Monthly Archives: July 2013

Organizing your UFE schedule on a calendar

There are plenty of calendars out there provided by consultants, firms, CATOs and individual candidates. So why not add one more to the mix. You’ll find for download below a template you can use with a sample study schedule. You’ll notice this one doesn’t have a suggested simulation order. The reason for this is that I think this part should be customized to your strengths and weaknesses as mentioned yesterday so it’s your job to put in the time to organize one to suit you and your study partner’s needs. Or..you can just grab one of the many out there as mentioned above.

The sample study schedule today covers 3 comps and 24 multis. This is a good maximum you should write. When I wrote in 2010, I only managed to complete two comps and about twenty or so multis without getting burned out so don’t be afraid to take it a little easier than the maximum.

Download this Handy UFE Study Schedule Template for 2013

Some other things to know:

  • Comp days are flexible – I like Monday because I’m the freshest and have the most energy so it’s easier to plow through a 5 hour exam on Monday for me. I’ve known many who also like Wednesday to break up the week. I also think that Thursday is a valid alternative since you could write on Thursday and finish debriefing on Friday and take the afternoons off. I don’t recommend Friday because you cannot complete the full write and debrief without going into the weekend or coming back two days later. Which brings me to…
  • Weekends off – Your brain and body need time to recover.
  • Use “Flex Days” if necessary. You are, at some point, going to get sick of writing, find your performance diminishing or just can’t stand writing another exams, these are all signs of burnout. Monitor this carefully and adjust. Plan to write 24 and 3 comps but understand that you may only be able to write 20 or even 18 multis and 2 comps. Do some light review those burnout days or even better, just take the afternoon or day off.
  • Stick to regular hours. Although it’s ideal to match the 9-1 or 9-2 exam writing times I don’t personally find this to be a big deal but stick to something consistent and know yourself best. I wouldn’t be risking starting at 6 or 8pm everyday at this point.

What’s worked for you in the past? What are your plans for setting up a study schedule?

Planning your simulation schedule

As mentioned previously, I’m a fan of tackling your weaknesses right away. I’ve said that a great way to do this is to pile on simulations which make you face your weaknesses at the beginning, then by the end of your study period you’ll (hopefully) be a pro. If you’ve been doing below average on PMR issues, I would make sure each of my cases in the first week had a PMR issue. If it’s Tax and PMR where you lag, try to do only cases with both of these right from the start. If you’re worried about running out, perhaps leave a few behind for the end but for issues like PMR and Assurance there are so many that it won’t be an issue.

To make this easier for you guys, you can find this Excel Download which tells you all the competencies tested in each case. You can use the filter to pick and choose cases that will meet your personal requirements. One ‘x’ indicates it’s tested once in that simulation and two ‘xx’ means it’s tested twice.

UFE Competencies Tested By Exam 2013. Enjoy!

* Sorry – A wrong (older) file was posted originally and WordPress has been missing posting on schedule for some reason lately. Time to review internal controls…

Levels 1, 2 and 3 on the UFE and why you should care

Sorry guys – this was supposed to be published last week but there seemed to be a nasty UFE-hating bug that got in the way. Without further delay, here you go:

As mentioned the other day, scoring works differently and the pass/fail determination is different on the UFE. I said that you need to demonstrate both depth and breadth in order to pass the UFE. I also mentioned that secondary indicators are worth zero, except in certain rare circumstances. Today we explain.

The UFE is marked using the Level 1-3 system. Where your response is marked for three different things.

Level 1 – Your overall score

Like SOA, Level 1 takes your overall score and compares it to other scores (an average of some kind). If you fall below the cutoff you will not pass and if you are above the cutoff that’s great but you aren’t out of the woods yet. Your response will be examined at Level 2.

Your goal, therefore, is to score your overall UFE score above the cutoff to pass this.

Most people (something like 98% last time it was disclosed) fail at Level 1. Keep this in mind when you are worrying unnecessarily about Level 2 and 3.

 

Level 2 – Demonstrate Depth

This level applies to PMR and Assurance ONLY.

