Wellness & Outlook Days Before Exam

Primer Series – Test Anxiety Mitigation

Managing anxiety during an exam is not an exam date event. Managing anxiety is a deliberate process in eliminating “anxiety triggers” and the process is conducted over the several weeks to a few months. Anxiety is a form of fear. Fear is debilitating.

Science of Neuroplasticity - Managing Stress - Worry - Spiritual


I’ve quipped in sessions that … “passing this exam is 70% work ethic, 20% brains and 10% luck!”

So a word about the brain: The emerging field of neuroplasticity (brain plasticity) informs an understanding that the person we are — and the person we want to be that is better, stronger and can achieve new things — is fundamentally based on brain health.

Consider the possibilities of viewing your brain — metaphorically — as a “muscle” to be exercised for great achievements!

I am studying neuroplasticity with the preconceived notion that we can perpetually increase our capacity to learn, grow and encounter new and varied levels of happiness in life through new found passions, pursuits and achievements.

Passing the CFP exam is an achievement worthy of our attention which can potentially usher in numerous — non-economic — personal benefits!


Managing Test Anxiety
Read Article

7 Tips to help cope with exam stress
Read Article


Spiritual Resources – If meaningful for you as it is for me …
Read Article

My final thoughts … {days before exam}

We don’t hold any grudges — against ourselves — and have no weaknesses left.
All that remains now is quiet confidence and varying levels of strength.  

– Joe D’Amore
The biggest challenges in preparing for CFP exam - can also become your biggest advantages!
  1. Pick your battles. When can you study with intensity? Mornings, afternoons, nights, weekends. And to what intensity? Short bursts, marathons. Decide how to approach it after taking a good inventory of your life’s other pursuits such as:
    1. Self Care
    2. Caring for family
    3. Social engagements
    4. Work responsibilities. 
      Nobody can pass an exam without a study plan that is thoughtfully crafted to fit the mosaic of your life. The excitement comes in when you can actually make it fit and you’re motoring along studying with enthusiasm and care.
  2. Pick your friends. Preparing for the exam is a team sport (first time to be mentioned here and then read below). Find a study group an accountability partner or both. You will have something to offer someone and there are people that can offer to help you. Nobody knows everything but everyone knows something.
  3. Negotiate your absence: Seek consent from the important people in your life to excuse yourself for a few months and especially as the exam date approaches — from expected responsibilities. Can you pawn off the housework, shopping, laundry, cooking and a few duties with the kids (Call 1-800 Grand Parents) and work (work out something with your employer/partner too) to give you the unfettered space to devote to your studies? It’s important to do this. For some this will be harder than for others but you can’t do everything when you need to study 15-20 hours a week.
  4. Develop Undying Faith: a) In yourself, b) In your review program/ reviewer. Every major review program is fabulously successful leading thousands to pass through (even if it takes a few tries). Follow every detail of their prescription to study and prepare (i.e. study schedule, check points, content to cover, assessments to complete, extra help pathways). Aligning these four challenges become enormous levers to success!
Managing Studying & Exam Test Anxiety when you are just a few weeks/days from Exam Day

Causes of Studying/Exam Anxiety

There are many causes of anxiety related to preparing for an exam but one common theme ismental exhaustion. Pervasive feelings of dread (fear of failure) are linked to either: a) believing that the chances of failing the exam are high, b) believing that you are no longer capable to learn & prepare adequately. The popular term associated with these conditions are: Mental Block.

The Very First Step – Self Care

Try these techniques (not all but some that fit you well).

  1. Practice mindfulness.
  2. Write notes or free hand of things you know well.  Transpose notes to more condensed notes and add comments including positive affirmations” I know this” “I got this now”.
  3. Exercise very lightly and preferably in an outdoor environment (walk, jog, hike).
  4. Use music and/ or relaxation audio programs.
  5. Talk to people who are not studying the same as you. Turn off social media or other communications with other students who are similarly stressed about their prospects and are contributing to your anxiety.
  6. Practice rehabilitative/ meditative breathing techniques.
  7. Watch your habits (bad ones) Don’t develop or increase your bad habits that are destructive (emotional, medication, alcohol). Focus on healthy habits like healthy eating, exercise, sleep and wellness. Resist urge to cram. Don’t work late into the night. Find your energy peak in the daytime. Seek out an accountability partner who is supportive (fellow student).
  8. Explore spiritual support & resources (meditation too).

