General Guide

  1. Calibrate Your Schedule *(There is an extensive explanation below and central to this system of study). Take notes during lectures, review recordings, webinars and then transpose those notes.
  2. Review Ethics and Practice Standards weekly – 2 sections or more per week.
  3. Complete 3-5 calculation – based questions per day.
  4. Initiate 13 weeks before the exam the habit of completing 1-2 cases per week. Start first with smaller / subject specific cases and then build up to more complex cases.
  5. Print copies of the Tax Table. Investment Formula and the CFP Board’s What’s On The Exam report Review these weekly to familiarize yourself with this important information.

Study Group

  1. Attend every session and follow lecture with projected notes on the screen. (take notes/ ask questions). Review the tutorial and take advantage of all the open resource files.
  2. Use “Open Book” format to work through questions.
  3. Complete all calculation “Primers” by working through 3-5 questions per day and highlight those.
  4. Contribute content in the form of learning aids (in our group we call them “primers”) to be included in the “ Subject Matter Primers” section.
  5. Find an accountability partner to work closely with on a weekly basis to supplement both your review program and the study group.

Calibrating The Study Schedule*

This strategy worked very well for me and I strongly recommend it.

Most major review course providers have a wide range of 140-300 hours of commitment to review adequately for the exam. The range for number of questions to be completed is from 2,500 – 5,000.

The review course providers also set dates for work completion by topic typically and then add dates for completion of blocks of questions & cases.

Here are my recommendations

  • It’s important to “calibrate” your study plan to the schedule set by the course providers. This means that you should view the number of pages you need to read for content and number of questions and cases you need to accomplish —per day— to reach the deadlines.
  • Example: If the course provider sets a date of 2 weeks (14 days) to complete Insurance, first evaluate how many pages you have in the content book, test bank and case inventory. Then use simple math to determine a sustainable and consistent “Day Goal” of pages, questions & case work. Once you complete this you will be able to determine how many hours per day you should routinely study.
  • Assumption:
    Insurance Review Content                  78 pages
    Quizzes, Assessments, Final Tests      49 pages
    Cases & Short Scenarios                     27 pages

154 pages /14 days = 11 pages per day x 20 minutes * per page = 3.6 hours of study per day (*reading content can take 5-8 minutes per page but progressing through questions and cases will be more).

  • Note: If on average you study 3.5 hours per day, over 13 weeks and assuming you study 7 days a week this will come out to a total of 318 hours. In the last 6 weeks you will need to raise your commitment time by 1 hour per day -on average- so I estimate the total hours at 360 hours.
  • Range 300 minimum – 360 hours if extra hour in last 6 weeks or 400 hours, if 2 hours extra in the last 6 weeks.
  1. Plan when you can study. Based on obligations you may have you should study when you have little to no distractions and commitments. If possible, choose time frames where you have the highest energy for focus and rigorous work (Are you a morning person? A night owl?). Can you study more than once a day? If you plan to study for 4 hours can you engage twice at 2 hours each with breaks in between to address your obligations, work, family needs? And can you engage in healthy self-care throughout the study regimen (diet, exercise, meditation). It’s important to schedule this too!
  2. Ultimately, your Study Plan (calibrated) should complement how well you can negotiate arrangements with family members, employers, clients, community associates to allow you time to study.Once you set “Day Goals” make necessary adjustments for days you cannot study due to work or personal obligations. Recalculate your goals if you operate on a reduced study schedule during the week with a rebalance of long hours on weekends. (make up time). All told: Once you calibrate your schedule to meet completion target dates — set by your review program — your focus will shift from watching the clock to accomplishing daily tasks which is a superior method of learning. If you reach your daily goal – rest and reward yourself with self-care and resumption of personal/work engagements. Overall, you want to set a “Day Goal” pace to achieve your review course deadlines at least 2 days ahead of schedule to allow for additional review of difficult content.

Joe D’Amore, CFP®, MSFS, M.Ed.