How I passed Level II with 100 Hours of studying

When deciding between Schweser and Wiley, this forum was incredibly helpful so I’m taking this opportunity to give back. I am by no means saying that this is the approach you should take. This is just a description of my approach.

First, I am not incredibly smart, so I personally believe many people are over-estimating the time it takes to pass or they have an inefficient way of studying. I studied 100 hours in total (including time on questions).

Second, my background is in Science and I am a CPA. My accounting knowledge definitely helped a little, but I am Canadian so I pretty much had to read the entire Accounting section as I knew nothing about US GAAP. Unlike many other candidates, I have no knowledge of economics/finance/business concepts outside of what I read in the news and what I learned from Level I.

Third, if you choose to take a similar approach, I would recommend ~120 hours minimum. I was short approximately 20 hours of review from being completely comfortable going into the exam.

Fourth, for skeptics, you can choose to believe whatever you like. This is my truthful experience.


(1) Wiley Study Guides - Lays out concepts much more clearly than Schweser. Also, Schweser formatting looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90s. I used Schweser for Level I. Wiley is in a different league.

(2) Wiley 11th Hour Guide - I used the 11th Hour Guide exclusively to study. I only referred to the study guides for concepts I needed help with and to review examples. I tabbed complex concepts and examples so I could easily refer back to them for final review.

(3) Wiley Formula Sheets - As I went through the guides, I condensed all the key concepts and scribbled them into this 90+ page formula book. I tabbed pages with good summaries and complex formulas so I could easily refer back to them for final review.

(4) Wiley Practice Questions - I did around ~100 questions. Maybe ~150-200 if you count that I went through the harder topics twice. I did not do a single mock. My pacing is generally very quick, so not much practice required. I like to have a medium sized breakfast then a large coffee for an extra kick before the exam.


Obviously, studying only ~100 hours, you can’t really spread that out over 6 months, as retention of knowledge would be horrible. I studied for 7 days straight (had a week off) for ~14-15 hours/day. I think I still retain a fair amount of knowledge I gained and a quick read through is sufficient to refresh my learnings for any topics I need for work. So yes, you can cram and pass with only 7 days left.

Other comments

I tried videos for a couple hours. I would recommend not wasting your time with that. Any university graduate should be able to read the material much faster than the pace of the videos. Examples are clear enough in Wiley guides where you don’t need the extra hand-holding.

Do yourself a favor and leave Ethics until the end. You already have a grasp of how they test Ethics from Level I. Spend some time memorizing the rules and run through examples quickly. This should take you 2 hours max. Time spent beyond this point will not help as some of the Ethics questions are incredibly confusing and not very well formed.

You CAN skip a smaller topic and pass. If alternative investments or portfolio management confuses you, leave it until the end. If you don’t have time, skip it and focus on the topics where you feel you could pick up a few more points.

What’s the point of putting this on here? To show people how great you are? or to tell them what not to do?

Most people are grinding through swaps and memorizing all the IFRS/GAAP differences and this guy comes in with his 1 week prep guide. Sounds kind of like those 6-week-fat-to-fit workout plans.


Wiley ad… nothing to see here.

This person is giving a great gift to the CFA procrastinator…HOPE.

Let it be


It’s an efficient approach / strategy I used to pass. I would hope that anyone who is aspiring to work in the industry would invest time to make their process more efficient.

For those who feel like it’s bragging, learn to read. I stated the purpose right at the top of my first post. No wonder you failed.

I know that I was struggling to find time working 12-16 hours a day and having other commitments on weekends. When I was studying, I tried to find a good resource that (1) offered hope and (2) provided a few good tips on how to approach studying with very limited time. This approach was my way of maximizing bang for buck, and it worked. I know people from non-business degree backgrounds who passed in an even shorter time-frame, but they were typically much smarter than me and were no help at all (their approach was usually this chaotic mess in their heads that somehow made sense to them).

Hi Walch,

Thanks for your post. I appreciate that you shared your thoughts. :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:

yes haha

thank you for sharing