughtful approach. Put the result on the side for a moment and ask yourself: did I really enjoy the subject matter? Also, try doing a post-audit on why you did not pass. Was it because you did not have enough time to prepare for the exam? Or did you have a very hard time understanding the concepts? Is the CFA Program aligned with you career aspirations? Carefully thinking through these questions will help you decide whether or not to continue with the program.

If you fundamentally enjoyed the material and you have an interest in investment management then I’d recommend that you continue. Start you studies early. Internalize the concepts. Spend time on the examples in the curriculum and understand them well. Fortunately, the 2016 curriculum has not changed much since last year. There is one new reading in Quant on simulations, but relative to the other Quant readings, this one is quite straightforward. Most of the portfolio management readings are new, but given the struggles most candidates had with the 2015 portfolio management readings, this is a welcome change.

Coming back now to the other scenario: if you did not enjoy studying the Level II curriculum and you are not particularly interested in investment management, then I would not recommend continuing with the CFA Program. This might sound harsh, but in the long-run you are much better off pursuing a line of work that you enjoy and where you can make a decent living. However, if you are passionate enough about studying CFA, and feel that you have a better shot this time round, go for it. In fact, start preparing today, there is no time like the present.

Regardless of which path you decide to travel down, I wish you the best of luck.


Arif Irfanullah, CFA