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! 🙂


  1. How did everyone find the CKE? I found it extremely hard – mock exams did not prepare me for this, personally. I found majority of the assurance questions having 2 best picks( I know mock exam did as well), but these ones were TRICKY. I am hoping for the best, but chances seem low 🙁 Good luck everyone.

  2. That exam was ridiculous. I don’t even think I passed a single competency. I think I guessed between 70-80 questions. After 11 mock exams I can honestly say none of them were representative of the CKE, not even close. I guess I’ll get another go at it again in May…

  3. Agreed! I did 15-20 mocks…ranging between 40-60%..and ofcourse I did some technical studying for PMR on side, but this exam was brutal.

  4. My performance on mock exams were in the mid-50’s. The questions that I did get right on them I was able to clearly identify and was confident in them. There is no way I got close to a 50 on this, and if that’s what the estimated pass average is, im in trouble.

  5. I think I will get 20-30 TOPS, however, I’ve been told passing mark is 50-55 so yes definitely screwed….

    • Let’s split the difference and say you got 25.

      That’s 75 questions where your odds are 1/4. So 25 + (25% x 75) = 25 + 19 = 44.

      I’m willing to bet that in a good portion of those 75 you were able to eliminate one or two incorrect answers which would likely put you over 50. We’re also assuming 50 is the passing mark which may not be correct.

      In any case, maybe not so screwed? Hang in there, you probably did better than you thought!

  6. Having been through the UFE process myself and judgin from above comments, I would say you all are in a good boat because it is normal feeling that all of us had. More likely than not, you will be surprised come results day.

  7. agreed… that was bad! definitely much tougher than any mocks I did. I know GSRM is only worth 5, but what the hell was that?!! I think I guessed on all 5! And what’s with the lack of time management? The rules said we COULD take a watch, but not that we SHOULD take a watch! What am I gonna do with a 10 minute warning other than guess the 15 questions I had unanswered?!?! Brutal!

    • AGREED! A lot of professional exams have a huge time dispay projected on the wall, and this one didn’t even have a single clock. It would have been nice to have a heads up on that one.

    • I hope you still scribbled something!!

    • Completely agree, I brought my own watch, but since we didn’t start at 9, I couldn’t figure out how much time I had left. They should really make a quick announcement when there is an hour left, then half an hour, then ten minutes, done.

  8. I had to guess about 75% of that exam, not even joking.

  9. Pretty sure I only knew 10 “for-sure” answers. Guessed the rest of the exam. Still in a state of shock…

  10. Agree with all the above posts… I definitely need to get lucky on that one. Hopefully guessing B when in doubt pays off!

  11. I found this exam pretty easy, and thought the practice exams really helped me prepare. Unfortunate that some found it to be difficult, at least there is still an oppportunity to retry 🙂

  12. Does anyone know what the passing decile is? I’m still in a state of shock too, I can’t imagine writing this again in May..

  13. the fact that so many people feel this way means youre (pretty much) all fine. as somene you scored first decile last year on the cke everyone should know that this is a totally normal feeling.

    i stand by what youve heard.
    if you were scoring somewhere in the 50s (give or take) on the mocks youre fine and you passed.

    this is the only fun part of an exam like this.

    congratulations to everyone who wrote the first one and dont worry too much – these weeks are the hardest, and this is the worst exam because its so unfulfilling and you never quite feel ready or like youve got it, but this will get better with the next two.

  14. Going through this process I’ve learned to just be relaxed and wait for the results to come when they do. No point stressing about it, I’m sure most of us have done fine. I was wondering if UFEBLOG can put a post about the SOA/UFE courses that are being offered. I’ve already received an e-mail from CPA Ontario about the SOA preperation program with a January 10th deadline. I understand that there are a bunch of prep programs and the actual programs. Hoping that UFEBLOG can shed some light on this.

    • Hey – yes, this is in the works. I’ll have something thorough soon.

      I was on holidays so missed your Jan 10th date obviously but I haven’t heard anything too great about the ICAO/CPA Ontario SOA prep course from previous years. I haven’t taken it myself though so perhaps any candidates from past years can elaborate?

