Unlocking the Gate: Understanding the CFP Exam Passing Score

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam is a rigorous assessment that individuals must pass in order to become certified financial planners. Understanding the passing score for the CFP exam is essential for those seeking to enter the financial planning field. This expert article provides a comprehensive look at the passing score for the CFP exam, including the scoring methodology, the minimum score required, and strategies for success.

Scoring Methodology for the CFP Exam

The CFP exam consists of multiple-choice questions and case studies designed to assess a candidate’s knowledge and application of financial planning principles. The exam is graded using a scaled scoring methodology. This approach equates the difficulty of different versions of the exam, ensuring fairness and consistency across all administrations. The scaled scores are derived to reflect the candidate’s performance relative to the predetermined passing standard.

Determining the Passing Standard

The passing standard for the CFP exam is determined through a rigorous process involving expert judgment and statistical analysis. The CFP Board, the governing body for CFP certification, conducts periodic Standard Setting Studies to determine the minimum level of knowledge and competency required to pass the exam. These studies involve panels of subject matter experts who carefully review the exam content and set the passing score based on their professional judgment and consensus.

Minimum Score Required to Pass the CFP Exam

The CFP Board does not disclose the exact passing score or number of correct answers required to pass the exam. Instead, they provide candidates with a pass/fail result without specifying a numerical score. This approach ensures the integrity of the exam and prevents candidates from focusing solely on achieving the minimum passing score. The emphasis is on demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of financial planning concepts rather than simply striving to meet a specific numerical threshold.

Focus on Mastery and Comprehensive Knowledge

To succeed on the CFP exam, candidates are advised to prioritize a deep understanding of the subject matter rather than fixating on a passing score. The exam covers several areas, including financial planning principles, insurance, investment planning, retirement planning, tax planning, and estate planning. Mastery of these topics, along with the ability to apply critical thinking and analytical skills, is essential for success.

Strategies for Exam Success

To increase the likelihood of passing the CFP Exam, candidates should consider the following strategies:

  • Thoroughly review the CFP Board’s exam blueprint, which outlines the content areas and topic weights.
  • Use study materials from reputable vendors that are aligned with the exam content outline.
  • Study in a focused and consistent manner, allowing sufficient time to cover all relevant topics.
  • Practice answering sample questions and case studies to familiarize yourself with the exam format and improve your time management skills.
  • Consider enrolling in a CFP exam review course or study group to benefit from expert guidance and peer support.
  • Maintain a balanced approach to studying, including regular breaks, exercise and stress management techniques.

Time Management Tips for CFP Exam Success

Effective time management during the CFP exam is critical to maximizing your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you manage your time effectively:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam: Understand the structure and format of the CFP exam in advance. Familiarize yourself with the number of questions, the sections, and the time allotted for each section. This knowledge will help you plan and allocate your time accordingly.
  2. Create a study plan: Develop a study plan that allows you to thoroughly cover all the topics on the exam. Break your study sessions into manageable chunks and allocate specific time slots for different topics. By following a schedule, you’ll be able to cover all the necessary material while maintaining a balanced approach.
  3. Practice time management techniques: As you prepare for the exam, practice time management techniques such as setting time limits for practice questions and mock exams. This will help you gauge your speed and ensure that you’re comfortable completing questions within the allotted time.
  4. Use the “mark and review” strategy: If you encounter a challenging question during the exam, don’t dwell on it for too long. Instead, flag it for review and move on to the next question. This allows you to use your time to answer other questions and then revisit the flagged questions during the review phase.
  5. Read the instructions carefully: Take a few moments at the beginning of the exam to carefully read the instructions for each section. Understand the requirements, time limits, and any special guidelines. This will help you avoid confusion and save time by answering questions more efficiently.
  6. Prioritize questions: As you progress through the exam, prioritize questions based on your confidence level and the number of points allotted for each question. Answer the questions you are most comfortable with first to build momentum and confidence. Leave the more difficult or time-consuming questions for later.
  7. Pace yourself: Keep a steady pace throughout the exam. Avoid rushing through questions or spending too much time on any one question. Use your allotted time wisely and make sure you have enough time to complete all sections. Keep an eye on the clock, but also focus on accuracy and thoughtful answers.
  8. Review and Proofread: If time permits, take a few minutes at the end to review and proofread your answers. Look for any errors or omissions you may have made. Even a quick review can help catch any glaring mistakes and provide a sense of security.
  9. Stay calm and focused: It’s natural to feel some pressure during the test, but try to stay calm and focused. Manage any test anxiety with deep breathing exercises or positive self-talk. Remember that effective time management includes maintaining a clear and focused mindset throughout the test.
  10. Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice under timed conditions, the better you’ll be able to manage your time during the actual test. Take advantage of practice exams and simulated testing environments to hone your time management skills and build confidence.

