BECOMING A CFP® PROFESSIONAL
By Samantha (Sam) Schnurr
I first decided I wanted to become a CFP® Professional and take the exam in order to grow my career. I took six classes through Kaplan’s College for Financial Planning, including General Principals of Financial Planning; Risk Management and Insurance Planning; Investment Planning; Tax Planning; Retirement and Income Planning; and Estate Planning. Afterward, I completed a capstone course where I built a financial plan. Each course was a six-week class followed by a final exam that I had to score above 70% on to pass.
After completing all my courses and the capstone, I enrolled in a 10-week intensive review program. Kaplan recommended 250 hours of study during this course, a minimum of which I did. (To be honest, I lost count – Ha!) This portion was the most stressful but also the most rewarding in that I would not have had a chance of passing without it. During this period, I found an incredibly helpful study group through a Reddit forum. We met about one to two times a week leading up to the exam and then increased it as needed in the final few weeks. We were all located in a different part of the country (one in Michigan, another in Pennsylvania, another in California, and then me over in Georgia!) We met via Zoom. It was super helpful to converse about difficult subject topics and things I struggled with. During my exam, I heard all of their voices in my head at least once – LOL! It was also a good opportunity to come up with creative ways to remember things. Last but definitely not least, it was really great to have a place to go to the day before the exam and the day of the exam for support. I think I told them about my passing score before I even told Zach (my partner)! 😂
The actual exam was two 3-hour sessions with a 40-minute break in between. Each session included two subsections that had an optional 15-minute break in between. Once I left a section, though, I couldn’t go back, and each subsection included 42-43 questions (170 in total). It was stressful, but I felt comfortable in my knowledge. On the day of the exam, I got a preliminary pass, and then I had to wait four weeks from the close of the testing window to get the official results from the CFP Board.