Monthly Archives: January 2014

What's ahead?

Many of you, especially in Ontario, have been asking: what do I do now that I passed/didn’t pass the the CKE? What if I’m not in Ontario, what do I do?

The basic plan is to start with some more technical study and then work on your case writing muscles through the SOA (in Ontario) until the UFE. You want to have your technical knowledge down early because later on there won’t be much time to study it in depth since you’ll be working on cases.

Your skeleton Ontario schedule might look something like this:

January – February: Technical review and study (Wait! don’t panic! If you’re too busy it’s okay to take the time off from UFE study)

March – April: Technical review and study while starting writing cases, perhaps one per week or two. This will correspond with your courses if you’re taking one where you’ll learn some case writing techniques.

May: In Ontario this is pre-SOA time, you’ll continue to get into case writing, definitely doing one per week at this point.

June: School of Accountancy – long days and lots of case writing but very manageable.

July: Take a breather here while you wait for results. Yep, take the time to rest and recover because August is busy.

August: You’ll get introduced to UFE cases here and start writing a few.

August – September UFE Study Time: You will take off three weeks from any work to write/debrief cases 5 days a week and 8 hours a day leading up to the UFE.

September 9, 10 and 11th – the Big Day – the 2014 UFE! Hard to believe it’s only 221 days away.

See? It’s not so bad.

There are plenty of other paths. Some people work much harder, others don’t lift a finger until June but I think your average candidate follows this path (in Ontario, anyway). Other provinces have a much earlier focus on cases (and have two year programs in some cases). For example, in the CASB program you will have to pass a module in July so you will have to adjust your steps slightly. I believe it’s similar in Quebec as well.

 

A word on technical study from now on

The level of UFE technical is different from the CKE and also different from what you learned in University. It is not as high as you probably think. Both PASS and Densmore offer UFE-level technical study guides. I used the Densmore one and thought it was fantastic so I will continue to recommend it to candidates going forward. However, the best source of technical knowledge for the UFE will be the UFE (and SOA) solutions themselves. We’ll talk more about this in the future.

 

Past candidates: How did you study for the UFE? Tell us in the comments!
Today’s candidates: What are the big questions you still have?

What’s ahead?

Many of you, especially in Ontario, have been asking: what do I do now that I passed/didn’t pass the the CKE? What if I’m not in Ontario, what do I do?

The basic plan is to start with some more technical study and then work on your case writing muscles through the SOA (in Ontario) until the UFE. You want to have your technical knowledge down early because later on there won’t be much time to study it in depth since you’ll be working on cases.

Your skeleton Ontario schedule might look something like this:

January – February: Technical review and study (Wait! don’t panic! If you’re too busy it’s okay to take the time off from UFE study)

March – April: Technical review and study while starting writing cases, perhaps one per week or two. This will correspond with your courses if you’re taking one where you’ll learn some case writing techniques.

May: In Ontario this is pre-SOA time, you’ll continue to get into case writing, definitely doing one per week at this point.

June: School of Accountancy – long days and lots of case writing but very manageable.

July: Take a breather here while you wait for results. Yep, take the time to rest and recover because August is busy.

August: You’ll get introduced to UFE cases here and start writing a few.

August – September UFE Study Time: You will take off three weeks from any work to write/debrief cases 5 days a week and 8 hours a day leading up to the UFE.

September 9, 10 and 11th – the Big Day – the 2014 UFE! Hard to believe it’s only 221 days away.

See? It’s not so bad.

There are plenty of other paths. Some people work much harder, others don’t lift a finger until June but I think your average candidate follows this path (in Ontario, anyway). Other provinces have a much earlier focus on cases (and have two year programs in some cases). For example, in the CASB program you will have to pass a module in July so you will have to adjust your steps slightly. I believe it’s similar in Quebec as well.

 

A word on technical study from now on

The level of UFE technical is different from the CKE and also different from what you learned in University. It is not as high as you probably think. Both PASS and Densmore offer UFE-level technical study guides. I used the Densmore one and thought it was fantastic so I will continue to recommend it to candidates going forward. However, the best source of technical knowledge for the UFE will be the UFE (and SOA) solutions themselves. We’ll talk more about this in the future.

 

Past candidates: How did you study for the UFE? Tell us in the comments!
Today’s candidates: What are the big questions you still have?

Congratulations! CKE 2014 January Results

I’ll echo the congratulations to the 899 successful writers of the January, 2014 Core Knowledge Exam in Ontario!!

