What is the CFA® Level II Exam?

Once you’ve passed the CFA Level I Exam, you’re one step closer to becoming a CFA® charterholder! The next step is to pass the Level II exam. Kaplan Schweser, a recognized leader in CFA exam prep, receives many questions about the Level II exam. Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions, answered for your convenience.

How is the Level II CFA® exam different from Level I?

The Level I CFA exam is the first exam, and it tests comprehension of investment valuation. The second exam, Level II, tests how well you can practically apply that understanding to the real world. The exam will ask about real-life scenarios, and you will be asked to use your knowledge of investment management and portfolio concepts.

When is the date of the Level II CFA® exam?

The Level II CFA exam is offered once a year in June. In the past, the exam had been offered on a specific date in early June, but in 2019, the exam date will depend on what region you live in. You can learn more about 2019 exam dates here.

How is the Level II CFA® exam structured?

The Level II CFA exam has 120 multiple-choice questions. The 120 questions are split up into 20 item sets, consisting of 6 questions each. The exam is split into parts, and you will be tested on 10 item sets in the morning and 10 item sets in the afternoon. In each item set, you will be given information that is required to solve the set of 6 questions.

What topics are tested on the Level II CFA® exam?

The topics covered in the Level II CFA exam are:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Valuation
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management

How are Level II CFA® exam topics weighted?

The Level II exam topic weights may change yearly, as decided by the CFA Institute. For the 2018 Level II CFA exam, the topics were weighted as follows:
TopicExam Weight
Ethical and Professional Standards10-15%
Quantitative Methods5-10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis15-20%
Corporate Finance5-15%
Equity Valuation15-25%
Fixed Income10-20%
Alternative Investments5-10%
Portfolio Management5-10%

How much time should I spend studying for the Level II CFA® exam?

According to the June 2017 CFA Candidate Survey, respondents claimed to spend an average of 328 hours studying for the Level II CFA exam. Candidates will usually spread that time over a 6-month period, which is about 12.5 hours a week. Your study method and intensity is based on your prior knowledge and whatever fits into your schedule best.

How difficult is the Level II CFA® exam?

Each level of the CFA exam is designed to be difficult. The reason for this is that the CFA charter is an exclusive designation, designed to prove mastery of the topics. The pass rate for the 2017 Level II CFA exam was 47%. Additionally, according to CFA institute, only 20% of participants who start the program actually receive the charter. Studying and preparing in time for the exam is key to helping you pass, and successful candidates have also said that study packages were invaluable. Check out our other candidate experiences guide and some of the common pitfalls people have encountered to help you learn from others.

How much does it cost to sit for the Level II CFA® exam?

The cost to you is dependent on when you register for the exam. CFA institute offers three registration windows for each exam—early, standard, and late. The early registration fee is $650; the standard registration fee is $950; and the late registration fee is $1,380. Registering early not only allows you to start preparing earlier, but it also allows you to save anywhere from $300 to $730 that you can invest in a CFA exam prep course.
We have answered the most common questions here, but if you  have more questions, feel free to contact our Student Support team or get additional information on our CFA blog. When you’re ready to start formulating a study plan, be sure to check out a video from our Level II manager, Dr. BJ Tolia: “How to Pass the Level II CFA Exam.” and check out the CFA level II question of the day.