The post UFE-results experience, from an “experienced writer”

Hi readers!  My name is Gus Patel, and I have offered to help with updates to content on the UFE Blog.  I have recently been in your situation, having written the 2013 UFE.  Currently, I work as an Audit Senior at BDO Canada LLP.  In my spare time, I enjoy being active, as well as teaching students about accounting concepts.

Last Thursday and Friday were the days.

They were the days you’ve been waiting 12 weeks for. After writing, what might possibly be one of the most challenging and mentally exhausting exams of your life, it’s finally UFE results day.  You are anxious, quivering nervous excitement, hoping desperately to see your name on the UFE results page.  As it gets closer to the final hour your heart beats as you constantly refresh the main results page at 12:00 sharp in Ontario.  You quickly scroll through the page, not finding your name through a quick glance, you decide to look up and down the page, but your name is not there….  You sit back like you just hit a brick wall, and you get that deep sinking feeling in your stomach. I failed the UFE!  

Sorry, I know that was a bit dramatic, but for some people it is not too far from how you’re feeling, trust me – I was in that situation too.  Your mind often has a way of hyping a situation to always be the “be-all-and-end-all” situation.  That if you don’t pass the UFE the first time, that the world will be over.  It may feel that way at first, but at some point you’ll come to realize that it was just an exam (maybe not just any exam).

Looking back on the experience, I think the hardest thing to me was looking my eager friends, family, and my girlfriend, who were also anxiously waiting for me to tell them that I had passed, that I didn’t.  Of course, then there is that awkward moment where they stumble to try and find their words to console you.  I think the last thing any writer who doesn’t make it through the process wants to hear is, “Don’t worry – you’ll study hard and do it again next time”.  Not a lot of people can understand what you went through.  On a positive note, hopefully soon after, you will run into a successful repeat writers, perhaps several in your office – they will reach out to you in understanding support.  Actually, looking back I was really surprised by how many people did reach out to me, even being at one of the Big-4 firms.

The first thing to get into your head is, it does happen, people can be unsuccessful the first time, or even the second or third time writing, you can fail this exam.  The Board of Evaluator’s objective is designed to do just that!  It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.  If you get the UFE Success book by Densmore (which I strongly suggest you do at some point) it has some strong statistics, “… the flow-through rates (of the UFE) are as high as 99% in ASCA, are averaging around 97% in British Columbia and have historically been around 94% in Ontario but are rising. These statistics demonstrate that experienced writers can, and are, making it through the system. Passing the UFE is a very achievable goal.”  If nothing else, keep that in your head.  You can pass.

As for now, if you have just found out that you had an unsuccessful attempt, do not fret – it’s okay in the moment to feel upset, angry, emotional… it’s part of being human, but do not let it consume you.  I am a strong believer that things do happen for a reason, and coincidentally enough, there is always a reason behind why you didn’t pass.  It wasn’t an anomaly I can assure you of that.

You have questions, I know you do.  Luckily for you, I’ve been through this process once –  I was very meticulous in my second attempt in trying to reach at every possible resource in order to gain an advantage along my 2nd attempt, and I want to pass every bit of it to you.  Like I said, you can do this – if you really want to.  Looking back on it a year later, believe it or not, it is somewhat of a blessing in disguise because it will make you a stronger person.

However, do not fret about any of it for now.  First order of business I want you to do is nothing.  When I say nothing, I mean it – keep your head out of the UFE game, it is of ultimate priority that you rest and recover so that you can hit next year ready to attack.  Your goal in the next little while is reach to your friends and loved ones for support, get past the feeling of depression, self pity and doubt, and relax and forget all about this process.  Have fun again and enjoy the holidays, and don’t even think about the UFE until the beginning of next year.

There are more resources than ever today for repeat writers. Don’t worry, UFE Blog will be right here, helping along the way.

A note from Tom, the UFE Blogger:

I want to personally congratulate Gus, who I’ve worked with for some part of this year. I was nervous to be one of the people clicking refresh on the results page at 12 noon. I was even more thrilled to see Gus’ name there shortly after. I’m happy to bring Gus’ voice, as an experienced writer, to this blog and I hope that the many candidates that must write the UFE a second or third time benefit from his experience and support. Congratulations Gus!


  1. Great to hear you passed Gus!

    I definitely know a thing or two about failing, having failed the CKE twice in 2012. I came back strong and was able to pass all three exams this year in my first shot! In the end, you just got to look at it, just really look at it, and know its just an exam.

  2. Thanks a lot for the post Arnold, and for your story about the CKE.

    It is great to hear from other successful people who have been through this experience with more than one attempt somewhere through this process.

  3. Hi Patel,
    Thanks for the article. I was counting on the UFE to increase my prospects of getting into a CA firm. I wrote the UFE without any experience with a CA office. I was wondering if not being with a firm is a disadvantage in anyway.

    • I wrote it in 2012, without any experience in a CA firm, without any accounting or finance experience. Never touched any related to accounting or finance outside school. I find that you have a bigger advantage because you go in with a 100% academic perspective, and this is what the UFE is about. Academic knowledge (application of it), not practical skills. Of course, you may have some disadvantages, no coaches, no additional cases, unpaid UFE, unpaid summer learning, etc… but you make the best out of it, and you will pass.

