A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional designation for the financial planning profession. Financial planners can earn the CFP designation after completing the CFP Board's education, exam, experience, and ethics requirements.
One of the more challenging steps in the process, the CFP exam, is a pass-or-fail test. You may register for the CFP exam after meeting the CFP Board's education requirement. Once you pass the exam, you will be one step closer to becoming a CFP professional, one of the most elite financial planning designations.
To create our list of the best CFP exam prep courses, we compared each program's features, including reputation, cost, guarantees, course materials, in-person classes, special features, and more. These are the best CFP exam prep courses for the aspiring CFP professional.
The Best CFP Exam Prep Courses
Best Overall: Dalton Education
Dalton Education earned our top spot with the industry’s most comprehensive CFP exam prep program. While the prep courses are among the most expensive, you will have the most flexibility, in-depth course materials, videos, and test bank questions. The Dalton Review Guarantee to Pass offers a money-back guarantee under certain conditions, or you may retake the program through the next exam cycle for free.
Flexible live review options
Money-back guarantee under certain conditions
2,000 test bank questions
Less affordable than competitors
Pre-study program may take longer
Robust materials can feel overwhelming
Dalton Education won the best overall because of the company’s in-depth CFP exam prep, flexibility, and a strong money-back guarantee. Founded in 2005, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based company boasts 20% to 25% higher pass rates than the national average. The company provides CFP Board education courses, along with two CFP exam prep courses: Dalton Review and Dalton Review Guarantee to Pass.
The Dalton Review Guarantee to Pass costs $2,095. The prep course includes a virtual pre-study program, in-person or virtual live review classes, and live review recordings. You also get office hours, one-on-one coaching calls, digital flashcards, free retakes, and a money-back guarantee if you score 70% or better on the exam readiness quizzes but don’t pass the actual exam.
The Dalton Review is a similar course for $1,295 with fewer materials, no coaching calls, and no pass guarantee. Those looking to sample the program may access a Guarantee to Pass Demo. The company also offers financial assistance to underrepresented groups in financial planning through the Women’s Initiative and Diversity Initiative.
Both CFP exam prep options offer books, videos, live virtual classes, live office hours, live or in-person four-day live review, recordings of all lessons, and a 2,000-question test bank. You can email Dalton anytime with questions and attend an office hour for more in-depth answers.
Best for Live Instruction: Zahn Associates
Zahn Associates made the list because of its reputation, engaging in-person classes, and over a dozen live review location options nationwide. After completing the virtual pre-study, in-person live review instructors distill what you need to know with proven test-taking tips and tricks.
Unique test-taking tips
Discounts for repeat test-takers
Sub-optimal online dashboard
Less in-depth pre-study materials
No recording of live review
Zahn Associates, one of the best-known names for CFP exam prep, scored high for live instruction for its reputation, in-person experience, and multiple live review locations. With a home base in Tampa, Florida, Zahn Associates has helped over 10,000 students pass the CFP exam. Zahn Associates says their CFP exam pass rates are 10% above the national average.
The Zahn Associates Live Review costs $1,045 and includes a virtual pre-study, in-person live review, and virtual post-study. Each exam cycle has over a dozen in-person live review locations, and there are currently a couple of virtual options. You can pay an extra $50 to $275 for flashcards, more test bank questions, and case studies.
You may hire one of Zahn Associates’ instructors for tutoring if you’re struggling, and if you have to retake the exam, you can use the Zahn Associates Live Review again at a discount. While there aren’t currently any demos or discounts, some students may qualify for a Zahn Associates diversity and inclusion scholarship through 2050 TrailBlazers.
The program materials include books, videos, exam roadmaps, a four-day in-person live review, and a 1,800-question test bank. You can email or call Zahn Associates with questions during business hours.
Best Guarantee: Kaplan Financial/College for Financial Planning
Kaplan Financial/College for Financial Planning earned a slot because of the company's CFP exam guarantee. If you enroll in the Premium Review package and fail the exam, you will have free access to the program for one year. While it's less generous than Dalton's guarantee, the program is significantly cheaper, and there are no minimum quiz scores to qualify for the guarantee.