For the full list of successful writers head here.

You will get your decile information on Monday and then you can rest a while – no need to jump into SOA just yet. Enjoy the weekend and get through the busiest part of the year for many first!

And a reminder, not everyone gets good news today – be kind and supportive to those that need to go at it again. This is a difficult exam and it can be particularily difficult for many who will otherwise excel on the SOA and UFE, a much, much different exam.

Again – Congratulations!!

2014 January CKE Results Tomorrow

It’s been a nervous three week wait for Ontario candidates who wrote the Core Knowledge Exam earlier this month. We’ve had some pretty nervous people in the comments and the general consensus seemed to be that the exam was really damn hard. While there’s no scientific way to check, I’m confident that most people will do better than they thought as in years past. Please let us know in the comments!

Happy partying tonight if that’s what you’re up to and don’t forget:

2014 January Core Knowledge Exam results will be found here at 10 AM – Friday, January 24, 2014!

Best wishes and good luck to all! Almost through this one.

Choosing a UFE Prep Course

A new year, the CKE results around the corner and some requests in the comments tell me that candidates are looking for more information on UFE prep programs out there. I haven’t taken each individual course myself so I can’t rate them but I’m hoping candidates that have taken them in the past can give us some input in the comments. Outside of that, please visit their web sites and checkout what you get as part of the course to make your decision.

On a similar note, in the past I’ve discussed a UFE schedule and we got some great comments from past students on what worked for them in their respective provinces. I do recommend you check the previous articles out.

So here is the major stuff out there and what I know about it.

  1. Densmore Consulting Services offers the Densmore Prep Program. I took this program for SOA and UFE prep and it offers an excellent introduction to case writing as well as the emotional aspect of writing these exams. Densmore has excellent and experienced instructors, plenty of case marking as part of the course and books/presentations that you can learn from. Learn about the fees for the course here. Densmore has also added online versions of the course which are a little less expensive at $1,000 without marking and $1,600 with marking. As far as I know, this is the leading UFE prep program out there based on the number of candidates that take it which means that you’ll most likely end up in some large lectures. All the instructors were very willing to help those with questions though which is a very positive thing.

  2. Professional Accounting Supplementary School (PASS) offers its comprehensive UFE prep course through the summer as well. I took this course for CKE but not for SOA or UFE. I can tell you that Mr. Walfish has a very strong technical background and offers a good CKE course. Like Densmore, PASS has begun to offer and online version of their course in the winter which is available for $595.

  3. In Ontario, the ICAO offers the UFE Finalist Preparation Program. I have no personal knowledge of how these courses are since I haven’t taken them. If you’ve taken it, please let us know your experience in the comments.

For those looking for further alternatives, a number of newer courses and programs have sprung up in the past few years which look promising.

  1. ExaMENTOR has been around for a number of years now offers a number of UFE related services including in-class workshops, marking services and coaching services. They’re also in some more locations than you might find the other programs above which could reduce your travel costs. For those looking for a more individual experience and attention, exaMENTOR may be worth trying. Prices range based on your choices and may be a good value for the size of the class, check it out.

  2. CPA Formula is a new online training program which offers a mix of video lessons, case marking and virtual/in-person tutoring and some method to compare yourself to candidates in other provinces. You can learn a little more about what they offer here. CPA Formula is priced a little lower than the major lecture-style courses mentioned above and may be a good value for candidates who can part with the classroom setting.

(Full disclosure: exaMENTOR and CPA Formula advertise with UFE Blog) 

So what’s best for you?

Wish I could tell you! You’ll have to go through what each program offers and decide which one will work best for your situation. I do recommend you have some support though, even if it’s just strictly marking support from a professional marker. I’ve known people who have passed the UFE first try with just a little marking support but for most I still recommend a course, especially if you haven’t done a lot of case writing in the past.

Decisions, decisions…

Are you a past UFE writer who took a course? Let us know how your experience was!

Congratulations! You've finished the CKE

Congratulations to all the Ontario candidates today that have just finished up writing the 2014 Core Knowledge Exam!

Coming out of the CKE can range from relief because it was easier than you imagined or on the opposite end you might feel a bit worried because you had to make a lot of choices between the two best picks. The good news is that there are probably a lot of people in the same boat which, explained below, might work in your favour. In any event, it’s done now so put it down. Busy season is just around the corner to keep your mind off of things. Here’s a little more about next steps.

What the heck are they doing for three weeks?

I have no inside knowledge of the marking process but given the quality control over the SOA and UFE I suspect that the ICAO does a fair bit of analysis on these results.

