CFPs are debating whether the CFP Board’s recent news that it would be transitioning to computer-based exams and reducing their length and duration is the Board’s way of growing the number of CFP certificants.
Advisor, blogger, Twitterphile and ThinkAdvisor contributor Michael Kitces raised this question in a recent Nerd’s Eye View blog, asking bluntly why the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards would chop the length of the exam by 40%, from 285 exam questions to only 170, and reduce the exam from a 10-hour, day-and-a-half exam into a 6-hour, single-day exam “if the goal wasn’t to at least create the perception that the exam will be easier and therefore more appealing to take.”
The CFP Board noted in announcing that it was going to computer-based exams that the shortened exams would be “equally rigorous” to the longer paper ones, and that they would “maintain the same content detailed in CFP Board’s exam blueprint, representing the requisite knowledge and abilities to deliver financial planning services to clients.”
Michele Warholic, managing director for examinations, education and talent at CFP Board, told ThinkAdvisor that the Board is “not lowering our standards” by changing the length and duration of the exam.
“If someone wouldn’t be able to pass a 10-hour exam then they won’t be able to pass a 6-hour exam,” Warholic said. “The exam isn’t any easier or more difficult. It covers the same content and those who take the computer-based exam — and pass — will be just as qualified as someone who took the paper exam.”
Thanks to technology, Warholic continued, “the world of testing has changed dramatically over the last decade,” and “computers help create efficiencies in testing.”
She explained that the CFP Board’s process in determining the number of questions on an exam “is not arbitrary.” Scoring of the CFP certification exam, she said, “is based upon a variety of science-based approaches used across the professional testing industry — not just a focus on the number of questions or length of an exam.”
The Board is “confident that those who pass the CFP certification examination will be well-qualified, competent CFP professionals once they become certified, meeting the same high standards we have always had,” Warholic added.