This level requires that you demonstrate enough depth on enough PMR and Assurance indicators. What does depth mean? The number of Competent (C-level) responses you give on primary indicators. Therefore if you score only RC on all PMR indicators you will not pass at Level 2. Even if you score all Cs in Assurance. Nervous now? Well don’t be, look up at the bold text right above 🙂

How many Cs do you need to achieve in order to demonstrate depth? It’s not disclosed but rumours have it that it’s two or three. This may sound like a lot to some but again, read the bold text above!

Alright, so you’re having a good day, you’ve survived the Level 1 cutoff and you’ve got enough Cs in PMR and Assurance. Can you walk away with that coveted UFE Success letter? No, you’ve got one last hoop to jump through.

 

Level 3 – Demonstrate Breadth

This level applies to GSRM, Finance, MDM and Taxation ONLY.

You must score sufficiently on all four of the above indicators in order to be successful at Level 3. What does sufficiently mean? It means you have to score RC enough times on each of the competency areas above.

Again, we don’t know how many RCs that means but I suspect it’s one each. Once again, if you’re starting to get nervous, I’ll remind you that something like 98% of people fail (when disclosed) at Level 1.

 

Level 3 Faint Hope Clause

Finally, we come to the secret behind secondary indicators. Under one very rare circumstance, you can pass the UFE because of a secondary indicator where you would have failed otherwise.

If you fail on Level 3 above, and in one of the primary indicators (for example Tax) you did not score any RCs BUT you managed to score Competent (C) on a Tax secondary indicator you will pass.

I’ll remind you that secondary indicators are otherwise worthless. I don’t recommend ever wasting your time on them but as a good UFE Blogger it’s my responsibility to inform you about this.

 

And that’s how scoring on the UFE works.

The Key Takeaways:

  • Score well enough overall (PQs included here)
  • Get enough Cs in both Assurance and PM
  • Get enough RCs in Tax, MDM, Finance and GSRM
  • Don’t bother with Secondary indicators

Heads up – Standards change over time (Especially prior to 2011!)

A great issue was brought up in the comments on an earlier post  – Do you need to be concerned about outdated standards in older cases? The answer is yes, you should be aware.

This is particularly applicable to tax which changes on a yearly basis but it’s also worth noting that IFRS/ASPE are still sort-of new in Canada. Prior to 2011 Canada still used Canadian GAAP and GAAS which were more internationalized in 2011. This means that older simulations (particularly 2009 and 2010) could reference outdated treatment or outdated standards in the solutions.

The good news is that a “consortium made up of members from each of the four provincial CA professional programs” reissued of the previous years UFE simulations and solutions so be sure to grab those off of the candidates portals of your Institutes if you’ll be going back that far. I should have mentioned this before.

Aside from this major change in standards, the UFE reports are not updated when tax rates or accounting/audit standards change over time so it’s up to you to recognize when somethings out of date. Before you start worrying needlessly, the good news is that this is not something you need to worry about a lot since most of the standards examined are stable. If you wrote SOA, it was the exact same situation.

On a related note, for 2013, your institute should have made you aware of the technical update which can be found here if you’ve forgotten about it which talks about changes from the published version of the Competency Map.

The big differences between SOA and UFE

To get Ontario students up to speed with the differences between SOA and UFE, today you have your briefing. Some are obvious and some you may just be learning today.

The facts

Indicators are now called Primary and Secondary (Not Diagnostic and Summative!)

Each primary indicator is a ‘summative’ indicator meaning that it’s worth points. Each indicator is worth the same amount of points.

Only primary indicators are worth points. Secondary indicators are not worth anything (except, well, in very rare cases which we’ll cover at a later time). Secondary indicators used to be used to rate ranking (i.e. you were supposed to rank them low and not cover them) but more recently they’ve just done it by adding a time crunch on primaries.

