(Posted July 2023)

If you are following the PEP Capstone 2 program, you are writing the Mock CFE this weekend on August 5 and 6. It is very draining, to say the least, to do those two days back-to-back (especially if you have been working all week and going back to work on Monday). What should you consider when writing the Mock CFE?

CFE Day 2 Case 

The good news is that you will have lots of opportunities to demonstrate depth and score Competent in the right places to help pass Level 2 and Level 3.  Depth is defined as scoring enough C or better ratings; RC is not enough. 

A few things to remember about CFE Day 2 cases:

  • The common component could test Financial Reporting, Management Accounting, or both competencies. 
  • Day 2 is also the only place to pass Level 3 for depth in your chosen role.

Now that you have seen at least a couple of CFE Day 2 cases, you know that your role requirements are very directed. Rely on your critical reading to find the issues related to each of your requireds. Use your plan to track the required and the related issues. Then, follow your plan when you write your response.  As long as you stay on track and manage your time appropriately, you will have the chance to score on each assessment opportunity. 

Day 2 cases are not designed to be time constrained.  However, candidates find ways to run out of time! For example, they spend too much time on the Financial Reporting issues and/or Management Accounting calculations, and then either run out of time for their role requireds or rush through their role requireds.  Either way, those time management issues will lead to a fail at Level 3. The key is to allocate time to each required and then stick to those time allocations as you write. 

To develop depth when writing a Financial Reporting issue, strong candidates will:

  • Consider whether there is more than one aspect or sub-issue that needs to be discussed (e.g., recognition, initial measurement, subsequent measurement)
  • Use the relevant Handbook guidance to support their analysis and apply case facts to assess that relevant technical
  • Make definitive conclusions, consistent with their analysis
  • Quantify adjustments as required

To develop depth for Management Accounting requireds, strong candidates will:

  • Show their calculations and use case facts to support the items included in their quantitative analysis
  • Include enough items in their calculations
  • Ensure that the same basis is used when comparing options
  • Conclude on the impact of their quantitative analysis by interpreting the results for the user (not just the numbers that were calculated)
  • Balance between quantitative and qualitative analysis as required by the case
  • Go beyond re-writing case facts to explain the implication of qualitative factors

CFE Day 3 Cases

Conversely, CFE Day 3 cases are definitely time constrained. The easier part of time management is stopping at the end of the suggested time for each of the cases on Day 3 (e.g., 70 minutes, 80 minutes, 90 minutes).  The tougher part of time management is managing your time within each case.  Similar to Day 2, allocate time to each required and then stick to those time allocations as you write. 

Overall, balance your time between qualitative and quantitative analysis, and then make supported conclusions. Don’t jump to any conclusions, lead the marker to how you came to that decision, using the case facts. This is crucial. 

Debriefing the Mock CFE

Normally, we recommend that you write, mark and debrief your responses in a single sitting for CFE Day 3 cases and over 1.5 days for CFE Day 2 cases. However, you won’t have time on either Saturday or Sunday to debrief the Mock CFE.  Depending on how much time off you have from work, you might debrief your responses on Tuesday and Wednesday (give yourself Monday to rest and recuperate!).  If you’re working during most of Capstone 2, you will likely have to wait until the following weekend to debrief your Mock CFE responses. If you are enrolled in our CFE Prep courses, the mock CFE and your debrief are integrated into your study plan.

When you get your marked Mock CFE responses back, read the markers’ comments for consistent writing issues. Consider what you will do differently to eliminate those weaknesses to improve your CFE performance.

Do Not “Talk Shop”

Discussing what you wrote with peers following each day of the CFE can be stressful and unhelpful. The same is true for the results of the Mock CFE. Hearing how other candidates “passed” their mock CFE and are performing well can increase your stress levels. It can also contribute to any feelings you may have about not being ready to write the CFE. 

Remember, this is a practice CFE, not the actual CFE, and it is meant for making mistakes. Many of you will not “pass” the Mock CFE, and this is normal at this point of the process. You still have lots of time to learn from the cases so focus on debriefing your responses and improving your skills.