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L2 - when to start?

Passed L1 (yay!) recently but have heard lots of scary things about Level 2, so wondering if I should be starting earlier. I started in early March for L1 June exam, should I start in January for L2? Or even earlier? 

Veterans, your advice is much needed!


  • jasdevjasdev LondonPosts: 79 Sr Associate
    From my first year, when I was a member of my local CFA Society, I attended a meeting at which study strategies and statistics were given and there was a Q&A. The survey they presented demonstrated that the most successful candidates began study in January, and those who began in September, as I had, were less likely to pass. I think the biggest reason might be burnout.

    Nonetheless, Level I is not Level II, and Level II is a beast.
    My own idea to give myself two weeks per Study Session, followed by 4 weeks revision and mock exam time, for Level III, would have me start study next Monday!

    I think this is too soon. It's summer, here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I want to enjoy my freedom to go out, see friends and family, read books again, watch films in the cinema, and just soak up some sunshine (as I so often couldn't when I was preparing for the exam).

    If you can consistently and with discipline study at least 2 hours per weekday night and at least 4 hours per weekend day, maybe you'll be fine with a January start. Have a read through the L2 syllabus, even if you haven't signed up, you can find the entire LOS listed on the CFA Institute website. There you can make a semi-educated guess as to how long you think you'll need to understand all of that.
    I started in October one year, and failed, then in October again the next year, and passed. Strategy is important!
  • I would recommend starting in January as well, with a clear plan on how to use your allocated time. Burnout is a real issue - I started in Sept for one of my attempts and hit a 'hump' where I was demotivated, not studying, and not doing much useful.
  • JaminioSilvaJaminioSilva LondonPosts: 9 Sr Associate
    edited September 2018

    Good answers here but the key points are you must have a strategy and yes, burn out is real. Thing with L2 is it is deep, very deep. It's quite hard to explain how deep it is until you are quite a way in and start doing the second pass at EoC questions and that can panic a lot of people when you do your first past paper and get 40%!


    There are a huge number of calculations to do and unlike L1, you can't just learn the formula and move on. You need to understand how that formula works in the context of what they're going to ask. If there are 5 steps to a problem, they may ask about step 2 and 4 or 1 and 3 etc. so you've got to know every part of how it works. That takes time.


    There isn't a fixed best time to start as everyone is different, but you need to a) give yourself enough time to digest the concepts. b) give yourself enough time to PRACTICE each section THOROUGHLY and c) do lots of vignette style questions to feel comfortable about how they are going to ask these questions (this is underrated, you need to do this).


    The best advice I read after failing L2 the first time (passing the retake) was to 1) give yourself 500 hours to read and practice everything in the syllabus (I didn’t do that but still scraped through, I would have been much more comfortable had I followed that advice) 2) go through the syllabus and highlight everywhere it says calculate, then write each formula out in words and a worked example, then do 5 example questions on that formula (doesn’t have to be complex just putting different numbers into the worked example). 3) do every EoC questions multiple times especially the vignette questions as you need practice time on Vignette and EoC chapter questions are part of the curriculum!


    However long it takes you personally to do those things, that is when you start. 300hours have a good write up on the reality of hours require per week vs when you start (link at bottom). Personally, I feel that starting really early and just drip-feeding bits in can be useful but not really getting into the "lock yourself away all night" phase until after January. 6 months is a long time and burning out in the last month is a real problem. If you were going to start early, then I’d suggest starting with the strategy stuff like reading how vignettes work from the EoC questions even if you don't know the answer - hint, the questions are chronological down the page but sometimes a big passage will have 1 question then a single sentence can have 3*. Also, working through the all the calculate LoS' without the pressure of a study schedule was a big help for me as they can take quite a bit of time to do properly (especially derivatives) and understanding the mechanics of the formula really helped when I then sat down to do the reading and had some context for the concept.



    Edit - *This is how the vignette questions are laid out in EoC, End of section test and past papers; I couldn't possibly comment on what they were actually like in the exam.
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