Level 2 vs. Level 1

Curious to see everyone’s take on this who have passed/taken level 2 as next June will be my first(hopefully only) time taking level 2.

Compared to Level 1, how would you rate the difficulty of Level 2? If you rate Level 1 on a scale 1-10, where would you put Level 2?

My understanding is that Level 2 is less broad, but drills down further and is more complex. I’ve seen some of you write that Level 2 is the hardest of all 3 exams. I’m going to start studying in a month or so and was just curious as to what I should expect.

Thanks, as always.

If i had to score it 1-10 I guess I’d give lvl 1 around a 6.5 and lvl 2 a 9… Level 1 was a lot of review of stuff I’ve seen before in undergrad and nothing was too far in depth where I couldn’t understand it… Level 2 has a lot more calculations and goes in depth in a lot of areas. There are a ton of formulas… I havent taken level 3 yet so I cant say 2 is the hardest of the 3 but I thought it was very difficult.

Level 1: 3

Level 2: 8

L3 harder than L2 harder than L1. As it should be.

Not everyone agrees that Level III is harder than Level II.

I’ve never heard anyone say that Level II isn’t harder that Level I.

L3 harder than L1.

L2 harder than L1.

In my opinion, L3 harder than L2. Material is easier in L3 than L2 but the test format and time crunch of L3 made it much harder for me.

Interesting…consensus seems to be that Level 2 is noticably more difficult. I better get started soon!

That’s quite the jump from Level 1.

It’s clear to me that none of the tests are easy. Gotta get started on L2!

Did you pass L1 and L2 first try?

Yeah, I’ve heard quite a few people say L2 was harder, maybe due to the format and formulas? I don’t know. I’ve always been curious as to what you do for a living, magician. I’m sure you’ve posted it somewhere on here before.

This thread has my résumé as of a couple of years ago:


Since then, I’ve been teaching accounting at CSU Long Beach, and writing review materials for Wiley.


Level 2 was harder than Level 1. One reason is the different exam format. You don’t have 240 seperate questions but 20 case studies with 6 questions fo reach. That means that a wrong answer has a lot more weight in Level 2 (1/120 compared to 1/240). That also means that you are in much more trouble if you are not good in a specific topic (let’s say you haven’t learned defined benefit plans very well and you have a defined benefit plan case study - this could cost you 5% of the whole exam if can’t answer the questions since each case study has a weight of 5%).

The other thing is that the readings go into more detail and that the questions are often more detailed.

To sum it up: Level 2 is harder due to the more detailed readings and the different exam format which makes it necessary to cover more or less all the contents with a reasonable depth. I would give level 1 a 4-5 on 1-10 scale and level 2 a 7.

Thats a good point that I forgot to mention in my post… The vignette format on level 2 is a pretty big change to the format from level 1.

That is quite the resume! No wonder you are considered one of the greats on here, if not the best.

My passing of Level 1 feels like less of an accomplishment now :confused: haha. Level 2 dragon looks much scarier than L3…

Good points. I’m a slow reader as I tend to over-analyze the cfa questions, so I’ll have to practice a lot of mocks to make sure I can stay under the time limit. I only had roughly 5-10 mins of time left on L1 on each section. So, does each case study cover a different section? Such as, you’ll have 6 questions on Ethics, and then 6 on Quant etc.? Or do they mix in multiple sections into each case study?

I hope I can ask this here rather than start a new thread… I have a question about the case study format that some have mentioned here… are the questions in the vignettes related? for example are there questions where you have to use your answer from question 1 to answer 2 through 6? So basically if you get Q1 wrong you get all the questions wrong?