CFA Program Level II Exam Details

For Registered Candidates

What to review when you're getting ready for the Level II exam:

Exam Structure and Timing

The Level II exam has a total of 20 item set questions:

  • Morning session: 10 item set questions
  • Afternoon session: 10 item set questions

On the Level II exam, you will have a total of 120 items (20 vignettes with 6 items each) compared to 240 multiple choice items on the Level I exam.

The Level II exam is worth 360 points, corresponding to the number of minutes on the exam. The 120 Level II items are equally weighted, 3 points each, with no penalty for incorrect answers.

On the Level II (and III) exams, some topics are covered in the morning session only and other topics are covered in the afternoon session only.

Back to top

Exam Question Format

When you prepare for the Level II exam, remember to review the Level I question format details for multiple choice questions. This same question construction applies to the multiple choices presented in item sets.

Item Set Format

Item sets are sometimes called “mini-cases.” Each item set on the CFA exam consists of a vignette (or case statement) and six multiple choice items (questions).

The length of a vignette ranges from about 1 page to 2.5 pages. The average length of the vignettes on the exam is about 1.5 pages. The longer vignettes are those that include several tables of information, such as for a financial statement analysis, statistics, or fixed-income item set.

The six multiple choice items in each item set can only be answered based on the information in the vignette. Hence, the items are not free-standing (as in Level I), but are drawn from the vignette. You will need to read the vignette before answering the items, and you will need to refer back to the vignette for information. The six multiple choice items can be answered independently of each other, but they do require information provided in the vignette.

Examples of Level II Exam Questions

See some examples of Level II questions below, but remember that the exam is based on the current curriculum. You can expect to see similar questions in terms of structure, format and level of difficulty, but don't expect to see the same questions repeated on future exams.

Examples of Level II exam item set questions (PDF)

Back to top

Exam Topics and Study Session Outlines (including LOS)

2018 Level II Study Sessions index | 2018 Level II Study Sessions combined

Ethical and Professional Standards
Exam Weight: 10-15%
Quantitative Methods
Exam Weight: 5-10%
Exam Weight: 5-10%
Financial Reporting and Analysis
Exam Weight: 15-20%
Corporate Finance
Exam Weight: 5-15%
Equity Valuation
Exam Weight: 15-25%
Fixed Income
Exam Weight: 10-20%
Derivative Investment
Exam Weight: 5-15%
Alternative Investments
Exam Weight: 5-10%
Portfolio Management
Exam Weight: 5-10%
Back to top

Some Tips for Taking the Level II Exam

  • You may mark up your exam book. Circle or underline important information in the vignette and write down your equations or logic. However, only your final answers recorded on the answer sheets are graded.
  • Exam questions referring to Financial Reporting and Analysis (FRA) are based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) unless otherwise specified. When a question is based on U.S. GAAP, it will be stated in the question.

Log in to view more tips for taking the Level II exam and access the rest of your candidate resources, including your personal study planner, topic tests, and mock exams.

Back to top