Study Tips

By Debra Neiman, CFP®, FPA™ MA Past President

1. Join a study group

  • Reinforces what you do and don’t know.
  • Provides discipline in that you must stick to a schedule.
  • You may learn helpful study techniques from others in the group.

2. Take a review course

  • Boston University, Northeastern University, and Merrimack College offer review courses. NEFE also gives classes in many cities.
  • Intensive classroom structure will force you to study.
  • You can bounce problem areas off of the instructors for immediate feedback.

3. Narrow your scope of knowledge

  • You don’t need to score 100% to pass the exam.
  • Determine which material you want to know really well (75% of the material).
  • Know 100% of that 75% backwards and forwards.

4. Concentrate on those topics that require an analysis or evaluation

  • The General Information Booklet quantifies the importance and level of depth required for each topic that may appear on the exam.
  • Spend the most preparation time understanding the concepts for these topics.

5. Know the rules and the exceptions

  • Those planners who write the exam are testing your knowledge base.
  • Anyone who calls themselves a financial planner should know the rules; to attain the CFP® designation, you must know the exceptions to the rules.

6. Understand the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility

  • Be prepared to determine if a CFP® Licensee’s actions violated the code.
  • When in doubt, assume that a code violation has occurred.

7. Time management is key

  • Don’t waste time reviewing what you already know
  • Replicate the exam environment and time yourself as you do practice tests.

8. The exam is not a trick test; don’t bring in outside knowledge that is not relevant

  • Knowing too much about a subject can result in over analyzing the question.
  • Read the question carefully to determine what the question is asking and limit your thinking to the options presented.

9. Act as if questions are actual client fact patterns

  • This will force you to think of a realistic, common sense answer.
  • Remember, the test writers are looking for the best answer, not necessarily the correct answer.

10. Skip questions you don’t know; answer what you can first

  • Accumulate as many easy points as possible and save the challenging questions for last.
  • Answering the questions you do know first boosts your confidence and improves your focus.
  • Use the elimination process to your advantage.
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