Tag Archives: ufe

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.

Best of luck on the final UFE

Maybe it’s come too quickly or taken forever to get here for you, but here we are – the final UFE begins on June 2nd. No doubt, you’re very nervous about it but I hope you’ve taken the last weekend off and that you are keeping rested on Monday (only a half-day of light studying/writing allowed!)

Thank you to all those that have come by UFE Blog and found it useful or helpful in some way and I want to wish each and every one of you GOOD LUCK writing the UFE over the next three days. I’ll give you my last pieces of advice that I repeat every year.

1. Don’t talk about the UFE with anyone after Day 1 or Day 2. No good can come of it.

2. You will probably feel like you didn’t do so well after one, two or all three days. Don’t let up one bit if you feel that way. Give it 110% each and every day. No single day will guarantee you a pass nor a failure, this is a marathon.

With that – Good luck!

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!

Congratulations! UFE Results now out across Canada

A Congratulations from UFE Blog! You’ve waited a long time and now you hopefully have the good result. A big congratulations – all your hard work, studying and dedication have paid off. If not immediately, you will soon be a CPA, CA. Best wishes for the rest of your career and enjoy the weekend!

For those with not-so-good news today – I’m sorry to hear it and it sucks. It’s okay to be bummed out for a while but after that you need to turn it around. Every year there are many who must get back up and try again. Your next opportunity will be a lot sooner than ever before and there are plenty of resources out there to get the help you need. I’ve seen most repeat writers succeed eventually so have a real look at your situation and make the best decision for you. You have our support.

SOA Redux and Upcoming UFE Results

UFE Results Coming Up

It’s been long enough. The long wait is almost over and the UFE results are being released November 28th (Usually Nov 27th in Quebec). If you’re one of the many candidates out there that managed to forget about the UFE since September, it’s probably popping back into your head more and more often lately which is normal. Certainly there are a great number of you, judging by the comments, that started thinking about it more last week. Forget about all the rumours which are there every year, you’re almost through so hang in there.

November SOA

The unique November SOA is coming up November 26 and 27th for those who didn’t manage to get through last summer. This will be the opportunity to get through to the final UFE in June. The SOA Suggested Reading post is probably the best place to look for last minute tips but in the end, hopefully you’ve had enough time since the summer to workout any technical problems and it’s a stress management exercise now – so find ways to manage that stress, get help if you need to. Good luck and don’t let the repeat writer thing hurt you, in the end you end up with the same letters after you pass all this.

Congratulations – you finished the UFE!

I think a BIG congratulations are in order to the thousands today that are finishing the UFE. You have, in many cases, put in a great deal of work to get here and each one of you should be proud of yourselves. Congratulations!

No doubt many (if not all) of you will feel not so great coming out of the UFE which is perfectly normal. You only have to go back to the comments here, here and here to see this is the same every year. Nothing new.

Enjoy the weekend, you deserve it.

Have an easy going day today and get a good sleep – Good luck for UFE 2014

I certainly hope you aren’t studying much today! Your primary objective today is to tire yourself out enough so that you get a great sleep tonight.

If you have to do something then keep it to no more than half a day of light review and if you are writing any cases then make sure they are feel-good mocks and nothing new.

The next three days are the only ones that count so a little advice there:

1. Don’t talk about the exam after the exam. If you’re going to be tempted or going to be around people that can’t help themselves then don’t put yourself in that situation.

2. Each day is worth about the same points. You will probably feel terrible coming out of each day and this is normal and common. Don’t dare get discouraged and put in half-effort any of the three days.

3. Relax after the exam each day and do something to keep your mind off of it. Continue to get lots of sleep and don’t study/look things up after each day.

The key is to stay motivated, not get discouraged and be your best for these three days. After that you can go back to whatever lifestyle you prefer.

Good luck and congratulations for making it this far!

UFE Readings Part 2

Almost through, everybody. Not yet around the corner but it’s time to start monitoring for those signs of burnout to ensure that you are 100% on the three days you are writing the real UFE. Over here we’ll continue the content guide that is hopefully both timely and useful.

