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Time management for multiple-choice questions

Posted by David Gobeil on

The Guide to Examinations for CFP Certification says:

“The CFP Examination is a competency-based examination of up to six hours in duration. Approximately three quarters of the examination will consist of constructed-response questions and one quarter of multiple-choice questions.

“For the multiple-choice items, candidates must select the most appropriate or best answer from the options provided for the scenario presented in the question. There is only one correct answer for each multiple-choice question and marks are not deducted for incorrect responses.”

The CFP Examination is six hours in duration. Although the FPSC can change it: there have been 26 multiple-choice questions: 13 on each paper.

For the last dozen years, candidates for the FPE1 have had 2 minutes to answer a technical multiple-choice question. There is no reason to think that this has changed with the CFP Examination. It is hard to understand how 26 multiple-choice questions, which would require maybe 52 minutes under the old regime, could comprise one quarter of a six-hour exam.

In 1.5 hours, you would expect to have 45 multiple-choice questions, calculated as (90 minutes ÷ 2 minutes per question), not 26 questions.  

However, let’s go with the flow. Candidates found that they needed all of the remaining time for the constructed-response questions.


We think that it is safe to assume that you should be able to complete 13 multiple-choice questions in 26 minutes of time, calculated as (13 questions × 2 minutes per question).

Assuming there are 13 multiple-choice questions on each paper, at the start of the CFP Examination, write on your exam paper the times at which you should have completed complete the 13 questions. 

Suppose that you started on the multiple-choice questions at 9:00 a.m. At the end of question 13, write 9:26 am in large red letters. At 9:26 am, you should have completed the 13 multiple-choice questions.

If there are more than, or less than, 13 multiple-choice questions on one of the papers, adjust your time based upon 2 minutes per question. If all of the questions are on one paper, note the time at which you should have completed each block of 10 or so questions.

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