Repeat Writers

What Should I Do in the Last Few Days Before the 2018 CFE?

This is a common question I get from writers who have been actively studying for the 2018 CPA Common Final Exam (CFE). In fact, when I first wrote back in 2016, I was asking the same thing in early September.

 

After rewriting and passing in 2017, I had discovered (through failure) that less is more. Here are the top three things I think you should consider doing in the last week of study:

 

1) Focus on the areas which you haven’t yet looked at or are still uncertain about.

Common things I hear that tend to “fall to the wayside” include: going over less-common technical topics that are still testable (e.g. accounting for NPOs), practicing with Day 1 CFE cases and debriefing parts of cases you already wrote that you simply ran out of time for. I don’t think it’s a good strategy to hope that these things do not appear on the exam. Instead, it is better to look at these things, even at a high level, so that way, even if these do appear, you won’t be as “stuck” compared to not looking it at all.

 

2) Take a look back at the cases you debriefed.

For each case, take a few minutes to reopen your notes, and try to answer the following question: “What did I learn from this case?” Perhaps you learned a technical topic you were unfamiliar with. Or perhaps you learned how to properly apply a case format (for example, W-I-R or RAMP if the case had an audit AO). The way how I see it, if you debriefed your case well, you must have learned something that is transferable to the exam. However, I would NOT recommend trying to memorize the facts in each case you attempted, as the case on the CFE will not be like what you’ve seen.

 

3) Relax, especially two days before the exam.

For me, this was the most difficult thing to do, especially when I was so used to doing cases & reviewing technical every day up until that point – it literally became a habit. However, even if you feel the temptation to open up cases, notes, textbooks, etc. on the last two days, I can assure you that whatever you will look at within those two days will make very little improvement, if any, on your exam performance. However, the thing that will make a difference on your exam performance is your mindset. Therefore, I think it is better to do things that will make the exam feel like it not so much of a threat to you – the best way is to simply not give a s@#t on the last two days.

 

Just a side note: if, for whatever reason, you will be unable to write the exam this year, you must keep in mind that the Institute requires you to formally withdraw before the date of the CFE; otherwise, your absence will still count as an attempt. However, if you feel you want to “pull the plug” simply because you are not ready, I strongly advise that you speak to a CPA exam trainer first, especially if that person knows you and your case performance well. It is normal for some candidates to panic during the final week, but just because this is happening does not necessarily mean it makes sense to not write this year.

 

I really hope that this blog post helps you out during this final week of study. Best of luck on the 2018 CFE!

 

Steven

Common Myths About the CFE Exam

Hey everyone,

We’ve now reached that special time of the year for those writing the upcoming CFE exam…study season!

What I find interesting about this time of the year is that emotions are really mixed among students: some of you are laid back because you took some vacation before Capstone 2, some of you are excited to get into case-writing mode and making study groups, and others are already pulling out their hair.

Back in July 2016, I was one of those people pulling out their hair. And one of the main reasons why was because, like many of you, I had a tendency to pay very close attention to what other candidates were saying. What bothered me the most was that there was very little consistency across the “words-of-mouth.” For example, I heard that some CFE Honour Roll student out there would recommend taking three months off to study, some other successful writer would recommend taking only three weeks off, others would say that I should take at least a month off, and so on.

The truth in all of this is that while you will all be writing the same standardized exam, you are all individually unique in your abilities. Coming from a guy who spent two full years in the CFE process, the best advice I can give you if you’re already doubtful on how to prepare for the exam is to focus on yourself: make a plan that’s tailored to your own performance level. And there are many good CFE tutors out there who can help you figure out your unique “performance level” at this stage in the game (I’d be happy to get you in touch with them if you feel you need the help).

The purpose of this article is to address 5 common myths I repeatedly hear from CFE candidates each year (related to my point above about the inconsistent “words-of-mouth” statements I just mentioned), hoping that it can ease the anxiety that some of you may be experiencing right now.

 

Myth #1: You automatically fail Level 1 on Days 2 & 3 if you score NA or NC on an assessment opportunity.

Truth: false.

