Advice from Level 2 Retakers who passed

I’m putting together my gameplan for next year and need some help.

  1. how much does the material usually change. Should I invest in the new set of Schweser books or use the old ones from this past year?

  2. I’m going to buy the new CFAI books when they come out and I re-register.

  3. I studied probabaly 400+ hours from Jan to June, but failed Band 8, which is brutual. What were some strategies that people used who passed? I did all of the Schweser end of chapter questions, all the CFAI mocks from 2008 - 2011 scoring around 65%, and the schweser mocks at above 70%. Should I focus more on CFAI end of chapter questions?

I’m mainly looking for answers about whether I should re-purchase all the material for this upcoming year, or re-use the 2011-2012 material that I just used.

My secret to passing after failing fist time was rereading each chapter over and over again in excruciating detail…not the most time efficient strategy but w/e.

You may not wanna hear this but youy were quite unlucky. I put 300hrs since March and was scoring the same in fewer mocks but passed. It hurts but don’t give up. And yes repurchase. You get a fresher set of practice questions. Good luck mate.

Give up on Schweser EOC at the end of study plan and go to the harder staff - CFAI OEC - learn it by heart!

Learn by heart CFAI Mocks questions.

I used Schweser as main book but exam was really tough and covered more advanced staff than presented in Schweser. Focus on Equity - there will be for sure question on Residual income, DDM - etc.

Equity is relatively simpler than FRA.

If you do not understand hard questions on FRA (pensions), skip it.

Do not waste too much time on ethics.

Be focus during exam day (earplugs).

CFAI Exams are all about practising questions! Even Level 2.

Band 9 last year to pass this year so maybe my advice can help.

The material doesn’t change much year to year. But I wouldn’t even really use any third party notes as you need to really understand the curriculum. Third party notes can be handy as extra practice and sometimes they’re helpful but the curriculum is where it’s at. That said, I thought Schweser notes were good with the equity valuation readings (dividend discount model, free cash flow, etc) and some of the derivative stuff. John Harris is the man when it comes to accounting.

My strategy I used to pass this year involved starting with those topic areas that I felt the least comfortable with last time around and READING THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM. I can’t stress that enough. The questions are going to come right out of the text book. I started probably in Novemeber with the goal of being done reading last week in April to start cranking out practice exam until exam day.

Focus on your weak areas especially if it’s one of the bigger topic areas. I was bad at corporate finance but really some time in off the bat and ended up scoring >70% on the exam in the section. Practice the hell out of the end of chapter questions especially those in the item set format. If you don’t understand why the right answer is the right answer, go back and reread that section if until you do. If you don’t start a thread here (or search through old ones) to see if you can find the answer. Master the curriculum and you’ll be well on your way.

Band 8 tells me you have the ability to pass. Keep at it! I know EXACTLY how you felt but trust me in the end it’ll be worth it.

the exam to me was in reality different then both stalla and schweser. i passed second time first time was a band 8 after doinf level 1 in december! not to much time to prepare! usied schweser just because i had the stalla promise. loved stalla presentation better to be honest! never opened the the CFAI books.

i think the best approach is to understand the material and interpret it in the exam which by the way to me was nothing like any prep questions i ever faced!

Band 9 last year. I had skipped studying derivatives and Quant, and had only skimmed Equity ( which was not enough!!) …that hit me hard.

This year, i focused on those areas…i studied derivatives from CFAI books and revised extensively other stuffs from Scheweser. Take as much practice tests as you can…i did around 8 or 9 full test from Scheweser, i think that saved me!!! and revise revise revise!!! there are so many things that you tend to forget overnight!!! it’s vital that you keep refreshing them. Scheweser secret sauce and quicksheets are the best for that.

All the best!!

I studied exclusively from CFAI. schwesers doesn’t cover it in enough depth for my liking. I reread the chapters and made summary notes, making sure i didn’t miss anything the first time around (and I did). Don’t waste time reading too much, learn the concept and practice it, do EOC as many as you can. Focus on the heavyweight sections then study the midweight then low weight… it’s a numbers game.

I did one general review and then a second one with my summary notes 4 weeks out, then EOCs, then another summary wave, EOCs and one mock exam (which I failed). Took a day of break the week before and crammed weak points in heavyweights the night before.

Actually slept 7 hours this time around and went in confident despite some poor indicators. I actually studied LESS this time around but definitely more effectively. nailed my target sections and passed, no stress. I scored band 4 last year. Anything is possible, it just depends what you are willing to give up and how much you want it.

I found Videos to be Key. I used Arif Irfanullah’s videos, he has plenty of samples on youtube. It wouldn’t hurt giving it a shot. But yea, All the examples in the curriculum and EOC’s on repeat mode is KEY!

I failed with a band 5 last year. That year I read 3.5 books of the CFAI and switched to Schweser for the rest part of the curriculum. This year i passed and i read CFAI books, some of them two times, and revised the material with CFAI books only, and made some notes. I did only two CFAI mocks, but kind read them twice… scored somewhat around 50% - 60%. And i guess i did some exams from the Shweser question bank, but i didnt find them very helpful, scored from around 50% to 80%. My recommendation would to to read CFAI curriculum and mock exams.

Schweser Videos was the primary material I used for preparation. These videos are the key to passing this beast.

Allen Resource(but make sure whatever is not covered you read from CFAI book).

CFAI End of Chapter.

Practice Practice Practice(20 mocks, CFAI mocks, schweser mocks, allen resource mocks and review them) and dont waste your time with Schweser Books.

We sincerely regret to inform you that you did not pass the June 2012 Level II CFA exam. 42% of candidates passed the June 2012 Level II CFA exam. A summary of your exam results is provided below. The three columns on the right are marked with asterisks to indicate your performance on each topic area. We encourage you to consider registering for the June 2013 Level II CFA exam. Registration will be available tomorrow, 25 July after 9:00 a.m. EDT on the CFA Institute website. (Please note that you must have a valid international travel passport to register. Learn more about the identification policy.)