PQs are different and less frequent

The UFE still uses PQs like SOA but it’s not on every case like it almost is on the SOA. Also, the UFE doesn’t use PQs to judge your writing style like the SOA does. In the SOA I found that the PQs are just an average of the rest of the indicators. On the UFE the PQs are specific issues that often are hidden and you’re expected to make ‘the leap’ and figure it out. This could be things like fraud or it can be stuff that really requires you to make a leap and think truly deeply about a simulation. These are tough on the UFE and most don’t start to pick them up until the final week or so.

The UFE is three days

Just incase you didn’t already know. First day is a 5 hour comp and the remaining two days are multis at 4 hours each ranging from 60-90 minutes each.

Passing the UFE is way different than passing SOA

For SOA only your total mark counts. Your total marked is compared to the rest and some passing average is set, similar to CKE. This means that you can skip (for example) Tax and still pass the SOA if your other areas make up for it.

Not the case with the UFE. You must meet both depth (how well you can demonstrate that you know PMR and Assurance) as well as breadth (you must show a minimum competence in every indicator). If you’ve been coasting and avoiding a competency then this is the time to fix that. Again, we’ll have more detail on this later this week.

 Scoring is different

NC is now worth zero. RC is still 3 points while C and HC are 6 points therefore your aim is to score a minimum of RC and a maximum of C. If you’re that good, shoot for HC but you’d better be that good 🙂

 

The opiniony stuff – Stuff that people might debate but I’m pretty sure is correct

UFE is more focused on depth

Yes, SOA tests depth, too. UFE tests it more. You’ll be expected to perform deeper analysis, provide more than one possible way to tackle an issue and compare the merits of each and then make recommendations. This will take some practice but four weeks worth will make you much better at PMR issues. On a side note, it’s interesting how many times I’ve had to do similar in real life.

Time Pressure

I know you’re expecting me to say that the UFE is more time pressured – just the opposite. Most of the people I speak with seem to think that the UFE is less time pressured than SOA. This isn’t to say that you won’t feel it in some of the cases (this is required to force you to rank) but it’s considered less time pressured overall. This gives you some more time to think and to use the Handbook where necessary.

Direction

The UFE is less directed. Issues can be harder to spot when starting out, and certainly the level of depth you might think to write to isn’t as clear at the beginning. You’ll also be put in more situation where you must rank.

 

You can see that although there are differences to be aware of, they’re very manageable with the time you have left. More to come, friends!

What differences are you most nervous about and why?

UFE 2013 – Next Steps

It’s time to dust off the ol keyboard and get started thinking about the UFE again.

Before you fall into a UFE panic, the good news is that we’re going to ease into things. Always remember, the goal is to be at your best on the UFE writing days, not after, not before. Many of you will be going on UFE prep courses over the next few weeks. Use those well as they’re solid learning opportunities, and also a great place to have some fun after classes before you dig in. The critical period will be the four week prior to the UFE when you will hunker down and start doing UFE case writing 5 days a week, full days. Before this, don’t go too crazy with the cases. Do what your prep courses recommend or do the 1-2 (max) per week of the older UFE cases to get into the groove of things and learn how they differ from SOA cases if that applies to you.

Some additional suggestions for next week:

  • Get an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. If you wrote SOA you’ll get feedback about where you performed well and where you performed poorly. This is a good basis, but remember that you wrote a bunch of other cases during June so go back and look at your marks to see any trends. Most people should have a good understanding where they need work. This is what you’ll focus on first in your UFE study period. You want to target your weaker areas first with cases that test them.
  • Make sure you download and print out the full set of UFE cases for the past three years at least. UFE cases are found in the UFE Report for each year which can be found on your Institute’s web portal.
  • If you’re an Ontario writer, open up an old UFE cases and see how it’s different. Look at the marking guide/solution. SOA cases are marked different from UFE cases. I’ll explain the differences tomorrow.

That should keep you busy and get you a good start to this year’s UFE season. I’ll post some other tools and helpful files for people to get them started planning throughout this week. Check back soon 🙂

What other UFE stuff are you doing this week?

Take control of the 2013 UFE!

Today’s post is a sponsored guest post produced by exaMENTOR.

