CTP Exam Tips: Studying for the Test

Nov 20, 2015

By Greg Lattanzi, CTP

So you’ve committed to taking the CTP exam, created a learning plan on how to get through the chapters of the AFP Treasury Learning System, and told your friends, family and coworkers about a new opportunity you’ve undertaken. Now what?

After reading all the chapters, I woke up on Saturday morning and went to the local library to take the pre-exam. For me, getting out of my house was important because it helped me eliminate distractions and simulate the testing environment I’d take the exam in. I was feeling confident that I had a generally good grasp on treasury in general; I had been a treasury intern in college who was brought back after graduation as a treasury analyst with a company that had a global presence and a treasury department that prided itself on being up-to-speed. After the preliminary exam, I instantly realized I had a lot of ground to cover—I had scored a 56 percent. I had approximately four months to increase my score to pass the exam. I knew that I needed to lay out a new plan of action.

I decided to reread the chapters again, except this time I highlighted key information. This information would then be transferred to a chapter outline I was creating to keep with me at all times. This enabled me to pull out the outline and review what I had previously determined to be key information at a moment’s notice. For instance, when you get delayed on the train ride home, pull out the chapter outline. Have a few minutes in between meetings at work? Pull out the chapter outline. These minutes of studying add up over the long run and help reinforce what the important information.

On my lunch breaks, I would take a book with me to study. I used this time to focus on topics I thought I was weak on. For me, this was Module 2 and Module 5. Take your time and actually read each sentence. I thought I had a relatively good understanding of these topics, but the test showed I was obviously weak in these areas and needed the extra focus.

My Saturday mornings in the months leading up to the exam were spent in the library taking practice exams. I would either take two module exams or a full practice exam depending on the Saturday. The practice exam was key to helping me understand where my weaknesses were. Yes, a 170 question practice exam on a Saturday morning may not sound exciting but the feedback provided was invaluable. I would review the practice exam and copy down the chapter numbers for questions I had missed. Then I determined my total questions missed per chapter and got a clear understanding of which chapters I needed to focus on during the upcoming week at lunch and after work.

So what can you take away from what I’ve shared regarding the actual studying for the CTP exam?

  1. When studying, you need to eliminate distractions and try to simulate the testing environment as best as possible. For me that meant getting out of my apartment and going to the library or a back booth at a local deli or coffee shop.
  2. Next, highlight and then collate key information into a central location.
  3. Finally, don’t be afraid of your weak spots. The practice exams are there to help you determine what needs the most attention and paying attention to my weaknesses was critical in passing the exam.

So now that you know how to study for the exam, the next step is, of course, the most intimidating one—actually taking it. In our final installment, I’ll provide some tips for taking the exam itself.


Greg Lattanzi, CTP, is a treasury manager.

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