By implementing these time management strategies, you can optimize your efficiency and productivity during the CFP exam. Remember to stay calm, focused, and confident in your preparation. Best of luck!


While the exact passing score for the CFP exam remains undisclosed, aspiring financial planners should focus on developing a comprehensive understanding of financial planning principles and demonstrating their knowledge through the exam. By focusing on mastering the material, utilizing effective study strategies, and dedicating sufficient time to preparation, candidates can increase their chances of success on the CFP exam. Remember, the goal is to become a knowledgeable and competent financial planner, and the passing score is merely a reflection of that achievement.


What is passing score for CFP exam?

Simply score 70% or better on our exam readiness quiz. Students that score 60% or higher on the exam readiness quiz have an 88% pass rate on the CFP® exam and historically half of our students score 60% or higher.

What is the hardest section of the CFP exam?

the case studies

Most examinees that have taken the certified financial planner (CFP) board exam agree that the case studies are the most difficult and important portion of the test.

How many questions are in the CFP?


The CFP® exam is a 170-question, multiple-choice test that consists of two 3-hour sections during one day.

What CFP program has the highest pass rate?

Dalton Education won the best overall because of the company’s in-depth CFP exam prep, flexibility, and a strong money-back guarantee. Founded in 2005, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based company boasts 20% to 25% higher pass rates than the national average.

Is CFP hard to pass?

The CFP® exam is not easy. It requires a significant investment of time to be successful. But most of the time, failure on the exam is the result of poor preparation. Investing in exam preparation is a way to avoid that.

Is CFP harder than CFA?

Overall, the CFP program is shorter and less-rigorous than the CFA program. If you think this could be the program for you, you can learn more about CFP certification requirements here.

How long does it take to pass CFP?

Here are some of the most common paths to CFP® certification. Typically, it takes 18-24 months to become a CFP® professional, but the certification process offers flexibility so you can make it work for you.

What if I fail the CFP exam?

Retake Policy

If you fail the CFP® exam and elect to retest, you are required to retake the entire exam and to pay the applicable exam fee for each retake.

How long should you study for the CFP exam?

250 hours

CFP Board recommends you spend at least 250 hours studying for the exam. While that sounds overwhelming, the time goes pretty quickly between pre-study, the Candidate Handbook, required education courses, question bank time, review, practice exams, and your own preparations.

Is the CFP worth it?

It cites a sponsored study from consulting firm Aite Group that found brokerage teams that included a CFP holder generated 30 percent more revenue than teams without. Individual practitioners with certification did even better, producing 40 percent to 100 percent more than brokers without.

Can you self study for CFP exam?

CFP® Exam Preparation: Self-Study

Self-study is the most affordable exam preparation option. It’s also the most difficult, but there are candidates that have gone this route and been successful. If you choose the self-study option, you will prepare, practice, and perform without the help of an experienced instructor.

Can CFP be done by self study?

Yes it is possible. I did self study and completed my CFP successfully within a year. Study material needs to be updated specially tax planning book.

How hard is CFP test?

The certified financial planner exam is likely the hardest test you’ll ever take, Dorsainvil says. “Think of the hardest exam you took in college then times it by 10.” Preparing to take the CFP exam begins months or even years before you actually sit to take the test.

Whats harder CFP or CPA?

The CFP program is also less-rigorous overall than the CPA program. CFPs do not require the same specific education and experience requirements that CPAs must have.

How many levels are in CFP?

CFA vs CFP – Comparative Table

Section CFA CFP
Organizing Body CFA Institute CFP Board
Pattern Divided into three levels – level I, level II, and level III Only 1 level
Duration of Course Four years Three years
Syllabus Financial Principles Financial Analysis & Accounting Portfolio Management Personal Financial Planning

Is the CFP harder than the CPA?

The CFP program is also less-rigorous overall than the CPA program. CFPs do not require the same specific education and experience requirements that CPAs must have.

Do you have to pass every section on the CFP exam?

The CFP® certification exam is a pass-or-fail exam. Each test question counts for 1 point each. Passing is based on the candidate’s total score across all sections of the exam.

How long should you study for the CFP exam?

The CFP Board recommends studying for 250 hours, as referenced by Kaplan, while Dalton recommends a target of 200 hours. A recent study found that 76% of those who passed the exam studied at least 10 hours per week while only 62% of those who failed studied more than 10 hours per week.

How many times can I take the CFP exam?

Individuals may attempt the exam a maximum of three times within a 24-month period. If an individual fails the exam 3 times in a 24-month period, they must sit-out three exam administrations before registering for another attempt.

How long does it take to pass CFP?

Here are some of the most common paths to CFP® certification. Typically, it takes 18-24 months to become a CFP® professional, but the certification process offers flexibility so you can make it work for you.