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December 2017 CFE Results (CPA)

December 2017 CFE Results

2017 CFE results time is here again: December 1, 2017 is the release date of the results for all candidates. We’re working quickly to break down the results. Even before the results are out, I’d like to congratulate all of the CPA PEP Candidates who took the time to write the exam. It’s tiring, and exhausting, and I remember my own time (I’m not that old) when I wrote and passed the UFE.

If you don’t know how to get data about the 2017 CFE results, I’ll populate this page with a summary of all of the available information from CPA Canada and the Provincial bodies.

CFE results time is upon us again! From the comments in the last few days here and from the candidates I’m working with I’m quickly brought back to my own results day a few years back now. Even before the results – congratulations for making it through the long and tiring wait.

If you’re not sure where to go to get the CFE results, below are some of the key spots to check for your results.

December 2017 CFE Results

GOLD MEDAL:

Mr. John Wark, Crowe MacKay LLP, Yellowknife (NWT/Nunavut)

Regional Gold Medals:

Atlantic: 

Ms. Monica Gregory, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Conception Bay South (NL)

Ontario:

Ms. Faghya Samra Shafiq, Ernst & Young LLP, Toronto (ON)

Quebec:

Mr. Kaihua He, Deloitte S.E.N.C.R.L./s.r.l., Montreal (QC)

Mr. Philippe Sénécal, Chiasson Gauvreau Inc., Châteauguay (QC)

ONTARIO

2252 Successful Writers! (up from 1249 in 2016 CFE)

Results released Friday, December 1 at 10:00am EST
Link to results: here

QUEBEC (QUEBEC CPA)

1121 Successful Writers!

Results released Friday, December 1 at 10:00am EST
Link to results: Here

CPA WESTERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS (CPAWSB)

(British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon)

1995 Successful Writers!

Honour Roll: Chelsea Bohonis-Schiemann (BC) Lorel Butalid (AB) Richard Dasler (BC) Thomas Drinkwater (BC) Kyla Gateley (SK) Paul Gotaas (AB) Shauna Hanson (AB) Trevor Hodgins (BC) Hardeep Kang (BC) Jason Koch (AB) Cole Leonoff (BC) Christine Liddell (AB) Hailey Maksymic-Harris (AB) Lissa Paul (BC) Paramveer Purewal (BC) Maria Seloza (AB) Thomas Simpson (AB) Ryan Slater (BC) Michael Stuart (AB) Erik Vagle (BC) Nico Van den Hooff (BC) Sarah Wang (BC) Jennifer Wells (BC) Man Yuen (BC)

Results released Friday, December 1 at 7:00am PST
Link to results: here

CPA ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF BUSINESS (ATLANTIC CPA)

(Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Bermuda, Caribbean)

225 Successful Writers! (212 in 2016 CFE)

Results released Friday, December 1 at 9:30am AST
Link to results: here

How Do I Keep Track Of 2017 CFE progress?

You should be tracking your CFE progress when you begin writing daily simulations (weekends off!).

For those who don’t have some kind of simulation tracking sheet, create one in Excel! You can build on every easily..

At minimum, you can use a tracking sheet to track your results per indicator per case. You should be noting what kind of indicator it is. This tracks the meat of your CFE performance but if you want to go all out, I would also recommend tracking certain other things that might be going wrong with your cases. For example:

  • Time management – did you run out of time or did you use your time well given how you scored. Write how you felt about this before your case is marked. Afterwards you can compare how you scored to how you felt and make a better judgment on whether you are using your time well.
  • Ranking issues – perhaps track if you messed up in your ranking, this will ID this important issue quickly.
  • Technical problems – Again, write how you felt about this before your case is marked and then compare. Maybe you didn’t need as much technical as you thought.

Those are the three major ones I can think of but it’s endless what you could potentially track. At minimum you should know which types of indicators need more work and which need less at which point you can write cases that test more of your problem indicators. Just keep in mind, if you’re not tracking something for a purpose (if it’s not helping you by tracking it) then you could be wasting time so make sure to find balance. Happy tracking!

Do I really have to outline?

This is one of those issues that can have strong opinions on both sides. On the one side, some say the outline is critical in organizing your thoughts and response and on the other end, people consider it a waste of time since you can just take notes on the simulation sheet.

For comprehensive cases I say the outline is critical and you cannot go on without it. For shorter cases (multis), I’ve seen people go both ways and write fine cases so it’s a personal choice but I recommend using one. I found it helpful to stay organized and especially helpful with ranking and time management which are especially tested on the shorter cases.

