Best CFP Exam Prep Courses

Pass your Certified Financial Planner Exam the first time

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CFP exam prep courses help students prepare to take the Certified Financial Planner exam offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, a non-profit organization that has been setting ethical, education, training, and experience requirements for more than 30 years. 

In addition to meeting the education and experience requirements to earn your CFP, passing the six-hour exam provides you with a CFP certification that shows clients that you’ve met the rigorous standards of the CFP Board and are committed to their needs.

We reviewed a number of CFP exam prep courses to determine the best options available. All of the courses offer accurate review material and have a great success record based on customer service and how many students pass their certification exams.

The Best CFP Exam Prep Courses of 2021

Best Overall : Dalton Education


Dalton Education

Why We Chose It: Dalton Education is the best overall CFP Exam Prep Course because it offers a pass guarantee, is taught by former members of CFP’s Board of Examiners, and lets you take the review as many times as you want at no additional cost.

What We Like
  • Offers a pass guarantee

  • Taught by former members of CFP’s Board of Examiners

  • Take the review an unlimited number of times at no cost

What We Don’t Like
  • One of the more expensive options

  • Pass guarantee is a costly add-on

  • Limited instructor office hours

Dalton Education was founded in 2005 and is owned by CeriFi. It provides the best overall CFP exam prep course because it offers a pass guarantee and its instructors are made up of former members of CFP’s Board of Examiners (now known as Council on Examinations). You can also take the review an unlimited number of times at no additional cost. 

Dalton has two exam prep course options: one with a pass guarantee for $2,195 and one without for $1,395. Both offer 36 hours of live online instruction, pre-study booklets with over 100 hours of material, access to instructor office hours, and a post-exam review. 

The Guarantee to Pass course also includes an individual coaching session, weekly supplemental lectures, digital flashcards, and the Financial Calculator Essentials book. Although it costs $800 more than the basic prep course, this course refunds you 100% of your enrollment fee if you score 70% or more on its readiness test and don’t pass your CFP exam on the first try.  

Between the pre and post-study materials and the classroom, it takes approximately 200 hours to complete Dalton’s CFP exam prep course. The test bank questions alone require around 50 hours because there are so many.

Best Live Online Course : CFP Exam Prep With Brett Danko


CFP Exam Prep With Brett Danko

 CFP Exam Prep With Brett Danko

Why We Chose It: We chose the Boston Institute of Finance’s course as the provider with the best live online course because it offers an entertaining live review by CFP professional Brett Danko who also gives a pep talk before exam day to help you pass your test the first time.

What We Like
  • Highly-engaging and light-hearted live online course

  • Student support through pep talks before exam day

  • Almost 20 years experience in CFP exam prep

What We Don’t Like
  • Focus is on passing the test versus being a great CFP

  • $300 fee to retake the Basic Exam Prep course if you fail

  • You can only retake the Signature Exam Prep course once

Noted CFP professional Brett Danko teaches live classes onsite as well as online. His exam prep course offered through the Boston Institute of Finance is our choice as the best live online course because he infuses humor into his instruction to lighten up a lot of the dry financial material which also helps with memory recall. 

The pre-study portion takes approximately 100 hours to complete and the live class is four days (about 32 hours). For post-study, students will several weeks leading up to their test going through practice questions and case studies. If you purchase the Signature Exam Prep, you’ll also use that time for your four additional sessions with Danko. 

Brett Danko offers two CFP exam prep course options:

Basic Exam Prep ($995) Signature Exam Prep ($1,795)
Three pre-study exam textbooks All Basic Exam Prep features plus:
Access to CFPquestions.com Two-hour Financial Calculator session
32 classroom hours with Brett Danko Four additional two-hour sessions with Brett Danko
Live review classroom textbook Personalized study plan
450+ practice questions 750+ practice questions
10+ case studies 20+ case studies
Pep talk before exam day Digital and hard copy flashcards
  Dedicated student advisor for one-on-one guidance

For the Basic Exam Prep, you can retake the course for $300. If you do not pass your CFP exam immediately following the exam prep course and have the Signature Exam Prep package, you can retake the course one time at no additional cost.

Best Live In-Person Course : Zahn Associates


Zahn Associates

 Zahn Associates

Why We Chose It: Zahn Associates is our pick for the best in-person course because it offers locations all over the country, custom post-study plans based on your strengths and weaknesses, and a pass rate 10% above the national rate.

