The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is planning to move to computer-based testing for its CFP Certification Examination, starting in November.

The final paper-based exams will be administered March 21-22 and July 18-19.

"This move to computer-based testing provides test-takers increased opportunities to take the exam while retaining the rigor of the CFP Certification Examination," said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller in a statement. "Those taking the CFP Certification Examination will find a greatly improved experience that tests their knowledge of financial planning and helps prepare them to be ethical and competent Certified Financial Planner professionals."

The exam is just one of several criteria  that need to be met in order to become CFP professionals, the board noted. In addition to passing the exam, candidates also must meet CFP Board experience requirements, pass a background check, have a bachelor's degree (or higher) and successfully complete a college-level program of study in personal financial planning. 

One of the main benefits to computer-based testing is that exam-takers will immediately have access to preliminary, albeit unofficial, results of their exam. The official results will be available within one to two weeks, as opposed to the current five weeks.

The computerized exam will take place in a single day, as opposed to the current testing period of 10 hours over a day and a half time period. With CBT, the exam will be administered in one day with six hours of testing time.

There will also be an expanded number of testing dates with computer-based testing. Currently there are three time windows in March, July, November for taking the exam. With CBT, there will still be three time windows, but there will be five testing days to choose from within those windows, for a total of 15 possible testing days.

The CBT Board also plans to increase the number of testing sites. There are currently 50 paper-based sites. With CBT, there will be more than 250 testing sites across the U.S. where test-takers can go to sit for the exam. Sites will be located within 25 miles of nearly 90 percent of CFP certification candidates. The board said the sites would be quiet, comfortable, secure and accessible, offering exam-takers a consistent testing experience no matter which site they choose.

Exam-takers will be able to schedule their exams online, so they will have more flexibility in choosing their test date and testing site within the five-day window the exam will be offered.
The computerized exam will maintain the same content detailed in CFP Board's exam blueprint, representing the required knowledge and abilities to deliver financial planning services to clients.

In making the transition to CBT, the CFP Board is joining many other certifying bodies that administer exams through computer based testing, including the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the American Board of Surgery and the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

As with the CPA Exam, Prometric is serving as CFP Board's partner in administering the CFP Certification Examination.

For more information about the transition to computerized testing, click here on CFP.net.