(Posted February 2021)

Exam dates are looming. The stress is building. If you’re feeling it, you’re probably wondering where to start. You’re not alone.

Many CFE writers haven’t looked at a CFE case yet. Even those who came through accredited university programs haven’t written a CFE case in months. Let’s face it; a lot has happened since then.

Should you start writing cases now? The answer is no. That may shock you. You may have heard that the secret to passing the CFE is to write as many cases as possible. You were misinformed.

Here are a couple of truths we want to share about preparing well for the CFE:

The thing that will frustrate you most when you start writing practice cases is that you won’t remember much technical. Cue the stress. For some, this can trigger a downward spiral of only focusing on technical. Bad idea. The best solution is to do some technical review before you start writing cases. Not a crazy amount; a maximum of four or five hours per week, looking at the most commonly tested topics. Focus on Financial Reporting as it is the hardest area to recall. Work on the big topics from Core 1. You want to refresh those topics before you see them on a case for the first time. This is why it is so important to enroll in a CFE Prep course early. See the benefits to early registration here.

Time is your scarce resource. Writing cases early without understanding how to write and debrief them is a waste of your valuable time. It also consumes a case that you could benefit from later. You need to understand the basic skills for the CFE first. Then you can work on them with practice cases. How to read, plan, and think effectively are the initial case skills to address. If you just start burning through cases without a focus, you will spin your wheels and not improve. Make sure you know a bit about driving the car before you put your foot on the gas.