  15. Coming from a CKE writer in 2013 I will tell you I thought I failed when I walked out (but ended up passing)-So dont worry to much about it, as most of you will likely pass. The other thing is when you get you decile ranking back don’t look into it too much (especially if you pass with an 6,7,8 decile ranking). I passed with a 7th decile ranking and finished in the 2nd decile at SOA and passed the UFE…the exams are completely different (especially the CKE), really all you need to worry about is passing the CKE and the decile ranking can be ignored as it is no indication of how you will do on the next two exams

  16. I was getting 48-55% on the mock exams, and i am so upset about how that went… i am really hoping for the best and some luck… i just can’t stop thinking about it. I was not able to finish the exam as i spent too much time in PMR and Audit and left finance for last … i just hope it pays off …. Is this exam based on competency deciles or overall mark out of a 100, or both?

  17. I gotta be honest, I’ve spoken to a lot of past writers and I know everyone always thinks their year was the hardest, but everyone still thought it was strange that the practice exams were not at all a reflection of the real thing. When an exam is this difficult, it almost makes it closer to a lottery system than a knowledge ranking because if it was somewhat reflective of what we have been taught then the institute would be able to tell who should pass because there would be a bigger range of marks and few people would have ended up passing based on dumb luck. A very large chunk of people will end up passing because they guessed better than some other people. The decile rankings will mean nothing and if anyone is taking them seriously after this, they were the people who passed with dumb luck.

  18. I am interested in knowing more about the Densmore SOA/UFE prep course vs the winter UFE prep course offered by PASS.
    I also received an email from ICAO regarding their class that starts sooner than the other two, along with the option to purchase the materials/mock exam marking only. some pros and cons for the different classes would be very helpful 🙂

  19. That was a horrible exam!!!! Norgrove did nothing to help prep for that exam. I was totally and utterly lost! It’s going to take a miracle to pass that exam. Literally

  20. So, five days until results.

    I walked away from the exam feeling terrible. I may not have studied as much as I should have overall, and in the two weeks prior to the exam – it was hard to focus, I did the questions (usually faster than 2.4 minutes/question overall) and would debrief (maybe not as hard as I should have). Generally with the mocks I would get low to high 60s, with one 55%, and of course only got around 47 – 50% on the Norgrove 100Q/75Q mocks included in the booklets.

    Everyone says to feel okay about it based on the mock results – maybe this is pessimism but I didn’t feel the exam was quite representative of the mocks. I can think of around 7 questions that I am positive I got wrong (reflected on them after the exam). The rest of it is kind of a blur, which makes me fairly nervous.

    Based on the typical pass rates (i.e. 75% will pass) you’d think you should probably feel optimistic, but when you know of others who are generally fairly smart who failed an attempt, it becomes a bit harder to stay positive.

    Is anyone else having a hard time keeping their mind off of the results?

    • You pretty much summed it how I felt when I got out of exam. I also reflected on the questions I definitely got wrong by second guessing or plain stupid.

      Not sure how everyone is able to keep their mind off but I have been thinking of the results ever since and this week is going to be even harder. All the best!

    • i dont really understand why you’re stressing. you got mid to high 60s on the mock exams. you’re fine. it would take some sort of miracle for you to fail. the people who scored mid 40s on mocks are the ones who should be slightly nervous but definitely not yourself.

      also, im sure noone studied as much as they were supposed to and im sure most people rushed the mocks and the debriefs just like you did. anyway, i don’t see any reason for someone who scored as well as you to stress unless you’re aiming for first decile or something

  21. Like I mentioned – I’ve seen some people get first decile through the mocks only to get 6th or so on the actual exam. I didn’t find the exam to be representative of the mocks, and I actually felt like I choked pretty bad on the actual exam – there is a handful of questions I knew but looking back answered incorrectly because I just wasn’t thinking things through.

    I guess we’ll see on Friday! Hoping for the best, but I’ve been trying to prepare mentally for the potential bad news.