And of course there is the Debrief Week posts to help your debriefing:

And for inspiration, I always like to recommend the interview with a UFE Gold Medallist Vicky Au.

How is your UFE study period going?

What’s going to be on the UFE – 2014 edition

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

It’s that time again! If you haven’t already gotten a chance to read the 2013 UFE Report, we have and that means the yearly What’s going to be on the UFE post.

As in prior years, the theory is that the UFE tends to reflect observations made in past UFE Reports so it is a good idea to read this article in conjunction with last years’ What’s going to be on the UFE – 2013 edition.  We will again take the same approach this year and not go into specifics of each case (UFE Blog wouldn’t want to spoil the fun!) but provide some general guidance on the trends and what to look for going into the 2014 UFE.  As a disclaimer, the UFE Blog has no insider knowledge on the 2014 UFE, and it is of the discretion of the candidate to implement a balanced study plan to cover all aspects that may be tested in this year’s UFE.  It is of our opinion that the UFE Report provides some key insight and guidance on what to watch out for.

Without further delay, let’s dive in…

Overall, the introduction in the Executive Summary of the report tells us that the Board of Evaluators concluded:

  • The 2013 UFE contained 2 fewer primary indicators than 2012, but same number of primary indicators as 2011 UFE.
  • The overall level of direction provided on the 2013 UFE was comparable to 2012 UFE, and there was one less PQ indicator, however there was a highlight point that future exams will continue to have a mix of directed and non-directed indicators (thus may not be a trend).
  • Overall candidates’ performance in 2013 was weaker than in the prior year.  Funny enough, the report made several references to the 2013 UFE being easier than the 2012 UFE, being a writer of both I would tend to agree with this, but I wouldn’t take this as a trend that the 2014 UFE will be easier by any means.

Some other noteworthy points summarized:

  • Candidates are doing a better job at applying Handbook guidance to case facts and not using a “copy/pasting” approach,  however some canadidates are not recognizing the need to apply handbook guidance at all in their discussion (Page 6).
  • Consistent with 2012 UFE Report, another warning, that candidates were continuing to employ a dangerous exam-writing strategy that candidates were looking for a specific number of issues on each indicator, even though there were numerous issues outlined in the simultations (Page 6).
  • Candidates performed stronger on quantitative analysis, however were struggling when asked to quantitatively compare options (Page 7).
  • There is a lack of clarity and documentation of calculations, many candidates’ calculations were not well organized, which often resulted in omitting items from analysis and technical errors, this includes the need to document calculations and explain why items may have been excluded (Page 7).
  • Lack of comprehension and integration of case facts, there was a trend of responses to what members of the board thought were evidence of reading the simulations too quickly which resulted in misunderstanding of the simulations (Page 8).
  • The unusual roles assigned in the simulations to candidates in the 2013 UFE continued to be varied with only 2 simulations being traditional assurance roles (i.e. expect to see varied roles in 2014!) (Page 9).

What does this all mean and how should I take this going forward?

  • Remember to take the read and outline stage seriously, including understanding your role and the required. If you are in a unique role, you need to not only act and respond as if you are in that role, you need to consider your users (whether or not they are sophisticated) and as such, you need to tailor your response accordingly.
  • Don’t fall into the trap that discussing a specific number of issues only (i.e. 3 accounting issues always and move on). When outlining you need to bring all your case issues to your outline and look at how many issues there are within an indicator, it is your job to rank these issues and allocate your time to discuss a sufficient number – this could be 3 on one case or 6 on another, so do not get too comfortable with a specific number.
  • There will be a need to track calculations carefully when outlining as well as documenting them clearly so that the marker can understand how you are arriving to your conclusion, remember, the marker’s can’t read your mind or your cell calculations for that matter, so it is necessary to clearly show your work.
  • Remember, to display “competence” and get that “C” you need to have a strong technical knowledge base but also be able to apply the technical in a useful way to the users, do not just jump to conclusions for your issues.

