A few weeks back, we posted an interview on my experience of going through the CFP® designation process. The highs and lows and challenges that I had over the past 15 months. Well, I’m going to give away the end first (spoiler alert)…I passed the CFP® Board exam! Now that the last page of the book has been read, I want to share my experience with this test and feelings of relief that come with being finished with this process. So on Tuesday, July 28th at 8 AM, I went to a Prometric testing facility in Tucker, GA. The drive from my house in Atlanta to Tucker was anxiety producing to say the least. I told my wife, Rebecca, that this was the most unnatural feeling. Voluntarily putting yourself through a high-pressure and nerve-wracking six-hour exam. Nobody wants to do that, and to say I had butterflies in my stomach is to put it lightly.
To back track just a bit, the week leading up to the exam was filled with study sessions. I was doing two and three-a-day study sessions, to borrow a football term. I filled every moment when I wasn’t in the office with practice questions, flash cards and review materials. I wanted the topics to be as fresh on my mind as possible, so I would get up early to be sure that my mind starting thinking about this stuff first thing. Considering the exam would be administered first thing, I didn’t want to feel groggy going into game day. I made sure to get plenty of rest in the days leading up to the test and drank lots of water…and no alcohol. I wanted my state of mind to be consistently on the CFP® material. I will tell you that the celebratory cocktail I enjoyed after the test never tasted so good!
I arrived at the testing facility a little early. In fact, they hadn’t even opened their doors yet, so I sat and watched the minutes tick by until they opened up. Luckily, I was second in line to get checked in which is quite involved. For security purposes (as well as maintaining the integrity of the test environment) they fingerprint you, verify your identity with your drivers’ license and wave a metal detector wand over your clothes to be sure you don’t have anything on you. The only thing allowed in the test center is your calculator (which must have the memory cleared), a #2 pencil and scratch paper, both of which the Prometric test administrators provide. They do give you a locker to store your keys and cell phone in as well as your lunch.
Once you go through the tutorial on how to use the system, which is pretty self-explanatory, you click “Begin Test” and immediately a timer pops up in the top right-hand corner of your screen while your question counter pops up on the left-hand side. The exam is broken up into two 85 question blocks, and you have exactly three hours to complete each block. So you know exactly how far you’ve gotten and how long it’s taken you. I had been warned that time will become an issue if you get stuck on a problem or two and the next thing you know 15 minutes have passed. Well, that turned out to be great advice because I finished my first block of 85 questions with 1 minute and 35 seconds to spare. At the conclusion of the first block, you have a 40 minute scheduled break. You can eat lunch, stretch your legs and try to relax for a bit. As you might expect, I took about 8-10 minutes of the 40 and had to go back in. It was hard to relax knowing I had 3 hours and 85 more questions to go before I was on the other side of this thing.
The second block of questions seemed to go by a lot faster and I actually finished with about 25 minutes to spare. Of course, you are allowed to go back and review your answer selection but I made very few changes. In fact, only one that I can recall because another lesson learned along the way was to not second guess yourself. Just go with your gut feeling if you aren’t sure. And if you’re really not sure, choose answer “C”. At the conclusion of the second half, you are asked to hit the final submit button. Once you do, you’re taken through an awkwardly long survey of about 11 or 12 question. They have nothing to do with your results and everything to do with your experience. Yet, you still don’t know the outcome of your test! So, as you can imagine, I flew through the survey as quickly as possible in order to see my results and sure enough, a “Congratulations!” popped up on the screen. I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest as I waited for the results to pop up and the wave of relief that rushed over me was indescribable.
Needless to say, I feel like the sky is a little bluer these days with no CFP® exam to study for. The feeling of being on the other side of this is such a relief. I’m glad it’s over and thankful to be on the other side. Happy to share my thoughts of preparation and experience with anyone who is considering going through this process so feel free to reach out to me.