Become a CFP® Professional

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Frequently Asked Questions - Computer-Based Exam

CFP Board transitioned to a computer-based testing format for the CFP® Certification Examination beginning with the November 2014 exam. Learn more about the computer-based CFP® exam >

FAQs are arranged by the following categories:

Exam Logistics  |  Pre-Exam  |  During the Exam  |  About the Exam


Exam Logistics

1. How do I register for the computer-based CFP® exam?

You will be able to register for the CFP® exam and schedule your testing appointment online or by phone once you become eligible for the exam. CFP Board will notify you when your eligibility is confirmed and will provide you with a link to register.

2. When will the CBT CFP® exam be offered in 2014?

November 18-22, 2014 (Registration is open through November 4, 2014)

The CFP® exam consists of two 3-hour testing sessions separated by a scheduled 40-minute break. A 7-hour appointment is scheduled to allow time for check-in, and security procedures. Candidates select their test day (Tuesday-Saturday) and test site location from among Prometric’s network of testing sites.

Register for the Exam 

3. What if I fail to appear for the exam?

If you fail to appear for the exam, you will forfeit the entire exam fee. Certain allowances are made for medical or other emergencies.

CFP Board will consider waiving the fee forfeiture in the case of a medical or other emergency. Your request for such a waiver must be made in writing and supported by verifying documentation from a third party. For example, in the case of a medical emergency, a written statement from your physician which clearly states that you were physically unable to appear for the exam due to personal or immediate family medical issues is required. If another type of emergency, then you must provide third party verification for your late withdrawal notice or the reason you were unable to sit for the scheduled exam. Your request must be received within ten business days after the exam dates. Requests received after the ten business day timeframe, or not supported by verifying documentation, will not be reviewed. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis after the ten business day timeframe.

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4. Can I take the computer-based CFP® exam on my computer at home or at work?

No. CFP Board’s computer-based exams are only offered in secure, proctored testing centers. This provides every candidate with a professional, consistent testing environment.

5. What are the typical hours of operations for a computer-based testing center?

The normal hours of operation at computer testing centers are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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6. Can candidates cancel their testing appointments after they have been scheduled?

No. Exam fees are non-refundable, and there are no cancellations.

7. Can candidates change their testing appointments after they have been scheduled?

You may reschedule your exam date, test site location, and in some cases scheduled test start time, within the testing window you are scheduled. There is no charge for scheduling changes made 30 days or more in advance of exam day. Changes can be made 5-29 days in advance of exam day with payment of a $100 scheduling change fee. No changes to exam schedules are permitted less than 5-days in advance of your scheduled appointment. Exam fees are also forfeited for no-shows.

8. Are individuals with disabilities accommodated in the computer-based testing centers?

Yes. All U.S. testing centers are fully accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAA). You must submit your request for special accommodations, along with supporting documentation, at the time of exam registration for CFP Board’s consideration.

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9. If I fail the exam, can I take it again?

Yes, but not during the same testing window. You must wait until the next testing window to retest. CFP Board’s exam retake limits also apply (see Question 10 below).

10. What is CFP Board’s policy for retaking the CFP® exam, via CBT, after an unsuccessful attempt?

There is no change in the exam retake policy. Candidates may attempt the CFP® exam a lifetime maximum of five times. (Candidates who have attempted the exam four or more times prior to January 1, 2012, will be permitted a maximum of two additional attempts.) Also, candidates may attempt the exam a maximum of three times within a 24-month period. If a candidate attempts the exam on three successive administrations, a one year sit-out period (three exam administrations) is required before registering for another attempt.

11. How much does the computer-based CFP® exam cost?

The standard CFP® exam registration fee is $595

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12. Aside from a pass/fail score, what information will I receive with my exam results?

Candidates receive preliminary pass/fail exam results upon completion of the exam at the testing site. Candidates who do not pass, additionally receive a diagnostic report of their exam performance across the Principal Topics, with indications of relative strengths and weaknesses.

Official exam results will be provided approximately 3 weeks following the close of the testing window to confirm official results. 

13. How long will it take to receive exam results?

Preliminary, unofficial exam results are provided upon completion of the computer-based exam at the testing center. Official exam results will be available online within approximately three weeks after the close of an exam window.

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Pre-Exam

1. What should I bring to the exam?

You should bring the following items to the exam site:

  • Valid Government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, matching name under which you registered
  • One or more battery-powered, hand-held, non-programmable, dedicated financial function calculators (See Calculator Policy)

Food and drink (including water) are not permitted in the exam room. Individuals who require access to food or liquids for medical reasons during any of the exam sessions are required to file a Special Accommodations Request Form with CFP Board. All exam sites provide access to water fountains located outside of the exam room.

Books or other personal belongings are not permitted in the exam room. You will be provided a locker to store these items.

