Become a CFP® Professional

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CFP® Exam Requirement

The CFP® Certification Examination is designed to assess your ability to integrate and apply a broad base of financial planning knowledge in the context of real life financial planning situations. By passing this exam, you demonstrate to the public you have attained a competency level necessary to practice independently as a financial planner.

Apply Online for the CFP® Exam

Eligibility

You can register for the CFP® Certification Examination when you have successfully fulfilled the education coursework requirement. (The bachelor’s degree education requirement does not need to be completed before you register for the exam.)

View acceptable qualifying documentation for the education coursework requirement

Before determining an exam preparation strategy and applying for the exam, all individuals considering taking the CFP® Certification Examination should review the currency and completeness of their education against the current lists of Principal Topics and Job Task Domains.

Though it is not required, many candidates find that taking a review course is helpful in preparing for the CFP® certification exam. For the convenience of those pursuing certification, CFP Board has compiled a list of exam review course providers.

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Development

To develop exams that reflect the current practice of financial planning, CFP Board conducts regular job analyses to identify the important tasks performed by planners and assess the knowledge and skills needed to perform these tasks.

Exam questions are written by volunteer CFP® professionals that include practicing financial planners and financial planning educators. The exam questions are subjected to a rigorous, multiple stage review process, including a final review by the Council on Examinations. If you are interested in volunteering your time and knowledge for exam development activities, please fill out the volunteer application form.

Samples of retired exam questions are available for review. The sample multiple-choice questions provide you with an understanding of question format, but should not be used as a practice exam or indicator of exam preparedness.

As a general policy, the CFP® Certification Examination tests current tax law. However, changes signed into law less than 6-months prior to an examination administration date will not be tested. Any special exceptions to tax law coverage will be posted on CFP Board’s Web site approximately two months prior to the exam administration date, and registered candidates will receive notification about the coverage with their exam Admission Ticket.

A document with the tax tables and other indexed numbers provided to examinees with the exam booklets, with an indication of the exam administration(s) to which it applies, is available for download.

Questions and Case Scenarios
The CFP® Certification Examination is delivered in a pencil-and-paper format, and all questions are presented in a multiple-choice format. There are two primary types of questions, including stand alone multiple-choice and scenario-based questions. Scenarios can be brief, with a few accompanying questions, or more extensive, with 10-20 associated questions.

Balance of Emphasis
The CFP® Certification Examination will test your ability to apply and integrate knowledge from all of CFP Board’s specified content areas. Questions may focus on discrete content areas or may require application, integration, synthesis, or evaluation across several content areas. The exam is composed of questions distributed across the eight domains, based upon the targeted percentage allocations for each domain.

Cognitive Level
The cognitive levels that are tested on the CFP® Certification Examination are:

  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension/Application
  • Analysis/Synthesis
  • Evaluation

The CFP® Certification Examination measures your critical thinking and problem-solving ability, with less emphasis on factual recall or recognition. The exam does not test textbook theories; rather, it assesses one’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated approach to real-life financial planning situations.

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Exam Dates

The July 2014 exam will be the final paper-based exam administration.  Beginning with the November 2014 exam, the CFP® Certification Examination will transition to a computer-based testing format.  Click the exam dates below to access additional details specific to each exam.

Exam Date

Format

Registration Deadline

Withdrawal Deadline

July 18-19, 2014

Paper-based

June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014

Exam Date Testing Window

Format

Registration Period

Education Verification Deadline

November 18-22, 2014*

Computer-based

June 2 - November 4, 2014**

October 15, 2014***

* Candidates schedule a one-day testing appointment during this testing window.
** Candidates may reschedule within the testing window as late as four days prior to their scheduled appointment, subject to seat availability and rescheduling fees.
*** Verification of the Education coursework requirement for CFP® certification must be received at CFP Board by this date, or registration will be withdrawn and a $50 withdrawal fee assessed.

