Certified Financial Planner Test Breakdown

The Certified Financial Planner exam is administered by the Board of Certified Financial Planners as the second step in the certification process. The content of the CFP exam has evolved over time based on the Board’s assessment of the role of financial planners.

Exam questions are drawn from a variety of sources, but are reviewed diligently by the Board before they become part of the exam. The goal of the exam is to test the candidate’s knowledge of what to do in situations that are likely to occur in professional practice.

The content of the exam can be divided into seven sections:

  • General Principles of Financial Planning (11%)
  • Insurance Planning and Risk Management (14%)
  • Employee Benefits Planning (8%)
  • Investment Planning (19%)
  • Income Tax Planning (14%)
  • Retirement Planning (19%)
  • Estate Planning (15%)

Some questions will require knowledge from only one of these categories, while other questions may require knowledge in several categories.

There are two kinds of multiple-choice question on the exam: a short fact or mock situation followed by one to six questions worth two points each; or a longer mock situation, known as a case, followed by ten to twenty questions worth three points each.

The candidate’s score on the CFP exam will be based on the number of correct answers; only one answer may be chosen for each question. The CFP exam is a pass/fail exam, and does not attempt to compare test-takers to one another. The CFP Board does not provide a percentage, rank, or score to test-takers.

The Certified Financial Planner exam is administered three times a year, in over 50 cities across the United States. Typically, the ten-hour exam is divided into 3 sessions: a 4-hour session on Friday, and two 3-hour sessions on Saturday. At present, it costs $595 to take the CFP exam.

Here are the sections on the CFP exam:

  • General Principles of Financial Planning 
  • Insurance Planning and Risk Management 
  • Employee Benefits Planning 
  • Investment Planning 
  • Income Tax Planning 
  • Retirement Planning 
  • Estate Planning

The CFP exam is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.