What is on a good outline?

A good outline will have the following elements:

  • A purpose and role. So you never forget what your role in the simulation is, and I like to have a purpose to all quants on the outline so that you understand why you need this quant. It helps you to avoid starting a quant and later realizing you didn’t need it or you went in the wrong direction. It also helps me step back and look at the bigger picture.
  • Who you are addressing and what kind of communication is it? You may have to do an audit memo to a partner to start and a report about a tax situation to the client afterwards. An outline helps keep this straight. The CFE may ask you to do more than one report in a single case.
  • A timeline should be used unless dates are not an issue in the simulation. Write down every date you are given and keep track of where you are in proximity on a timeline.
  • A diagram or organizational chart to keep track of who owns what or works where. This is often an issue in taxation indicators and will help keep things clear.
  • A list of the “required” for the case which ensures that you address everything that was asked of you. Most people recommend you write the required out word for word from the simulation so that you don’t misunderstand what is being asked of you.
  • Identify issues in the simulations. This is not the same as writing down case facts which should not be written down on your outline but referenced from it. Write down the issues you identify and then indicate on your outline which page(s) they come from and refer back to them once you are writing your response. Highlight the actual case facts on your exam paper.
  • You’ll want quant information easily available if there is a lot of it. Consider having a separate page full of quant information so you can easily refer back to it rather than searching (and possibly missing) the data in your question sheet.
  • Finally, after all is said and done, rank the issues and allocate time to them. You are going to need to know which issues you’ll be dropping and which you’ll be tackling before you begin writing and it’s best done when you have the whole case in front of you on an outline. This will take a little practice and experience before you master it. Remember to always stay on time.

How long should an outline take?

I’ve heard that some people dedicate up to 1/3 of the time to outlining, which is probably a good ceiling. You don’t want outlining to start impacting your actual case but it is where a lot of the hard work of composing your response occurs so don’t fly over it, either. For a comp I don’t think it’s unreasonable to outline for up to 1.5 hours.

Interview with Michelle Bergsma – 2015 CFE Honour Roll Recipient

Michelle Bergsma is part of the first cohort of CFE writers who obtained the prestigious honour roll status as part of the September, 2015 Common Final Examination. Michelle kindly gave CFE Blog some time to ask a few questions.

Undergrad:

How did you find your undergrad program trained you towards writing the CFE? 

My undergrad degree is a B.Comm with a major in Marketing Management from the University of Guelph. Although the technical material obviously was quite different, the skills that transferred to the CFE included understanding exam strategies, focusing under pressure, managing stress, and using time efficiently. These cannot be underestimated for the CFE!

Exam Studying:

What was your study schedule like leading up to the exam? Would you change anything?

I took eight weeks away from work to focus on studying. A typical day would include writing, marking and debriefing a case, and some case-based technical review. I stuck to my schedule closely and felt prepared when the exam came. I think it was the right amount of time for me to study adequately while maintaining balance.

What kind of support did you get from your firm/office?

Crowe MacKay LLP has an awesome mentorship program and support system. During CFE leave, I met with my mentor weekly to check-in, receive feedback on cases, and track my progress. The firm provided valuable resources, advice and additional practice cases and kept on top of any new information about the exam.

Did you work with a partner or group as part of your studying for the CFE?

CFE Puppy Therapy

Michelle recommends Puppy Therapy during CFE studying

I am so grateful for my study partner, Megan Coyne. As the first and only two Yukon CFE writers, we spent an enormous amount of time together, not only during CFE prep but throughout the entire Professional Education program. During the eight weeks leading up the CFE, we would write cases together almost every morning at 9am, mark each other’s responses and discuss any areas of uncertainty. She helped me stay focused and positive.

How important was rest and mental health for you as part of the studying process?

I was very conscious of balancing my study schedule to avoid burning out since that’s something I’m often prone to. My boyfriend and I ended up getting a German Shepherd puppy three weeks before I started study leave, which kept a huge smile on my face! Studying promptly ended when they came home each evening. I also made sure I got plenty of exercise and fresh air to keep my brain going.

What gave you the most trouble in your case writing?

I had to learn how to prioritize the issues and let go of perfection. As a very detail-oriented person, that was a challenge. I also found I was constantly reminding myself to focus on the qualitative aspects of the issues, since I have a tendency to get completely absorbed in my quants.

What do you think many people do wrong as part of the CFE prep process?