What We Like
  • Personalized post-study plans

  • Pass rate 10% above the national rate

  • Classes located all over the country and online

What We Don’t Like
  • Main focus is to get you to pass your test

  • Some complaints about the quality of study materials

  • Must pay to retake the course if you fail

Zahn Associates is a CFP exam prep course provider offering both live in-person and online classes. We picked it as the best live in-person course because instructors provide a post-study plan after the live class so you know exactly what you need to study based on your strengths and weaknesses. It also boasts a consistent pass rate 10% above the national rate. 

Zahn Associates’ main goal is to get you to pass your test. This means there’s no detailed coverage on topics that aren’t covered a lot on the exam. This differs from a course like Kaplan, for instance, which focuses on just about everything. 

For $1,045, you receive two pre-study books, a live four-day review class with a CFP professional, case studios, videos, and a study plan for your post-study work. If you need extra support, you can work one-on-one with an instructor for an additional cost that varies by instructor. Zahn Associates also offers a scholarship through 2050 Trailblazers. 

Zahn Associates’ live reviews take place in hotel conference rooms all over the country, including Phoenix, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tampa, and Chicago. You can also attend a review class online from the comfort of your home. 

The pre-study work for Zahn Associates takes 100 to 120 hours with an additional 34 hours of classroom time. You can expect to spend 60 to 80 hours post-study preparing for your exam after you take the live in-person class. Your class instructor will also provide you a detailed post-study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses.

Best Self-Paced Course : Kaplan Financial Education


Kaplan

Kaplan

Why We Chose It: Kaplan Financial is a pillar in the online learning space and its CFP exam prep course is no exception. It’s the best self-paced course because it lets you study on your own time, anywhere thanks to its OnDemand option.

What We Like
  • Essential Review option is just $449

  • Includes Pass Protection in the Premium Review package

  • Study at your own pace

What We Don’t Like
  • Pass Protection not available under the Essential Review option

  • Overwhelming amount of material

  • No mock exam, webinars, or videos in Essential Review

Founded in 1970, Kaplan Financial Education is a division of Kaplan University and offers one of the most comprehensive CFP exam prep courses available. It’s the best self-paced course because you can pay as little as $449, and you can study any time, anywhere at your own pace with OnDemand review classes.

Each review class is led by an instructor from Kaplan and goes through key concepts in your study materials. There are 25 pre-recorded sessions in total which makes it easy to study faster than you might in a classroom.

Kaplan offers two CFP exam prep packages:

Essential Review ($449) Premium Review ($1,348)
Pre-study assessment All Essential Review features plus:
Seven review books Live or OnDemand review class
Activity Feed to monitor and adjust your pace Five OnDemand webinars
Email access to your instructor Learning Objective Videos
Performance tracker to show areas of strength and weakness Downloadable audio files
  Mock exam
  Activity Feed to monitor and adjust your pace
  Pass Protection

Kaplan’s Premium Review package includes Pass Protection, which means that if you don’t pass your exam on your first attempt, you’ll get a free Premium Review package within a one-year time frame. With either package, you can expect to spend 200 to 250 hours studying before you’re ready to take your CFP exam.

Best Value : Florida Atlantic University


Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University

Why We Chose It: Florida Atlantic University (FAU) offers a CFP exam prep course for free if you completed your CFP education requirements at the university. Otherwise, the course is just $850 plus the cost of your books, making it the best value option.

What We Like
  • Free if you completed your CFP at FAU

  • Live virtual format across six Saturday sessions

  • Includes an online mock exam

What We Don’t Like
  • You must purchase books through Kaplan

  • Can’t review books before you buy

Florida Atlantic University is a public research university based in Boca Raton, Florida, that offers a live online CFP exam prep course. It’s the best value CFP exam prep course because it’s completely free if you completed your CFP education requirements with FAU. Otherwise, it’s just $850 (plus the cost of books). Each instructor is a practicing CFP, so they can help you understand real-world applications of what you’re learning.  

In addition to paying $850 for the course, you must purchase your books through Kaplan, which will set you back $331. The book package on Kaplan’s website is called Essential Review Package but doesn’t detail specifically which books are in it, so you can’t necessarily try to get them cheaper elsewhere. 

