Now that Capstone 1 is basically over (Q&A period has passed) for me, I have just over a week before Capstone 2 starts. This will be my last PEP module before I write my CFE in just 2.5 months. In this post, I am going to share tips and things you should know about Capstone 2 before you start. Hopefully, I can help answer some questions you might have about the module immediately before CFE.
If you are reading this before writing your CFE in September 2021 as well, good luck to you. We are so close!
Note, this post contains a product that was sponsored by Densmore Consulting Consulting Services Inc. However, all opinions are 100% my own.
What Exactly Is The Capstone 2 Module?
The objective of the Capstone 2 module is to prepare candidates for the CFE. As a result, there is no exam for this particular module as CFE comes shortly after the conclusion of the module. However, like all PEP modules you would have done before, Capstone 2 begins with a module workshop weekend. Candidates are expected to attempt and submit one Day 3 case and one Day 1/2 case per week. Not all of them will be marked by the National Writing Centre (NWC). Unlike the previous PEP modules, however, there are more than one submission deadline in a week. Even though most deadlines land on Wednesdays and Fridays, there are several anomalies including the deadlines for the mock Day 2 and Day 3 exams (those are due on the weekend). It is critical that you review the deadlines under the Dropbox section as soon as you gained access to the module on CPA D2L. On top of that, do not forget to read the Capstone 2 Candidate Guide Addendum in full. Doing so will save you a lot of headache down the road.
In short, Capstone 2 is all case-writing. You will not be asked to do any Knotia textbook readings specifically, however, it is expected that you schedule some time to do technical reviews on your own.
For more information, I recommend watching this short Capstone 2 Overview video by CPA Canada. I have to caution it is a bit dated so use it only as a reference.
What Is The Folio Views & When Should I Start Using It?
Folio Views is the only software candidates are provided during CFE for their reference materials. That means you will not be accessing the CPA Handbook or Income Tax Act the same way you do right now. It looks and navigates differently so it is highly recommended that you get used to it sooner rather than later. If you have already registered for Capstone 2, you should have been given access to this optional module called Introduction to Capstone 2 and CFE Module on CPA D2L. In there, there are clear step-by-step instructions on how to install Folio Views on your computer. Personally, I plan on using it as soon as Capstone 2 and Densmore start.
Note, Folio Views is not compatible with Mac computers.
How to Pass CPA Capstone 2 (Or, Can You Fail Capstone 2)?
Similar to Capstone 1, I personally do not know anyone who has failed Capstone 2. This is because there is no final exam for Capstone 2. As far as I am aware, as long as you attend the module workshop and submit your attempts (they do not even need to be perfect because you are encouraged to write them under exam condition), you will be eligible to write the CFE. Results for Capstone 2 are released on the same day as the end of the module.
Where Can I Download A CFE Study Calendar Or Schedule?
If you are reading this before you have access to the Capstone 2 module on CPA D2L, there are two different versions of the CFE Study Calendar within the Introduction to Capstone 2 and CFE Module. It is an excel file so candidates can easily modify the calendar to best suit their schedules and CFE leave.
You do not have to use any of the provided CFE study calendar, however, it is strongly recommended that you have some sort of a study calendar. Depending on your schedule and responsibilities, it might be difficult if not impossible to just wing it. There are multiple deadlines you need to adhere to if you want valuable feedback from the NWC. You also want to track your progress as it will be risky to waste precious time on the wrong skill or technical area.
If you registered for one of the Densmore CFE Prep sessions, see here.
Does It Mean I Will Have No Life Until CFE Is Over?
No, absolutely not. Will you be quite busy? Most likely especially if your CFE leave does not start until mid-August like me. However, both CPA-provided and Densmore-provided CFE study calendars include a couple of rest days per week. Most past successful CFE writers I have spoken to also emphasized the importance of avoiding burn-out. One of the best ways to ensure that is to allow yourself to rest. Our brains can only process so much information at once and a fresh, clear mind will allow you to absorb materials better. It might sound counter-intuitive but more is not necessarily better.
How Should I Prepare Myself Mentally For Capstone 2?
One trend I have noticed from talking to past candidates or reading about people’s experiences online: you will feel like you are going to fail the CFE for sure as Capstone 2 progresses. If you think back to the objective of Capstone 2 module (prepare candidates for CFE), it might sound ironic that many candidates felt that way. However, not only do you get back what you put in, the only way to get better is by practicing more. Imagine if you felt like you got everything handled within the first half of Capstone 2, will you be motivated to continue practicing more? What if CFE ends up a lot harder than the practice cases you did?
The key is, know that the defeated feeling is inevitable going into Capstone 2. When it finally hits you, stay calm and motivated. I always try to remind everyone that we are all struggling on some levels. CPA PEP was not designed to be a walk in the park not was it designed to be impossible (CFE pass rates for first-time writers averaged 77% in the past 3 years).
(Densmore) How Should I Incorporate Densmore CFE Prep Into Capstone 2?
If you registered for one of the Densmore CFE Prep sessions, I highly recommend downloading the study calendars they provided. Compared to the one CPA provided, the Densmore versions take into account deadlines for their cases as well. On top of that, there are videos and webinar to watch and attend.
Downloading the Densmore-provided CFE study calendar is a great first step to utilizing their CFE prep in full (you paid a pretty penny for it after all). Personally, I used it as a reference and created a custom schedule on Google Sheets for myself. I prefer Google Sheets over my Bullet Journal for this purpose for the accessibility and flexibility. I am expecting a lot of changes in the next two months as I get a hang of the combined Capstone 2 & Densmore schedule.
If you paid for the Densmore CFE prep with marking, there are four submission deadlines for the duration of the program. Make sure you incorporate that into your CFE schedule without missing the Capstone 2 deadlines. Densmore also provides an inventory of videos ranging from 10- to 95-minute in length. They are meant to be watched at different points of the program (I see no harm if you want to watch the non-debriefing early to fit your schedule better).