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Frequently Asked Questions: Computer-Based Testing (CBT)

The CFP® Certification Examination will transition to a computer-based testing format beginning with the November 2014 exam.  Read below for answers to frequently asked questions about the computer-based CFP® exam.

 


  1. Why is CFP Board moving to computer-based testing?
  2. Will the CFP® exam continue to be offered in paper-and-pencil format?
  3. Do I need to be experienced or proficient with computers?
  4. Can I take the computer-based CFP® exam on my computer at home or at work?
  5. When will the CFP® exam be offered in 2014?
  6. When will registration open for the November 2014 computer-based CFP® exam?
  7. Where are the computer-based testing centers? Are they the same as the paper-based testing sites?
  8. What are the typical hours of operation for a computer-based testing center?
  9. Can candidates change or cancel their testing appointments after they have been scheduled?
  10. What kinds of questions will be used on the computer-based CFP® exam?
  11. How much time do I get to complete the computer-based exam?
  12. Is the computer-based CFP® exam more difficult?
  13. How long will it take to receive exam results?
  14. During the exam, can I skip questions and return to them later?
  15. Can I review or change my answers?
  16. Can I use scratch paper?
  17. Can I use a calculator during the exam?
  18. Are individuals with disabilities accommodated in the computer testing center?
  19. If I fail the exam, can I take it again?
  20. What is CFP Board’s policy for retaking the CFP® exam, via CBT, after an unsuccessful attempt?
  21. How much will the computer-based CFP® exam cost?
  22. How do I register for the computer-based CFP® exam?
  23. Will I need a CFP Board account?
  24. What if I have other questions about CFP Board’s computer-based testing?



1. Why is CFP Board moving 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 online within approximately 10 business days.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

Computer-Based:

November 18-22 2014 (Register by November 4, 2014)

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6. When will registration open for the November 2014 computer-based CFP® exam?

Registration opened for the November 2014 exam on June 2, 2014.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Can candidates change or cancel 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.

10. 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.

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11. 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 6 ½ hours, which includes the half-hour break. 

12. 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. 

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 10 business days after the close of an exam window. 

14. 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.

15. Can I review or change my answers?

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

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16. Can I use scratch paper?

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

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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 (see Question 20 below).

20. 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.

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21. How much will the computer-based CFP® exam cost?

The standard CFP® exam fee is $595. There is no anticipated change in exam fees for 2014.

22. 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.

23. 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.

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

You may contact a Support Specialist at 1-800-487-1497 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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