Congratulations! You got over the hurdle of the SOA. Well done! Make sure to take an evening or weekend to celebrate your achievement. If you passed with flying colours or if you were happy with your results in general, then the joy is overflowing. However, at exaMENTOR we know that passing with “a warning” or not performing as well as you had hoped can leave you with a bittersweet feeling. But in any case, passing is definitely a cause for celebration. You absolutely must take time this weekend to enjoy your achievement!

On Monday it’s back to business, and you will likely start preparing for the UFE. If you passed with ‘a warning’ or did not achieve the results you desired, it’s natural to feel a bit nervous about preparing for the UFE. You might think that you are at a disadvantage compared to your peers as your performance was below that of the average candidate.

If your goal is to pass the UFE this year, now is the time to take control of the situation. You need to understand that there is no actual correlation between passing the SOA and passing the UFE. Your SOA results can be merely used as a proxy but there is no direct causation. We have seen numerous candidates who marginally pass the SOA and go on to write and pass the UFE in September of the same year! You must realize that you have a fighting chance to pass the UFE, provided you play your cards right, from now until exam time.

It’s therefore crucial to use the next eight weeks effectively in order to properly prepare yourself for the UFE. You will need to work on case writing, improving your weaknesses and building your confidence. Since your performance so far has been below your expectations and goals, you should consider obtaining extra help from a marker and/or coach. We recommend taking the following steps:

1) Set up a Coaching Session

Set up one-on-one coaching sessions. These one-on-one coaching sessions allow your mentor to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Arrange to write one or two cases prior to your first meeting, so that your mentor can use them to assess your current case-writing skills. Your mentor will guide you as you create an effective study plan that addresses and mitigates your weaknesses.

2) Re-evaluate your Study Strategy

Reconsider whether your study approach for the SOA worked effectively and suited your personal study habits. For example, consider the dynamic within your study group. Did you get good feedback from your study partners? At exaMENTOR, we believe that you will receive much better feedback from an experienced marker than you are likely to get from a study buddy. Our valuable feedback will help you to make the leap from the bottom of the pack to the front.

3) Review your Results

Reviewing a detailed breakdown of your SOA results will also be of great benefit by helping you to clearly identify and understand what your weaknesses are. For instance, if you scored poorly on the PMR competency area, perhaps relating to a lack of integration of case facts or technical weaknesses, you should make sure that you address these areas in your UFE study plan. Your coach will assist you by selecting cases and designing a study schedule that focuses on your specific weakness.

4) Evaluate your Exam Experience

You might want to think back to your experience of the two-day SOA exam and evaluate what you could have done differently. Did you get a good night sleep? Were you too anxious? Did you attack the questions as they came at you? Did you stay within your time allocations? It’s understandable that you might have performed better on your practice exams than you did on the real thing. However, it’s crucial to address the reasons why this happened and to not repeat the same mistakes on the UFE in September.

5) Establish a Trustworthy Relationship with your Coach

Our experience shows that the mentor-candidate relationship is more effective in securing success than access to sporadic marking of your papers, since repeated meetings allows your coach to understand your deficits and tailor your study plan accordingly.

Most importantly, remember that if you study smart you will pass the 2013 UFE. We don’t just say this, we consistently see it happen!

exaMENTOR Inc. has used unique coaching and teaching techniques to assist numerous candidates to pass the UFE since 2010. Visit their website to find out more: www.exaMENTOR.ca.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company, which is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with UFE Blog, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of regular posts produced by UFE Blog are never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way.

Ontario's School of Accounting SOA Results

Congratulations to the candidates today that received good news and successfully completed Ontario’s School of Accountancy (SOA)!

See the SOA Results Here!

Another milestone behind you now and you certainly should use the weekend to celebrate. The next eight weeks will be busy with UFE prep courses right around the corner and then the all important August study period leading up to the UFE. I’ve got a lot of content that I’ll try to bring to the site to keep you guys company and help you manage the process – you’re almost there!

Enjoy your weekends and congratulations again!

