Monthly Archives: February 2013

UFE Podcast for second time writers

Saw that over on CA Accounting Designation Revealed, they’ve got a Podcast up of an interview with Kayla Switzer discussing everything UFE for experienced writers. It sounds like a good listen for anyone rewriting the UFE this year so head on over and check it out!

What are all these things I'm supposed to download for SOA?

Today, for Ontario writers doing the SOA.

You might be a bit overwhelmed by all these files you have to download just for a single SOA case. Here’s briefly what they are and how to use them.

Board of Evaluators Comments: This is the comments from the BoE on the performance of each indicator of each simulation. This will tell you in more detail what kind stuff the ‘stronger’ responses possessed. Useful but not mission critical. I never read through these.

SOA Exam (SOA1 – 3 + Final): These are your exam papers, you’ll use these to write your practice simulations. Each file may have more than one simulation so be sure to separate each one.

SOA Eval Guides: This is just a scoring sheet with a one sentence summary of what each indicator was. This will tell you what the indicator was in each case, briefly.

SOA Solutions: This is the solution for each simulation. You’ll use this in conjunction with the Eval Guides to determine your performance (this can be tough). Note: You are not expected to write simulations which will be at the same level as the solution. Your writing will be a lot more point-form/straight forward and won’t have the same sentence format. We’ll have some examples up for you closer to SOA.

Summary of Performance: This is a summary of how candidates performed on the simulations. Specifically, the percentage of candidates who made it into each category per competency. Each of the SOA 1-3 + Final were marked the the ICAO. Keep in mind that SOA 1 is written before SOA and that candidates progressively improve through to the final. So don’t expect to score the same today as candidates who wrote the final since by then you’ll have many more simulations behind you.

What are all these things I’m supposed to download for SOA?

Today, for Ontario writers doing the SOA.

You might be a bit overwhelmed by all these files you have to download just for a single SOA case. Here’s briefly what they are and how to use them.

Board of Evaluators Comments: This is the comments from the BoE on the performance of each indicator of each simulation. This will tell you in more detail what kind stuff the ‘stronger’ responses possessed. Useful but not mission critical. I never read through these.

SOA Exam (SOA1 – 3 + Final): These are your exam papers, you’ll use these to write your practice simulations. Each file may have more than one simulation so be sure to separate each one.

SOA Eval Guides: This is just a scoring sheet with a one sentence summary of what each indicator was. This will tell you what the indicator was in each case, briefly.

SOA Solutions: This is the solution for each simulation. You’ll use this in conjunction with the Eval Guides to determine your performance (this can be tough). Note: You are not expected to write simulations which will be at the same level as the solution. Your writing will be a lot more point-form/straight forward and won’t have the same sentence format. We’ll have some examples up for you closer to SOA.

Summary of Performance: This is a summary of how candidates performed on the simulations. Specifically, the percentage of candidates who made it into each category per competency. Each of the SOA 1-3 + Final were marked the the ICAO. Keep in mind that SOA 1 is written before SOA and that candidates progressively improve through to the final. So don’t expect to score the same today as candidates who wrote the final since by then you’ll have many more simulations behind you.

Understanding the School of Accountancy SOA Exam Basics

Today, for those in Ontario.

The School of Accountancy (SOA) final exam is different from the UFE. It’s also similar in some ways, but it’s different in ways that you must understand to be most successful.

Here is an introduction to some of the big differences:

SOA is (more) about breadth, UFE is (more) about depth.

  • The SOA exam does not have the same three levels of marking that the UFE does. This has important implications for scoring such as the fact that you don’t need to hit every indicator to pass the exam.
  • The SOA has favoured breadth over depth in the past. This means that it’s important to hit everything at least on the surface. Skipping or messing up an indicator can really harm your score which is often caused by not managing your time properly. I had this experience during SOA when I messed up an important indicator in SOA2 (the practice exam) which landed me in the low deciles.

