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Advice for those who didn’t pass the Level II exam

Posted on 03-08-21 at 5:43 pm

If you failed the Level II exam your natural response is probably to feel disappointed. You might even be wondering whether or not you should continue with the CFA Program.

 The typical advice is to keep trying; however, I suggest a more thoughtful approach. Put the result on the side for a moment and ask yourself: Did I really enjoy the subject matter? Try doing a post-audit on why you did not pass. Was it because you did not have enough time to prepare for the exam? Or did you have a very hard time understanding the concepts? Is the CFA Program aligned with your career aspirations? Carefully thinking through these questions will help you decide whether or not to continue with the program.

If you fundamentally enjoyed the material and you have an interest in investment management then I’d recommend that you continue. Start your studies early. Internalize the concepts and practice a lot. Your sources of practice include examples and practice problems from the curriculum, prep provider questions, CFA Institute online assessments, and so on. In the final few weeks, you should work through several full-length mock exams.

Now for the next question: when to take the exam?  If you failed with a relatively high score (your scoreline was close to the minimum passing scoreline), and have time to study/practice over the next few months, then sit for the exam in the next available window, i.e. Feb 2022 (CFA Institute has mentioned on their website that candidates can also request a registration for the November 2021 exam, please email them for more details.)


For the year 2021, the curriculum for all exam sessions is exactly the same. You might also be able to sit November 2021 session, this is recommended by me. I would say that you should go for another attempt as soon as possible, email CFA Institute and try to get registered for November 2021 exam. As for 2022 exams, the curriculum will have some changes and you will have to adapt to that.

If you failed badly (your scoreline was considerably below the minimum passing scoreline) and/or don’t have much time to study/practice, then I’d suggest retaking the exam in Feb 2022 or August 2022.

Coming back now to the other scenario: if you did not enjoy studying the Level II curriculum and you are not particularly interested in investment management, then I would not recommend continuing with the CFA Program. This might sound harsh, but in the long run you are much better off pursuing a line of work that you enjoy and where you can make a decent living. However, if you are passionate enough about studying investment management, and feel that you have a better shot this time around, go for it. In fact, start preparing today, there is no time like the present.

Regardless of which path you decide to travel down, I wish you the best of luck.


Arif Irfanullah, CFA


Planning to retake the Level II exam in 2022? Avail IFT’s retake discount offer:


IFT has a student-friendly product validity policy so your 2021 IFT package is valid until December 2021. You can continue to use your current package if you will resit the exam this year. If you however plan to take the exam in 2022 then its best to start studying with IFT 2022 materials

2025 CFA Exam Packages Now on Sale! See below.
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