What to Expect on CFP® Exam Day

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 31, 2021
A circled day on the calendar representing CFP exam day

If CFP® exam day is approaching for you, congrats! Make sure all your hard work studying pays off by understanding what to expect on the day of the exam. You will need to register for the exam using your CFP Board account. You will then be instructed about how to schedule the exam with Prometric. Scheduling is done on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to register early.

What is the CFP® exam check-in process like?

On the day of the exam, you will be asked to present a valid government ID. Proper government identification includes:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid government issued ID card
  • Valid passport
  • Valid military ID

The first and last name on your government ID must match the first and last name on your CFP Board account. Ensure you double check this on your CFP Board account prior to registering for the exam.

Your fingerprints will be captured along with a photo for security purposes at the exam. You should also expect to go through a brief body scan. A locker and key will be assigned to you at check-in. All of your personal belongings will have to be put into your locker before you go into the exam room. This includes items like purses, cell phones, jewelry, watches, food, water, electronic devices (except approved calculators), personal headphones, exam notes, or study materials. You will not be able to access these items at all during the exam. It is best if you leave any valuables you will be concerned about at home.

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

What items can I bring into the CFP® exam?

There are a number of items you can bring into the testing room, including CFP Board-approved calculators and scratch paper. Prometric will supply up to four pieces of scratch paper for your use. If you need more, you will need to turn in all four sheets to get four new sheets. The scratch paper you use in the first session of the exam will need to be turned in after you are done with the session.

CFP Board-approved calculators include:

  • HP 10B
  • HP 10BII
  • HP 10BII+
  • HP 12C and HP 12C Platinum
  • HP 17BII+
  • Sharp Business/Financial Calculator EL-733
  • Sharp Business/Financial Calculator EL-733a
  • Sharp Business/Financial Calculator EL-738
  • TI BAII Plus
  • TI BAII Plus Professional & TI BAII Plus (Business Analyst)

If you are worried about your batteries dying during the test, you are able to bring in loose batteries. You must remove them from the packaging, however. If your calculator has any visible formulas on the reverse side, you must cover them with black electrical tape or blank paper. The testing center may check this.

You are welcome to bring a sweater or sweatshirt to the test if you are worried about getting cold. Expect the testing center to check them before you go into the exam room.

What do I have permission to do during the exam?

You are able to mark questions for review at a later time, and you do not need to answer questions in a specific order. You may also highlight desired text and strikethrough answer choices you have deemed incorrect. In addition, you will be able to review the Tax Tables and Sample Formulas at any time during the exam. Simply click on the icon at the bottom of your screen to pull them up.

How much time do I have to complete the CFP® exam?

The CFP® exam is presented in two 3-hour sessions separated by a 40-minute scheduled break. Each session contains 85 multiple-choice questions, divided into two subsections, for a total of 170 questions. You can take an optional break between each subsection (in addition to the 40-minute scheduled break between sessions).Prior to submitting your answers for each subsection, you can go back to questions you’ve marked for review or have not answered yet. 

What if I need special accommodations for the CFP® exam?

You are able to get testing accommodations for the CFP® exam. CFP Board will provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations to individuals with documented disabilities who demonstrate a need for them. Accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis. To request accommodations, you must register for the exam and submit the required documentation by the Education Verification Deadline for your desired exam appointment. For more information, visit CFP Board.

How will I receive my CFP® exam results?

As soon as you complete the second session of the CFP® exam, you will receive a preliminary pass/fail result. Four weeks after the exam window closes, Prometric will review all candidate scores to ensure there were no irregularities or issues related to the exam. Candidates will then receive their official results on CFP.net.

Those who fail the exam will also receive a diagnostic report indicating their exam performance across the Principal Topics, with indications of strengths and weaknesses to help candidates prepare for a retake. (For more information, here's an article detailing the reasons people fail the CFP® exam.)

Have other questions? Check out CFP Board’s Exam Day Experience webinar for more information.


Ensure you are prepared for exam day with Kaplan’s CFP® exam prep review. Choose from our live online or traditional classroom settings and get the expert instruction and education you need to pass the exam with confidence!

Free eBook: Create a CFP® Exam Study Plan That Works

Preparing for the CFP® exam can be a daunting task. Making a CFP® exam study plan is the best way to ensure you use your study time efficiently and are ready to pass on test day. Download this free eBook to learn how to create a CFP® exam study plan that works for you.