If CPA Canada were to do this, you would be looking at pass rates at less than 20%, if not less. I must stress again that this is a standardized exam, based on relative grading. Given how Day 3 is structured with very minimal time for each assessment opportunity across the cases, it is very common for candidates to run out of time to address an assessment opportunity, even at an RC-level. Even looking back at the 2017 CFE Board report myself (which was the year I passed), I can tell that there were a few assessment opportunities that I likely scored NA or NC.

With this being said, you still need to be very cautious about scoring NCs and NAs in your cases. You must keep in mind that Level 1 is still the most common level in which CFE candidates fail. CPA Canada assess passing level 1 as to whether “the aggregate competency was demonstrated sufficiently.” What this means is that you still need to achieve a certain number of RCs and Cs across Days 2 and 3 to pass this exam, and this number is based on how all other candidates score.

My recommendation: minimize the risk of failing. Still aim to score a C-level response in your practice cases and on the actual exam. However, do not beat yourself up (like I did) if you score NC or NA on an assessment opportunity here and there.

 

Myth #2: The markers care more about quantitative responses than they do qualitative responses for Days 2 & 3.

Truth: false.

The CPA Board of Examiners is not interested in inviting strict number-crunchers to the profession. Their goal is to bring in people who are well-rounded both in technical abilities and in the enabling competencies. This is why they would only give an RC (at best) to candidates in an assessment opportunity that requires a qualitative discussion, even if the quantitative portion is excellent.

As you proceed with debriefing your Day 2 & Day 3 cases during the study season, you will often see in the simulated marking guides that you MUST have some qualitative discussion in your response to bring your response from an RC to a C. Sometimes, you may even see that the solutions carve out the qualitative discussion as a separate assessment opportunity, so missing out on qualitative discussions may increase the risk of you failing on Level 1.

My recommendation: allocate at least 40 to 50% of your time on each assessment opportunity to have a qualitative discussion, and make sure that you stick to this time allocation. This is a great thing to try as you attempt the practice exams. Furthermore, don’t be fooled by assessment opportunities that only ask you to calculate something; there’s always something qualitative that applies to a calculation (such as impact the result will have on your client’s operations), and including this in your response will help you bring it up to a C-level.

 

Myth #3: Practicing with old UFE cases is sufficient enough to prepare for the CFE.

Truth: false.

I know this myth is going to raise some eyebrows.

Practicing old UFE cases should definitely be part of your study plan, as there is a lot you can learn from them – not only case writing techniques but also technical content (assuming you are debriefing well, which I’ll elaborate on below). Even for Capstone 2, most of the cases that CPA will provide you are derived from these old UFE cases.

However, I strongly believe that practicing old UFE cases alone is insufficient preparation. For CFE Day 1, the exam response format you’re expected to use, and method of evaluation, is nothing like what was offered in the old UFE (as it was derived from the former CMA exam program). For CFE Day 2, the exam question structure on the former Day 1 “comp” cases is somewhat similar if your elected depth role is assurance; however, the difference lies in the fact the old UFE comp-cases focused on all technical competency areas rather than just financial reporting, management accounting & your selected depth role. Lastly, for CFE Day 3, the old UFE “multi” cases generally had fewer assessment opportunities (i.e. 3 to 4 per case) compared to the CFE Day 3 cases, which have anywhere between 6 to 8 assessment opportunities per case. Ultimately, this means that you need to be a lot more careful with time allocation across the assessment opportunities.

My recommendation: to minimize the “shock” factor when writing the actual CFE, try to include cases from the prior CFE offerings (i.e. year 2015 & onwards) throughout your study period. You may also be able to obtain decent “mock Day 3” cases from third party CPA prep program providers. Whether you want to try these types of cases at the beginning, at the end, or spread evenly across your study period, that’s up to you. My personal preference is to spread these across your study period.

 

Myth #4: You need to work in audit & assurance to be successful on the CFE with assurance as your depth.

Truth: false.

While I was going through the CFE process, I was working in audit at a public accounting firm. The depth role I chose was assurance because I still wanted to pursue public accounting after getting my CPA, and I felt there were a lot more resources available from the old UFEs pertaining to assurance.

