Top 10 Study Tips

At Keir, we understand how important preparing and passing the exam is to you and your career. It requires you to undertake a great deal of hard work, but we're here to help you every step of the way. The following tips will help to guide you through your study and exam-taking experience.

#1 - DON'T PLAN ON LAST-MINUTE CRAMMING

Students should begin preparing for the CFP® Certification Examination approximately three months before the date of the examination. The recommended study time is between 200 and 300 hours, but students who pass the first time may utilize 1000 hours of study time. Procrastinating and last-minute study sessions may have gotten you by before, but cramming simply isn't an option when you're studying for the CFP® exam. In addition to causing you extra anxiety and stress, cramming doesn't allow time for your brain to process information and make critical connections.


#2 – CREATE A STUDY SCHEDULE AND ROAD MAP THAT WORKS FOR YOU

It won't surprise you to know that in order to THINK LIKE A PLANNER® and prepare for the exam, you'll need to start with a plan. To gauge where you stand in terms of strengths and weaknesses at the start of your studies, take our free PACER test. Following that initial assessment, Keir's 12-week and 8-week study schedules are designed to help you review your strong areas but focus more on your weak areas. After a thorough review of all topics, the study schedule also guides you to specific review materials to help you learn the critical thinking skills necessary to pass the exam. Set a specific time each day for study and the maintain that schedule until the examination date. Studying each day for an hour or two is better than trying to study all day on Saturday or Sunday. Study time beyond four hours in a day is generally inefficient.


#3 – LEARN TO THINK LIKE A PLANNER®

In order to become a competent and expert financial planner, you need to think like one. In prepping for the exam, you can't rely on mere memorization and rote learning of technical information. Keir helps you to transform your thought processes and enables you to surmount each cognitive thought level of Knowledge, Comprehension, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation required for this exam. The THINK LIKE A PLANNER® Study Method is formulated specifically to teach these thought processes.


#4 – YOUR CALCULATOR IS YOUR FRIEND

You must be able to make skillful use of a financial calculator in order to answer questions on the CFP® Certification Examination. If you are struggling with using your calculator, you may find Keir's Practical Applications For Your Calculator book to be invaluable. Keir also offers an online calculator course for either the HP-10B II or the HP-12C. These interactive calculator courses can quickly bring you up to speed on the calculator in about 3 hours. If you need help with the investment formulas and calculations, Keir also has online formula classes.


#5 – KNOW YOUR CASE STUDIES

Case study questions are approximately 20% of the exam's total questions, and students often find them to be the most difficult portion of the exam. Large case studies can give 5 - 7 pages of detailed information about a hypothetical client, including a statement of financial position and statement of cash flows. From this information, you will need to answer questions that test your ability to apply complex concepts to the case. In addition, the exam may include several mini cases, which provide a few paragraphs of information and several questions about the client’s situation. These questions will also require the ability to integrate information across several subject areas and evaluate the client’s overall situation. Practice as much as you can, because performing well on the case studies can make the difference between passing and failing.


#6 – ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT

Study time is valuable, and spending too much time on any one concept is not an efficient use of study time. Students who purchase Keir review materials have the benefit of instructor support for assistance with any questions they have. When you send a question to our dedicated CFP® exam review email box, one of our instructors will return your e-mail, typically within one business day. The instructors also check the email box at night and over the weekend during the final few weeks before every exam. Our goal is to get you through the exam successfully!


#7 – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

This may be the most important piece of advice we can offer you. The CFP® Certification Exam is certainly tough, and passing it can transform your career. Realizing the magnitude of the exam and the extent of preparation required can feel overwhelming and stressful, so it's essential that you take breaks when you need them and make time for activities that you enjoy. Your brain and your health are your most valuable resources: treat them with care! Check out our Exam Stress Relief Tips to learn more.


#8 – ANSWER EVERY QUESTION

Unfortunately, the CFP Board of Standards doesn't disclose the percentage of correct answers required for a passing score. The score is based only on the number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for guessing, so be sure to choose an answer to every question even if you're uncertain. If you get stumped, don't panic: use the process of elimination to narrow down answer choices if possible, then choose an answer and mark the question for review later if you have time.


#9 – MANAGE YOUR TIME DURING THE EXAM

The CFP® Certification Exam is 6 hours long and is taken over two sessions of 3 hours each, with a 40-minute break in between. It's a long time to test, but know that you won't have any time to waste. Students generally find this examination to be extremely difficult, both mentally and physically. If you are struggling with a question, use the process of elimination to remove any obviously wrong answers, pick one of the remaining answers, and mark the question for review so that you can come back to it later if you have extra time. In addition, when you get to the large case, don’t read it initially, just choose any answer for each of the questions and mark them all for review. Then after you have answered all of the other questions, come back and read the case and answer the questions. Answering the stand-alone and mini case questions first can boost your confidence and improve your focus. It is too easy to spend far too much time on the large case, and run out of time for the remaining questions, so your time will be better managed by doing the large case after you have answered all of the other questions in that exam session.


#10 – DON'T GIVE UP

Keir will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you pass the exam the first time. The pass rate for the examination overall is in the 55 to 65 percent range. The pass rate for students using the Keir materials is typically 15 to 20 percentage points higher than the national average, in the 70 to 80 percent range. While the odds are in your favor, there's still a chance that you may not pass the first time – it's a very tough test. Don't be discouraged and give up if you don't pass the first time. We will work with you to strengthen your weakest knowledge areas and develop strategies that work for you. Your bright future as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER is attainable when Keir is on your side.