Live Online vs. On-Demand vs. Self-Study CFP® Exam Preparation

By: Kaplan Financial Education
May 15, 2020
CFP Exam Prep: Class vs Self-Study

The CFP® exam is computer-based and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions that test your financial planning knowledge in client situations. Preparing for the exam requires a significant investment of time and financial resources. As part of deciding your exam education and preparation provider, you will also have to choose between live online education, on-demand classes, or self-study. So, let’s explore the main differences.

CFP® Exam Preparation: Live Online Classes

Of the three choices, live online exam preparation adds the most structure to your studies and provides a mentor who can encourage you and keep you on track when you need it. You get regular, expert feedback on your weak areas, suggestions for how to improve, and guidance on where to get more practice. You also have someone to ask for help with challenging material.

Live online exam preparation classes provide focus to your study efforts and enable you to use your 250 hours of study time efficiently and effectively. You receive advice on test-taking strategies to make the task of tackling 170 questions in six hours a bit less daunting. If you choose the right package, you also get a mock exam to help you simulate the real thing. Note that of all the options, live online classes require the biggest cash outlay, but considering the expert attention and guidance, many candidates have said it's worth it.

Preparing for the CFP® exam? Download this free eBook to learn how to create a CFP® exam study plan that works for you.

CFP® Exam Preparation: On-Demand Classes

On-demand preparation enables you to learn from an expert instructor but on your own time. It is designed to ensure you are staying on track in your prep plan and mastering the curriculum at your own pace. This means it is a great option for those CFP® candidates who must schedule their exam preparation around a full-time job or learn at a different speed. With on-demand learning, you can start, stop, and rewind through video instruction as often as you need. You have access to practice questions that can help you apply what you’ve learned. And, although you do not get the real-time interaction with instructors, they are helping you review and master the material. You can even email them your questions.

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. Therefore, you must:

  • Create a study calendar and plan.
  • Go through the exam study books.
  • Find practice questions.
  • Identify and rectify your weak areas.
  • Develop a test-taking strategy that will give you the best chance of success.
  • Find a mock exam.

Self-study takes a lot of motivation, persistence, patience, confidence, self-awareness, and some expertise in learning. Some people have what it takes to do it this way. They tend to be highly motivated self-starters who have the mettle to put in the hard work day after day and be successful when they sit for the exam.

So, the first thing you have to do is take an honest, unflinching look at yourself and your own history of learning. Ask yourself the tough question, “Do I have what it takes to do this without guidance from instructor-led review classes?” If the answer is yes, then self-study could work for you. If you hesitate before answering, it is likely that instructor-guided review is a better option for you.

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you have decided on live online preparation, on-demand learning, or self-study classroom instruction, we have study tools for you.

Free eBook: Is CFP® Certification Right for You?

Are you considering CFP® certification, but are unsure if you can handle it? Get a sneak peak at the beginning of the College for Financial Planning®a Kaplan Company education program to get a feel for whether CFP® certification is the right fit for you. This free eBook will provide you with information about the financial planning process learned in FP 511: General Financial Planning Principles, Professional Conduct, and Regulation. It also includes several analytical problems that will allow you to apply your knowledge to real-life scenarios.