5 Habits of Successful Candidates for CFP® Certification

Good to Know

The 5 habits to passing the CFP® exam are not complicated. In fact, they’re quite simple in concept. But here’s the rub, simple is not always easy. For example, here’s the simple equation for losing weight:

Calories out > Calories in = Weight loss

Yet seven of every ten Americans, the author included, struggle to lose weight and keep it off.  Did we mention that simple is not always easy? In that same vein, passing the CFP® Exam is not complicated but is arduous. According to CFP Board, the candidate who develops the following 5 habits is more likely to pass the exam. The text in quotation marks below is taken directly from CFP Board publications.

Habit 1: Develop a Study Strategy

“Before you dive into preparing for the CFP® exam, take the time to create a study plan that will support your learning style and help you overcome challenging areas. Make a plan that will work for you and commit to it!

Think about how you learn best and develop an approach to studying that will play to your strengths. Before purchasing your study materials or enrolling in a review course, research your options to find a program that will support your learning style and fit your timeline. As you create your study strategy, consider the Major Principal Topic areas that will be covered on the CFP® exam. Make sure you know which topics will be challenging for you so you can spend extra time on those areas.”

Habit 2: Dedicate Time for Studying Every Week

“Almost 80% of exam passers say they spent 11 hours or more studying for the CFP® exam every week, often making study time a regular part of their evening routine and dedicating several hours for exam preparation every weekend.

Know when you can make time to study without distraction, and incorporate that time into your daily routine. Whenever you can, make exam preparation your first priority. 77% of exam passers also say they significantly cut back on hobbies and personal activities to make time for exam preparation. Exam takers realize these sacrifices are temporary, but are also worth it to achieve their certification.”

Habit 3: Ask for Support When You Need It

“You’re not alone on this journey — reach out when you need help. As part of developing your study strategy, reach out to your family and employer and let them know of your plans. If you need time to focus on study and preparation, talk to your family, friends and employer to see where you can cut back on other commitments and responsibilities.

If you need financial assistance, talk to your employer and your education provider about reimbursement and scholarships that may be available. And if you need encouragement or advice, talk to others who are also pursuing CFP® certification — you can find regular discussions and support at the CFP Board Candidate Forum.”

Habit 4: Use Exam Prep Tools

“Those who passed the CFP® exam say that the 2 best ways to prepare were taking a review course and focusing on practice questions.

69% of those who passed the CFP® exam took the CFP Board Practice Exam during their preparation. Taking a practice exam helps you check your knowledge and experience in an exam environment before your testing day.

Continue to put yourself in the discomfort of the test bank and mock questions. You may be tempted to stick to your comfort zone, reviewing module materials and flashcards, but the mock tests are the closest replica of what you can expect on exam day.”

Habit 5: Balance Studying With Self-Care

“Exam passers are more likely to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep in the weeks leading up to the CFP® exam. Make sure you take care of yourself throughout the study process so you’re able to approach your exam day with energy and focus and without unnecessary distractions.

Exercise helps with daily stress. Consider taking a walk after an hour or two of studying.”

Learn more about these 5 habits at https://www.cfp.net/get-certified/tools-and-resources/5-habits-of-successful-candidates.


The information presented herein is provided purely for educational purposes and to raise awareness of these issues; it is not meant to provide and should not be used to provide tax, legal, compliance or financial advice. There are variations, alternatives, and exceptions to this material that could not be covered within the scope of this blog.