Don’t forget to take a break

Congrats to those that got through SOA2 this morning!

You’ve endured tax week, you’ve been writing simulations probably every night this week and the weather has been so-so. Don’t forget to take a break this weekend! Take at least one day completely off and better yet, take two. Don’t forget, this is a marathon not a sprint so keep in mind that you’ve got a few more weeks to get through and it gets tougher every week.

If you need to vent – feel free to share comments or thoughts on SOA2 in the comments.


  1. What if you read a case through and you’re aware of what types of issues you’re looking for by competency, but you aren’t able to find the specific issues that fall under it? For example, you know there are accounting issues (as stated in short text), but once you’ve read through the case it’s not clear what the accounting issues are? Better yet, you know where to look for them, but you don’t know exactly what the problem is once you see it. How do you proceed?

    • I think that it’s not worth ‘guessing’ at issues so I’d advise that you shouldn’t write about something just for the sake of writing. If you can’t see the issue then don’t make one up. These exams can be decieving, they sometimes make you think there is something there when there isn’t so perhaps it’s a case of that. Write about what you can get out of the case instead.

      If not, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and do a solid debrief. Figure out and understand WHY you didn’t see the issue. Did you read too fast and miss it? Did you just not know the technical? What triggers did you miss? Trace it back to the original simulation paper and learn from your mistakes. It sounds repetitive, but it’s just a matter of practice and experience. Each case builds up your recognition abilities.

      Personally, I always hated financial statement exhibits at first – often times they looked more/less fine to me and I hated the feeling that I was missing something because I didn’t have all that much use for them. With practice, I got better at recognizing what kind of issues arise out of F/S exhibits and my responses improved.

  2. Also, one of the tips I hear over and over again is about time management on the multis. But let’s just say, theoretically, that a person over spends time on Q1 and ends up getting Cs and HCs straight, over spends a little more one Q2 with the same outcome and totall flops Q3 at NCs and NAs. Assume that their performance on the comp the day before is on par with the average individual who “passes”. Wouldn’t this particular individual still pass?

    • It’s a bit of a gamble and depends on how the competencies are broken up.

      This doesn’t apply the same way to SOA but for the UFE, you have to pass both a breadth level (you hit each competency enough at the right level) and depth (you hit certain competencies and achieve depth) so it’s possible that you would achieve a C/HC on certain copetencies but because you didn’t have enough time to get to one of the other competencies which happened to be in Multi 3 you could fail because you didn’t achieve appropriate bredth.

      The other thing is that on the UFE, NC is worth zero and HC is worth the same as C. If you achieved HC (6 pts) because of the extra time and because of this you got an NC (0 pts) in your last case you are worse off than had you achieve a C (6 pts) and an RC (3 pts).

      The SOA is a little easier on you in terms of scoring and I’d have to think about if you might get punished the same way, but why not start good habits right away?

  3. Hi Ufeblog!

    I have 2 questions for the SOA

    1) Do we need C and RC in every single indicator to pass?I am very confused. Can you technically pass if you have some NC, RC(any NA?)?

    2) For PM, I find that I always get NC. I can get the issue but never sufficient depth. I am worried about this as we have 2 weeks left to the real thing. Do you have any advice?Am I doomed at this point for PM?

    • Here’s some answers that might help.

      1. For SOA the final score is what counts. This is different for UFE but let’s worry about only SOA for now. Each competency is worth a certain amount (PMR ~25%, Assurance ~30%, etc.). In SOA, NA = 0, NC = 1 or 2 (I forget), RC=3, C=6, HC=6. Therefore you can pass just fine with a mixture of results as long as your final score beats the cutoff. The ICAO gives you a breakout of how final exam performance do by each competency for each indicator. Look at that if you are curious what the score breakout is for the final. You’ll see that many candidates still score NC.

      2. First, consider if you are just being marked too hard by your study partner. Some candidates are too hard on each other. Are you using the marking guides out there or are you just going from the solution? At least, SOA2 will give you some independent feedback which may give you a better idea of where you stand.

      Of course you aren’t doomed. Two weeks will give you at least another 10-15 simulations to improve! That’s a heck of a lot. Debrief and learn from them (this is super hard work) and you will almost certainly improve greatly. Study your technical from the simulations, not from some textbook. Make sure you choose plenty of simulations with PM indicators.

      If you’re having trouble with debriefing, please go read the “Debriefing Week” stuff near the bottom of the Getting Started page.

  4. Thank you for the link to the debrief week pages. I read through them and found them great. Few more questions:

    1)Do you actually suggest re-writing out every indicator that you did not get a “C” or “RC” in?

    2)For quants, I have issues managing my time. I was wondering when explaining adjustments, how details should the notes be?Bare bones or detailed within the excel?Also do we explain them in the case too?

    • Glad they were helpful!

      1. Of course, use your judgment on this. Time is a scarce resource so if you’ve got a lot of marks below a C, perhaps focus on one or two at first and focus obviously on the NA and NC first to get them up to a RC or C. It also depends on what you’re weaknesses are. If ranking was the problem, or time management or you just didn’t id the issue then learn from those by doing the other activities, if you found the issue, ranked it appropriately and just didn’t get it across, that is really where it will help to rewrite an indicator.

      2. For quants, time management can be a big issue – this goes for a lot of people. Focus on material amounts, you can’t include everything in most cases so focus on including the big numbers. Explanations should be concise but understandable. Remember, markers cannot see formulas so it’s often a great idea to put down the formula as well when it’s not obvious. You only need to do analysis in one spot. If it’s a big quant then do it in the spreadsheet and then just refer to the number in your written response and add the qualitative stuff if required. You should not repeat yourself. Markers will read your case pretty thoroughly so as long as it’s in one spot they’ll spot it.

      I’ll try to pull up some old SOA cases this week to show as examples. But the ICAO gives out examples of very good cases in the sample mocks – keeping in mind that these are top top level candidates, you can still learn how others do these things from these cases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.


Other Great Reads

Get the Latest CFE News

Get the Latest CFE News

Get the latest and most important CFE news right to your inbox. I'll keep it to the best stuff and infrequent, promise.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest