(Posted September 2023)

The September CFE is next week… whether you are excited, nervous or just glad to be done studying, the exam is going to come and go.  Here are a few tips to think about as you prepare this week:

With three days and 13 hours of examinations, the CFE is a marathon.   You do need to slow yourself down this week, so that you can give your best performance during the race.  Remember, there is no new technical review at this point. Trying to find random topics that have not come up writing prior year CFE cases will only stress you out and turn your focus to what you don’t know instead of remembering everything you’ve learned!

On Monday morning, review your Day 2 approach.  Reinforce the need to stay focused on your role, reading to find the required and then staying balanced to not overdo it in one area, and sacrifice depth in your role because you spent too much time on the common component requireds.  BALANCE and DEPTH are critical for Day 2.

Then, take a bit of time on Monday as well to focus on Day 1 and your planned approach.  Visualize what you are going to do on Tuesday and how you are going to write with that STRATEGIC focus. Read through your Capstone 1 summary notes to remind yourself of who the key stakeholders are, the company’s mission, vision, values, and objectives, and the industry key success factors in your Capstone 1 case.   

Take Monday afternoon off.  You have done all you can at this point.  You want to arrive at the exam on Tuesday morning awake, refreshed, and prepared to execute your approach. Stay calm and relaxed. Rely on your CFE Day 1 approach to keep you focused and organized.

Once Day 1 is finished, clear your head. It is perfectly normal to not feel good after each day of the exam. Let it go and focus on switching gears to Day 2 and do not waste any time rehashing the CFE Day 1 case. Remember, Day 2 is about DEPTH and scoring Competent. Take no more than 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon to review the steps of your CFE Day 2 Approach. Then, get some fresh air and do something relaxing that will reduce the exam stress and facilitate a good night’s sleep.

After you write Day 2 on Wednesday, let it go. Remember that the CFE is a relative exam, and you cannot know how you performed versus your peers.  That afternoon, change gears to Day 3, which is all about BREADTH.  Take 30 minutes to visualize your CFE Day 3 Approach. 

Then, on Thursday, write the CFE Day 3 cases in the order provided in the exam booklet.  Be disciplined in your time management by sticking to the suggested time for each case, and more importantly, managing your time within each case by following your time allocations on your plan.

Once you finish writing on Thursday, relax, reconnect with friends and family, and get on with your life.  Everything you can do is done. Take pride in your preparation and dedication to the process and be confident that you did everything you could to be successful on the CFE. 

You’ve got this!