Too many people believe the saying “practice makes perfect”. Someone once told me “practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes habits” which I think is entirely true. As part of the CFE prep process, you have to take your errors from every practice case and use them as an opportunity to improve. If you don’t focus on improving your weaknesses, they’ll become habits and you’ll likely end up making the same mistakes on the CFE. Allowing yourself to stray from your time budget can be one of the hardest, and most critical, habits to break.

Exam Day:

What was the most challenging for you on the exam?

In general, the first day was the most challenging for me due to the broad scope of the case and open-ended nature of the response. I preferred the more technical structure of Days 2 & 3 because I felt I could approach the cases in a more logical and organized manner.

Also, this sounds strange but I had a hard time containing my excitement. Even going into Day 1, I had to force myself to focus on my execution and not get ahead of myself by thinking about that Friday afternoon feeling of relief.

How did you feel walking out of the exam? Did you know you did so well?

I felt confident because I knew I had put in the hard work leading up to the exam, went in with a clear approach and stuck with my plan. I thought I had passed but I had absolutely no idea that I would make the honour roll.

Conclusion:

If you were tutoring future candidates, what would be your top tips for them?

Focus on your case writing approach over your technical skills. Practice critical reading, planning and outlining to write a well-organized response. Approach every practice case as if it were the real thing. Put yourself in the marker’s shoes. Stick to your time allocations.

Any last advice you’d like to impart on future writers?

Find an activity that allows you to relieve stress and recharge, whatever that may be, and prioritize that activity daily. Challenge yourself to think positively and trust in your abilities, even on the low days when everything seems like a struggle.

 

Want to learn more about Michelle? Connect with her on LinkedIn! Thank you Michelle for your great advice and taking the time. Photo thanks to Christian Kuntz Photography.

Enjoyed this interview? Check out other great interviews!

 

Don't neglect studying for Day 1 of the CFE

 

The results of the first CFE in December gave us more information to work with. Something that’s becoming clear is that Day 1 of the CFE is not the breeze that some candidates thought it would be. In my discussions with candidates and from the comments on the blog, I am seeing that a lot of candidates who did not pass the full CFE did not pass because of Day 1.

So what’s up?

 

It’s new to candidates

Day 1 is something completely new and many of the CFE writers may have been used to (and worked with) the old UFE format and therefore getting less practice on Day 1 of the CFE. With the May CFE approaching, you’ve now got more information to work with so use it.

 

It’s group work but you can’t work in isolation

Day 1 of the CFE is based on your Capstone 1 module which is a large group assignment that is evaluated. An interesting observation is that many Capstone 1 groups are taking the divide and conquer approach to the case which means individual candidates may be very familiar with one area of the case and less familiar with other areas. The down side of this approach may manifest in the CFE where you have to be very familiar with the whole case. If this is your group’s approach to Capstone 1, plan for additional time to study the whole case before the CFE.

 

Understand what’s being assessed on Day 1 and how to approach it

Remember, Day 1 is focused on the soft, high-level skills of the CPA Way. The case response is judged on the whole based on these key skills:

  • Assess the situation – integrating multiple parts of the case in your overall assessment, think holistically, think about organizational goals, risks, constraints and so forth.
  • Analyze the major issues – think of the tools you can use in your analysis (qualitative, quantitative, assumptions), think about the issue and how it interrelates across multiple competencies, consider alternatives and uncertainties.
  • Conclude and advise – use the result of your analysis to conclude on the alternatives (including implications) and then provide further advise (implementation, reducing risk, etc.)
  • Communication – Write professionally and keep in mind the audience and purpose of the communication.

 

Understand what was done badly on Day 1 of the first CFE

I’ll finish off by offering the Board of Examiners commentary on Day 1 of the September, 2015 CFE:

The Board was surprised that some candidates did not provide a quantitative analysis of the
major issues presented. Candidates are reminded that Chartered Professional Accountants are
expected to perform both quantitative and qualitative analyses, as appropriate, to support their
recommendations.

A large number of candidates spent a large part of their response (one-third) on a situational
analysis. The points made were typically valid and identified many of the decision factors to be
considered. However, these points were simply listed as pros or cons, or they were part of a
SWOT analysis that was done as an independent section of the response. Many candidates
failed to then take this great up-front analysis and incorporate it into their discussions of the
specific issues and the recommendations they were making. Candidates are reminded that the
situational analysis is there to help provide a frame of reference for the decision factors they
should be bringing into their analysis of the issues in order to help them make relevant
recommendations that consider the goals, objectives, mission, vision, et cetera, of the company.

