CFP® Exam Writing Strategy and Tips

CFP Exam Writing Strategy & Tips

  • 25 multiple choice questions
  • 10 case studies, with related constructed response questions


Multiple Choice

  • Complete the multiple-choice questions first within each session to build momentum
  • Spend 2 minutes per multiple choice question – 7/8 questions per session, roughly 20 minutes

Constructed Response

  • Complete the most demanding constructed-response questions first; those cases that award the highest number of marks
  • Steps to complete case study questions
    1. Read the case in its entirety first
    2. Read through the constructed response questions
    3. Return to the case to read through a second time highlighting the key points
    4. Begin responding to the questions

Common Mistakes: 

Time Management

  • giving too much time to one case or one questions – know the mark value!
  • providing more answers than are required
  • knowledge dump

Knowledge vs. Competency

  • answers are not relevant to client scenario presented
  • answers are too generic and not client specific
  • don’t focus on product features as opposed to client benefits

Reading the Question

  • answers don’t address the question
  • don’t use information outside the scenario provided
  • don’t support both sides of an argument – choose a definitive yes or no, with a detailed rationale

Constructed Response Questions: 

  • Will be in the form of case sets, consisting of a description of a client situation (case narrative ranging from one-third of a page to one full page or more) followed by one to three questions about that client situation
  • You will type your answers directly into the response template provided – usually in the form of a table
  • Each question will have the point allocation clearly indicated
  • You’ll be required to show your calculations as you work towards solutions to problems

Make Your Answers Client-Specific: 

  • Be specific: for constructed response questions, answers must not be general in nature, but rather specific to each client’s situation. Must be able to demonstrate why and how your recommended strategy is appropriate for the client
  • Focus on client needs, not product features: as an example, when assessing suitable risk management solutions for a client, you should be able to demonstrate how an insurance option is appropriate for a client’s needs. Listing the features of an insurance policy without connecting it to the client’s needs will be insufficient
  • Support your recommendations: if you’re asked to make a specific client recommendation and support it, you won’t earn marks for giving both the potential advantages and disadvantages of an option

Other Key Notes:

  • You can’t return to the questions in part one after you start your break
  • Plan for how long you can spend on each question – track this as part of the practice exam
  • What is FP Canada asking of you?
    • Exam tries to trick you with wording
    • What do they want?
    • What is the core concept they are testing here?
    • How can I best answer this to prove my knowledge and command of the curriculum?
  • Don’t read the entire case study. Read the questions first, to be clear on the answers they are looking for and focus on that part of the case
  • Read multiple choice questions at least twice; don’t assume the first answer you get is the right one