CFP® Designation Overview

After completing the Certified Financial Planner program coursework, candidates are then able to register to complete the CFP certification exam.

The CFP® exam is administered in a 100% computer-based format during three eight-day testing windows each year in March, July, and November. Candidates can take the CFP exam at any one of the more than 250 Prometric testing locations throughout the U.S.

CFP Exam Pass Rate
The most recent available pass-rate statistics from the CFP Board show that roughly 64% of all CFP candidates pass the exam. This rate has held steady since the deployment of the current exam format in March 2016.

CFP Exam Format & Weighting
The CFP exam is comprised of 170 multiple-choice questions, including stand-alone questions as well as questions associated with a particular financial planning scenarios and/or case histories. The exam is an all-day affair and consists of two three-hour sessions (six hours total) separated by a scheduled 40-minute break. As such, candidates must schedule at least a seven-hour appointment with Prometric to allow for all the required check-in and security procedures.

The Major Principal Topics serve as the blueprint for current CFP exam. Here are those topics and their individual approximate weighting.

8 Principal Knowledge Topic Categories

  • Professional Conduct and Regulation (7%)
  • General Financial Planning Principles (17%)
  • Education Planning (6%)
  • Risk Management and Insurance Planning (12%)
  • Investment Planning (17%)
  • Tax Planning (12%)
  • Retirement Savings and Income Planning (17%)
  • Estate Planning (12%)

For a deeper explanation of what is covered in each of these topic categories, please download a copy of the Principal Topics List from the CFP Board website.

The CFP exam also covers eight major job domains, or functions, from establishing an initial client relationship to analyzing a client’s financial status to developing and communicating recommendations in an ethical manner. The necessary and applicable tax tables will be provided online in advance of the exam as well as made available to the candidate during the actual examination.

Registration Fees

Standard registration fee: $695
Early bird fee (6 weeks prior): $595
Late registration fee (2 weeks prior): $795
These costs do not include the cost of CFP coursework or an exam review course.

CFP Exam Scoring & Results
The CFP exam is “pass or fail” exam based on a minimum standard, or criterion, established by CFP professionals.  The examination is a criterion-referenced, pass or fail exam.

Upon completing the CFP exam, unofficial results are provided to candidates at the testing site, with the official results verified and supplied by CFP Board approximately four weeks following the close of the testing window.  The CFP Board does not disclose exam results over the phone, email or by fax.

Learn more about CFP certification