Help for Experienced Writers

Helping experienced writers is something I struggle with because it’s difficult to give good advice if I haven’t lived the situation. I’ve had writers come to me and ask me what they should be doing right now. Should they be writing one case a week or two? Should they be only studying technical or should they be writing cases, too?

The truth is there are no easy answers. It depends on why you didn’t pass the previous time(s), how you study best, what your strengths and weaknesses are and a host of other possible reasons. A lot of people think there is some magic path to success – if only they do x cases, or if they study in this specific way – it will work. Of course, everyone probably knows deep down it can’t be that easy. Not everyone fits neatly on the UFE path.

So my advice to you is this:

Take time to honestly reflect on what the problems are.

  • Did you fall into the trap of too much technical at the expense of writing cases? Or maybe the opposite is true.
  • Did you study alone, or with a study group that didn’t work for you?
  • Did you not study enough or too much (be careful here!)
  • Did you allocate time correctly on the exam? Or did you not manage time well? Or the host of other technical reasons that can exist.
  • What were the problems on your mock cases prior to the exam?
  • Is it a language, communication or writing problem?

As you can see, the list can be long. Each varying answer can lead to a different suggestion. I think the best thing you can do is do an honest assessment and focus on the factors which hurt you last time.

The answer may be a great place to start in making changes to your 2013 strategy.

This may mean taking a repeat writers’ course out there or reading a book. Or maybe you need something more individual such as a tutor, one of the smaller programs out there or just a really good study partner.

Given how much time, effort and money goes into the UFE I think it’s worth investing in this activity as well as in a solution suitable to you. We’ll be around here to keep offering help and advice, too.

But as I said above, I’m not a repeat writers. If you are or have been, please drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you did and why. I know there are many that would benefit here just to know they’re not alone.


  1. I am a repeat writer and I passed on my third attempt.

    The first time I failed, I couldn’t get the hang of the process,I was technically strong though but I felt lost amongst all the CA student.

    I failed the second time as I was embarrassed to be a repeat writer as I was straight A student and I was angry at the other things related to my articling.

    I had the approach to each indicator figured out but I couldn’t micro manage the time within the indicators and I couldn’t understand the what was actually going on in the multis and the comp. In short, my mind went blank even though I was technically stronger than most writers.

    Third time around and being on the last attempt. I changed my attitude and realized one thing,the answer to the comp and the multi were in the exam itself: the case facts. Technical knowledge is important but critical thinking was far more important. I trained myself from May to do multis and find the answer from the multis/comp and answer within the time-frame for each indicator. If I couldn’t finish Assurance indicator, I would move to tax indicator.( I followed Densmore guideline on when to start studying to the T)

    Here is the thing, it was a hard pill to swallow, many people cheat the Densmore process from CASB program and they pass. I wasn’t smart enough to cheat the process. Simple.

    During the last week of the UFE study, I was scoring C’s and RC’s 95 % of the time, it became more like putting together jigsaw puzzle together. There were days when I freaked out for sure, the Monday of the last week, I was so tired, I went home and even scored N/A that week!

    Another weird thing is I know a third time writer who studied on Thursday and Friday of the last week before UFE. I didn’t do that, I passed and he failed. This writer also started studying from February while I did 3 multis and a comp before Densmore and didn’t do well compared to the first time writers but my case understanding was definitely stronger than them.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on getting through it the 3rd time around!

      I hear that a lot – that it wasn’t really something new and novel that people did, they just followed the kind of common process better and as a result they did better. That’s why I think it’s important to take time to reflect on how you performed and try to figure out what the problems were. Sometimes you need an outside perspective in order to figure it out.

      Anyway – thanks for sharing!

  2. One more thing I forgot, my mentor was Charles Zane. He is really amazing to work with and I chose him as a third time writer as his approach is practical and he gives tough feedback. Repeat writers need that most rather than mollycoddling.

    I would recommend people to talk to him, not necessarily get him as a mentor but to get good perspective on things.

  3. Is the UFE Questions answered ebook available

  4. I am a third time writer and i tried to focus on the process and i tried to use the handbook this time while practising…..our group got soo good that we could extract information from the handbook within 10 seconds….this would save us remembering exact technical……i avoided studying on the weekends…..first 2 attempts i studied on the weekend. BUT !!!! i kid you not even writing the ufe after 3 times i still got the same feeling……i failed…..since its my third time i dont care at all ……i just wanted to give my 1000% and thats all……gooodluck

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Commenting Guidelines

I love open conversations. Casual is fine, professional is fine, but this is a community so anything abusive, demeaning or annoying will be removed at my discretion. Below is a guide to help keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. 1. Use a name or alias. I understand wanting to keep your name personal, so make something clever up and stick to it. We can't tell each other apart if everybody is "Anon".
  2. 2. Remember the point. This is a community to discuss, debate and assist each other to pass the CFE or discuss other CPA things. Let's act like we're all the intelligent professionals that we are supposed to be.
  3. 3. No personal attacks. It's okay to disagree with opinions or advice but argue the point, not the person.
  4. 4. Don't be obnoxious. You should be proud if you are the next honour roll writer or work for a prestigious firm but don't be obnoxious by using it to feel better than others.


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