How To Overcome Test Anxiety In The Cfp Exam

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Are you feeling nervous about taking the CFP exam? Do you find yourself getting anxious and stressed when you think about the test? It’s not uncommon to feel this way, but it’s important to take steps to overcome your test anxiety so that you can perform your best on exam day.

In this article, we’ll provide you with some practical tips and strategies that you can use to overcome test anxiety and succeed on the CFP exam.

Firstly, it’s important to understand what test anxiety is and how it affects you. Test anxiety is a psychological condition that can cause feelings of fear, anxiety, or stress before, during, or after an exam. It can affect your ability to concentrate, remember information, and perform well on the test.

By recognizing the symptoms of test anxiety and learning how it affects you, you can take steps to manage it and perform your best on the CFP exam. So, let’s dive into some practical tips and strategies to help you overcome test anxiety and succeed on the CFP exam.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding what test anxiety is and how it affects you is crucial for overcoming it.
  • Prioritizing physical and mental well-being is essential in overcoming test anxiety.
  • Staying positive and challenging negative thoughts can help overcome test anxiety.
  • Seeking support from family, friends, or a professional coach to manage anxiety is important.

Understand What Test Anxiety Is and How It Affects You

Feeling like you can’t breathe and your heart is about to explode? That’s test anxiety, and it can seriously mess with your performance on the CFP exam.

Test anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, or nervousness that can occur before or during an exam. It can affect your concentration, memory, and overall performance, making it difficult for you to recall information and answer questions accurately.

Test anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, and rapid heartbeat. It can also lead to negative thoughts and beliefs, like "I’m going to fail"or "I’m not good enough."

Understanding what test anxiety is and how it affects you is the first step in overcoming it. By recognizing the symptoms and negative thoughts associated with test anxiety, you can start to develop strategies to manage and reduce it.

Develop a Study Plan

To effectively prepare for the CFP exam, you need to develop a study plan that focuses on three key points.

First, break down your study material into manageable chunks that you can tackle one at a time.

Second, set realistic goals for yourself that are challenging but achievable.

Finally, use effective study strategies that cater to your learning style and help you retain information.

By following these guidelines, you can create a study plan that will help you confidently approach the CFP exam and excel.

Break Down Your Study Material

By breaking down the study material into manageable chunks, you can more easily retain and understand the information for the CFP exam. It can be overwhelming to look at a huge pile of notes, textbooks, and study guides and try to memorize everything at once.

However, if you break it down into smaller sections, you can focus on one area at a time and give it the attention it deserves. Start by dividing your study material into sections based on topics or chapters. Then, set a goal to study one section each day or each week, depending on your timeline.

Within each section, break it down even further into subtopics or key concepts. This will help you focus on the most important information and avoid getting bogged down in details that may not be as relevant. By taking a step-by-step approach to studying, you can make the process more manageable and less stressful.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial for success on the CFP exam, as it allows you to pace yourself and make progress towards achieving your desired outcome. Without goals, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. Here are some tips for setting realistic goals:

  • Break down the exam content into manageable chunks and set specific goals for each section.

  • Consider your personal schedule and commitments when setting study goals. It’s important to be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to studying each day or week.

  • Set goals that are challenging but achievable. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to burnout and anxiety, while setting goals that are too easy won’t provide enough motivation.

By setting realistic goals, you can build a sense of accomplishment and confidence as you make progress towards passing the CFP exam.

Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way, no matter how small they may seem. And don’t be afraid to adjust your goals if you find that they are no longer realistic. The key is to stay focused and motivated on your journey towards becoming a certified financial planner.

Use Effective Study Strategies

Maximize your study efforts by utilizing effective strategies that’ll help you retain information and improve your understanding of the material.

One effective strategy is to create a study schedule that includes ample breaks and review periods. This can help prevent burnout and improve retention by allowing your brain to process and consolidate information.

Additionally, consider using active learning techniques such as flashcards, practice exams, and teaching the material to someone else. These methods can help you engage with the material in a more meaningful way, making it easier to recall during the exam.

Another effective strategy is to vary your study environment. While it may be tempting to always study in the same spot, research shows that changing up your study location can improve retention and recall. Consider switching between a quiet library and a bustling coffee shop, or even studying outside on a nice day.

Additionally, make sure to prioritize sleep and exercise, as both have been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce stress.

By using these effective study strategies, you can feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to take the CFP exam.

Take Care of Your Health

Taking care of your health is crucial in overcoming test anxiety during the CFP exam. It’s important to remember that your physical and mental well-being are interconnected, and neglecting one can have negative effects on the other.