However, throughout the study period, I felt that the work experience that I was able to apply to the assurance assessment opportunities contained in the cases was limited. This was due to my limited involvement with planning assurance engagements on the job, contrary to the cases which usually ask you to perform planning work (whether it be a RAMP audit plan, control assessments, or what kind of assurance engagement to pursue). Instead, I found my resources to lie much more heavily on prior exam cases & technical content provided by my CPA mentor.

There may be some of you who do have a more senior-role at your job and are involved in the planning process. If so, then I’m sure that there are some things that are transferable to the actual exam. However, I want to stress that it is not a requirement for you to do very well on the CFE if assurance is your depth role.

My recommendation: If you see yourself working in public accounting later on in your career, choosing assurance as your depth role will open that door for you. If you do not see yourself doing this later on, I would still strongly consider assurance as your depth role, due to the many resources available from prior UFE & CFE exams in which assurance was tested frequently.

 

Myth #5: Writing more cases increases your chances of passing the CFE.

Truth: (partially) false.

I am a strong believer that for the CFE, practice makes perfect. However, it’s important to understand what “practice” really means.

I do not consider practice to be simply writing a lot of cases. By doing this, you are unable to gauge your performance. If anything, it may help you with time management, but even this benefit is questionable as you would not know if you perhaps missed assessment opportunities. The important piece missing in this is the DEBRIEFING.

Over time, I discovered that a proper debrief involves not only reading the solution after writing a practice case, but also comparing the solution to what you wrote, rewriting parts of your case response to bring it to a C-level, researching technical areas you are not comfortable with that came up in the case, and tracking your progress.

As you start in the study season, you will find that your debrief sessions take a lot of time. You may even find it takes twice or three times as long to debrief than to write the actual case – do NOT rush through this at the beginning! It’s a lot better to debrief one case thoroughly than to just write two or three cases in the same amount of time. I would reserve the strict case-writing near the end of the study season as you practice moving from case to case for Day 3.

My recommendation: Practice writing cases, but make sure your study plan allots a sufficient amount of time for debriefing each case you practice.

 

I really hope that this blog post helps you navigate through the complexities of the CFE study process. If you want to reach out to me, please give me a shout at stevenp2c@gmail.com.

 

All the best, and good luck!

Steven

How I Bounced Back after Failing the 2016 CFE

Hey everyone,

If you are reading this blog and you ended up passing the 2017 CFE, congratulations! You have successfully reached a milestone in your professional career. Make sure that you cherish this special time in your life.

If you did not end up passing the CFE this year, I know what kind of thoughts are going through your head right now:

“This program isn’t fair. Someone must have made a mistake.”

“There’s no way I can recover from this. I gave it my all and got nothing in return.”

“I’m not mentally fit to pass the CFE & become a CPA.”

“So many people passed but I didn’t, which makes me feel embarrassed.”

If this is you, I highly recommend that you continue reading.

 

My Story

I started the CPA PEP program in late 2014. This was eighteen months after I graduated from a highly competitive university undergraduate program in Toronto. Unlike many of my peers, I did not get hired by a Big 4 CPA firm right after I graduated. Instead, I worked for a bookkeeping & tax preparation office for a little over a year, and I later transitioned over to working at a small CPA firm.

At the time I entered the program, CPA Canada was still offering the “challenge exam” option for CA legacy students. Given the significant cost savings that this option entailed, I challenged the Core 1, Core 2, Assurance & Tax PEP exams throughout 2015, and I was very fortunate to pass each of them on my first attempt. During the spring of 2016, I got paired with an awesome group of other candidates as part of Capstone 1, and I was able to get through the module without any major hiccups.

Now it was the summer of 2016: the CFE was two months away. I fixated my efforts on doing whatever it would take to get a competitive edge over the other candidates, such as:
• Hiring an experienced CPA marker to help me mark my cases and give me one-to-one feedback (something that was unprecedented across other CFE prep courses offered in Canada);
• Studying with another student who had failed the May 2016 CFE by a small margin but was willing to go hard-core until the CFE;
• Taking two full months of unpaid study leave from work (let’s not even talk about what my bank account looked like during the summer);
• Practicing over sixty cases from old UFEs, the Capstone 2 content, my marker’s cases, and even old SOA exams, all under time restraints;
• Reading binders and binders full of technical notes.

