Why should I listen to the suggested times for each CFE case?

Since I want you to have good habits from the start, I’m going to encourage you to stick to whatever time the exam gives you and never go over your allotted time! Real thing or mocks, this rule applies.

While with the comprehensive cases you don’t have a choice since examiners will cut you off, with the multis (shorter cases of Day 3), there is some flexibility. Cases ranged from 45-90 minutes each but your total time will be four hours at which point you are cut off.

The time guidelines are not just there to tell you how long someone thinks the case should take but they are one of the mechanisms used to test ranking which an important factor on the CFE. The CPA Canada Board of Examiners wants to judge how you look at issues and whether you can determine what is critically important and what is less important. They do this through giving you, on some cases, a time crunch and forcing you to only tackle the most important stuff and leave behind the less important stuff. It’s a strange feeling ignoring an obvious issue that you see but in some cases you will have to do just that.

So if you happen to get a 60 minute exam and it feels like you need another 20 to do it properly, this could be one of those cases where you need to rank. You need to recognize this on your outline.

Why it’s risky to ignore the time allocations

The problem is that if you take 15 more minutes on this one exam, you won’t score much higher since the examiners only give points for the top issues which you could have conquered in 60 minutes and not the additional issues you did in the extra 20 minutes. You lose.

You lose because in the remaining two exams you’ll short change yourself. You won’t have the time to go into greater depth where marks are given because you spent your time talking more issues where marks were not given.

So I’ll repeat: never go over your allotted time and get in the habit of this from the start.

One comment

  1. Hi – on the CFE, are we given paper to do our outline/plan on? as we are not given one during the Module exams.

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