The Next Step – Change Up Your Game

  1. Look at your Study Schedule and reduce daily/ weekly study goals to smaller achievable Increase break time between the increments. If you don’t reach all the material that is being asked/ expected to cover – you’ll still retain the chance of passing because of the base building you’ve created over many weeks/ months.
  2. Organize your study space/ tidy it up -or even consider changing your study space.
  3. Reduce your work commitments where possible (reduced hours) and negotiate your absence from family/ community commitments for limited time.
  4. Find short cuts in a supportive environment only to learn / re-learn testable topics that give you a very difficult time through: a) accountability partner; b) study group; c) teacher; d) tutor; e) course/ review material guides (short cuts, learning aids/keys).
  5. Take practice exams and evaluate them on your scale for improvement not somebody else’s.{If you scored in the 60s and now in the 70s is more valuable than if you scored in the 70s and others are scoring in the 80s).
  6. Look at the distribution of what you are not scoring well in. If evenly distributed that’s simply do more testing/quizzes to raise the bar overall with higher scoring. If you see concentrations in particular areas, take notes and use the resources mentioned in #4 above to hone-in.
  7. It’s ok to ask for help.
  8. It’s ok to reset an exam date if you are convinced you have very little chance of passing the exam due to any circumstances that produced this condition. If you do reset the exam date change to a different learning system/review program. It’s healthy to change your approach and receive a fresh start (it is not productive to use re-treaded materials even if renewed for little to no fee).
  9. Write your testimonial now in advance of practice celebrating now.
  10. Do you remember the first day you announced to the world you were going to pursue this? Reflect on those feelings. Your passion may be waning now under the stress of the workload but as long as those reasons are still there adjust your game up as suggested in #1 through #7 above.
Test Anxiety Mitigation

Managing anxiety during an exam is not an exam date event. Managing anxiety is a deliberate process in eliminating ”anxiety triggers” and the process is conducted over several weeks to a few months. Anxiety is a form of fear. Fear is debilitating. Preparation is the key to eliminating ”anxiety triggers”.  Eliminating anxiety = increase in confidence.

Anxiety Triggers shared in our study group. Note how everything operates in the ”inverse”
(Reduce fear of calculator + use it a lot = increase in confidence = reduction in anxiety)
(Resist the use of calculator + don’t use it a lot = lack of confidence = increase in anxiety)


  1. Fear of the calculator
      • Reluctance to use it and assimilate it in both RPN and Algebraic functions throughout both the coursework and review program. Most course providers have this wrong. You are introduced to calculator functions at the onset of study, move on to education funding and then you put the calculator down until you get a little more utility in … put it down yet again and not get into it until retirement. You don’t use the algebraic function much either. Who needs to? We use our celI phone calculators instead while in coursework. Try doing that during the exam ”ha”.
  2. Then weeks and months later you get a battery of calculator-based questions in review. The following are universal experiences.
      • You have re-learn the calculator because you forgot how to use.
      • Or — you hope, or even subscribe to unfounded theories that the CFP Board no longer has a great deal of math on the exam/or they don’t want to challenge our calculator skills to heavily. So here’s the question. What is your anxiety rating going to be if you see a 3 step education question or mortgage amortization question on the exam and you let the “fear” aka reluctance of the calculator control the outcome?
  3. Fear of Cases
      • Minimizing exposure to cases especially long, complex Reluctance to spend extra time on developing a studied approach to processing cases and associated questions will lead to anxiety when your screen is filled with a large case on exam day.
  4. Fear of the Clock
      • 2 minutes and 12 seconds is a mini eternity. You don’t need that much time for a large majority of questions on the exam. Pay very close attention to how much time you spend on study Some will be 2-4 minutes, but many will be in the sub 1 minute – to 1 ½ minute range. Even when committing up to 7 minutes on reading a large case you will have ample time to align time frames to comfortably finish the exam.
      • Take out a stopwatch and a notebook and start tracking time spent on questions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
      • Notice also the amazing dynamic that after reading a large case, many questions can be done in 1 – 1 ½ minutes.
  5. Fear of Formulas & Tax Tables
      • Most course providers — and especially their associated review courses & reviewers–do an excellent job explaining what to hone- in on and not hone-in on the formula sheet. Welt before investment review start a bi-weekly practice (or more) of viewing the formula tables to build familiarity. (Do same with taxtable).
      • What is remarkable about the tax table is that throughout the coursework many questions will show various limits (AGI vs Deductibility) and rules, or force us to know them. However, there’s nothing to memorize. So if you go into the exam after viewing the tax table dozens of times over for 3 months or so, you will be able to confidently and quickly extract what you need to answer questions.(Secret: You know where everything is without having to memorize anything!)
      • Recommendation: Don’t wait until you study taxation to view the tax tables and the investments to view the formula sheet. Start now viewing 2-3 times a week-under 60 seconds (make copies and leave them everywhere: cell phone, office, refrigerator, under your bed, bathroom mirror, gym bag!)