Everything you need to know about the Level II CFA exam

Passing the CFA Level I exam means that you have passed your first milestone on the way to becoming a CFA® charterholder, Congratulations! As we often receive a variety of questions from candidates preparing for the Level II CFA exam, here’s a compiled list of those questions and answers for your reference and understanding.

  • How are Level II and Level I CFA course material different from each other?

Level II tests your ability to practically use your financial understanding from Level I while Level I tests your understanding of investment valuation. The Level II exam will present you with real-life scenarios and focus on evaluating your knowledge of investment management and portfolio concepts. Furthermore, the exam is only offered once a year and on different dates in June based on the area, you live in unlike the Level I CFA exam.


  • What is the exam schedule for Level II of the CFA exam?

The exam will no longer be offered in June but instead will be offered twice a year. For 2021, it will be offered in May & August while from 2022, it will be offered in February & August. There will also be an additional exam window being offered only in 2021 during the month of November.

The exam windows of up to 10 days instead of one uniform date with the total testing time is reduced from six hours to approximately 4.5 hours. If you would like to reschedule your exam date, a USD 25 fee will be applicable.

In addition to the time reduction, candidates will be free to walk out of the exam session as soon as they finish, even if the exam is still in session.


  • What can be expected in terms of the exam format for the Level II of the CFA® Program?

From 2021 onwards, the exam will be offered in a computer-based testing format. The exam will have two 135-minute (2.25 hours) long sessions. The number of questions will be lower than in previous years, but the average of 3 minutes per question will remain the same.

Unlike in Level I, the Level II exam is comprised of item sets, or “mini-cases”. Each item set has a vignette (or case statement) of varying length and either four or six questions related to it. While questions in an item set can be solved independently of each other, they are all based on information provided in the vignette. There will be 44 multiple-choice items in each of the two sessions, for a total of 88 for the entire exam, each worth 3 points.


  • What are the topics and weights for the Level II exam?

On a year-to-year basis, the Level II CFA exam topic weights are subject to change, at the discretion of the CFA Institute. For the exam in 2021, topics are weighted as :

  • Ethical and Professional Standards: 10 – 15%
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: 10 – 15%
  • Fixed Income: 10 – 15%
  • Derivatives: 5 – 10%
  • Corporate Finance: 5 – 10%
  • Alternative Investments: 5 – 10%
  • Portfolio Management: 10 – 15%
  • Equity Valuation: 10 – 15%
  • Quantitative Methods: 5 – 10%
  • Economics: 5 – 10%


  • What’s the amount of time required to study for Level II?

Candidates stated that they spent an average of 328 hours preparing for the exam when asked in the June 2019 CFA Candidate Survey by the CFA Institute. The time spreads over a 6 month period with 12.5 hours per week. Although, candidates don’t always start studying early and tend to compress their study time into a shorter window. The intensity of your study schedule depends greatly on how early you begin preparing.


  • How much does the Level II CFA® exam cost?

Registration plays a huge role in determining the cost of the exam. There are three registration windows called – early, standard, and late. The fees are $700 for early and $1,000 for standard. Registering early will not only help you save $300 which you could invest in a CFA Program exam prep course but will also help you start preparing sooner.