Prioritize getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly in the weeks leading up to the exam. Not only will this help you feel more energized and focused, but it can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

In addition to taking care of your body, it’s also important to take care of your mind. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help calm your nerves.

Make sure to take breaks during your study sessions and allow yourself time to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Remember, a well-rested and relaxed mind is better equipped to handle the challenges of the CFP exam.

Practice Mindfulness

By becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings through mindfulness practices, you can cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and learn to manage stress more effectively. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This is especially helpful when preparing for the CFP exam, as test anxiety can cause negative thoughts and feelings that can interfere with your ability to perform well on the exam.

To practice mindfulness, you can try various techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking a moment to focus on your surroundings and your senses. The following table can help you identify your stress triggers and develop a plan to manage them using mindfulness techniques.

Stress Trigger Mindfulness Technique Action Plan
Fear of failure Meditation Take 5-10 minutes each day to meditate and focus on positive affirmations
Feeling overwhelmed Deep breathing exercises Practice deep breathing exercises for 2-3 minutes whenever feeling overwhelmed
Negative self-talk Observing thoughts without judgment When negative thoughts arise, observe them without judgment and replace them with positive affirmations

Incorporating mindfulness practices into your exam preparation routine can help you approach the exam with a clearer, more focused mindset. By identifying and managing your stress triggers, you can overcome test anxiety and perform your best on the CFP exam.

Stay Positive

When it comes to overcoming test anxiety during the CFP exam, it’s important to stay positive.

This means challenging negative thoughts that may be holding you back and focusing on your strengths instead.

Don’t forget to celebrate small wins along the way, as this can help boost your confidence and keep you motivated throughout the test.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Feeling anxious about the CFP exam? Don’t let negative thoughts hold you back – challenge them head-on!

When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your thoughts. Are you catastrophizing the situation? Are you assuming the worst-case scenario? These types of negative thoughts can spiral out of control and leave you feeling even more anxious.

Instead, challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they’re really true. Is there evidence to support them? One technique to challenge negative thoughts is to reframe them in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking "I’m going to fail the exam,"try thinking "I’ve prepared to the best of my ability, and I’m going to do my best."

Another technique is to use visualization to imagine a positive outcome. Close your eyes and picture yourself confidently answering exam questions. By challenging negative thoughts and reframing them in a positive light, you can boost your confidence and reduce test anxiety.

Focus on Your Strengths

Highlight your strengths to build your confidence and improve your approach towards the CFP exam. Remember that you’re taking this exam because you’ve got a good grasp of the subject matter and you’ve got the skills to pass it. Instead of focusing on what you don’t know or what you might struggle with, take some time to think about what you excel at within the material. This will give you a positive outlook and help you approach the exam with confidence.

To further highlight your strengths, make a list of three things that you feel confident about when it comes to the exam material. This could be a particular topic that you have a lot of experience with, your ability to analyze complex financial data, or your knack for remembering important details. Whatever it is, make sure to keep these strengths in mind as you prepare for the exam, and use them to your advantage.

Remember, confidence is key when it comes to overcoming test anxiety and performing well on the CFP exam.

Celebrate Small Wins

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for every small success you achieve during your CFP exam preparation. Celebrating small wins can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. It’s important to acknowledge that preparing for the CFP exam is a long and challenging process, and it can be easy to get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. By celebrating your small wins, you can stay positive and build momentum towards achieving your ultimate goal of passing the exam.

To help you celebrate your small wins, consider creating a table to track your progress. In the left column, list your goals and the tasks you need to complete to achieve them. In the right column, record your progress and celebrate when you reach a milestone. For example, if your goal is to complete a certain number of practice exams each week, you can track your progress in the right column and celebrate when you hit your target. By using this method to track your progress, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and feel motivated to keep pushing forward. Remember, every small win is a step towards your ultimate goal of passing the CFP exam.

Seek Support

You can easily overcome test anxiety in the CFP exam by seeking support from family, friends, or a professional coach. Here are some tips on how to seek support:

  1. Talk to someone: It can be helpful to talk to someone about your anxiety, whether it’s a friend, family member, or professional coach. They can provide you with emotional support and help you come up with strategies to manage your anxiety.

  2. Join a study group: Joining a study group can provide you with a sense of community and help you feel less alone in your exam preparation. You can also benefit from the collective knowledge of the group and gain insights on how others have managed their test anxiety.

  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you manage your anxiety. These techniques can help you calm your mind and body, and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heartbeat and sweating.

  4. Seek professional help: If your anxiety is interfering with your ability to study or take the exam, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you develop coping strategies and provide you with additional support as you prepare for the CFP exam.