 

Comments by Competency Area

Assurance

Candidates’ performance in Assurance was weaker than in the prior year.  The Board noted last year that candidates’ performance in 2012 was down from the previous year due to them struggling with some of the unusual roles they were given in Assurance, and the same can be said for this year (Page 9).

Here we see again another comment about the “unusual” roles, the theme here is that you really need to adapt based on the required given and consider who the end user of the information is.

… Candidates had difficulty dealing with indicators on which they were asked to look into reporting options and describe procedures that could be performed under the different reports (Page 10).

I think it’s safe to say that you should continue to expect emphasis on special reporting options along with some procedures.

Performance Measurement and Reporting

The report introduced this section stating again that candidates performed poorly in comparison to 2012 in this indicator, and discussed at length that the major issue here is to make sure you are properly analyzing an issue without just jumping to the conclusion.

The Board also noticed that some candidates avoided the more complex issues and discussed the easy ones from a technical perspective only

Remember, even though there are some challenging PMR issues presented in all UFE cases, you must rank the cases and address the major issues rather than pick and choose the ones you find easiest.

Taxation

The Board noticed a slight decrease in the overall performance of taxation responses (Page 11).

Once again, candidates have a tendency to deal with the easy issues and leave the more complex ones aside, instead of taking the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through a discussion of issues requiring more depth of analysis (Page 12).

I completely empathize here, Tax was not my strong point by any means, but sometimes the UFE forces you to discuss these issues regardless of your strengths or weaknesses – if you are noticing yourself running out of things to discuss within a tax indicator, chances are you are addressing the more minor issues and ignoring the major ones.

Management Decision-Making

Without giving case specifics away, there was a note that there was a lack of quantitative analysis within one of the indicators, and candidates often struggled with how to incorporate facts into quantitative analysis.

It is important to keep in mind that integration is important on the UFE, including integrating some of your previous calculations into your next ones since the results of one calculation can feed the input of another.

Finance

Canadidates struggled with two main elements (in Finance).  First, they had a difficult time providing consistent calculations.  Many candidates included elements that applied to both options in their calculation for only one of the options, or they included elements that applied to only one option in their calculation for both options.  Second, candidates had a difficult time accounting for the time value of money (Page 13).

It is important to outline properly and ensure that you are “slotting” case facts to the right indicator, and in this case, to the right calculations.  Without mentioning specifics, time value of money was a funny comment, as it was mentioned twice in the report. I took another look at the specific case which had this issue and no surprise that the writers’ results here were dismal.  Luckily enough most of you will take on this case prior to the 2014 UFE as part of your study program, when you do, make sure you debrief the indicator well.

Another comment from the above is to make sure that you apply case facts consistently when making comparisons. You cannot compare two options if you include/exclude different items from each.

Governance, Strategy, and Risk Management

Candidates seemed comfortable discussing the risks and drawing on case facts to support their discussions.  However, there was still room for improvement, as candidates sometimes had difficulty explaining the implication to the company of the risk they had identified or providing a viable recommendation to address the risk identified (Page 13).

Remember, it is always necessary to discuss why the company cares that you’ve identified this weakness by linking it to either a key success factor or a financial or non-financial indicator that the company is concerned about. Make sure to develop reasonable recommendations that would cover off the control weakness and also take into account the size and nature of the company (i.e. do not make grand recommendations that a big company could do if who you are reporting to is a family run business).

Pervasive  Qualities and Skills

This year, candidates seemed to do a better job of identifying the issues; however, they had difficulty discussing them in enough depth (Page 14)… they didn’t always support their suspicion or provide a recommendation of what the next course of action should be (Page 14).

Recurring theme in the PQ section, writers are getting better at seeing the big picture but are not always supporting their identification of the issue or providing a recommendation.  A good way to format these discussions are using issue, implication, reccomendation format, being sure to provide more than one supporting point to back up the issue.