    • Me too … Trying to prepare for the bad, deciding if I should go to work, or leave early if I fail .. What to do, what to do … I just want to know !!!
      The fact that the partners know before us kills me too … After 4 pm tomorrow ill be staring at him trying to figure it out and probably won’t … Which will make me even more crazy ha

      • Your partners won’t know that early. I believe they only find out 30 minutes beforehand. Maybe a little more than 30 mins but they won’t know the day before.

        • Reallyyyyy, are you sure, i feel like i read on the icao site somewhere it was 4 pm the day before.

          • Mind finding the link for reference. Curious now.

          • If you find where it said that please do let us know! But historically, the ICAO would notify the firm about an hour before the results just so they could get e-mails and notices ready prior to the official release. Maybe it’s a little more or a little less than that but it wasn’t the day before. Of course, things could have changed.

      • Sorry can you clarify this? How are partners notified?

        • There is an online system that your firms/catos can login to in order to view the results of their candidates. The results are available on that system in advance of the official release. How much in advance is what’s under debate 🙂

          • results to partners are released at 9 am on the firm portal through the icao website. Will only say ‘Successful’ or ‘not successful’. No decile scores are released on the portal

          • Firms have access to results at 4pm the day before but conditional on the fact that they do not release the results to students until 10am the day of the public results.

        • Congratulations! 🙂

  22. Is there a way to check results other than by the list of names released? I’m almost positive I ticked release my name when I was registering but I am paranoid – if I failed I’d like to be able to confirm. Also are our deciles available online tomorrow or only by mail?

  23. There were alot of people who were worried about the results. So now that results are out, were there alot of commentors who did not pass this time around? Please do comment, I would also like to share personal thoughts as someone who did not pass this time around.
    With the May CKE being the last offering ever, it really is excruciatingly painful to know that you didn’t pass this time around because it will be an even bigger burden the next time. Questions about self-worth and confidence really taking a toll today….at least for me.
    Among those who didn’t pass, what do you think was the key reason for not being able to do so? Could it just be lack of technical compared to other people?
    As painful as it may be, it’d be really great if we can all comment on this unsuccessful experience, because we need to be able to do it the next time around.

    • If you want an over-generalization, the CKE writers in total consist of 4 types:

      1) Techies: who know their shit and will pass (excluding the exceptional circumstances where they don’t) – they typically take 1st and 2nd decile places

      2) Average candidates with luck: who have a decent grasp of many topics tested, but happen to guess the questions they are not sure of CORRECTLY – they are the “jack of all trades” typically taking 3rd to 7th decile places

      3) Average candidates with no luck: who have a decent grasp of many topics tested, but happen to guess the questions they are not sure of INCORRECTLY – they are the “jack of all trades” typically taking 3rd to 10th decile.

      4) Weak candidates with or without luck: who either lacked study or studied inefficiently and have little to no grasp in many topics tested – these candidates typically have a high chance of failure and might take 6th to 10th decile.

      Notice the large and overlapping range of types 2-4 with only 1 common denominator in all 3 types being LUCK (or lackof). Throw in stress management/emotional trauma management and it really just makes it a toss-up.

      In a nutshell, unless you are type 1, you’re relying on some form of luck to pass this exam. And even type 4s who may not have studied as efficiently have a chance at passing simply due to the nature of the exam. Can’t be helped.

      I passed the second time around with the burden of my job security at stake. I attribute it mainly to my attitude and mindset i.e. I went into the exam not caring if I fail or not because I tried my best to do what I could during the study period. It may seem extreme, but sometimes caring too much creates unnecessary self-induced pressure that could really screw you over in exams such as these.

      Psychology plays a role whether we like it or not. My 2 cents.

      Good luck!

  24. Hi guys… I am a student who did not pass the CKE this time around either. I am very upset especially with the next one offered being the last one ever. It puts a lot of extra pressure on us for sure. The key reason for me failing was my PMR decile score. My partner gave me my results today and I did very poorly on that competency. I think I really need to focus on that area for studying. The only good thing about studying for this stuff again is that our technical knowledge will be very good for the SOA in June. I have heard you need a solid base of technical knowledge for the next 2 exams and so I guess we may be better prepared for that. Best of luck to everyone re-writing in May!

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