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Starting L2. How to do L2 differently to L1?

I'm starting L2 studies, light-touch, this holiday season. I've been getting a lot of 'L2 is different and worse than L1' advice. Is there anything I can do differently to increase pass chances?

Here's what I'm doing already:

  • Starting earlier (started in Feb for L1)
  • More practice exams, possibly (did 4 for L1 including CFAI questions)

I self-studied for L1 so considering classes for L2, but would that be overkill? I'm already being killed at work so classes would be a big time commitment for me.

I'm an associate in a bulge-bracket so it's not like I am completely green. But I'm told that's where all L2 candidates make their mistake.

Advice appreciated!


  • Level 2 is all about application of concepts via formulae. You learn a formula, then practice every imaginable way of applying it - usually incorporating other formulae into a step by step method. This is where, in my opinion, so many people fall down as they don't appreciate just how thoroughly the CFAI will test their understanding of how to apply the concept through a formula.

    Best advice I was given on L2 and what I attribute my pass to, was to go through every single LOS that has calculate in and write down that formula in notation, words and as a worked example. Then go through and practice them. Over and over again. Make use of the EoC questions and blue-box examples, working through them to understand why the answer is what it is.

    3rd parties do help a lot in understanding this application, you can easily get stuck on a concept and waste lots of time trying to figure it out (especially in FRA and Bonds). Classes are unnecessary, all providers do videos that are in enough detail to understand what to do.

    Just make sure you do enough practice.

  • I remember with L2, it wasn't just that there was more stuff to study, but the amount of things to study are more in depth - so an increase in volume and difficulty.

    Starting early definitely helps, but making time to study consistently weekly is more important. As an associate in a bulge bracket firm, I can only imagine it's rather impossible for you to study on weekdays, but if you can protect your weekends free from work, it is still feasible because I just studied solely on weekends like 8-10 hours a day to make up for it.

    Classes may be tough time wise, UNLESS:

    a) your firm allows you to go on classes during weekdays, which gives you an opportunity to leave work on time/earlier than normal, and

    b) you can still protect your weekends for extra self study

    You may want to consider saving some holidays to take 1 whole week off before exams (more if you can afford it), I found that really helpful to not be distracted by work commitments and solely focus on practicing and reviewing.

  • Analyst0719Analyst0719 United StatesPosts: 20 Associate

    More practice exams for sure. I only had about 2 months to study for L2 but I did like 7 practice exams.

  • @JaminioSilva great tip on the LOS 'calculate', that makes so much sense! I'll probably try to do 'define' as well although that is probably too much.

    @Sophie You got that right that I don't really have any time during the weekdays! I did about 4-5 hours for L1, so I'll try and up it although it was already mind-numbing for L1. Yeah the classes I'm thinking of are evening classes, my boss is on board with that so I might end up doing that anyway because that allows a bit of progress during the weekdays.

    Thanks guys for the advice!

  • Starting early is always a great plan, but lots of practice exams as well; the essays are the concern for L2/L3, so you'll want to see as many examples as possible once you're done digesting the material (which itself is going to be a 15-20hr/week job for several months). Good luck!!!


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  • Probably means vignette questions for L2, not essays.

  • I did, yes... sorry; vignettes for L2/L3, MC for L2, MC/essays for L3.

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