What To Do After The CFA Exam

Relax after the CFA ExamIf you just took one of the CFA exams, you must be feeling tremendous relief that it’s over (for now). Unless you sat for level 3, there may be a nagging feeling in your mind that the next level is just around the corner and the ordeal with working through the syllabus and practice exams will soon start anew.

First of all, congrats for taking the exam. I keep my fingers crossed for you that you passed! It’s definitely time to celebrate after the exam, but make sure you don’t kill too many brain cells in the process: In my level 2 and 3 exams there was one question each from the previous level, and the material will build on what you learned the past year, so make sure that you don’t completely forget what you crammed for the previous levels. Here’s what I recommend you do to optimally kick of your learning for in the next level and keep the previous material fresh.

  1. Start at least six to eight months before the next exam with your preparation. Level 2 is much more difficult than level 1, and level 3 is more difficult than level 2. Some disagree on this and think level 2 is the most difficult, but I thought level 2 was very quant-based, while level 3 involves more guess work because of the exam format with essays. If you took level 1 in December and plan to sit for level 2 in the following year, then you must start immediately with your level 2 preparation, otherwise you will fall behind. Level 2 exams only take place in summer, unfortunately. It’s also perfectly fine to wait 18 months for level 2, especially if you’re busy at work. Many candidates do this.

  3. Review your summary notes for one week before starting with the next level. I assume you made summary notes of the original CFA syllabus. This is very important not just for the level you are sitting for, but also for future levels. It will speed up your revision tremendously. So if you missed out on this in level 1, definitely make your own summaries of the original CFA books for level 2 and level 3. If you want summary notes to prepare for or review level 1, feel free to check out my CFA summary notes in question and answer format. I would also recommend you stick with the original CFA books and not third party study material as your main reading. I explain why here: Why You Should Use The Original CFA Books.

  5. Review the summary notes when you’re in the middle of your learning session for the next level. Each level builds on the knowledge of the previous level, so this will reinforce what you are learning and review the basic building blocks of the syllabus. You only need to review your old notes twice (once before starting your learning and once in the middle), and you will be optimally prepared for the next level.


The most important advice is definitely to start early enough. If you were pressed for time in level 1 I am sure you will appreciate this. There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared for the CFA exam, so don’t say you didn’t know! I wish you all the best for your next level of the CFA.