Exam guarantee for Premium Review
On-demand, virtual, or on-site live review options
Essential Review option for $449
Premium Review is more expensive than some competitors
Exam guarantee limited to one year
No webinars, videos, or mock exam with Essential Review
Kaplan Financial Education made our list because of the company’s standout guarantee. The company has been around since 1970, offering continuing education, licensing, and test preparation for various fields. The La Crosse, Wisconsin-based company acquired The College for Financial Planning in 2018, and together, the companies offer CFP education and CFP exam prep courses.
Kaplan offers two CFP exam prep courses: the Premium Review for $1,348 and Essential Review for $449. The Premium Review includes PassProtection, which allows you to retake the program for up to a year if you fail the exam. The Premium Review also includes live classes, webinars, videos, CFP exam podcasts, and a mock exam. However, the Essentials Review is a basic self-study option without any of these features.
For those feeling unsure, Kaplan offers a free five-day trial. They also offer a free e-book to kickstart your study plan. Depending on when you sign up, you may qualify for a small discount promotion. Like some competitors, Kaplan offers a Diversity Scholarship to help remove the financial barriers for underrepresented groups in financial planning.
Both test prep courses include review books, a pre-study assessment, and access to Kaplan’s test bank. You may email instructors with questions anytime through Kaplan’s software.
Best for Virtual/In-Person Learning: Brett Danko
While some competitors offer a top-notch in-person experience, Brett Danko's Signature Plan also provides an excellent pre-study and post-study program for those who need extra guidance. You get 3,000 sample questions, 16 hours of online group sessions, interactive Q&A with Brett, recordings, and one virtual retake.
3,000-question test bank
Pass guarantee for Signature Plan
Limited cities for in-person live review
Signature Live Review is more costly than others
Retake limited to one virtual course
Brett Danko earns our top spot for in-person learning because of the program's strong reputation for an effective virtual and in-person experience. Brett Danko is another top name in CFP exam prep courses and he also teaches CFP Board-approved courses and continuing education.
Brett Danko's Signature Live Review costs $1,895, and the Comprehensive Live Review is $1,095. Both options include pre-study materials with 3,000 questions, a four-day in-person live review, and live review recordings. The Signature Live Review also provides 16 hours of online classes with Brett, two calculator sessions, six extra exams and case studies, flashcards, another Q&A session with Brett, recordings, and one virtual class retake.
One downside of Brett Danko’s program is there are only four options for in-person classes, and they are all clustered in the northeast. But fortunately, Brett Danko also teaches two virtual live review courses through the Boston Institute of Finance. The virtual Basic Prep is $895, and the virtual Signature Exam Prep is $1,695.
You may contact Brett Danko’s support team via email or by phone with questions.
Best for Affordable Pricing: Wiley Efficient Learning
Wiley Efficient Learning earned a place on the list because it's one of the most affordable CFP exam prep courses. While the program isn't as popular as competitors, you can enroll in the CFP Self-Study Course for as low as $395, and you will have access to the materials until you pass the exam.
Three affordable pricing tiers
Pass guarantee for all three courses
Live virtual classes or on-demand
Less popular than competitors
No option for in-person classes
Smaller test bank than competitors
Wiley Efficient Learning wins the most affordable category because its pricing beats the competition while still having a reputation for success. With over 200 years of education experience, the Sedona, Arizona-based company offers exam prep courses for accounting and finance professionals.
Wiley offers three tiers of pricing for CFP exam prep courses: $695 for the CFP Certification Gold Course, $545 for the CFP Silver Course, and $395 for the CFP Self-Study Course. You can also buy the 1,000-question test bank and study guide separately. The company may also offer a promotional discount, depending on when you sign up.
Wiley offers a generous 14-day free trial of their CFP exam prep courses and a free e-book with expert tips on how to pass. All three courses include a pass guarantee, study guide, 1,400 online flashcards, two mock exams, a mobile app, and 1,000 test bank questions. The Silver Course also has 15 hours of video lectures, and the Gold Course has 15 hours of videos and seven weeks of live online or on-demand classes. Wiley offers customer support to prospective and current students by phone, live chat, or email 24/7.