Please contact us if you have questions or comments about the CFA Program.

Item Set

Q# Topic Max Pts <=50% 51%-70% >70% - Alternative Investments 18 - * - - Corporate Finance 36 - * - - Derivatives 36 * - - - Economics 18 * - - -** Equity Investments 72 \ - -* - Ethical & Professional Standards 36 * - - - Financial Reporting & Analysis 72 - - * - Fixed Income Investments 36 - * - - Portfolio Management 18 * - - - Quantitative Methods 18 * - -

We have divided the group of candidates who did not pass into 10 approximately equal score bands. Your score band below shows how your overall score on the exam compares with the overall scores of candidates who did not pass this exam. Your score band: 4

Can all of you suggest me what should i do, should i even thing of retaking it again, considering this was mys second shot, last year it was band 8 and this year band 4, what a fall…further, i work in a private equity firm, where analyising equity is very integral part of my job, still i performed misearbly, what more, when i completed my exam i thought i have good chance of passing, but when the results came out the truth was nothing less than a shock…How can i go so wrong in my assumptions? n If i did should i really be in this field considering i scored less in equity, where i should not have goofed up

Equity was tricky but don’t think I could have done better. I scored more than 70 last year…and less than 50 this year in Equity. Band 10 both the times. Heartbreaking!

You very likely fell for most of the traps in the paper. Band 8 means you can do it. My fail was a band 6 and I narrowly passed this time after averaging 60-70% across most mocks. Giving up is NOT an option.

I feel for you Prashant Raturi. Look at the threads, similar stories that then turn into passes. Persistance is the key to success.

I falied this year, I cannot wait to devour the exam in 2013.

Went from Band 6 last year (no areas > 70 at all!) to a comfortable pass this year (6 areas inc. ethics, FRA and equity > 70 & failed only derivatives). Last year, I ran out of time to study and panicked so set myself up for a failure.

To retake, I studied just shy of 300 hours. My successful strategy is to do the CFA EOC questions over and over again. Some are written questions but they are actually very useful, even if you have to copy down the correct answer, as you learn through repetition and association. I read CFA texts for Equity, FI and Alternatives, and relied on 2011 Schweser for the rest. I only tried one timed mock which went well . This strategy (doing the CFA EOC over and over again) has worked for me now on both Level 1 and 2.

There are certain areas that you need to nail to pass and certain topics are easier to master for the same # of marks. For example, I didn’t read Economics this year but I knew that becoming comfortable with triangular arbitrage was an easy couple of marks, so I practiced these questions, and read Secret Sauce to refresh myself on the red flag concepts (e.g. growth theories). Result = pass in economics. Corporate Finance is another area that offers easy marks for not a lot of effort & you’re guaranteed at least two questions sets, whereas I struggled with derivatives and quant, so didn’t put a lot of effort in. I have a demanding job as an investment analyst (was working through to 10/11pm until I took the 2 weeks off before the exam!) so I had to use my study time efficiently, not perfectly.

Also I used flash cards this year. Bought a stack of coloured index cards from Rymans and made my own. The process of organizing my thoughts onto a separate card for each main concept was good for memory retention, maybe even moreso than the act of flipping through the cards afterwards. I was still memorising formulas the morning of the exam!

thanks buddy for inspiration, will surely give another try and without repeating old mistakes


I was writing for the 3rd time this year and I seemed to pass reasonably comfortably as well. From all the year’s, what I have leant in a nutshell is this:

  1. Make a study plan and stick to it! I can Not rough ones in your mind but a solid typed one. Having a study plan really leaves you enough time at the end to go back over stuff you looked at ages ago.

  2. I used Schweser which I reckon is better than the books in terms of time. The reason I think this is that if you study off a study guide and can answer the questions in the CFAI books then clearly it’s working.

  3. Use the questions in CFAI books as your gauge of where you’re at in the material not the Schweser questions! There is no substitute for these questions. I would almost go as far to say that it’s not even fair if you’re given a question other than one that is based on the CFAI books in the exam. They can not give you a question on something that isn’t in there. If you can answer all of these questions, then you know the material.

  4. Spend more time on heavily weighted sections and after failing you should come to grips with the sections you’re generally not good at and make a point of spending more time when revisiting. I’ve also found that it doesn’t make sense to study some sections first as they are very easily forgotten. ie- stats… in 4 months when you come to revisiting this stuff in the review period, you definitely aren’t going to remember those formulas. I would do stats and economics last and they’re small sections.

  5. As far as going through the actual material time wise, I started in September as I work full-time and basically formed a study plan to have two weeks for each section and the questions answered, ie - by the 2nd Sunday it had to be done. I had breaks over Christmas and when I plans to go away on holida, etc I made sure that the stuff was done before I went, etc. This left 6 weeks at the end to go through summaries and schweser notes and answer all the questions again (going through the questions again is very NB in my opinion). Within the 6 weeks at the end I dedicated every Sunday to be exam day on which I would do a mock exam.

  6. Leave the last day to learn formulas off by heart although I’ve realised that apart from accounting ratios, it’s more the understanding of the formulas as opposed to knowing the formula itself.

Does anybody know where I can find the old CFAI Mock Exams?? I sat for Level II this year, but did not print out the exam…I would like to use this exam in addition to the 2013 Mock Exam for my study preparation. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Jazzy I feel for you man. Equity, Ethics, and Derivatives were absurd this year. They tested things in a way that are never tested. Any tips on how you got above 70 in accounting? I went to John Harris but his class is a waste of airfare and 500$.