About the exam
The CFRE examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions.
Of these, 175 questions count toward your score. The other 25 questions are being tested to ensure they are psychometrically sound and do not count toward your score.
The exam is divided into Section 1, which has 100 questions, and Section 2, which also has 100 questions.
The two sections are separated by an optional 10-minute break. Please note that once you complete Section 1 and review your answers, your 10-minute break begins. You will not be able to return to Section 1 after the break. If you opt out of the break, you will still not be permitted to return to Section 1 once you begin Section 2.
If you take a break for longer than 10 minutes, the additional time is deducted from your time to complete Section 2.
How should you review for the CFRE Exam?
Once your application is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your exam.
There is not a single “best way” to prepare for the CFRE exam. We offer the steps below only as a helpful guide and not as a prescriptive list.
- Review the Test Content Outline against what your own professional experience has been. Identify areas where you have had less professional experience and where you are uncertain you know best practices.
- Once you have identified areas for review, you have many options. You can:
- Attend a continuing education program on these topics.
- Select and read a publication from the Resource Reading List that addresses the areas you have identified.
- Form a study group with other colleagues who are planning to take the examination. You can benefit from the diverse experience of others and provide an alternate perspective.
- Review materials independently, determining for yourself on which content areas to focus.
- Participate in more structured review environments, perhaps with individuals who have already become Certified Fund Raising Executives.
It is important to develop your own plan for studying. Set aside time each week for several weeks prior to the exam to devote to preparation.
Some candidates may choose to review the basic texts and try to absorb as much factual information as possible. If you find this type of studying effective, you might want to create index cards in the form of questions and answers or with key topics. Test yourself or work with a friend or colleague who can quiz you until you know the answers to all of the cards.
With these types of questions, you will need to begin by recalling factual information but you will then need to do something more. As a result, your study efforts should include some time spent on applying factual knowledge and reviewing how these facts assist you in performing your duties day to day.
Don’t study at the last minute. A late-hour “cram session” the night before the exam may make you anxious and tired the next morning and hinder your ability to focus on the exam.
Most candidates study 40 – 80 hours, although you may need to study more depending upon your professional experience and familiarity with items in the Test Content Outline.
Use the Test Content Outline to see the information that may be covered on the examination.
The publications on the Reading Resource List are all widely available and provide information on current, commonly accepted fundraising practices. These references have been identified as good resources for best practices in ethical fundraising. It is not intended that each candidate read every publication on the Resource Reading List.
The books listed are also those that were frequently used by item writers and reviewers during item development for this examination. However, reading any or all of the publications on this list, cover to cover, does not guarantee you will do well on the examination.
Additionally, there is no single reference, or small group of references, that are associated with most of the questions on any given exam form. The best advice is to review a basic, widely used reference. You may then wish to seek additional information not covered in that publication.