How to study during your UFE study period

CA Students love to study technical. I don’t know why, but it seems that when a bad case is written, or in almost every other situation surrounding the UFE, everyone just wants to hide away somewhere and study technical. My best guess as to why is that either people feel lazy or just perpetually weak in technical. I say lazy because it’s easier to sit around and read technical rather than do the hard work of writing another case and debriefing it properly. You can convince yourself that your are still studying and being productive this way, which you are, but it’s not optimal.

This is a mistake and the level of technical required for the UFE is exaggerated and for the more technical subjects you have the Handbook available to use. Except for taxation, I did not study anymore technical after the CKE except for the simulations and the occasional reference lookup. If you still insist on having something, I recommend (it’s the only one I used so this is not an opinion about the other material out there) Densmore’s Competency Map Study Notes which cover the material in appropriate detail for the UFE.

What You Should be Doing

  1. Write simulations! Lots of them. The UFE puts you in business simulations (with a heavy tilt to accounting) and it is largely a writing exam. The best way to get good at this and reach competence on the UFE is to practice lots of exams and debrief them. This is hard work and there is no avoiding it. 
  2. For highly technical issues, you should be aware of what triggers these issues in the simulation, roughly where you can find the issue in the Handbook and then use The Handbook to find the criteria. Finding the triggers is often the toughest part and the only way to develop this is through writing and debriefing lots of cases.
  3. The solutions to the UFE Simulations contain all the technical you need to know so don’t spend a lot of time going even more in depth after debriefing. These are the solutions already! They don’t need anymore from you in order to reach competency.
  4. Many important things on the UFE to reach competence such as writing procedures, ranking issues and identifying PQ indicators come with practice and cannot be studied. Don’t overlook these, so I’ll repeat one last time, write lots of simulations!

When it’s okay to study technical

  1. For taxation related issues. Taxation is extremely rule based and the tax act is hard to navigate. It may be prudent to work some taxation technical into your study schedule if this is a weak area of yours. Keep in my that it’s only part of your entire study schedule so don’t go overboard. You don’t want to have the best taxation response in the world at the expense of all the others.
  2. For PMR, You should have a general awareness of a broad range of accounting issues so if you don’t even know what non-monetary transactions, capital leases or financial instruments are then you won’t even identify the issues and get NAs. I still recommend you start by writing cases but if you are getting a lot of NAs at this point you are missing issues and will need to brush up on technical.

Chances are that the UFE is a different kind of exam from your University days so it’s important to change the way you play the game.

Let us know in the comments: How have you been studying and do you have any other advice that’s worked?


  1. The only item that I would add is the importance of setting a study schedule and following it. IE: Study Monday – Friday during the day, take evenings and weekends off.

    Build in a flex day or two into your schedule just in case you find yourself burning out, or have a really bad day.

    For those writers coming out of Western Canada (CASB) you should already have the technical skills required to write the UFE by the time you have completed modules 1-5 and UFE Prep. It might not feel like you do, but start doing simulations and applying what you have learnt!

    • Thanks for the feedback! It’s the exact same idea in Ontario and I agree about the study schedule. I have some posts coming up the rest of this week about setting up a study schedule so would welcome feedback.

      • Thank you for sharing this. Sharing something like this puts things in prespective. I would be writing UFE this year and would constantly lean on this site for tips such as the above post. As far as study schedule goes, I have heard from people that a balance study schedule is healthy when studying for UFE as this is a thinking exam. Thanks for tips.


        • Thanks for the comment! You are right, the UFE is a thinking exam and you have to be at your best which means not mentally drained. This is achieved through a balanced approach which means taking days off to let your brain recover. I have some more info about creating a study schedule which is balanced coming up in the next few days so do give it a read. Your prep program is, of course, another great source on how to create a good study schedule. Best of luck and thanks for writing!

  2. Thank you for sharing the tips. I am writing UFE this year and would be leaning on this blog for some tips on UFE prep. It seems that writing lots of simulations and debriefing them effectively is the way to go. As far as the study schedule is concerned, I have heard from people that you need to follow a more balanced study approach. I would find out more when my prep course begins. Thank you for sharing this though.

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