2. Will I receive an Admission Ticket for the exam?

No.  An admission ticket is not required. Prometric will provide you with an email confirmation of your appointment when you schedule your exam, and an email reminder approximately 72 hours prior to your appointment.

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3. What are the exam times?

The exam is a computer-based exam administered in two three-hour sessions. You must report to the examination site 30 minutes in advance of your scheduled appointment time. This is a timed exam, and any breaks you take during a test session are at your discretion; you will not receive any extra testing time to make up for those breaks. There is a 40-minute break between the two sessions.

4. Does CFP Board offer a review course to assist with exam preparation?

CFP Board does not offer a review course for the CFP® exam. However, for the convenience of those interested in pursuing certification, CFP Board has compiled list of exam review course providers. These courses and their providers are not endorsed or recommended by CFP Board. Additional exam review course providers can be found by searching online.

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5. Can I register and schedule my CBT exam before completing the Education requirement?

Yes. You can now register for the CFP® Certification Examination prior to completing the education coursework requirement. CFP Board, however, must receive verification of your completion of your coursework by the Education Verification Deadline. If verification is not received by that deadline, you will be de-registered, your seat will become available to other candidates, and you will be charged a $50 withdrawal fee.

6. Where are the computer-based testing centers? Are they the same as the paper-based testing sites?

Computer-based exams will be offered at more than 250 testing centers across the United States administered by Prometric, CFP Board’s test service provider. Computer-based testing centers are not the same as the locations used for paper-based testing sites – such as universities or hotels. CBT test site locations can be viewed at Prometric.com.

7. Will I need a CFP Board account?

Yes. Your current CFP Board username and password will work. New registrants will be prompted to establish a new account, which will serve as an online personal account page for exam registration, scheduling, and more.

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During the Exam

1. Do I need to be experienced or proficient with computers?

No. The CBT format is very user friendly. Prior to testing, candidates can access an online tutorial to become familiar with the CBT format and practice with sample questions.

2. What kinds of questions will be used on the computer-based CFP® exam?

The content and format of the questions on the computer-based CFP® exam are comparable to those used for the paper-based CFP® exam. The exam questions are multiple-choice, with four answer choices and a single-best answer. There are stand-alone multiple-choice questions as well as sets of exam questions associated with short scenarios or more lengthy case histories.

3. How much time do I get to complete the computer-based exam?

The computer-based exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, presented in two 3-hour sessions separated by a 40-minute scheduled break. The total testing appointment time is 7 hours, to allow time for check-in.

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4. During the exam, can I skip questions and return to them later?

Yes. Questions can be marked and returned to at a later point in the exam. Be sure to answer all questions, as only answered questions are scored.

5. Can I review or change my answers?

Yes. Questions can be marked for review and an answer can be changed, provided that time permits

6. Are formulas and tax tables provided?

Yes. Formulas and tax tables are provided within the CBT Exam.

7. Can I use scratch paper?

Yes. Scratch paper is available at the computer testing center for taking notes during the exam.

8. Are headphones provided?

Yes, noise cancelling headphones are available, but optional.

9. Can I use a calculator during the exam?

Yes. A financial calculator, meeting CFP Board’s requirements, will be permitted for use during the exam. See calculator policy.

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About the Exam

1. Where can I find exam statistics for previous exams?

Exam statistics for previous CFP® exams are available here. The statistics provide a comprehensive look at exam cycles, including information about pass rates for first-time examinees and those who re-take the exam.

2. Why did CFP Board move to computer-based testing?

Computer-based testing (CBT) offers candidates advantages in scheduling, convenience, and efficiency over CFP Board’s paper-based exams. Offering the examination through CBT offers the latest technology and is consistent with best practices in testing administration. Beginning with the November 2014 exam administration, the CFP® exam will be offered only through a CBT format administered during one-week windows three times a year, allowing candidates to choose a day of the week and test site location that is most convenient their personal schedule.  In addition, candidates will receive preliminary, unofficial exam results before leaving the testing center, with official results available within approximately 3-weeks following the close of the exam window.

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3. Will the CFP® exam continue to be offered in paper-and-pencil format?

No.  The last paper-and-pencil exam was administered in July 2014.

4. Is the computer-based CFP® exam more difficult?

No. The computer-based CFP® exam is not easier or more difficult than the pencil-and-paper format. The exam maintains the same content outlined in CFP Board’s Job Task Domains and Principal Topics, which represent the knowledge and abilities required to deliver financial planning services to clients.

The science of testing was used to assure that the performance level required to pass the 6-hour computer-based exam is the same as the performance level required to pass the 10-hour paper-and-pencil exam. 

5. What if I have other questions about CFP Board’s computer-based testing?

You may contact a Support Specialist at 800-487-1497 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday, or you may send an email to examinations@cfpboard.org.

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