SOA is scored differently than the UFE

  • The UFE has primary and secondary indicators, the SOA has Diagnostic and Summative indicators. This is not just a difference in name.
  • Diagnostic indicators are not worth any marks and are there to help you understand what you need to improve on in your case.
  • Summative indicators get their value (mark) from the summary of the diagnostic indicators and this is what is worth points.

How SOA scoring works

There are five scores you can receive on an SOA exam per indicator, same as UFE, but their value is different from the UFE.

SOA UFE
NA (Not Addressed) 0% 0%
NC (Nominal Competence) 25% 0%
RC (Reaching Competence) 50% 50%
C (Competent) 100% 100%
HC (Highly Competent) 100% 100%

From the above table you can see that SOA gives you a little crutch in the NC score on each indicator.

What does NA, or RC or C mean?

The requirement for each will vary by case and this is part of the process of learning case writing. But in brief,

NA = You missed the indicator, didn’t know to write about it or didn’t allocate the time to do so.
NC = You saw the indicator but your analysis was superficial or you didn’t use many case facts.
RC = You provided some depth in your analysis and used case facts.
C = You provided a strong analysis which was correct and used case facts to support it.
HC = You provided a very strong analysis which was correct and used case facts very well to support it.

You can see here something that you’ll be hearing a lot about: using case facts. In SOA and UFE you cannot get away with just spitting out technical (usually worth zero), you’ll have to integrate the facts from each individual case into your analysis.

SOA Scoring Example

SOA Scoring Example

Using the example above, you can see each component that make up a score for a single competency indicator.

Each simulation will have multiple indicators, and you’ll be writing multiple simulations, everything is added up and you’ll receive a pass or fail (the passing mark is not disclosed publicly).

 

What else are you curious about with SOA? Leave a comment and we’ll tackle things here as we go!

Writing your first SOA simulations

We’re coming up to the end of February now so it’s a good time to start thinking about the SOA and UFE again.

For those in Ontario, you’ll start writing your first SOA cases soon which was something I was looking forward to after multiple-choice overload with CKE.

Writing CKE again in May?

Don’t stress out about it! The case writing workload shouldn’t be too intensive so I recommend you do everything below. I know it’ll be very tempting to go super-hard CKE for March and April but remember to not burn yourself out (this is when you hit the point of not being to look at another exam without feeling ill). Learning something new with SOA cases might be a good opportunity to still learn but change it up.

I’m going to stick to my previous advice about CKE – but, work more on managing stress and getting a solid understanding vs. just memorizing stuff. You should be able to explain somebody an accounting rule and usually why it is that way.

For All Writing (or Rewriting) the SOA

Mid-Late February is a great time to start planning a reasonable schedule for SOA case writing. With apologies to non-Ontarians, I’ll be covering a lot of SOA stuff in the next few months on top of UFE stuff. I’ve said before that you shouldn’t go too hard until April but for those who want to learn the basics now (and some of the courses out there are giving introductions) we’ll start covering this.

Things you might learn in Late-February and March:

  • Understanding how the SOA exam works and how SOA (the school part) works
  • Learning how to write a multi and comp simulation (this is a big topic!). Don’t expect your cases to be any good.
  • How to use the CICA Handbook to help yourself
  • Keep brushing up on topics where you’re technically week (Tax, anyone?)

We’ll cover these topics soon here.

First thing’s first, I always think it’s wise to plan ahead. You don’t have to strictly adhere to it but having a goal of when and how much you’ll do is a great start. I recommend you schedule a little bit of time on one or two weekends in February and March to do a simulation.

Lastly, if you’re overwhelmed with other work right now, this is something you can wait on. Bookmark and comeback to it in March or April.