If you haven’t yet, do go and read the 2013 edition as this is rumored to also heavily influence content on the UFE. Happy studying!

What's going to be on the UFE – 2014 edition

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

It’s that time again! If you haven’t already gotten a chance to read the 2013 UFE Report, we have and that means the yearly What’s going to be on the UFE post.

As in prior years, the theory is that the UFE tends to reflect observations made in past UFE Reports so it is a good idea to read this article in conjunction with last years’ What’s going to be on the UFE – 2013 edition.  We will again take the same approach this year and not go into specifics of each case (UFE Blog wouldn’t want to spoil the fun!) but provide some general guidance on the trends and what to look for going into the 2014 UFE.  As a disclaimer, the UFE Blog has no insider knowledge on the 2014 UFE, and it is of the discretion of the candidate to implement a balanced study plan to cover all aspects that may be tested in this year’s UFE.  It is of our opinion that the UFE Report provides some key insight and guidance on what to watch out for.

Without further delay, let’s dive in…

Overall, the introduction in the Executive Summary of the report tells us that the Board of Evaluators concluded:

  • The 2013 UFE contained 2 fewer primary indicators than 2012, but same number of primary indicators as 2011 UFE.
  • The overall level of direction provided on the 2013 UFE was comparable to 2012 UFE, and there was one less PQ indicator, however there was a highlight point that future exams will continue to have a mix of directed and non-directed indicators (thus may not be a trend).
  • Overall candidates’ performance in 2013 was weaker than in the prior year.  Funny enough, the report made several references to the 2013 UFE being easier than the 2012 UFE, being a writer of both I would tend to agree with this, but I wouldn’t take this as a trend that the 2014 UFE will be easier by any means.

Some other noteworthy points summarized:

  • Candidates are doing a better job at applying Handbook guidance to case facts and not using a “copy/pasting” approach,  however some canadidates are not recognizing the need to apply handbook guidance at all in their discussion (Page 6).
  • Consistent with 2012 UFE Report, another warning, that candidates were continuing to employ a dangerous exam-writing strategy that candidates were looking for a specific number of issues on each indicator, even though there were numerous issues outlined in the simultations (Page 6).
  • Candidates performed stronger on quantitative analysis, however were struggling when asked to quantitatively compare options (Page 7).
  • There is a lack of clarity and documentation of calculations, many candidates’ calculations were not well organized, which often resulted in omitting items from analysis and technical errors, this includes the need to document calculations and explain why items may have been excluded (Page 7).
  • Lack of comprehension and integration of case facts, there was a trend of responses to what members of the board thought were evidence of reading the simulations too quickly which resulted in misunderstanding of the simulations (Page 8).
  • The unusual roles assigned in the simulations to candidates in the 2013 UFE continued to be varied with only 2 simulations being traditional assurance roles (i.e. expect to see varied roles in 2014!) (Page 9).

What does this all mean and how should I take this going forward?

  • Remember to take the read and outline stage seriously, including understanding your role and the required. If you are in a unique role, you need to not only act and respond as if you are in that role, you need to consider your users (whether or not they are sophisticated) and as such, you need to tailor your response accordingly.
  • Don’t fall into the trap that discussing a specific number of issues only (i.e. 3 accounting issues always and move on). When outlining you need to bring all your case issues to your outline and look at how many issues there are within an indicator, it is your job to rank these issues and allocate your time to discuss a sufficient number – this could be 3 on one case or 6 on another, so do not get too comfortable with a specific number.
  • There will be a need to track calculations carefully when outlining as well as documenting them clearly so that the marker can understand how you are arriving to your conclusion, remember, the marker’s can’t read your mind or your cell calculations for that matter, so it is necessary to clearly show your work.
  • Remember, to display “competence” and get that “C” you need to have a strong technical knowledge base but also be able to apply the technical in a useful way to the users, do not just jump to conclusions for your issues.

