About the Exam

The CFRE Exam assesses your knowledge of ethical, best-practice fundraising. It is:

  • A computer-based exam
  • 200 multiple-choice questions
  • Four answer options per question

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.

You will have four hours to sit for the exam.

Scores are reported as a scaled score between 200 and 800. A candidate must achieve a score of at least 500 to be certified.

CFRE International continuously reviews and revises the CFRE Exam. New forms of the exam are released regularly to ensure content reflects current best practices in fundraising and to assure exam integrity.

Taking the Exam

You have two options for taking the exam:

The exam is divided into Section 1, which has 100 questions, and Section 2, which also has 100 questions.

The sections are separated by an optional 10-minute break. Once you complete Section 1 and review your answers, your 10-minute break begins.

For exam security reasons, 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.

The Exam Knowledge Domains

The exam covers six Knowledge Domains.

View the Test Content Outline to learn more about the tasks and key knowledge areas covered in each domain.

DomainPercentage of Exam
Current and Prospective Donor Research15%
Securing the Gift22%
Relationship Building29%
Volunteer Involvement6%
Leadership and Management18%
Ethics, Accountability, and Professionalism10%

How to Prepare

Candidates should plan to study at least 40 – 80 hours.

View the CFRE Exam Study Plan Template for how to create and follow your own study plan.

Preparation Tips

  1. Review the Test Content Outline, which contains the topics you need to be familiar with to be successful on the exam. Review all topics covered to ensure you are best prepared while prioritizing areas where you haven’t worked directly and/or don’t feel confident you can answer an exam question.
  2. Once you have identified areas for additional review, choose how you will prepare. You can:
  • Attend a continuing education program on these topics.
  • Assess your exam readiness and fundraising knowledge with the CFRE Practice Exam.
  • Refresh your test-taking skills with the  CFRE Exam Compass Study Guide.
  • Read a publication from the Resource Reading List.
  • Form a study group with others planning to test.
  • Review materials independently, determining for yourself the content areas where you will focus.
  • Make flash cards. The best ones break down complex information and/or cover information you are learning for the first time.
  • Don’t rely on highlighting passages. Research shows you retain information better when you take written notes.
  • Participate in more structured review environments, perhaps with individuals who have already become CFREs.
  • Thoroughly read the Candidate Handbook.

Note: Reviewing these preparation tools and/or purchase of the preparation materials is not required to become eligible to sit for the CFRE Exam and does not guarantee a passing score.

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