Business Career College

Back in August and September, I sent out a couple of Survey Monkey survey results. These surveys were designed to help refine the FPE 2 (now CFP) Exam Prep process.

I sent two separate surveys, one to those who had failed FPE 2, and a slightly different survey to those who had passed. I sent it to BCC students who wrote the exam in the previous 12 months.

I received 10 responses (out of a possible 19) from those who had failed, and 23 responses (out of a possible 32) from those who passed. My first concern out of this is that the students who had the most to gain (those who have failed) also responded at the lowest rate. Both surveys had an identical number of questions and required a similar time commitment to complete. For the 9 people who had failed the exam, and did not complete the survey designed to help them improve their results, I am left to wonder.

I would like to thank everybody who participated.

Some key results from the surveys:

-most failing students identified a large time commitment towards studying. 3 respondents committed over 300 hours, and 3 more committed between 100 and 200 hours. Only one person committed fewer than 50 hours. Of the passing students, most (30%) put in 51-100 hours, with a pretty even distribution across the other possible answers. (0-50; 51-100; 101-200; 201-300; 301+)

-the primary resources used by the failing group were the two free FPSC practice cases, the BCC practice exams, the core curriculum texts, and supplemental readings. Study resources used among this group were pretty evenly distributed. For the passing students, they reported a higher degree of use of the FPSC practice exam, a higher degree of use of the BCC practice exams, and a lower degree of use of supplemental readings. I will be revising my practice exams in response to this question. FPSC and I agree that good practice exams are the best way to study. 

-half of the unsuccessful respondents identified that they had crammed in the 1-2 weeks prior to the exam. I try to discourage this method of study, as I find it harmful and stress-inducing. For some reason, only 6 of the survey respondents answered the question about when they studied. On the passing side, results were pretty evenly split. Half of students did regular study based on the 90-day schedule. Slightly less than half left all their studying until the last couple of weeks. 

-the next question asked about why candidates felt they were unsuccessful. Half identified that they ran out of time. 3 of those ran out of time due to reading, and 2 indicated that writing was their challenge. Two didn't know how to answer the questions, and two were surprised at exam content. One had mitigating (non-exam) circumstances. This is probably the most useful question for my purposes. Running out of time is a common problem with this exam. 

-I posed a different question to those who did pass. My question here was "Which do you think describes the primary reason why you passed". Almost half owed it to knowing what to expect, which is probably linked to doing lots of practice questions. 

-I then asked students if they would pass the exam if they wrote again tomorrow. Respondents from the failing group were evenly split on that answer. More than 90% of respondents from the passing group answered in the affirmative. 

-The next question asked which Capstone students had completed. 4 of the unsuccessful students did ours; 6 did the Advocis course. I have a belief that a positive experience on the Capstone course leads to success on this exam, but I wanted to ask some questions to either reinforce or dispel that belief. On the passing side, almost 40% had done ours, with an even distribution (around 10%) of other available options, except that 30% had used the Advocis course. 

-The final question posed was about the quality and value of the Capstone course. Half of the unsuccessful group of respondents identified that the Capstone course was of value for both their practices and for exam prep. The passing group actually answered this question very similarly.

I hope that nobody is bothered by my language in this post. It's hard to use words like 'failing' and 'unsuccessful' without sounding negative.

I am not surprised, but no 'magic bullet' revealed itself here. This exam is supposed to be challenging, and it should not be something that you can guarantee a pass on by doing steps A, B, then C. It is a very personal experience, and what works for one person may not work for another. 

For those who are done with the exams, thank you for participating. For those who are still working on them, I hope that this is helpful.



Written by Jason Watt — October 22, 2014