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Advice for those who passed the Level II exam

Posted on 21-10-21 at 4:41 pm

To begin, I would like to congratulate you. You have passed the Level II exam, a significant accomplishment.

Now, however, your next major target should be to clear the Level III exam. Unless there are compelling reasons otherwise, I’d recommend that you take the Level III exam in May 2022. You have a rhythm going, the Level II material is relatively fresh, so why wait? 

Now let us talk a little about Level III. There is a common perception that Level II is the hardest of all three exams, and so things get a little easier with Level III. This is partially true in the sense that Level III is not as quantitatively rigorous. However, in my opinion, Level III is the most challenging, because candidates are now expected to apply concepts that have been studied across all three levels. Another factor contributing to Level III’s difficulty is that while the Level I and Level II exams were purely MCQ-based, the Level III morning paper requires candidates to write out their answers. It was possible to get lucky when responding to MCQs at Levels I and II, but there is no chance of you “winging it” at Level III.

Historically, the pass rate for Level III has been approximately 50%. While this is higher than Level I and Level II, keep in mind that only those who are smart enough to pass Level II take the Level III exam!

So the point is that you can’t take Level III lightly.

I’ll conclude with some study advice. I’d strongly recommend that you start your studies early and use the curriculum as your primary source. Prep provider videos and notes are fine but these should be used as a compliment – not a substitute – to the curriculum. Your final exam will be based on the CFA Program curriculum and not any prep provider notes! Practicing questions from the curriculum and from exams made available by CFA Institute is also important but I’ll cover that separately. For now, I suggest that you simply get started with your Level III studies.

If you give it enough time I’m sure you’ll enjoy the material and you’ll pass the exam.


Arif Irfanullah, CFA

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