Quick note on advertising

Those who come here more regularly may notice we’ve got an advertisement up on the right side that wasn’t there before. I’m happy to say that I’ve teamed up with exaMENTOR who will be providing some sponsorship of UFE Blog. I thought this would be a good time to indicate that although I’m accepting sponsorship, it has no effect on the content I offer on this site — I’ll continue to blog independently and I won’t write anything to satisfy advertisers or that I don’t believe is in the best interest of candidates writing the UFE. I encourage you to check out exaMENTOR’s offerings as well as that of others and choose what you think is best for you.

Thanks, and now back to our regular programming.

A UFE dictionary

You’ll hear all kinds of terms thrown around this year surrounding the UFE. Here’s the translations for those who aren’t familiar yet:

  • UFE… Case / Simulation / Exam – These are just all the same terms for one of the UFE cases. The Official UFE stuff from the CICA calls them simulations now a days but most people will keep referring to them as cases. There are no differences between any of these.
  • Multis – Multis are shorter cases which have ranged from 60-90 minutes in the past. They will usually test 2-3 competencies at a time. For SOA (Ontario) these are written on Day two of the final exam and for UFE these are Days two and three. Multis are usually easier to write because they are shorter and easier to manage all the information.
  • Comps – Comps are the large five hour cases which test 7-8+ competency areas. These are large cases with a lot of information and their own problems/strategies. For SOA (Ontario) these are written on day one of the final exam and for UFE these are written day one as well.
  • Indicator – An indicator is a term for a competency being tested. It’s a specific requirement which you are required to respond to. So if you’re expected to do a audit planning memo, you would have an Assurance Indicator that required you to create an audit planning memo.
  • Depth – Depth means the amount of detail and meaningful, “deep” discussion you have about a specific topic. A superficial discussion without a lot of detail is said to lack depth because you are not being thorough enough in your discussion.
  • Breadth – Refers to getting across indicators and talking less deeply about a number of indicators (competency areas). If you don’t have enough breadth, it means you are not talking about enough indicators (issues) and possibly focusing too much on a single indicator.
  • SecureExam – The software in which the UFE (and SOA in Ontario) is written. This is a secure, built in word processor, spreadsheet, and reference look up software.
  • RAMP – (Risk, Approach, Materiality and Procedures) A strategy to tackle audit planning memos, see here.

I’ll keep building this as we go, but these are some of the big ones. I’ll also do up a post in the future about SOA related terms since there are some unique ones there.

What have you heard that needs to be explained? Let me know in the comments!

The 2012 UFE Competency Map (For the 2013 UFE)

Given that most people are probably experiencing the “busy season” I thought this might be a good time to just introduce some light UFE topic that are good to be aware of.

The UFE Candidates’ Competency Map: Understanding the Professional Competencies Evaluated on the UFE document is available for download from the CICA. This document is large and a bit difficult to navigate in some places but it’s essentially the document that’s used as the base to develop the UFE. The Competency Map will provide you will all the info you need about what may be tested on the UFE but this is probably not the most efficient way to study, so make notes but you’ll need other materials. The document describes itself as:

The UFE Candidates’ Competency Map (the Map) provides an overview of the specific professional competencies and proficiency levels that CA candidates are expected to demonstrate on the profession’s Uniform Evaluation (the UFE).

This is a good time to introduce those that are not familiar to the Competencies that are tested on the UFE. A competency is basically a subject matter that you’re expected to show your ability in. You need to be competent in that subject matter. For those familiar, skip to the bottom for changes in 2013. Page 6 of the Map:

Governance, Strategy and Risk Management (or GSRM)—competencies related to the development and evaluation of an entity’s ability to make decisions and maximize its organizational performance, including its governance, strategies, policies and resources;

Performance Measurement and Reporting (or PMR)—competencies related to the presentation of an entity’s financial and non-financial information to external and internal users to meet their reporting needs;

Assurance (or ASSUR)—competencies related to enhancing the reliability of information, including the validation, testing, and the provision of broadly defined assurance services, including statutory and regulatory audit/assurance requirements, documentation and evaluation of controls;

Finance (or FIN)—competencies related to the financial management of assets and liabilities, treasury and assessment of an entity’s value;

Management Decision-Making (or MDM)—competencies related to the identification of information needs, and to the development and use of decision-making tools in achieving the entity’s strategies;

Taxation (or TAX)—competencies related to taxation planning, compliance, and  reporting for various entities.