Acceptable Qualifying Documentation

The CFP® Certification Examination registration must be accompanied with documentation verifying your qualification (see below for acceptable documentation for each qualification type) and, if applicable, documentation of your completion of a financial planning capstone course registered with CFP Board (transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course). Documentation must be received at CFP Board no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Time on the Registration Deadline.

Please submit the information via fax to 202-379-2299 or by scanning and emailing it to education@cfpboard.org. Please be sure to include your CFP Board ID number and proof of the completion of your Capstone Course. Late registration will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Acceptable documentation for each qualification type:
  • CFP Board-Registered Program

    Your CFP Board-Registered Program will provide CFP Board with documentation verifying your completion of the education program, and you will receive email confirmation when CFP Board receives that documentation. If you have questions about the status of your education documentation, please contact your Registered Program.

  • Coursework from Multiple CFP Board-Registered Programs

    If you completed individual courses at two or more CFP Board-Registered Programs but have not completed, or had credits transferred to, any one entire program, you must provide photocopies of transcripts from each CFP Board-Registered Program you attended.

  • CEBS
      One of the following is required:
    • A photocopy of your CEBS designation plus a transcript or score report showing completion of the Personal Financial Planning I and II courses
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board
  • CFA®
      One of the following is required:
    • A copy of the certificate
    • A copy of the congratulatory letter from CFA Institute
    • A copy of a verification letter from CFA Institute or a printout of charter holder directory from CFA Institute’s website, www.CFAinstitute.org
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board
  • CLU and ChFC
      One of the following is required:
    • A copy of the certificate
    • A copy of the congratulatory letter from The American College
    • A transcript
    • A score report (only the last score report is necessary as it lists all previous credits/courses)
    • Sylvan test site score report printouts or a printout from the student access center of The American College’s website www.TheAmericanCollege.edu
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board
  • CPA
      One of the following is required:
    • A copy of your CPA license (must not be expired)
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from a state board of accountancy website noting your current CPA license status (active) with unexpired expiration date
    • A copy of your inactive CPA license showing unexpired expiration date and a letter of good standing from state board of accountancy noting status (inactive), unexpired expiration date and statement of good standing
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from a state board of accountancy website noting your current status (inactive) with unexpired expiration date and statement noting status is in good standing (not available from all websites)
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board

    Important Note: CFP Board will NOT accept CPA certificates, AICPA membership cards and expired, exempt or revoked licenses. State board of accountancy websites may be located through the AICPA website at www.aicpa.org/yellow/ypsboa.htm.
  • Licensed Attorney
      One of the following is required:
    • A copy of your license (must not be expired)
    • A recent (not more than 90 days old) letter of verification from appropriate licensing body noting you are admitted to practice
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from an appropriate licensing body’s website showing active status and unexpired expiration date
    • Or a letter from an appropriate licensing body noting your license is inactive but in good standing
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board
  • Ph.D. in business, economics or business administration (DBA)
      One of the following is required:
    • A copy of transcripts (unofficial or student issued are OK)
    • A letter from registrar’s office noting conferment of degree and major.
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board. 

    Important Note: CFP Board does NOT accept copies of diplomas unless the major of economics, business or business administration is noted on the diploma.

  • International CFP Certification
      One of the following is required:
    • Written documentation verifying that you hold a current CFP certification issued by one of the affiliate organizations of Financial Planning Standards Board, Ltd..
    • A transcript, score report or letter of completion from the CFP Board-Registered Program where you completed the capstone course registered with CFP Board
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Examinee Agreement

Please familiarize yourself with the Examinee Agreement. Examinees are required to sign this agreement before the start of each exam session.Signing this agreement is a commitment to behaving ethically before, during and after the exam.

Misconduct

You are expected to conduct yourself in an ethical manner before, during and after the CFP® Certification Examination. Actions such as, but not limited to, using any prohibited aids in connection with the exam including violations of the Calculator Policy, attempting to give or receive assistance, or to otherwise communicate in any form with another person about the exam during the exam administration, will result in investigation by an independent entity and/or CFP Board. In some cases, CFP Board may take disciplinary action, if appropriate.