Best for Studying Anywhere: CFP Pocket Prep
While CFP Pocket Prep isn’t a standalone CFP exam prep course, it has a good reputation as a supplemental study tool. The app offers 700 CFP exam questions for practicing on-the-go on your phone or tablet to earn the top nod in this category. You can also track your daily progress and set up reminders.
Practice CFP exam questions anywhere
Premium offers 700 questions
Pass guarantee with Premium
$29.99 per month for Premium Membership
Free version limited to 45 questions
Incorrect answer complaints in App Store
CFP Pocket Prep stands out as the top for studying anywhere with a mobile app for practicing CFP exam questions on-the-go. Founded in 2011, the Seattle, Washington-based company offers test prep for various professional exams for finance, medical fields, behavioral health, and more. CFP Pocket Prep has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store based on 411 ratings.
CFP Pocket Prep offers a limited free version with 45 questions and answers, the ability to track your performance by subject, and limited study modes. You can set up study reminders with a countdown until your exam date. The Premium Prep costs $29.99 per month, $71.99 per quarter, or $179.99 per year. This version offers 700 questions and answers, advanced study modules, with the option to focus on your weak areas. You may also build custom quizzes to work on your problem areas.
If you have Premium Prep for three months, complete all 700 questions, maintain an 80% average on practice exams, and still fail the exam, you can use Pocket Prep for free for three more months. You may contact the Pocket Prep support team via message and the typical response time is one day.
The CFP exam is a considerable time and financial commitment for any student. But picking the right CFP exam prep course may reduce your chances of sitting for the exam more than once. While Dalton Education offers the most comprehensive CFP exam prep course, Zahn Associates is a great choice for those who love in-person learning and need tips and tricks. These are the best options to consider for various learning styles.
|Company||Why We Picked It||Pricing|
|Dalton Education||Best Overall||$1,295 or $2,095+|
|Zahn Associates||Best for Live Instruction||$1,045+|
|Kaplan Financial/College for Financial Planning||Best Guarantee||$449 or $1,348|
|Brett Danko||Best for Virtual/In-Person Learning||$1,095 or $1,895|
|Wiley Efficient Learning||Best for Affordable Pricing||$395, $545, or $695+|
|CFP Pocket Prep||Best for Studying Anywhere||Free to $179.99 per year|
What Is the CFP Exam?
The CFP exam is a professional exam for financial advisors. The six-hour, 170-question, pass-or-fail test measures your knowledge of comprehensive financial planning. Along with general financial planning principles, the CFP exam includes:
- Professional conduct and regulations
- Income Tax
- Estate planning
The CFP Board offers the exam in March, July, and November of every year. The pass rate was 62% in 2019, with a 66% pass rate for those taking the exam for the first time.
Who Should Take the CFP Exam?
If you are a financial advisor looking to build credibility, you may consider pursuing the CFP designation. Before you can add the letters after your name, though, you will have to pass the CFP exam. You will also have to complete CFP Board-approved courses, 4,000 to 6,000 experience hours, and ethics requirements. You can earn the designation by working full time under another CFP professional (4,000 hours) or three years on your own (6,000 hours). To meet the ethics requirement, you’ll have to pass a background check and commit to being a fiduciary, which means acting in your clients’ best interest.
What Does a CFP Exam Prep Course Cost?
While it's possible to pass the CFP exam on your own, most students rely on a CFP exam prep course to narrow their studying down to the most tested material. The cost for CFP test prep courses may range from $395 to $2,095, with extra fees for add-on study aids, like flashcards, audio lessons, and more. If you go to a CFP exam prep live review in person, you will also have to pay for travel costs, including your flight, hotel rooms, and meals.
How We Chose the Best CFP Exam Prep Courses
Becoming a CFP professional isn't easy, and for many people, the CFP exam is the biggest hurdle. To pass the CFP exam on the first try, most students will need a CFP prep course. With several options to choose from, it can be tough to know where to invest your money. To narrow it down and craft our list, we looked at each program's history, reputation, pricing, guarantees, program structure, in-person experience, and other features.