While there are many different models of calculators you can use on your CFP exam, this course requires you to use a Hewlett-Packard HP-10-B II calculator. This is so instructors don’t have to spend time sorting out nuances of everyone’s calculator while teaching the different keystrokes you need to know. Additionally, it’s helpful to have spreadsheet knowledge before taking this course.

Final Verdict

Obtaining your Certified Financial Planner designation can help increase your authority and expertise working in the financial industry. While the process of earning your CFP can take years, it can give you a competitive edge in the workplace. A CFP exam prep course can increase the odds of you passing your exam thanks to live instruction, videos, test bank questions, and workbooks. 

We recommend Dalton Education for your CFP exam prep course because of its pass guarantee and how you can retake the course as many times as you need to pass the exam. Plus, it’s taught by former members of the CFP Board of Examiners.

Compare Providers

Course Name Why We Picked It Cost Length of Course
Dalton Education Best Overall $1,395 or $2,195 200 hours total
CFP Exam Prep With Brett Danko  Best Live Online Course  $995, $1795, or $1,995 32 classroom hours plus pre and post-study 
Zahn Associates  Best Live In-Person Course  $1,045 194 to 234 hours total 
Kaplan Financial Education  Best Self-Paced Course  $1,348 + optional add-ons or $449 200 to 250 hours total
Florida Atlantic University  Best Value $850* plus $331 for books 36 hours

*free to students who complete the CFP Board’s required courses at FAU

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the CFP Exam?

The CFP exam is the exam you must pass to earn your Certified Financial Planner designation. Exams take place in March, July, and November every year and include 170 multiple-choice questions designed to test your knowledge of financial planning in six hours. These exams are proctored at an exam site and are done on a computer.

Half-way through your exam, you get a 40-minute break for lunch. You may take breaks as needed to use the bathroom during the three-hour sections, but the clock does not stop while you’re out of the exam room.    

How Do CFP Exam Prep Courses Help You Pass?

A CFP exam prep course focuses on the material most likely to show up on your actual CFP exam. Most instructors or professors are also active CFPs, and some are even former members of CFP’s Board of Examiners. Your instructors will teach you the concepts you need to know and will usually give you a detailed breakdown of what to study and when. 

Exam prep courses usually include videos, test bank questions, mnemonics to help you memorize formulas, and preparation for what to expect when you take your test. There’s a CFP exam prep course for every learning style, including self-paced, virtual, or in-person.   

Is a CFP Exam Prep Course Worth It?

A CFP exam prep course is a lot like a bootcamp specifically designed to help you pass your CFP exam. According to those who’ve passed the CFP exam, the best way to prepare for your exam is to take a review course and practice test questions. Almost all prep courses include hundreds of test questions, and some even include thousands. If it’s in your budget, it’s worth taking a course. 

How Much Do CFP Exam Prep Courses Cost?

Some educational institutions, like Florida Atlantic University, include the cost of an exam prep course in their tuition. If you pay for a standalone CFP exam prep course, you can expect to pay around $1,000 and as much as twice that for extras like flashcards, webinars, or one-on-one tutoring. You may also qualify for scholarships or other financial aid resources to help you pay for your exam prep. 

How Many Hours Does It Take to Complete a CFP Exam Prep Course?

A CFP exam prep course typically involves pre-study, a classroom experience (whether live or virtual), and post-study. Combined, you can expect to spend around 200 hours studying. Keep in mind this is in addition to other CFP requirements, such as education requirements which can take 12 to 18 months. Some professionals may be able to skip the education requirement.

While you do not have to have a Bachelor’s degree to sit for the exam, some prep courses require it before you can take the course. Otherwise, you have five years to earn your Bachelor’s degree from the date you pass your exam. Other CFP exam requirements include 6,000 hours of professional financial planning experience or 4,000 hours as an apprentice. 

Methodology

We evaluated 17 different CFP exam prep courses and narrowed them down to the best five options based on various features and considerations, including location, costs, student support, and reputation. Reviews of customer service, quality of training, and exam success rates weighed heavily into our decision. 

All of our picks have a great reputation for helping students achieve their CFP designation the first time, and some even offer discounts on subsequent courses if students don’t pass their CFP exam.

Article Sources

  1. CFP Board. "CFP Exam Review Courses." Accessed March 24, 2021.

  2. CFP Board. "Accelerated Path: Get Certified Faster." Accessed March 24, 2021.

  3. CFP Board. "The Certification Process." Accessed March 24, 2021.