Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Exam 

The PFS exam is a comprehensive financial planning exam that covers all of the disciplines that make up personal financial planning.  Of particular importance are the professional responsibilities that CPA financial planners have as they practice financial planning.  Also, the exam reflects the importance of a holistic approach to financial planning as client needs are being discussed with the use of case studies from other CPAs and financial planners.

Register for In-person, Online, On-demand, and Self-study Exam Review Options

Exam Registration & Scheduling                                                   Register Here



Registration Deadlines

25% Early Bird Discount 

Summer 2016

July 1- August 15, 2016

June 24, 2016

June 1, 2016

Fall/Winter 2016

December 12 - January 27, 2017 

December 8, 2016 

November 15, 2016

For Summer 2016 exam first time registrants - Register for the PFS Exam Review Course or the complete PFP Boot Camp (on-line, archived, or email us for in-person details) and add the PFS exam to your shopping cart for free.
Registration and Scheduling Terms and Conditions - Please read prior to registering for the exam. This document contains vital information related to scheduling, re-scheduling, exam deferral, and much more.
PFS Exam Scheduling Process – This link access a document that goes over this process in more detail.  In summary, upon purchase of the exam, an email is sent confirming the purchase.  Six weeks before the beginning of your exam window, a “Notice to Schedule” email is sent with with a voucher code and a link to set up an account online and schedule the specific date and time at a Kryterion HOST (High-Stakes Online Secured Testing) facility.  
Test Center Locations - There are almost 300 locations in the United States and Canada. Find the closest one.
Kryterion Test Center Regulations - Be prepared.  Know what to expect.
List of Approved Calculators admitted into the exams to be  room:
Hewlett Packard 12C, 10B, 10B II+, 17B II+; Texas Instruments TI BAII Plus, TIBAII Plus Professional; Victor V12, Victor 10
Is there an option to opt-out of taking the PFS Exam?
If you have already successfully passed either the CFP® or the ChFC exams, then you have met the examination requirement for the PFS credential and simply need to meet the other requirements to apply for the CPA/PFS credential.

Exam Registrant Categories & Costs


First-time registrants have never registered or taken the PFS exam.

 Current PFP Section members      $300 ($225 early bird)
 Current AICPA members      $400 ($300 early bird)
 Non-AICPA members      $500 ($375 early bird)

Exam-retake registrants have previously taken the PFS exam and did not pass the exam. The re-take fee is $100. If an exam is not passed, it can be retaken during the following exam.

PFP Section Discounts - $125 off exam review course and $100 off exam fees.

PFS Exam Sponsorship Reimbursement Program - This program reimburses PFP Section members $200, $400 or $600 of costs depending on the type of exam review program used.

Bundle - 10% Discount - Candidates must simultaneously register for both the PFS Exam and the self-study CPA/PFS Exam Review Course by adding both items to their shopping cart to receive a 10% discount on both products.

Volume Discounts - A discount of $100 per exam is available when registering two or more candidates from the same firm for any PFS exam window. For further details and to submit request to obtain this discount, an email must be sent to

Exam Content Specification Outline & Exam Preparation

Exam Content Specification Outline (
The CSO has been developed through various sources to provide an outline of the knowledge that CPA personal financial service practitioners should possess. It is divided into eleven major topical areas that form the comprehensive body of knowledge that will be tested on the PFS Exam.

It is important to note that candidates will most likely be better-prepared for the exam if they use the education and exam review resources contained within the CSO and not just rely upon their individual experience.

Exam Preparation:
The key to passing the exam is a combination of education outlined in the body of knowledge referenced in the CSO and application of this knowledge in relevant work experience in personal financial planning. Accordingly, the amount and type of exam preparation will depend on a candidate’s prior knowledge and work experience in these areas.  For more details on specific exam review options, please go to

For experienced CPAs:  Our recommendation is to complete the self-study review course with an abridged review of all areas.  This will both refresh your knowledge in these areas and identify any areas that need more in-depth education. The PFP Boot Camp serves as your final review in a classroom setting (in-person or online) of all topics on the CSO for the exam.

For less experienced CPAs:  Our recommendation is to start with the in-depth education courses ( in those areas in which you clearly have not had prior experience.  Follow this up with the self-study PFS exam review course.  The PFP Boot Camp serves as your final review in a classroom setting (in-person or online) of all topics on the CSO for the exam.

Exam Format

Non-disclosed - The PFS exam is a non-disclosed examination. This means the questions and answers are not published nor are candidates permitted to remove any examination materials from the testing site. Each examination is carefully graded by our team of psychometricians to ensure that the questions are statistically valid.

Computer-based - The PFS exam is a computer-based examination that lasts a total of 5 hours, including a 30-minute break. Please note that there is not a particular point in the exam where this break is required but candidates are allowed to take up to 30 minutes for a break at one point or during multiple points of the exam.

Multiple-choice - The PFS examination contains 160 multiple-choice questions in two general formats: approximately 50% discrete stand-alone multiple-choice questions and 50% case studies with accompanying multiple-choice questions. A multiple-choice question consists of a stem that includes factual or scenario data and provides four or five options.

Case studies - The case studies will vary in length and include short scenarios followed by 2-5 multiple choice questions and two larger comprehensive cases with 12-18 related multiple-choice questions. The fact pattern of each case study will contain sufficient information to enable the candidate to answer the question. This part of the examination is designed to test the candidate’s analytical reasoning skills and ability to apply financial planning theory and methodology in a comprehensive manner.

Reference material - Candidate will have access to a reference sheet of the appropriate tax rates and limits during the exam.

Mock exam session video - view a short tutorial.  Your PFS exam experience will be similar.  If you have questions, please contact the PFP Division at

Note:  The questions and exhibits utilized in this mock exam session are merely for demonstrative purposes only and do not reflect actual exam content.

PFS Exam Item Development

Interested in serving as an exam writer that contributes to question development?  Learn more about the responsibilities of being an exam writer as well as the style guidelines exam writers must adhere to when developing exam questions.  If you are interested and have additional questions, please feel free to contact the PFP Division at  

For more information review the PFS Frequently Asked Questions, visit the CPA/PFS Credential Overview page, email the PFP Division at or call the Member Service Center at 888-777-7077 (M-F, 9am-6pm ET).


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