Stick to the game plan!

Today is a guest blog post from Gus Patel who successfully completed the 2013 UFE

I hope everyone took the time to relax and enjoy the long weekend.  Many of you will be starting some sort of “pre-SOA preparation”, be it an internal prep program, or your own study plan before June.  I wanted to take the time to quickly address a very important point very early on in this process for new candidates: do not get overwhelmed by the wealth of knowledge available to you during the school and within your programs.

When I wrote the SOA in 2012, I decided to be proactive and print out all my internal prep program materials, all the materials on the Boot Camp on the CPA website, along with all my Densmore study guides.  What I was left with after several hours of printing was easily over 3,000 pages of information, prior cases, strategy notes, etc. which sat firmly atop my desk at home.  Staring at this massive pile,  a large overwhelming feeling looming over me – how was I supposed to get through all this information in just a few months?

The reality is – you can’t possibly learn all there is to know about accounting in just a few short months.  The commitment you’ve taken on to learn this information will last more than just your time studying to pass the SOA and UFE.  To be a CPA/CA is establishing an ongoing commitment to professional development.

While I am not discounting the value of going through all this information – do not to get too stressed out and overwhelmed by the volume  available to you during your studies.  The most important and critical thing you can do is learn to write cases which means write cases and debrief them well.

You may be tempted to dedicate a large portion of time to just studying and memorizing technical, just like you did for exams in school, but this exam is very different, and the only way to learn how to score in these cases, is to practice cases.  The technical knowledge you need, you will learn directly from debriefing the cases.  In fact, you might be surprised as you go through the cases, how much (or little) “technical knowledge” you might need for competent on a given indicator.

What are you doing to prepare for the 2014 School of Accountancy?


  1. Started doing a couple of cases….how worried should I be if my solution is far from the debriefing materials? In terms of the structure and logical flow, it gets hectic under the time crunch, my thoughts aren’t always well organized. Also, how important are the fine details? Sometimes I talk about the topic but while I debrief, theres always those small details I miss out on. Only a week left until the School so just kind of concerned since I’m doubting that much studying will get accomplished in June..

  2. Hi Terry,

    I think that it is still early on in the process, and seeing as you only completed a few, of what will be many cases over the SOA study leave, I do not think you have anything to worry about.

    Believe it or not, all of June – including the time spent after classes doing cases, is where the majority of students will have the greatest learning curve to their “ah-ha” moments.

    Please keep in mind Terry, the Evaluation Guides are designed by the Board of Evaluators as a comprehensive learning tool. This has been created by multiple people over a span of, from what I hear, WEEKS per solution. No time constraints! Given the fact you have a limited time to formulate a response, the Board of Evaluators ARE NOT expecting your solution to mimic the guide at all.

    It’s tough to answer your question in regards to the “fine details”, sometimes it is the little points that will get you to score an RC or a C, however, if you are talking about in general, the very minor points – don’t sweat the small stuff. That being said, I want to stress: pay careful attention to the marking guide and what the Board of Evaluators was looking for competent – believe it or not, some of those small things will be easier to learn than you think!

    In terms of structure and logical flow – it sounds to me like it might be an outlining problem, and at this stage, you can’t expect your response to be the level you will be writing in a month’s time. To improve with structure and flow, be sure to create a solid outline using whatever strategy you have learned, and have a “stop and think” moment just before you write to make sure you are allocating your time and prioritizing your points within each required. When you debrief, look back on your time allocations and your outlines, as well as what you discussed in your case. This will help you improve in your future responses.

    I hope this this helps Terry. Best of luck in the School!

  3. Hi

    I want to know how many Comps you recommend we do before the actual exam?Also, would you rather recommend doing the Mock Comps or final exam ones?

  4. Hey SOA writer,

    I’d reccomend at least doing 2-3 just to get the handle of how comps feel, remember the way you are addressing your indicators is the same as a multi, your approach however, is a little different, the length of the case has increased, and there is likely integration and a big picture indicator (PQ).

    That being said, during the school you might have less time to attempt comprehensive cases as they require a lot of time to write and even more time to mark and debrief.

    I’m not too sure what you mean by Mock Comp’s or final exam ones? As you get closer to the SOA, your attempts at cases should get closer to the year you are writing (i.e. the last few cases you are writing should be 2013 from last year).

    Hope this helps!

  5. Thanks for your response.What I meant was if we should be doing the mock exams for the years as well as the final exams or focus only on the final exams.

    Also for comps,do you have tips to organize the outline better?I take a new page for every required and add whatever I find relevent to those as I read through. I have only done 2 comps so far and was wondering if there is a better way to organize info?

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