And then September came around. And I wrote the CFE. And then I waited two months for the results.

 

The September 2016 CFE Results

Day 1: FAIL

Days 2 & 3: FAILED on Levels 1 & 3

Just imagine that. After going to all ends of the earth to prepare for this exam, I failed all three days. I felt numb. As much as people were calling me to offer consolation, I really didn’t want to speak to anyone because I couldn’t explain what happened. I began telling myself,

“This program isn’t fair. Someone must have made a mistake.”

“There’s no way I can recover from this.”

And so on. For the weeks that passed, I tried to preoccupy myself with other thoughts, like Christmas, upcoming birthdays, etc. But deep down, I was in search for answers as to why I had failed the CFE, and I had begun to believe that I was just playing a game of chance.

Then I got a call from a close friend who I had not heard from in a while. And the recovery process started.

 

The Recovery Process

My friend had called me to see how I was doing. I told him how great things had been for me over the past month, and the first thing he said was,

“Yeah, so?”

My reaction to him was, “What do mean, ‘Yeah, so?’ The CFE is a big deal! If I don’t figure out where I went wrong, I’m screwed!” I went off telling him all the things I had done to get ready for that exam. Then he posed the following questions to me,

“Do you think you may have put too much on your plate? How many breaks did you take over that two-month period? Were you experiencing burnout before the exam?”

At that point, I had found my answer. During that two-month study period before the CFE, while I was so focused on planning & making sure I had all my bases covered, I totally missed out on a vital part of the process: maintaining myself. As much as the CFE tests you on technical & “enabling” competencies, it also tests you on stress management. I vividly remember the last week of CFE study being the week when I experienced the most amount of stress. Little did I know that overdoing it was just as bad, if not worse, than not doing enough.

So what was my game plan for 2017? The first thing I did was focus on me: I started going back to the gym, I began to write really good articles on LinkedIn, and once busy season was over at work, I enrolled to rewrite the CFE in September.

Before I knew it, I was only two months away from writing the CFE – all over again! Here’s what I did during that period:
• I found a new study buddy, who carried an open mindset & who was also willing to put in the time to help me with my weaknesses;
• I rehired my CPA marker, who provided me with new cases to try that were more reflective of the CFE along with useful online webinars covering technical & case writing strategies;
• I again took unpaid study leave for the entire two months (work stress is just as bad as study stress);
• I practiced only 30 CPA cases, one-half the amount that I did in the prior year, and I tracked my progress on Level 1 (hitting a sufficient number of requireds) & Level 3 (depth in assurance);
• I did not touch anything related to the exam after 7PM on (most) weeknights & weekends;
• The week before the CFE, I reduced my study load significantly. I also did not give in to other students who were doing the complete opposite.

And then September came around, again. And I rewrote the CFE. And then I waited two months for the results.

 

The September 2017 CFE Results

Days 1, 2 & 3: PASS

Ten seconds after CPA Canada released the results, I see a message on my phone that says, “It’s all over homie. Congrats.” You can guess who sent me that message.

 

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid of failure. I truly believe that failure has put me in a much better position than if I had passed on my first attempt in 2016. Failure gives you that opportunity to see what your weaknesses are and to figure out how you’re going to overcome them. As a future practitioner, I think it was so much more valuable for me to experience failure in my 20s than later on in my career, when the ability to bounce back becomes more difficult (but still possible).

Lastly, I want to address those statements I posted at the beginning of this blog:

“This program isn’t fair. Someone must have made a mistake.”
• What’s “fair” is very subjective. I would treat the CPA program as a source to obtain life lessons rather than simply start, write, and get out as fast as possible.
• Some of you may want to appeal your results. Unless if you got really close to passing (i.e. you only failed on Level 1 & received a Decile 1), there is a high likelihood that you will be blowing away money that you can instead put towards something more valuable. Remember that CPA Canada’s pass rates are highly controlled.

“There’s no way I can recover from this. I gave it my all and got nothing in return.”
• Yes you can. I recovered from it and you can too. As I alluded to in my personal story above, sometimes giving it your all is not the only means to success.

