Preparing for the CFP® exam: Dos and Don’ts for Scoring High

Do's and don't for CFP® exam preparation

The path to becoming a financial planner is a gateway to a prosperous and fulfilling career in the realm of financial planning and wealth management. Renowned for its excellence, the CFP® exam certification has gained recognition in over 26 countries worldwide, opening doors to a myriad of lucrative opportunities within the financial industry.

However, the road to clearing the certified financial planner™ exam is not without its obstacles. One of the key challenges lies in successfully navigating the rigorous examination process. The CFP® exam curriculum sets a high standard for education, ensuring that certified professionals possess a comprehensive skill set and in-depth knowledge in their field.

As a result, CFP® exam certification holders are highly sought after by renowned wealth management firms, financial planning companies, and institutions such as retail banks, non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs), mutual funds, and insurance agencies. These organizations value the expertise and credibility that CFP® exam certification professionals bring to the table.

By embarking on the CFP® exam journey, individuals can unlock a world of opportunities. And in this blog, we bring you some essential do’s and don’ts that will help you score high in the CFP® exam and become a skilled financial planner.

Do’s for CFP® exam preparation

Playing to one’s strength

CFP® exam gives an opportunity for individuals to utilize their professional experience and integrate it into their exam preparation. Reflecting on past scenarios where you applied financial concepts, provided recommendations, or solved complex problems for clients allows you to gain deeper insights into the real-world implications of the theoretical knowledge covered in the exam. This introspection enables you to bridge the gap between theory and practice, making the exam content more relatable and meaningful, helping you to succeed in the CFP® exam.

Work on the case studies thoroughly

Most CFP® exam aspirants would agree that case studies are the most difficult yet important part of the exam. To solve the questions related to case studies, merely having the knowledge of the course material isn’t enough. The candidate needs to have the ability to evaluate, synthesize, and apply that knowledge correctly when answering the MCQs. Case studies encourage aspirants to approach problems from a comprehensive perspective, considering the interplay between different elements of a financial plan.

This holistic approach aligns with the CFP® exam board’s emphasis on complete financial planning and ensures that candidates are fully equipped to provide well-rounded advice to clients. Overall, it sharpens critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities, allowing hopefuls to tackle real-world financial scenarios with belief.

CFP® exam practice questions

Practice using the authorized calculator

The only calculators allowed for use during the CFP® exam are:

  • Texas Instruments (TI) BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional)
  • Hewlett Packard (HP) 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th-anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige)

Familiarizing yourself with the functions and features of this specific calculator is crucial for efficient and accurate calculations during the exam. Fixed calculators are allowed to create a level playing field and keep a standardized approach during the CFP® exam. Use these calculators while attempting the mock tests and practice tests so that you can get a good hang of it and avoid inaccurate answers.

Practice with mock tests to get familiar with real CFP® exam scenario

Attempting mock tests serves as a powerful tool to measure your readiness and uncover hidden opportunities for growth and refinement. They are the key to unlocking a realistic exam experience, mirroring its conditions and challenges. After going through the individual topics in the workout section, practice the chapter-wise mock test to gauge your understanding. To elevate your preparation further, enable the ‘stimulate test’ on the advanced filter on CFP® Exam Prep by Achieve. This allows you to select a time duration and the number of questions so that you can train your brain to solve the MCQs in a time-bound environment with accuracy and speed. You can also appear in our rapid quizzes to be exam-ready.

CFP® exam mock test

Familiarize yourself with financial planning laws and regulations

Reviewing relevant laws and regulations related to financial planning is crucial when preparing for the CFP® exam. These laws and regulations encompass various aspects, such as securities regulations, tax laws, retirement planning rules, and ethical guidelines. By studying and understanding these constraints, candidates can demonstrate their knowledge and adherence to legal and ethical standards in the field of financial planning.

It also helps aspirants demonstrate their commitment to upholding professional standards and ethics, which are essential for earning the CFP® exam certification. But remembering so many laws isn’t easy, so flashcards come in handy here. CFP® exam digital flashcards on our platform can help you to retain and recall vast amounts of information. Make it a routine to go over the flashcards 2-3 times a day to reinforce the important points in mind and remember them during the practice tests and exams.

CFP® exam flashcards

Build regular revision practice

The CFP® exam is a tough nut to crack and cannot be cleared by studying casually. You need a proper strategy to cover the complete portion and revision should play a non-negotiable part in it. Make a habit of going through your notes a minimum of 3-4 times a week and clearing off all the questions from the daily revision bucket before hitting the hay. You can fix 4 hours a week to clear off all the revision buckets to uplevel your preparedness and feel relaxed when the exam approaches.

CFP® exam revision

Don’ts for CFP® exam preparation

Neglecting the official CFP® exam board study materials

CFP® exam board’s study materials offer comprehensive coverage of the exam content, align closely with the exam format, provide up-to-date information, including official sample questions, and carry a high level of credibility. Prioritizing this study material is essential for maximizing your chances of scoring well and succeeding in the CFP® exam.

Overlooking the importance of practicing financial calculations.

The CFP® exam tests candidates on their ability to perform various financial calculations accurately and efficiently. Not practicing enough economic calculations can significantly impact your performance in the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam. It will hamper accuracy and speed, hindering your ability to solve calculations within the allotted time.

Plus, the exam often involves intricate concepts like the time value of money, unequal periodic cash flows, internal rate of return (IRR), etc, and practicing calculations is a must for them. Overlooking the calculations can increase the risk of making costly mistakes in financial analysis and recommendations.

Not analyzing what went wrong

If you keep repeating the same mistakes again and again, you will never be able to score high in the CFP® exam. Thus, after every practice session, take time to analyze what mistakes you made and how they can be corrected the next time. By reviewing incorrect answers, you can pinpoint specific topics that require further study and improve your overall knowledge. Additionally, analyzing what errors you made will assist you to develop effective exam strategies, build confidence, and enhance your performance.

Focusing on quantitative aspects and ignoring qualitative factors

Overlooking the importance of qualitative factors in financial planning can have detrimental effects on your CFP® exam scores. Qualitative factors, such as clients’ values, emotions, and unique circumstances, play a significant role in delivering comprehensive and client-centered financial advice. By solely focusing on quantitative aspects, you risk neglecting ethical considerations, failing to establish trust with clients, and providing generic recommendations. Moreover, the CFP® exam assesses candidates’ understanding of the interplay between quantitative and qualitative factors, meaning that disregarding the latter can result in inaccurate answers and lower scores.

Preparing for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam requires following the right path to success. Embrace the do’s and bid farewell to the don’ts mentioned in this blog. Remember, the CFP® exam is your ticket to a rewarding career, so tread wisely. By heeding these guidelines, you’ll navigate the exam with confidence, showcase your expertise, and unlock the doors to success in financial planning. All the best and subscribe to CFP® Exam Prep App by Achieve as a companion on this journey.