Finding Out My CFP® Exam Results

My friend took her CFP® exam a few weeks ago and told me her preliminary results that day.  When she told me her results, it really brought me back to when I found out my results.  My experience was completely different from my friend’s because I took the exam before the change.  When I took it, the exam was 2 days, 10 hours total.  Everyone took it with a good old fashion #2 pencil and paper (the thin, grey, newspaper-y kind).  Our results got posted online FIVE weeks later.  The wait was painful and liberating at the same time.  Ignorance is bliss, right?  Nowadays, the exam is taken online and you’re done in 6 hours.  Immediately after, you get your preliminary results followed by your final results a few weeks later.

A coworker and I both took the March exam this year.  It was a second attempt for both of us.  Taking the exam with your coworker could be the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, for obvious reasons.  If you both pass, it’s double the celebration!  If you both fail, well, misery loves company.  The worst, of course, would be if one of you passed and the other one failed.  Our results were scheduled to come out on a Friday morning.  My coworker and I agreed in advance that we wouldn’t check it that morning and we would, instead, wait until the weekend.  (Both of us have experienced, on separate occasions, the pain of finding out we didn’t pass and having total breakdowns in front of our colleagues.  For me, it was the first and only time most of my coworkers have seen me cry.)

The Thursday before our results were supposed to come out, we woke up to an email saying that the results have already been posted.  We texted one another and confirmed that we still weren’t going to check until the weekend.  Thirty minutes later, I walk into the office and as I pass by her desk, I see she has this smirk on her face.  I was like, “what?!”  She squealed, “I PASSED!!!”  Apparently, her roommate knew her account login and password and checked it for her.  And when her roommate saw that my coworker had passed, she called to give her the good news.  Suddenly, all eyes were on me.  Literally.  I had maybe 5 or 6 colleagues staring at me wide-eyed asking, “Are you going to check?!”  No pressure.

I went back and forth between checking it right away and waiting till the weekend.  But finally I was like, “Screw it!  Everyone at the office already knows the results are out and that my coworker passed.  Might as well put everyone (including myself) out of their misery.”  So my coworker grabbed a laptop and we went into a bathroom stall.  (It was the only way we could get some privacy.)

I logged into my CFP account and got to the last button standing in between me and my results.  A sudden wave of panic washed over me and I couldn’t bring myself to click the button.  What if I didn’t pass?  WHAT IF I DIDN’T PASS?! was all I kept saying to my coworker over and over again.  Finally, I handed the laptop to my coworker and asked her to click the last button for me while I sat across from her with my eyes closed, knees pulled up to my chest and hands covering my face.  Yes, it was THAT dramatic for me.

I heard a click.  Then silence.  Then, “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  YOU PASSED!!!!!”

We hugged; we cried; we laughed.  It was glorious.  The entire office celebrated with us over ice cream.

I think that day will go down as not only one of the best days of 2014, but also one of the best days of my life.  Because honestly, passing was a huge struggle for me.  And it was so rewarding to finally see all that hard work pay off.

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Studying for the CFP® Exam

I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t have passed the CFP® exam without the help of Linda & Nancy and all their prep courses.  When I think back to all the teachers, professors and tutors I’ve had since elementary school, I’d say they are two of the most effective instructors that exist in this world, or at least in my world.  Not only are they experienced, knowledgeable and equipped with a strong curriculum, they are also crazy funny!  Okay, now that I’m done singing their praises, let’s get to the not-so-fun parts of prepping for this exam.

To squeeze in as much effective studying time as I could per day on top of working full-time, I woke up around 5:30am Monday through Friday and studied for about 2 hours before work.  I also studied everyday at lunch (1 hour) and then 2-3 hours after work.  For me to wake up that early every morning and still have the mental capacity to absorb anything, I had to stop studying by 10pm every night.  The CFP® exam is a marathon, not a sprint.  So cramming will not work for 99% of us.  On weekends, I spent all morning and afternoon studying or attending one of the prep classes I mentioned earlier.  I missed birthdays, reunions, dinners, hang-outs and even a wedding ceremony (thankfully, I was able to make it to the reception).  Unfortunately, my situation is not unique.  A lot of my friends who passed the exam can attest to giving up any resemblance of a life while they were studying.  But they’ll all agree with me when I say it was totally worth it.

I passed the March 2014 exam, which was my second attempt.  My first attempt was November 2013.  My studying methods didn’t change too much the second time around because I don’t think I studied ineffectively.  I just needed to go over the material a second time to really master it.

CFP® Exam Prereq

Before you’re even allowed to sign-up for the CFP® exam, you have to complete the education requirement.  To fulfill this requirement, I took evening classes at UCLA Extension for 2 years.  You can get through all the classes (there are 8 of them not including the 1 day Ethics class) in less than 2 years if you choose to take more than 1 class per quarter.  Since I was working full-time and had no finance background whatsoever, I chose to take 1 class at a time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with all this new information.  Some people prefer to take the classes online or a combination of online and ground (i.e. on campus).  I took all of them on campus because I learn better when I can interact with my professors and classmates (probably because I’m an extrovert and I like structure/routine).

If you have one of these degrees or professional credentials, you can bypass most of the classes and just take the Capstone (comprehensive) class.  Once you pass that class, you’ll be eligible to sign-up for the exam.

For someone who didn’t major in finance or never worked in the finance industry, I suggest taking 1 class at a time like I did.  If you rush through all the classes and don’t develop a strong foundation, you’ll have a much more difficult time studying for the CFP® exam.  Passing the exam takes mastering the material.  Merely understanding it will not be enough.

I Passed the CFP® Exam

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Last Thursday, April 24th, at about 9am, I found out that I passed the March 2014 CFP® Exam.  I’ve never worked so hard for anything in my life so the fact that my dream is now a reality is still a bit surreal.  I plan on writing about the entire experience one day (what it was like studying for the exam, taking the exam and getting my results).  But for now, I just want to enjoy the moment and soak it all in.  My colleague who passed the exam several years ago said that after a week or two, I’ll “come back to earth.”  Since I know this high won’t last forever (it never does, does it?), I want to milk every minute that I’m still on cloud nine.

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