Before taking the exam you will sign a statement prohibiting you from sharing exam questions with any entity other than CFP Board. Revealing questions may result in disciplinary action including, but not limited to, monetary restitution, being permanently barred from taking any CFP Board exam or prosecution under copyright law. If any individual or entity (including a review course provider or academic program) asks you to reveal contents of the examination, please report the incident to CFP Board.

If CFP Board or the exam proctors find reason to believe that you are involved in examination misconduct or any other testing irregularity that could compromise the integrity of the exam, your exam may not be scored, the exam fee may be forfeited and you may be barred from taking future CFP Board exam administrations.

Exam Integrity Tip Line

CFP Board's confidential, toll-free Exam Integrity Tip Line – 1-855-EXAMTIP or 1-855-392-6847 – is available for examinees to report any type of exam-related security issue or misconduct.

Re-examination Procedures

If you fail the CFP® Certification Examination and elect to retest, you are required to retake the entire exam. You will have to pay the current exam fee for each retake.

Effective January 2012, CFP Board has implemented the following limits on the number of times an individual can attempt the CFP® Certification Examination:
  • Individuals may attempt the exam a lifetime maximum of five times. (Individuals who have attempted the exam four or more times prior to January 1, 2012, will be permitted a maximum of two additional attempts.)
  • Individuals may attempt the exam a maximum of three times within a 24 month period. If an individual attempts the exam on three successive administrations, a one year sit-out period is required before registering for another attempt.
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Review and Appeals

For security reasons, exam material is not available for review. Neither the staff of Prometric nor of CFP Board will discuss specific exam questions. You may submit your comments about exam questions in writing via email to examinations@cfpboard.org or by mail to: 

CFP Board
Attn: Exam Administrator
1425 K Street NW #800
Washington, DC 20005

All comments about exam questions must be received by CFP Board by midnight Eastern Time on the Wednesday following the exam dates in order to be considered and reviewed. CFP Board's Council on Examinations will review comments relating to the exam but will not make written responses to comments.

If you feel your answer sheet was scored incorrectly, you may request a hand scoring for a $40 fee. To submit a hand scoring request call CFP Board at 800-487-1497 within 10 business days of the online release of the exam results. Requests made after 10 business days will not be honored. In the event there is a discrepancy between the hand-scored and machine-scored results, hand-scored results will prevail.

Appeals of exam policies are handled by CFP Board's Policy Exception Committee. CFP® professionals and applicants for CFP® certification may complete and submit a Policy Exception Request Form.

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Job Task Domains Covered by CFP® Certification Examination

CFP Board's list of Job Task Domains, based on the results of the 2009 Job Analysis Study, is the basis for the CFP® Certification Examinations. Each exam question will be linked to one of the content areas identified in the list of Job Task Domains, in the approximate percentages indicated following the general headings. Questions will pertain to all levels in Bloom's taxonomy with an emphasis on the higher cognitive levels. Questions often will be asked in the context of the financial planning process and presented in an integrative format.

 

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Exam Dates

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The 2013 Household Financial Planning Survey shows that those with a financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings & investments than those who have not.

Employment for personal financial advisors is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In a March 2012 survey of American consumers, 60% indicated they would benefit from the counsel of a financial planner or advisor.

If you hold one of several degrees, licenses or credentials, you can take the CFP® Exam after completing a single capstone course.

Classroom or online learning? Full-time or part-time studies? There are CFP Board-Registered Programs designed to meet your needs. 

Achieve the certification that is rapidly becoming the industry standard: CFP® certification.

Professionals who have already earned their CFP® certification have enjoyed an average income increase of 30%.

Demand for personal financial advisors is expected to grow 41% by 2016, according to Money Magazine and Payscale.com.

More clients who work with a CFP® professional are satisfied or very satisfied, compared those who work with an advisor without certification.

If you're up for the challenge of helping people achieve their financial goals, financial planning is the career for you.