(2015 CFE Board of Examiners Report, p. 10)

Take the above advice and apply it. If the Board of Examiners shares any similarity with the previous UFE Boards then they are a lot less forgiving the second time around to candidates making the same mistakes.

Don’t neglect studying for Day 1 of the CFE

 

The results of the first CFE in December gave us more information to work with. Something that’s becoming clear is that Day 1 of the CFE is not the breeze that some candidates thought it would be. In my discussions with candidates and from the comments on the blog, I am seeing that a lot of candidates who did not pass the full CFE did not pass because of Day 1.

So what’s up?

 

It’s new to candidates

Day 1 is something completely new and many of the CFE writers may have been used to (and worked with) the old UFE format and therefore getting less practice on Day 1 of the CFE. With the May CFE approaching, you’ve now got more information to work with so use it.

 

It’s group work but you can’t work in isolation

Day 1 of the CFE is based on your Capstone 1 module which is a large group assignment that is evaluated. An interesting observation is that many Capstone 1 groups are taking the divide and conquer approach to the case which means individual candidates may be very familiar with one area of the case and less familiar with other areas. The down side of this approach may manifest in the CFE where you have to be very familiar with the whole case. If this is your group’s approach to Capstone 1, plan for additional time to study the whole case before the CFE.

 

Understand what’s being assessed on Day 1 and how to approach it

Remember, Day 1 is focused on the soft, high-level skills of the CPA Way. The case response is judged on the whole based on these key skills:

  • Assess the situation – integrating multiple parts of the case in your overall assessment, think holistically, think about organizational goals, risks, constraints and so forth.
  • Analyze the major issues – think of the tools you can use in your analysis (qualitative, quantitative, assumptions), think about the issue and how it interrelates across multiple competencies, consider alternatives and uncertainties.
  • Conclude and advise – use the result of your analysis to conclude on the alternatives (including implications) and then provide further advise (implementation, reducing risk, etc.)
  • Communication – Write professionally and keep in mind the audience and purpose of the communication.

 

Understand what was done badly on Day 1 of the first CFE

I’ll finish off by offering the Board of Examiners commentary on Day 1 of the September, 2015 CFE:

The Board was surprised that some candidates did not provide a quantitative analysis of the
major issues presented. Candidates are reminded that Chartered Professional Accountants are
expected to perform both quantitative and qualitative analyses, as appropriate, to support their
recommendations.

A large number of candidates spent a large part of their response (one-third) on a situational
analysis. The points made were typically valid and identified many of the decision factors to be
considered. However, these points were simply listed as pros or cons, or they were part of a
SWOT analysis that was done as an independent section of the response. Many candidates
failed to then take this great up-front analysis and incorporate it into their discussions of the
specific issues and the recommendations they were making. Candidates are reminded that the
situational analysis is there to help provide a frame of reference for the decision factors they
should be bringing into their analysis of the issues in order to help them make relevant
recommendations that consider the goals, objectives, mission, vision, et cetera, of the company.

(2015 CFE Board of Examiners Report, p. 10)

Take the above advice and apply it. If the Board of Examiners shares any similarity with the previous UFE Boards then they are a lot less forgiving the second time around to candidates making the same mistakes.

Where to find practice CFE cases

With the May CFE rapidly approaching, you’ll be starting your CFE study period soon. The best (and in this blog’s opinion, only) way to study in the 4-6 weeks ahead of the CFE is by doing plenty of practice CFE cases. Since the CFE doesn’t have a large archive of past cases yet, you should use a combination of past CFE and past UFE (CFE’s predecessor) cases during your study period.

You can find some of the most recent CFE and UFE cases to practice on below.

CPA Canada Offers a number of examples to sift through – CPA Canada offers some practice cases as examples. This is a great place to start.

 

The remainder of your past UFE or CFE cases will be part of the annual exam report and you will have to pull them out individually. Download them and then print them ahead of your study period. Thanks to the CPA Canada and the CPA Western School of Business for the reports provided below.

This should be more than enough and unfortunately for some strange reason, the reports prior to 2010 you can only get by purchasing (for $40) from the CPA store. I believe some provincial bodies may offer this as part of their student area (you must login) so have a look in yours first before any purchases.

There are, of course, plenty of additional cases that you can purchase from various providers but in my view, there is more than enough to go around in the above package. You certainly won’t need to purchase anything more if you don’t want to.

