So, the CFA exam results have come and you’ve passed the Level 1 exam? Congratulations! You are a CFA Level 2 candidate now!
There are certain differences compared to Level 1 examination question format. First of all, questions are still multiple choice questions but formulated in different way – in item set form. For each set of 6 questions you get a case (written in a couple of paragraphs and a few tables and/or graphs if applicable) on one or two pages (A4 format), and you have to read the case in order to answer the questions.
Usually, each set of questions is focused on one area (e.g. Financial Reporting and Analysis) and you have 10 sets in the morning session and 10 of them in the afternoon session. Morning session lasts for three hours as well as the afternoon session. So you have total of 120 questions compared to 240 questions on the first level. It seams that you have more time for solving the questions, but since you have to spend a substantial amount of time on reading, it is not entirely true. Moreover, since there are less questions, each question has a higher weight in the total sum. For example, if there are 10 questions in CFA level 1 from ethics and you answer one question wrong, you lose 10% of ethics, but since there are only 6 questions from that part in CFA level 2 (or twelve if you have one item set in the morning session and one in the afternoon session), each question has higher weight in the grading process (probably 16,67%).
However there are a few tips that will make the examination easier for you:
First of all solve as much (item set) practice problems in advance as possible, so that you get used to the specific item set question format. A number of candidates have shown up on the examination and were surprised by the question format. You should be 100% familiar with the form and used to solving such types of problems.
Also, read the first question (or first two) in the set so you can get the idea what you are looking for. Once you start reading the case, as soon as you reach the answer (or can calculate one) do it, don’t leave it for later. Once you solve the problem read the next question and continue reading the case. By reading and simultaneously solving problems you will get the better understanding of the case, solve the problems efficiently and solve the entire set of questions in the most effective way. There are some candidates who say that they have read the entire case and put all the necessary details in short term memory and then solved the entire set of questions. In our opinion that is a risky and demanding strategy that will probably exhaust you very quickly and result in a number of mistakes, with a necessity for repetitive reading.
Finally, make sure you mark all the answers in the answers sheet immediately upon solving the item set, this is the most effective way to fill the answer sheet correctly.
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