“I’m not mentally fit to pass the CFE & become a CPA.”
• There is no such thing as a “born CPA.” Yes, there may be some that are naturally able to read & write fast, or who have “photographic memories,” but don’t think that passing this exam is some sort of an elitist game. You can pick up the skills to pass through practice.

“So many people passed but I didn’t, which makes me feel embarrassed.”
• It’s really easy to compare yourself to others in this process. In my case, I felt that I was years behind the people I went to university with. However, every single writer has a different story. Maybe that guy or girl who’s boasting about his/her success on social media had to write more than twice before they passed. Maybe the difference between your paper and theirs was one or two sentences. Rather than trying to measure success just based on results (like the majority of people have a tendency to do), I think you should instead measure success based on what you’ve learned after failing.
• If you’re hanging around people that are making you feel embarrassed and are brining you down, whether it be your peers, your employer, etc., cut them loose. They will become irrelevant to you sooner than you know it.

I really hope that this blog post helps you get back on the right track. If you want to reach out to me, please give me a shout at stevenp2c@gmail.com.

 

All the best, and good luck!

Steven

Writing the June UFE?

When asked what to do for the June UFE my simple answer is that it shouldn’t change from what you’d do as a repeat writing for any other UFE.

Study Schedule

In general, there is no reason you shouldn’t follow the average UFE study schedule which is to slowly ramp up by doing a case on the weekends in April and then go full time, two cases per day max Monday to Friday for the 3-4 weeks prior to the UFE with weekends off to avoid burnout. If you can get some cases in there that you haven’t done before, even better.

Some of you will have constraints like employers that won’t let you have that much time off and you’ll have to adapt like the repeat writers of the past. Do extra cases on nights and weekends but don’t let it throw you off – many before you have done this under similar conditions and succeeded.

Always remember to watch for burnout and take your foot of the gas if needed.

Focus on Process

Although not all, the majority of writers that are unsuccessful the first time have process issues, not knowledge issues. My advice for the majority is to focus on your outlining, time management, priority setting and writing so that you can convey the right ideas on the right things quickly. Simple to say, hard to implement and this will take you practice. Learning to debrief properly will help you.

Don’t do it alone

Find a group or study buddy to debrief and review with. The independent and honest feedback is valuable and in my view, a key success factor in passing the UFE. You know what you wrote, or meant to write for your case and people have a tendency to assume that everybody understands their response the same way. An honest third party is the best way to avoid this error and they can tell you what they read and the gaps that exist between your response and the marking guide.

I think most of the advice on this blog is pretty timeless so feel free to flip through it for advice on certain areas or topics. What’s even more valuable is the feedback from other writers, past and present – what are you changing for the June UFE or what would you recommend for upcoming writers? Let us know in the comments!

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!

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!

Help for Experienced Writers

Helping experienced writers is something I struggle with because it’s difficult to give good advice if I haven’t lived the situation. I’ve had writers come to me and ask me what they should be doing right now. Should they be writing one case a week or two? Should they be only studying technical or should they be writing cases, too?

The truth is there are no easy answers. It depends on why you didn’t pass the previous time(s), how you study best, what your strengths and weaknesses are and a host of other possible reasons. A lot of people think there is some magic path to success – if only they do x cases, or if they study in this specific way – it will work. Of course, everyone probably knows deep down it can’t be that easy. Not everyone fits neatly on the UFE path.

So my advice to you is this:

Take time to honestly reflect on what the problems are.

  • Did you fall into the trap of too much technical at the expense of writing cases? Or maybe the opposite is true.
  • Did you study alone, or with a study group that didn’t work for you?
  • Did you not study enough or too much (be careful here!)
  • Did you allocate time correctly on the exam? Or did you not manage time well? Or the host of other technical reasons that can exist.
  • What were the problems on your mock cases prior to the exam?
  • Is it a language, communication or writing problem?

As you can see, the list can be long. Each varying answer can lead to a different suggestion. I think the best thing you can do is do an honest assessment and focus on the factors which hurt you last time.

The answer may be a great place to start in making changes to your 2013 strategy.

