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Advice for those who passed the Level I exam

Posted on 27-07-21 at 5:45 pm



Passing the Level I exam is the first major milestone on your journey towards the CFA charter and is a major accomplishment. At this stage, you might be wondering whether to take the Level II exam in November 2021 or February 2022 and if so, when to start studying?

Whether or not to take the Level II exam in November 2021 should depend on the following:

  1. Did you enjoy the Level I material and are you still excited about pursuing a career in investment management?
  2. Given your personal and professional commitments, will you have enough time to study for the Level II exam? The minimum required study time will vary from person to person but I’d say the average candidate needs roughly 400 hours.
  3. CFA Institute’s policy for registering Level I May Candidates for the Level II November 2021 exam session. Please check the email from CFA Institute for more details.

If you enjoyed the Level I material, are excited about expanding your knowledge of investment management, and will be able to make time to study, then I say take the Level II exam in the next available sitting i.e. November 2021. However, you can also choose to sit for the Level II exam in February 2022.

Before addressing the issue of when to start studying, I’ll make some high-level points related to the Level II exam.

  1. Level II is significantly more quantitatively intense relative to Level I. Specifically, there is an emphasis on pricing and valuation across multiple topics.
  2. Some candidates might have cleared Level I by slogging in the last few weeks; this strategy is much less likely to work at Level II.
  3. Working through curriculum questions at Level I was important. At Level II, I’d say it is critical.

Given the above, I’d suggest you start your studies as early as possible. If time is on your side, you have the luxury of being able to properly understand Level II concepts. You’ll enjoy the material and learn a lot more this way. Alternatively, you could wait for the last few months and then cram with the sole objective of passing the exam. Unfortunately, many people follow the later ‘strategy’, but I hope you understand when I say it is not the recommended approach.

For either path you choose to take, I wish you the best of luck.


Arif Irfanullah, CFA


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