21, 2011 This
past weekend I took the 2 day long
CFP board exam at the University of
Pittsburgh. All of my coaches and the instructors at Duquesne University
were not kidding when they said it would be difficult. Of course, all of
us will be curious to see our test results, but there is an 8 week
waiting period. However, the
CFP board did email all of us an update on
how the test will be scored. Here is an excerpt from the email they sent
Examination is a pass or fail exam. The primary goal of a
certification exam is to separate those who have met the certification
standard (passing) from those who have not (failing).
CFP certification exams
are generally constructed to provide the best precision at the passing
point. They are not designed to rank order among exam takers.
Rank-ordering scores in a fashion that would suggest the degree to which
an exam taker failed (or passed) would be an inappropriate use of exam
The method used to score your
exam (called a modified Angoff method) is in
accordance with voluntary certification examination standards.
Establishing the pass score is based upon a “criterion-referenced” rather
than “norm-referenced” methodology. The norm-referenced methodology, which
is common in the academic arena, uses a bell curve to establish the
“average” score needed to pass the exam. Whether you pass or fail a
norm-referenced exam depends on your relative standing in comparison to
the other exam takers.
In contrast, the criterion-referenced methodology, which is used to score
CFP(R) Certification Examination, does not rely on a bell curve. Your
performance will not be ranked in comparison to others taking the exam.
Instead, your performance is scored against an established level of
competency. Also, although every effort is made to calibrate exam
difficulty in advance, there will always be slight differences in the
overall ease or difficulty of one
exam administration as compared with
another. So, before the minimum passing score is set for this exam
administration, it will be statistically equated with past exams. This
means that you will not be advantaged if this exam is easier than past
exams, nor will you be disadvantaged if it is more difficult.
Exam results will be reported as Pass or Fail. Scores, percentages or
grades are not provided. All examinees, however, are provided with a
Diagnostic Summary Report. This report will include a graph displaying
your performance across the seven major content in comparison to the
average performance of those examinees who passed (the Pass Group).
Additionally, the Diagnostic Summary Report will identify any major
content areas in which your performance was deficient. If you fail the
CFP exam, and you are going to retake it, you are encouraged to focus your
studies on the topics included in the major content areas marked as
deficient. Deficient content areas provide opportunities for future score