This may mean taking a repeat writers’ course out there or reading a book. Or maybe you need something more individual such as a tutor, one of the smaller programs out there or just a really good study partner.

Given how much time, effort and money goes into the UFE I think it’s worth investing in this activity as well as in a solution suitable to you. We’ll be around here to keep offering help and advice, too.

But as I said above, I’m not a repeat writers. If you are or have been, please drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you did and why. I know there are many that would benefit here just to know they’re not alone.

UFE Podcast for second time writers

Saw that over on CA Accounting Designation Revealed, they’ve got a Podcast up of an interview with Kayla Switzer discussing everything UFE for experienced writers. It sounds like a good listen for anyone rewriting the UFE this year so head on over and check it out!

Getting organized before busy season

Today we have a guest post from Kayla Switzer’s Blog: I Failed the UFE! Now What? You can also get in touch through her web site at www.KaylaSwitzer.comFeel free to contact Kayla if you have any questions or just want to vent! Kayla has experience with the CASB program in the West.

We are coming to the end of January and busy season is in full swing for most people. If you are really busy and stressing that you don’t feel organized for the UFE, don’t worry. Stop stressing! It’s okay to forget about the UFE now for a few months while you work hard during busy season. You shouldn’t be studying now anyway, it’s too early and if you do you’ll get burned out. Especially if you are also working long hours for busy season.

You can start getting organized when busy season slows down. Most people don’t have their schedule yet so you’re not alone. There’s lots of time this summer to study and work on weaknesses, so don’t worry about that now.

One thing you can start thinking about is how much time you want to take off this summer. It’s a good idea to take time off before you start studying so you allow yourself a bit of a summer before you start studying. I took a month off in my second UFE summer! It was such a great thing for me because when I started studying I was totally relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to study instead of tired and burned out from work.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to email me through my website or at ExperiencedUFE@gmail.com. I love hearing from you, so keep the emails coming with questions and concerns! And if you’re looking for a mentor and you’re interested in working with me, I’d love to hear from you!

Kayla

What is your weakness? Know what your transcript is saying!

Today we have a guest post from Kayla Switzer’s Blog: I Failed the UFE! Now What? You can also get in touch through her web site at www.KaylaSwitzer.comFeel free to contact Kayla if you have any questions or just want to vent! 

Knowing why you failed the UFE is an important first step in moving on. I have been receiving a lot of emails from students requesting an explanation of their transcript because they are confused about what exactly it is saying. It is confusing! So let’s go through a sample in more detail and you can use it as a guide to understand your transcript better.

Transcript Sample

This is an example of a student who failed at Level 1. The sufficiency grouping of 1 means that this student was close to passing the UFE, but needed one or two more indicators at Competent to pass. A student with a sufficiency grouping of 10, which is the highest sufficiency grouping (i.e. the furthest away from passing Level 1) would have needed several more indicators at C to pass.

The decile rankings for the Comprehensive and the Non-Comprehensives are to rank you against your peers for the three day exam. In this example, the student has a decile ranking of 7 on the Comprehensive and 8 in the Non-Comprehensive (the multis), which means that the student was was in the bottom 30% on the Comprehensive and the bottom 20% for the multis. Another way to look at it is that the honour roll students would have a decile ranking of 1, which means they would be in the top 10% of all writers.

In this example, this student passed at Level 2 and Level 3. This student only barely passed Tax at “standard marginally met”. This could mean that the student was weak in tax technical, that they didn’t notice an entire tax indicator, or maybe that the student had poor time management and always left tax to the end and didn’t tend to provide enough depth.

There is also a lot of reading between the lines to do. For example, did you focus primarily on the Level 2 requirements getting green, and then got yellow and red in Level 3? This is a time management issue because although of course you need to do well in PM and Assurance, if you don’t leave enough time for Level 3 you won’t be able to pass the UFE.

So now look at your own transcript. What is it saying? What level did you fail at? How many reds and yellows did you get? Can you read between the lines to find out what it all really means?

If you have more questions on your specific transcript please feel free to contact me through my website at www.KaylaSwitzer.com. I love to hear from all of you!

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