 

Which cases are you planning to practice on for the next CFE? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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.

Interview with Brent Vandenbrink, 2015 Common Final Examination Honour Roll Standing

Brent Vandenbrink is part of a small group of CFE writers that achieved Honour Roll standing on the first Common Final Examination (CFE). To achieve honour roll standing is to rank in the top 52 of the thousands of CFE writers who wrote the exam. Brent is presently working for Collins Barrow and finished his Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting from the University of Alberta in 2013.

After the CFE results came out I got in touch with Brent and he kindly agreed to answer some questions and offer advice to CFE Blog readers.

Interview with Brent Vandenbrink, 2015 CFE Honour Roll Recipient

Undergrad:

How did you find your undergrad program trained you towards writing the CFE?

I did the Bachelor of Commerce program at the University of Alberta. During this time I learned how to manage the pressure and time limitations that are part of exams. I also learned most of the technical skills in tax and financial accounting that I used when writing the CFE.

Exam Studying:

What was your study schedule like leading up to the exam? Would you change anything?

I took two months off of work leading up to the exam, from about the middle of July until we wrote in mid September. The first week I spent at Densmore’s course in Calgary. After that I spent the rest of my time studying at the University of Alberta. I tried to study normal workdays, 9 to 5, five days a week. I studied with a couple of friends from University during this time. The last week, we all studied on our own at home as we felt like this would help us become more focused.

What kind of support did you get from your firm/office?

I was mentored by one of the partners at Collins Barrow Edmonton LLP, who used to teach university accounting courses and has been on the board for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta. He helped me with understanding how to approach the exam and the best way to write cases. He also marked a few of the cases I wrote and gave me feedback on those.

Did you take any prep courses? What advice did you find most helpful?

As I mentioned, I took a weeklong prep course with Densmore Consulting Services Inc. My firm also purchased their practice cases and marking services. Densmore gave me a step-by-step process for how to approach the case for each day of the exam. This helped me to organize my thoughts while I was writing and gave me something to fall back on when the cases made me start to panic.

Are there any must have materials (books, videos, marking, tutoring, etc.)?

In terms of how to write a case, I got the most help from the Densmore approach. The approach that they provide in the Capstone 2 of the CPA program is also good though. The study material that I found the most helpful for technical review was the notes on htkconsulting.com. These gave me quick summaries of accounting handbook sections that helped me to quickly summarize accounting issues when I found them on a case. (I should mention that a couple of the notes on this site didn`t reflect changes made to handbook sections, it’s important to compare what you read with the most recent version of the handbook, as well)

Did you work with a partner or group as part of your studying for the CFE?

I studied with two other people. They were both friends that I had met in University and went through the CPA PEP modules with. One friend and I both worked in public accounting and chose the Assurance elective. My other friend worked at a not for profit organization and chose the Tax elective. I think it was important for me to have a group of people to study with as this helped me get different perspectives on things I didn’t understand. It also helped keep me from becoming frustrated with having to study for an entire summer.

How important was rest and mental health for you as part of the studying process?

I tried to remain conscious of my mental health throughout the process. I only let myself study 9 to 5 on weekdays to try to make sure I didn’t burn out before the exam. This also gave me time to spend with my family, friends and church. It was important for me to keep my faith as my top priority. This helped me remind myself that the exam wasn’t the most important thing in my life.

What gave you the most trouble in your case writing?

The hardest part was knowing how much to write for each issue. On a lot of cases there is so much more I would wish I could have written. I just didn’t have the time. It was a challenge for me to learn when to cut myself off from writing on a certain issue so that I would have enough time to deal with the rest of the exam.

Would you say you had any unique strengths or weaknesses?

I think that I came into the studying process with a fairly strong understanding of the technical areas of financial reporting, assurance and tax. I had put a lot of effort into the CPA PEP modules and my time with Collins Barrow had also taught me a lot. I also think that I tend to write concisely, which can work as an advantage in the CFE.

I think I had a weakness of not always explaining my reasoning clearly enough. It was easy for me to assume that the marker would know how I reached a certain conclusion, but this wasn’t necessarily the case. I had to force myself to write down my entire thought process to make sure that I showed at the steps in my reasoning.

What do you think many people do wrong as part of the CFE prep process?

I think that sometimes people don’t realize how important time management is for the CFE. Students can decide not to time themselves when they write practice cases. I can see why they do this-it’s embarrassing to have your friend mark a case that you ran out of time on. I would say though, that it’s better to go through this embarrassment when you’re doing your practice cases than on exam day.