 

Comments by Competency Area

Assurance

Candidates’ performance in Assurance was weaker than in the prior year.  The Board noted last year that candidates’ performance in 2012 was down from the previous year due to them struggling with some of the unusual roles they were given in Assurance, and the same can be said for this year (Page 9).

Here we see again another comment about the “unusual” roles, the theme here is that you really need to adapt based on the required given and consider who the end user of the information is.

… Candidates had difficulty dealing with indicators on which they were asked to look into reporting options and describe procedures that could be performed under the different reports (Page 10).

I think it’s safe to say that you should continue to expect emphasis on special reporting options along with some procedures.

Performance Measurement and Reporting

The report introduced this section stating again that candidates performed poorly in comparison to 2012 in this indicator, and discussed at length that the major issue here is to make sure you are properly analyzing an issue without just jumping to the conclusion.

The Board also noticed that some candidates avoided the more complex issues and discussed the easy ones from a technical perspective only

Remember, even though there are some challenging PMR issues presented in all UFE cases, you must rank the cases and address the major issues rather than pick and choose the ones you find easiest.

Taxation

The Board noticed a slight decrease in the overall performance of taxation responses (Page 11).

Once again, candidates have a tendency to deal with the easy issues and leave the more complex ones aside, instead of taking the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through a discussion of issues requiring more depth of analysis (Page 12).

I completely empathize here, Tax was not my strong point by any means, but sometimes the UFE forces you to discuss these issues regardless of your strengths or weaknesses – if you are noticing yourself running out of things to discuss within a tax indicator, chances are you are addressing the more minor issues and ignoring the major ones.

Management Decision-Making

Without giving case specifics away, there was a note that there was a lack of quantitative analysis within one of the indicators, and candidates often struggled with how to incorporate facts into quantitative analysis.

It is important to keep in mind that integration is important on the UFE, including integrating some of your previous calculations into your next ones since the results of one calculation can feed the input of another.

Finance

Canadidates struggled with two main elements (in Finance).  First, they had a difficult time providing consistent calculations.  Many candidates included elements that applied to both options in their calculation for only one of the options, or they included elements that applied to only one option in their calculation for both options.  Second, candidates had a difficult time accounting for the time value of money (Page 13).

It is important to outline properly and ensure that you are “slotting” case facts to the right indicator, and in this case, to the right calculations.  Without mentioning specifics, time value of money was a funny comment, as it was mentioned twice in the report. I took another look at the specific case which had this issue and no surprise that the writers’ results here were dismal.  Luckily enough most of you will take on this case prior to the 2014 UFE as part of your study program, when you do, make sure you debrief the indicator well.

Another comment from the above is to make sure that you apply case facts consistently when making comparisons. You cannot compare two options if you include/exclude different items from each.

Governance, Strategy, and Risk Management

Candidates seemed comfortable discussing the risks and drawing on case facts to support their discussions.  However, there was still room for improvement, as candidates sometimes had difficulty explaining the implication to the company of the risk they had identified or providing a viable recommendation to address the risk identified (Page 13).

Remember, it is always necessary to discuss why the company cares that you’ve identified this weakness by linking it to either a key success factor or a financial or non-financial indicator that the company is concerned about. Make sure to develop reasonable recommendations that would cover off the control weakness and also take into account the size and nature of the company (i.e. do not make grand recommendations that a big company could do if who you are reporting to is a family run business).

Pervasive  Qualities and Skills

This year, candidates seemed to do a better job of identifying the issues; however, they had difficulty discussing them in enough depth (Page 14)… they didn’t always support their suspicion or provide a recommendation of what the next course of action should be (Page 14).

Recurring theme in the PQ section, writers are getting better at seeing the big picture but are not always supporting their identification of the issue or providing a recommendation.  A good way to format these discussions are using issue, implication, reccomendation format, being sure to provide more than one supporting point to back up the issue.

If you haven’t yet, do go and read the 2013 edition as this is rumored to also heavily influence content on the UFE. Happy studying!

Pin It on Pinterest