What I can tell you is that the CKE is marked and compared to previous years’ CKEs. As you may be aware, the questions on the CKE are kept secret so they can be reused between years (obviously swapped around). After the comparisons are done and analyzed  I suspect that the ICAO sets a passing standard that maintains some minimum overall long-term benchmark. This typically results in a higher percentage of people passing in January than in May. This form of setting the cutoff would ensure that neither session of the CKE is easier than the other since you’re not only compared to the overall group but also to other groups that has written the CKE in the past.

What will you see in the result?

You’ll get a few pieces of information on results day.

You’ll get an overall SUCCESSFUL/NOT SUCCESSFUL result.

You’ll get an overall decile score. What’s a decile? In short, all students are split up into 10 equal groups based on their ranking. Ten is the lowest rank (bottom 10%) and One is the highest (top 10%). Anything 6-10 is below average and anything 1-5 is above average. As I’ve mentioned previously, from my experiences with people, based on mock exams, those getting in the high 50s and in the 60s are typically in the top deciles. Those in the high 40s and in the 50s are somewhere around the 3-8th decile. Of course, how you perform exam day can be different than mocks. A lot of people will be surprised by the decile ranking they get because they associated 50s with doing badly.

You’ll also get a decile ranking for each competency area. This means you’ll find out how you did in PMR vs. everybody else. A lot of people blow off tax for CKE thinking that the effort (amount to cover) vs. reward (# of marks) ratio is too low so you may be surprised how you rank in tax as well. Either way, this is a good place to get to understand where your weaknesses are for SOA.

Those scoring below 5th decile will also get a warning on their result that they are below average and should brush up on things. Thanks CPA Ontario! 🙂

Congratulations! You’ve finished the CKE

Congratulations to all the Ontario candidates today that have just finished up writing the 2014 Core Knowledge Exam!

Coming out of the CKE can range from relief because it was easier than you imagined or on the opposite end you might feel a bit worried because you had to make a lot of choices between the two best picks. The good news is that there are probably a lot of people in the same boat which, explained below, might work in your favour. In any event, it’s done now so put it down. Busy season is just around the corner to keep your mind off of things. Here’s a little more about next steps.

What the heck are they doing for three weeks?

I have no inside knowledge of the marking process but given the quality control over the SOA and UFE I suspect that the ICAO does a fair bit of analysis on these results.

What I can tell you is that the CKE is marked and compared to previous years’ CKEs. As you may be aware, the questions on the CKE are kept secret so they can be reused between years (obviously swapped around). After the comparisons are done and analyzed  I suspect that the ICAO sets a passing standard that maintains some minimum overall long-term benchmark. This typically results in a higher percentage of people passing in January than in May. This form of setting the cutoff would ensure that neither session of the CKE is easier than the other since you’re not only compared to the overall group but also to other groups that has written the CKE in the past.

What will you see in the result?

You’ll get a few pieces of information on results day.

You’ll get an overall SUCCESSFUL/NOT SUCCESSFUL result.

You’ll get an overall decile score. What’s a decile? In short, all students are split up into 10 equal groups based on their ranking. Ten is the lowest rank (bottom 10%) and One is the highest (top 10%). Anything 6-10 is below average and anything 1-5 is above average. As I’ve mentioned previously, from my experiences with people, based on mock exams, those getting in the high 50s and in the 60s are typically in the top deciles. Those in the high 40s and in the 50s are somewhere around the 3-8th decile. Of course, how you perform exam day can be different than mocks. A lot of people will be surprised by the decile ranking they get because they associated 50s with doing badly.

You’ll also get a decile ranking for each competency area. This means you’ll find out how you did in PMR vs. everybody else. A lot of people blow off tax for CKE thinking that the effort (amount to cover) vs. reward (# of marks) ratio is too low so you may be surprised how you rank in tax as well. Either way, this is a good place to get to understand where your weaknesses are for SOA.

Those scoring below 5th decile will also get a warning on their result that they are below average and should brush up on things. Thanks CPA Ontario! 🙂

CKE 2014 – Good Luck!

To all the candidates in Ontario who are writing the CKE tomorrow morning: I want to wish you the best of luck!

You have no doubt spent many hours preparing yourself for this and for many it’s the toughest exam because you’re most nervous and it’s a multiple choice, very technical exam.

Please take today off to let your brain rest and recover. All that counts is that you’re on your A-game tomorrow.

Again – best of luck to all!

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