To those that received bad news today

Today sucks. I’m sorry that today sucks for you. I’ve known many people that got stopped in the process at each of the points and I know that it can really demotivate you. While there are no easy cures I really encourage everyone to take the weekend off, find a way to let it go and move on quickly. You’ll have another opportunity next year. There will be plenty of time to analyze what went wrong, find a way to solve it and give it a go again. Sorry again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It’s been quiet on the blog the past few weeks, partly so you’d take a break and not be drawn to UFE-related stuff, and partly to give me a break, too 🙂

Now we’re back, and I know you’re out there, thinking about the SOA results that are going to be released tomorrow at 10am. The time after SOA is a strange feeling since many people are able to forget about it pretty quick but the days leading up to it can start to bring that unpleasant feeling back. Hopefully, many of you are enjoying tonight in a positive way – cheers and best of luck tomorrow.

That said, tomorrow is an important day. I’ll be around to cheer for you guys.

 

The 2013 School of Accountancy SOA Results can be found here at 10 AM Friday, July 19.

Ontario’s School of Accounting SOA Results

Congratulations to the candidates today that received good news and successfully completed Ontario’s School of Accountancy (SOA)!

See the SOA Results Here!

Another milestone behind you now and you certainly should use the weekend to celebrate. The next eight weeks will be busy with UFE prep courses right around the corner and then the all important August study period leading up to the UFE. I’ve got a lot of content that I’ll try to bring to the site to keep you guys company and help you manage the process – you’re almost there!

Enjoy your weekends and congratulations again!

To those that received bad news today

Today sucks. I’m sorry that today sucks for you. I’ve known many people that got stopped in the process at each of the points and I know that it can really demotivate you. While there are no easy cures I really encourage everyone to take the weekend off, find a way to let it go and move on quickly. You’ll have another opportunity next year. There will be plenty of time to analyze what went wrong, find a way to solve it and give it a go again. Sorry again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It’s been quiet on the blog the past few weeks, partly so you’d take a break and not be drawn to UFE-related stuff, and partly to give me a break, too 🙂

Now we’re back, and I know you’re out there, thinking about the SOA results that are going to be released tomorrow at 10am. The time after SOA is a strange feeling since many people are able to forget about it pretty quick but the days leading up to it can start to bring that unpleasant feeling back. Hopefully, many of you are enjoying tonight in a positive way – cheers and best of luck tomorrow.

That said, tomorrow is an important day. I’ll be around to cheer for you guys.

 

The 2013 School of Accountancy SOA Results can be found here at 10 AM Friday, July 19.

A Guide on How to Pass the 2013 SOA and UFE

Today’s post is a sponsored guest post produced by CPA Formula.

It’s important not to underestimate the challenge of the UFE.  It’s not just about knowing the right answer, but knowing how to play the game.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. You have to know how to apply technical areas, being able to write depth concisely.
  3. You need to keep track of your time.

The best way to discover your weaknesses is to work with a previous marker of the UFE to obtain a one-on-one analysis of your work and your progress throughout your study period. Every writer is different, so wouldn’t you want to know how you can improve?

 

How can I identify my weaknesses?

CPA Formula only hires previous UFE markers and you work with a CA Trainer (10 sessions) the entire time up until the UFE. You are provided with a customized schedule based on your weaknesses and access to HD quality technical videos in all 6 competency areas. CPA Formula feels that this method prepares you much better than anyone in the industry.

 

What happens if I am already enrolled in a course? i.e. Densmore or PASS?

CPA Formula’s program provides the necessary and perhaps missing part of other programs. CPA Formula uses one-on-one identification of individual technical and/or written weaknesses, along with technical videos and case-marking to get you ready. CPA Formula offers you comprehensive support where you need it most and works around your schedule given the flexibility of our program. We encourage candidates, even if you are already enrolled in a program, to register with CPA Formula to ensure you receive the support that you need and pass the 2013 UFE.

 

UFEBlog Discount

Take the time to Learn More about CPA Formula. UFE Blog has also negotiated a discount of $100 off the 2013 CPA Formula course fee for UFE Blog readers if you use the checkout page below.

 

Try CPA Formula Now!

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company, which is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with UFE Blog, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of regular posts produced by UFE Blog are never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way.

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