  4. Hi Nomi,

    As I am not a recruiter, I could not give you any specific advice, however, personally, I think writing the UFE by yourself demonstrates some very employable traits.

    i.e. – You registered with the Institute for the CA program and making it to the UFE by yourself without any firm support demonstrates academic drive and the ability to steer your professional development regardless of you being employed at a training office or not.

    Perhaps you could clarify the question for me, why do you feel this would be a disadvantage? More importantly, are you looking for experience at a particular CA training office?

    • Hi Patel,

      I didnt make it this year, Even though i was with a great program. People with firms had vast amount of support and guidance in terms of case writing. They had people who had passed Ufe guiding them every step of the way. I felt that would have put me at a big disadvantage.


  5. Hi Nomi,

    I think that is representative of the Big-4 firms, however, a lot of other firms also require the students to do majority of the study planning themselves.

    That being said, I think the UFE Blog, along with countless other resources online can help narrow the gap on that advantage as well.

    I will be outlining what I did in-depth in my Repeat attempt this year, hopefully that can be of more help to you at that point!

  6. Hi Patel,

    Thanks for your feedback. I look forward to what you did to get through UFE successfully.


  7. I will add my own thoughts to be being a repeat writer. I passed the UFE on third attempt.

    Third time around I followed Densmore process all the way through.

    What I will like to emphasis on is that pass UFE doesn’t equate to intelligence in accounting. Those who failed are probably smarter people and accountants out there.

    I think the best thing to do now would be to get in the holiday spirit and forget about it till next January. Those who do need some advise should talk to the right people and not just any CASB/UFE expert out there.

    I passed the third time as I had faith in my abilities as an accountant and as a student. I had my low moments from time to time but I survived.

    For those who lost their jobs in public practise can take it as a good omen, it means less hectic work hours next year and quality study.

    When I didn’t pass, I was still able to get hired as an articling student. So nothing is set in stone on how a person career progresses

    Best of luck to all the repeat writers out there.

  8. Thanks for your post 2012writer. Glad to hear you were successful in your third attempt!

  9. Hello 2012writer,

    I did not pass the 2013 UFE, and will be writing in 2014. Therefore I was wondering what did you do differently, third time around in order to pass (vs 1st and 2nd time you wrote). What do you mean, precisely when you say “followed Densmore process all the way through”.

    Also, you suggest to not do anything until next January, therefore I wonder what did you start doing in January? Case writting or technical reading? How about the following months up until the UFE?

    Thank you,

  10. Repeatwriter, I am sorry you didn’t pass. It sucks not to and I have been in that situation twice. Twice I failed because I was doing technical stuff a lot. First time I had unbalanced study which means beyond 5pm and second time around I did not have a UFE buddy. Both time around I could not micro manage time between indicators.

    Third time around, I never touched any books till May. Then I did one set of UFE cases as it is mention in Densmore book. I started cracking on my weakness in that time period which is mentioned above.

    Another think I did was delete all the excessive notes and started to look at the bigger picture in the comp and multi by understanding what was going rather than the particular accounting issue that I did in the other case or audit procedures.

    It was still a slow process. I started scoring faster on MDM, GSRM and Pervasive early in the process as not much technical is required. However, I started scoring well on Assurance and PMR in the third week of the UFE study. And Tax in the last week.

    On off days, I did Yoga , Soccer and indoor wall climbing when it rained as I am from British Columbia. It all helped. When I was too tired, I just watched ‘ How I met your mother or Fashion Police.

    Like I said I followed Densmore process as I accepted I was failing for a reason.

    Failing UFE doesn’t mean a person is a bad accountant or not smart. I still tell people I am a repeat writer and I don’t care what they think. At the end of the day it boils down to confidence in life and the exam room.

    • Hello,

      Thank you for your previous message.

      How many UFE’s did you write on your third time around?
      Did you participate in any Densmore experienced course? And did you write Densmore cases at all?
      And did you have a UFE buddy on your third attempt ?

      Thank you

  11. I did a set of ufe cases by Densmore before Densmore’s Vancouver first time writer session. My focus was not the tecnical knowledge but understanding what was going on in the exam is the time I was allowed to read the exam and do the indicators within the allotted time when I could not finish. i would move on to the next indicator. It was like playing speed chess.

    I was hardly touching EG as Densmore marking guide was good enough especially for repeat writers. I would consult EG when I didn’t have technical knowledge.

    In the beginning I did re-wrote some indicator after debrief to get in the habit of writing an indicator in allotted time. I just did it for two mutlis to prevent this habit for developing as later there is not much time for re-writing.

    I did have a UFE buddy. We marked each other cases most of the time. I used Densmore

  12. I posted by accident without finishing. So I will continue from what I left off.

    I used Densmore’s Vancouver course to get more practise and trust me the first time writers around me did well than

  13. Repeat writers out there: Did u guys find the Densmore repeat writer course useful? Or is it just a review of the stuffs already covered in the first time writer course? Ths year the repeat writer course is in the middle of busy season, not sure if my firm will let me take the time off… also thinking of taking the Densmore course online, anyone had experience with that?

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