Prepare for Exam Day

Now that you’ve sought support to help manage your test anxiety, it’s time to focus on preparing for exam day.

This involves a combination of mental and physical preparation to ensure you’re in the best possible state of mind and body when you sit down to take the CFP exam.

First and foremost, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam. This will help ensure you’re well-rested and alert during the test, critical for performing at your best.

Additionally, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water to keep your energy levels up and your mind sharp.

Finally, take some time to review your study materials and practice any last-minute test-taking strategies to build your confidence and reduce any last-minute nerves.

By taking these steps, you can set yourself up for success and overcome any test anxiety that may arise during the exam.

Take the Exam

When sitting down to tackle the CFP exam, it’s important to trust in your preparation and stay focused on the task at hand. Here are some tips to help you stay calm and collected during the exam:

  • Take deep breaths: Deep breathing can help to calm your nerves and increase your focus. Take a few deep breaths before starting the exam and continue to do so throughout the exam if you feel anxious.

  • Pace yourself: The CFP exam is a long one, so it’s important to pace yourself and not rush through the questions. Take your time and read each question carefully before answering.

  • Don’t dwell on difficult questions: If you come across a difficult question, don’t let it consume you. Move on to the next question and come back to it later if you have time.

Remember, the CFP exam is just a test and it doesn’t define your worth or abilities. Trust in your preparation and stay focused on the task at hand. You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the passing score for the CFP exam?

To pass the CFP exam, you need to score at least 70% in each of the six sections. This means that you need to have a strong understanding of financial planning topics such as retirement planning, investment management, tax planning, estate planning, and more.

The exam is challenging, but with the right preparation and study habits, you can pass it on your first try. It’s important to set a study schedule and stick to it, break down the material into manageable chunks, use practice exams to gauge your progress, and seek help from a study group or tutor if needed.

By following these strategies and staying focused, you can achieve your goal of passing the CFP exam.

Can you bring a calculator to the CFP exam?

Yes, you can bring a calculator to the CFP exam. However, it must be an approved model and cannot have any programmable functions. It’s important to ensure your calculator meets the requirements before the exam to avoid any issues.

While a calculator can be helpful during the exam, it’s also important to remember not to rely too heavily on it and focus on understanding the concepts. Practice using the approved calculator beforehand to feel comfortable with its functions.

With proper preparation and a reliable calculator, you’ll be ready to tackle the CFP exam with confidence.

How many times can you retake the CFP exam if you fail?

If you fail the CFP exam, you can retake it as many times as you need to pass. However, there are certain restrictions on when you can retake the exam.

You must wait at least 30 days before retaking the exam, and you cannot take the exam more than three times in any 12-month period. It’s important to note that there is a fee for each exam attempt, so it’s best to prepare thoroughly before taking the exam to increase your chances of passing on the first try.

If you’re struggling with test anxiety, try practicing relaxation techniques, creating a study schedule, and seeking out support from a study group or tutor.

Is there a time limit to complete the CFP exam?

You have a maximum of 7 hours to complete the CFP exam, which is split into two 3.5-hour sessions.

The first session contains 85 multiple-choice questions, while the second session includes 85 more multiple-choice questions and a series of case studies.

You are allowed to take a break between the two sessions, but the clock will keep ticking.

To ensure that you have enough time to complete the exam, it’s important to manage your time effectively and not spend too much time on any one question.

Make sure to read the directions carefully and answer all questions to the best of your ability, but don’t get bogged down on any particular question as this can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.

What types of questions are on the CFP exam?

The CFP exam is composed of a total of 170 multiple choice questions, with 10 of them being pretest questions that aren’t scored.

The test is divided into two three-hour sessions, with a break in between.

The questions are designed to measure your understanding and application of financial planning principles, including topics like retirement planning, investment strategies, tax planning, estate planning, and insurance.

The questions range from basic to complex, and some may require calculations or analysis of case scenarios.

It’s important to have a solid understanding of the concepts and to practice answering questions in a timed setting to prepare for the exam.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of this article on how to overcome test anxiety in the CFP exam.

By now, you should have a better understanding of what test anxiety is, how it affects you, and what you can do to manage it.

Remember, developing a study plan, taking care of your health, practicing mindfulness, staying positive, seeking support, and preparing for exam day are all essential steps to help you overcome test anxiety.

With these strategies in mind, you can approach the CFP exam with confidence and perform at your best. Just remember to stay calm, take deep breaths, and focus on the task at hand.

Good luck on your journey to becoming a certified financial planner!

David D. Bickerstaff

David D. Bickerstaff

David worked in several conglomerated sized financial companies in the global markets, M&A and club loan product team. He is now an exam advisor in

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