Weightings in 2013 will be:

  • Assurance: 25-35%
  • Performance Measurement & Reporting: 20-30%
  • Finance: 10-20%
  • Management Decision-Making: 10-20%
  • Taxation: 10-20%
  • Governance, Strategy and Risk Management: 5-10%

Don’t forget, the UFE doesn’t allow you to skip any competency so you must meet a minimum standard on each. This is not the case for School of Accountancy (SOA) in Ontario.

 

Updates and Changes

In Appendix A of the document you will find a list of significant changes made in the newest version. This is good to review for all including Ontario students, since the CKE is based the previous year’s competency map.

Changes in Performance Measurement & Reporting

  • IFRIC 20 – Stripping Costs in the Production Phase of a Surface Mine (effective January 2013) was added to the knowledge reference list
  • IFRS 10 was added to the knowledge reference list to replace SIC 12.

Changes in Assurance

  • AuG-19 was removed

Changes in Taxation

Additions to the Knowledge Reference List:

2. Computation of income

  • Partnerships—Elimination of corporation tax deferral 34.2, 34.3

8. Other sources of income inclusions and deductions

  • Inclusions—Limitation of scholarship exemption 56(3.1)

15. Rules applicable to individuals—Other tax credits:

  • Children’s arts tax credit
  • Volunteer firefighter tax credit
  • Tuition tax credit for occupational, trade or professional examination

Finally, just a reminder that there is one more update that comes every year for the UFE in the form of the March 31, 2013 Technical Update.

UFE Experience from a guy that never worked at a firm

Today we have a guest post from Minh D-N who wrote the 2012 UFE in Montreal, QC without any experience in a CATO or Accounting Firm. 

I’m Minh D-N from Montreal, QC. Wrote the UFE in 2012 and successfully passed it on the first attempt. Never worked in an accounting firm and never touched anything related to accounting outside school prior to this year.

I read UFEblog a bit too late… after the UFE and  found it interesting enough to provide my perspective on the UFE.  I think there are many tips and advice that are interesting on this blog. So I wanted to contribute my experience and views. I’m writing this entry to bring a positive light for the candidates of the UFE in 2013, especially those who do not work in a firm or never worked.

I never worked or touched any accounting related topic outside school until 2012, and I still passed the UFE. The UFE is only an academic exam. You should not stress because you are not working. In fact if you aren’t working, you have more time to study and write cases which is to your advantage. Plus, you don’t have to mix the theory (E.g. UFE examinable material) and the reality. If you don’t have a job, don’t stress about it, you’ll get one quickly after the UFE results.

To pass, all I did in the months preceding the UFE is focus on my studies without burning myself out, while enjoying every little free moment that I had escaping for a few hours the reality of the studies. It’s a long an grueling process leading up to the 3 days of the exam.

I don’t want to focus on what to do before and on the UFE days on this entry, but on the state of mind on those days. I did not over-stress or under-stress at the exam days; it’s just 3 days of cases writing, not that different than the weeks practicing before. Think about it, I can ‘pass’ the past UFEs, but I may fail this year. Why can I do well in practice but not on the exam? It’s because of what happens in my head. In my mind, if I am sitting in the examination center, it’s because I am capable and at the same level as the 3,000 other candidates through Canada.  I said to myself that I may not work in a firm, but I am there in the same room as the best and brightest of the Big 4/CATO, and I deserve the right to pass. The reality of the UFE is that you are battling time and yourself.

I hope my insight can provide some positive light for some, even if the UFE 2013 is in a few months.

UFE Blogger: Thanks Minh, for sharing your story. I think Minh makes an excellent point comparing the past UFE practice exams to the real thing, the big difference is a state of mind.

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