• Paul D. Allen CFP®

"I'm Not a Very Good Test Taker"

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

Have you ever heard someone say something like "I'm not very good at taking tests" or "I'm not very good at math"? I think we all have. Expressions like this are not the least bit uncommon. Perhaps you've even said them yourself. If you have, and you're thinking about taking the CFP exam, this could be a problem. Not because it's true, but because you believe it is true!

Thoughts like that are known as limiting beliefs, and they can be a real hindrance if a high-stakes test like the CFP exam is standing between you and your career goals. The good news is that limiting beliefs can be overcome. What follows is a 4-step process you can use to help you get past your limiting beliefs and on the road to exam success.

1. Write down your limiting belief. Write it in it's most limiting and fear-inducing form. Don't type it, write it with a pen or pencil on paper. "I am not good at taking tests." "I am not good at math." "I'm not as smart as other people." Whatever it is, get it down on paper in your own script. Own that belief.

2. Recognize that it is a belief. With pen and paper change your statement to acknowledge that it is a belief. "I believe I am not good at taking tests". I believe I am not good at math." Then acknowledge that just because you believe this thing does not make it true. You are not stating a fact, you are stating a belief. Your belief might not be true! Acknowledging this can be difficult, especially for things we've believed for a long time. Approach it with an open mind. Be willing to believe that it might not be true.

3. Adjust your belief, just a little. Anyone who has believed since childhood that they are a poor test taker is not going to suddenly believe they are a fantastic test taker. Even if you repeat it to yourself a thousand times, your brain will not believe it. But a smaller incremental step can be highly believable. Something like, "I can become a better test taker." This seems quite likely, even to the most skeptical minds. Surely if you are bad at something you can get better at it. This is terrific news because you don't need to be a fantastic test taker to pass the CFP exam. You just need to be a good enough test taker. Whatever your incremental step is, write it down. This is your new belief.

4. Behave as though your new belief is true. This involves taking actions in accordance with your new belief. If it is "I can become a better test taker", what are some things you will need to do to become a better test taker? One of the obvious actions here is practice. If you want to become a better runner, you practice running. If you want to become a better piano player, you practice playing the piano. If you want to become a better test taker, you will need to practice taking tests. Write down what you will do to place your new belief from step 3 into practice. Then do it!

The CFP exam is difficult by design. Having limiting beliefs about your ability to pass it will make it even more difficult. Your first steps to exam success might be in getting your mind in the right place to accept the challenge. Each of us must overcome our own limiting beliefs, but none of us has to do it alone. Working together we can achieve more.

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