Hesitation to Dive In... Best Study Provider - CFA Level II?

Hey Everybody,

I just crushed through Grad School and finished at the beginning of September. I promptly registered for the Level II exam (have failed once previously), but am having absolute senioritis (LOL) and cannot get going on the CFA study materials. Any advice to get me motivated? And yes, I know I could get a whole slew of comments saying if I cant motivate myself I have no hope, but I’m just looking for some positive energy here. I’m just struggling to get back into the groove. Part of my problem may be the CFAI material. While I have read several opinions, I decided to stick with the source material for now, but am now regretting the decision as I don’t believe it is organized and summarized as nicely as other providers. I have used both Schweser and Wiley, liking both products (both with their pros and cons), but I guess the question is, what is your opinion on best supplemental study provider and why? I have also heard of some smaller / newer sources such as AdaptPrep, Apptuto, Bloomberg CFA Prep, etc. Anybody use these or have an opinion on them? I like having many questions available to drill in the information I just learned, but am also very visual and videos definitely help at times.

Good luck to everyone on their CFA Level II studies and appreciate any feedback as I look to get started here.

Honestly, the motivation you need isn’t just a fleeting one to ‘get you started,’ it’s something as I’m sure you know from experience will need to be maintained for your entire 5-7 month study period, which I know is never easy. You need to have a clear idea, I think, of why it is you want to continue pursuing the CFA charter and what it would mean to you if you were to complete the program (e.g., to continue to better yourself and your knowledge in the domain of finance, to earn arguably the most respected professional designation in our field, etc.) Unfortunately, that’s a bit of a self-discovery process that no one but yourself can help with, but hopefully that helps you to get started.

While I won’t chime in anymore on the motivation stuff, my two cents on exam prep providers would be to give Wiley a second shot. I used them exclusively for Level 1 and 2. Their videos are what got me through L1 and L2 on my first try (but not without me ‘meeting them halfway’ and being diligent and consistent with my study efforts to learn the material and not just try and memorize). Regarding the CFAI official text, the only time I’d reference back to it is if I felt the need to read a little bit more into something (rarely) and to of course complete all the end-of-chapter/blue-box problems (which is a must).

Best of luck to, and hope you find it in you to come back to the program with the focus of finishing it up this time around.

If you just finished grad school, aren’t you busy with your new job? I think one should take some buffer time in a new job to go to after work events, happy hour, etc. The CFA exams give you no buffer time.

Thanks BlackMamba for the advice. The motivation part as you mentioned must be maintained, not simply started. I definitely need to do a little soul searching and get my head right for the long battle that awaits me. I previously had been in a Treasury department at my current place of employment and eventually wanted to become a portfolio manager. I also wanted to accomplish the series of exams for my own personal benefit knowing it’s one of the toughest designations in the financial field to obtain. As my career has progressed I have become more distanced from the treasury side (I work on the back-end, investment accounting). I know you don’t want my whole life story but just giving some frame of reference. Perhaps because I don’t deal with a lot of the topics covered on a day to day basis is why I’m hesitant to get back in. Again, some personal discussion is required to fully address my question but I appreciate the advice.

Wiley I used for Level 2. I found there were more issues/mistakes made by them than Schweser but their videos were phenomenal compared to the video content that Schweser provides. May I ask, what was the ‘meeting half way’ that you had to do and what allowed you to truly master the material than simply memorizing it?

Isaiah, I am in the same department and company as previously but just got a promotion. I won’t be looking to leave for quite some time as I enjoy what I do and the team around me. Part of going to grad school was not simply to find a new job, but to also advance my career within my current place of employment as it is required for managerial roles. If this was a new job, I fully agree that it would be difficult to study and learn the job, atmosphere and build rapport with coworkers.

Before studying, I made a very detailed “plan” in my calendar with every week between when I started studying and the exam day and filled each with all the details about what videos/readings I needed to cover that week, what EOCs I needed to get done, etc. I had a plan and I held myself accountable to it. That was the first big thing.

The second was during my week-to-week prep as I progressively covered the curriculum, all thoughts about “exam day” became almost an afterthought in my mind. The main thing I prioritized was my intense focus on that week’s material and practice problems (I used my EOC scores as an indicator as to whether I really absorbed the material well or not). I also made it a habit that when I finished an entire topic and moved on to whatever came next, to go back and take Wiley quizzes on that previously finished topic or even the CFAI topic tests so that when review time came around I wouldn’t be seeing, as an example, FRA for the first time in 4 months.

So in short, what I meant about “meeting them half way” is that Wiley had, at least for me, the great video content and practice problems I needed to really understand the material, but I had to show up, have a plan, be committed to it and diligent in my prep.


I think you guys already covered the motivation part - it’s a marathon not a sprint.

I used Kaplan, not Wiley for level 1 and I found it easy to stay on top of the readings thanks to the study calendar, which you can tailor around your schedule. I also incorporated Mark Meldrums’ youtube video’s for topics that didn’t quite sink in and I found his teaching style to be particularly useful. Although I’m still early in my Level II study, I’d suggest Kaplan + Mark Meldrum.

In terms of the “Meeting them halfway” part, Blackmamba is spot on. The study providers themselves do a good job condensing the material, however you need to come at the studying with your own game plan. My strategy for level I (and now level II) was using excel to keep track of hours studied daily, readings covered and average hours/day to make sure I’m not falling off too much every month. In addition, I’d log a number of goals at the beginning of each month and create a ‘Notes’ section to diligently keep track of my progress and/or issues I was having each month.

The excel tracking gave me motivation because I could see my progress each month, gave me confidence when I saw that I was putting in enough time and an ongoing way to track what I was doing right and wrong.

Also, I can attest to Blackmamba’s strategy of going back to older topics periodically before you get too far ahead. After a few months, older material really starts to fade from memory, so taking a few hours to quiz yourself and refresh that information is critical.