Exam Day:

What was the most challenging for you on the exam?

I found that Day 3 of the exam was the hardest. You don’t have to time to adequately address anything on this day. It turned into a continual race with the clock and in went by in a blur. The most important thing for me was to allocate time to each issue before I started writing a case and to make sure that I stuck to the plan.

How did you feel walking out of the exam? Did you know you did so well?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I passed. I didn’t seem to find many financial accounting issues to talk about on Day 2 of the exam and I wasn’t sure if I had done enough to make up for it on Day 3. It definitely came as a surprise for me to do as well as I did.

Conclusion:

If you were tutoring future candidates, what would be your top tips for them?

I would try to make sure that they have a plan for approaching a case that they can stick to no matter what the case throws at them. I would try to also make sure that they understand how valuable time management is for this exam and that they learn how to make to most of each minute they are writing.

Any last advice you’d like to impart on future writers?

Don’t make the exam bigger and scarier than it already is. There is more to life than the exam.

I want to thank Brent for taking the time to share his CFE experience and actionable tips. I think every candidate can get some take aways here. I asked Brent what was next for him in his career.

What’s next for you in your career, any aspirations?

I don’t have that completely figured out. I’m enjoying my work at Collins Barrow and I’m learning lots there. Maybe one day I’ll specialize in tax, but for now I’m happy where I’m at.

Where can people learn more about you or connect?

People can find me on LinkedIn if they want to talk.

CFE study group or partner best practices

Your CFE study partner or study group is one of the more important choices you’ll have to make early on. As with much of social interaction, results can vary.

I mentioned in a previous post, I do recommend studying with a partner or group.

My own study buddy/group experience is an example of how you could handle various kinds of situations. Under the previous exam structure in Ontario we had two exams needed to get through – the School of Accountancy (SOA) during the summer and then the Uniform Evaluation (UFE) in September. During SOA in June I lived with and also worked according to a common schedule with a single study buddy. It worked very well throughout June at SOA because we lived in the same place and it was easy to write an exam or two after classes, take it up and then debrief on our own.

This changed during my August UFE study period when commuting became a factor and it was more difficult to reliably follow a schedule. Within a week I could tell it wasn’t working for me or my study buddy and we parted ways. What works in one situation doesn’t work in another so it’s best to cut your losses. I ended up doing simulations with miscellaneous friends for another week in order to align my study schedule with another group I was planning to join the following week. I ended up doing some exams on my own as well which was naturally stressing me out a bit. Finally, for weeks 3 and 4 in August/September I joined a group of three others to form a four-member study group. For the last two weeks this worked extremely well and the four of us were successful.

Here are some things to consider before and during your study period. You might think of them as best practices.

Are you all sticking to a schedule where everyone is happy and moving forward?
Study partners or groups that are constantly late are wasting your time and energy. Buddies that are a bad influence on you by offering distractions, temptations, etc. may also not be suitable for this one month.

Are you all in the same skill league in terms of writing simulations?
When one writer is vastly superior to the others both of you are not benefiting. On one hand, the superior writer is probably not going to improve and on the other, you may be discouraged by the superior writer who is above average whereas you should be comparing yourself to the average.

Are you enjoying spending the day with your group or study buddy?
You are probably spending up to 8 hours a day with this person or group, so you want this time to be as enjoyable as possible. The writing and debriefing process can be difficult and stressful and you want to ensure you study with the right personality type to handle this. Maybe that is somebody who can make a joke out of a bad exam or maybe you need someone that takes it seriously all the time. Preferences vary.

Are you getting good feedback from your study buddy/group or are you just being used for yours?
Make sure that you are providing good feedback and getting it. The hard work is in debriefing but your partner needs to have some use by providing good feedback on exactly how your case reads to someone independent.

Are you and your group improving at all? If not, what might be the cause?
The purpose of the study partner or study group is to improve your simulations. If it’s been two weeks and you aren’t improving, find out quickly what the problem is. Are you debriefing badly? Is your group not providing any good feedback? Two weeks in is probably your last opportunity to fix the problem.

Fun Facts

The 2010 National UFE Gold Medallist Vicky Au studied with her boyfriend as part of her study group, who also made the honour roll. The 2011 National UFE Gold Medallist Juliana Yuen also had a boyfriend who wrote the 2009 UFE as her UFE mentor. Not sure I’d recommend this path but maybe they’re on to something!

Still need to find a study partner or group? Try out our Study Partner Search.

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