(Posted August 2023)
No one said the road to success would be smooth, and unfortunately, if you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are experiencing what feels like a major sink hole in your road. As difficult as it is to keep perspective, this is a speed bump in your career and does not define who you are. Know that the CFE is passable and while you were not successful at this attempt, you can succeed when you next write the exam.
We recognize that for many of you, it may be the only thing you ever failed in your life, and this is a tough blow. You will need to process your disappointment, your grief, and maybe even your anger. Then, once you process those emotions, you can move on to accepting the results and making a plan to succeed on your next attempt.
Be prepared for reactions from co-workers and family members, assure them you are okay, and you will move forward. They will be concerned for you and your positive attitude will say a lot about the confidence you have in yourself. Some of the hardest conversations you will have are with your friends and peers who did pass. We encourage you to show a brave face and congratulate those you know who passed. It takes strength of character to do this, but you will be glad you did once it is behind you.
Again, we understand how difficult it is to receive unsuccessful results. We want to assure you that the CFE is doable and even though it is not openly discussed, many current CPAs also struggled through the process. Take comfort that once it is behind you, it is rarely ever mentioned again.
Immediate next steps…
Before Tuesday, September 5, you need to decide:
- Decide whether to request a remark.
- Decide whether to request a PAR (Performance Analysis Review).
When deciding whether to request a remark, consider that your Day 1 response was looked at twice (and maybe even a third time). Also, we recommend that you wait until you have received the automated Day 1 feedback report (these will be available by end of day August 28).
If you failed Days 2 and 3, here is some information to help you understand your results:
- Level 1 (Sufficiency) – You did not score Competent and/or Reaching Competence enough times on the assessment opportunities across Day 2 and Day 3. Your sufficiency grouping tells you how close you were to passing Level 1, with 1 being the closest and 10 being the furthest away.
- Level 2 (Depth) – You did not score Competent enough times on the Financial Reporting or Management Accounting assessment opportunities across Day 2 and Day 3. Remember, you only need to pass one of those competency areas for Level 2.
- Level 3 (Depth) – You did not score Competent enough times on your role assessment opportunities on Day 2.
- Level 4 (Breadth) – You did not score at least Reaching Competence enough times on the assessment opportunities across Day 2 and Day 3 for each of the six technical competency areas.
If you failed Days 2 and 3 at Level 1 with a decile ranking of 1, you may want to appeal. Keep in mind though that everyone with that result will not successfully appeal.
Unfortunately, there is no sufficiency grouping or additional information for Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4 so you do not know how close you were to meeting the requirements.
If you failed at more than one level or more than one competency area at Level 4, the chances of a successful appeal are even lower.
Look back at your tracking sheet to see how you were performing leading up to the CFE. For example, if you failed Level 3 and you were not scoring Competent at least twice on your CFE Day 2 role requireds, a successful remark would be unlikely.
Weigh the cost of appealing your result against the likelihood of success. Historically, less than 2% of appeals have been successful. Consider the following analogy to help make that decision. Requesting a remark is like purchasing a lottery ticket…someone wins the lottery but the chances that it will be you are incredibly low. Having said that, if you need it for peace of mind and to help you move on from your results, then spend the money on a remark.
The PARs we saw for the 2022 CFE gave specific feedback on areas where candidates did not meet the minimum standard with guidance on how to improve performance. You will also receive feedback on areas where you performed well. You will need to decide whether the cost is worth it.
If you failed Day 1, wait to review the automated Day 1 feedback report. If you have failed Day 1 more than once and you do not have a clear understanding as to why you failed after reviewing the automated Day 1 feedback report, we recommend that you request a Day 1 PAR. If you have failed Day 1 more than once, we also recommend that you request a PAR.
If you failed Day 2 and 3, consider your results. For example, if you only failed at Level 4 Finance and you know that you struggled with quantitative analysis and didn’t manage your time well on Day 3, we do not recommend that you request a PAR. However, if you failed at more than one level, you may want to consider getting a PAR. You may also consider requesting a PAR if you have failed Day 2 and 3 more than once.
If you took our 2023 CFE Prep course or are registered for our 2024 CFE Prep course, we will analyze your May 2023 CFE results. Send your results to us at email@example.com along with your tracking sheet from your study period so we can look at the information and get you pointed in the right direction for your next attempt. If you do request a PAR, we will analyze it for you, so send it to us when you receive it, along with your results.
Between now and October, take time off, reconnect with friends and family, and forget about all things CFE. In early October, once you have had time to process, do some soul searching and be honest with yourself.
- Look at your tracking sheet to see if you were tracking to pass all 4 levels prior to writing the CFE.
- To determine what worked well and what did not work, what were your strengths and what were your weaknesses?
Ultimately, it is important to understand what went wrong to cause this result and this early assessment is the first step in efficiently utilizing your time to prepare for your next attempt. You will need to change something (and often more than one thing) in your next attempt to achieve a pass.
You will need to decide whether you want to write in May or September. Consider how much time off you will be able to get and how close you were to passing. For example, if you failed at more than one level or failed Level 1 with a decile ranking of 8 to 10, you may want to wait until September to give yourself sufficient time to prepare.
If you need to re-write Day 1, please note that Creative Toys will not be available, so you will write based on the following:
- May 2024 CFE – Kingsdale Tea (v2) or Neptune Point Fisheries v1 (January Capstone 1 Case)
- September 2024 CFE – J.R. Pets (v2) or Amuzu Parks v1 (May Capstone 1 Case)
We would like to help you understand what you need to change and the steps we have outlined here are the starting process. If you have any questions about our 2024 May or September CFE Prep courses for experienced writers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.