Update On CFE Prep Plan, My Strengths & Weaknesses

With 35 days left to the September 2021 CFE, I thought I would provide another update on my CFE prep plan. In addition, I am sharing my strengths and weaknesses I have identified in the past 3 weeks. CFE is fast approaching so I want to make sure I will spend my time and effort on the things that matter most. With the exception of our Whistler trip, work and CFE prep will be my main focus.

If you are writing the same CFE as me, I suggest you perform a SWOT (focus on S/W) on yourself as well. Depending on when your CFE leave starts, doing so will help guide your time and effort.

SUGGESTED POST – How Do You Prepare Mentally For CPA CFE?

A Recap On Everything I Did In The Past 3 Weeks

RELATED POST – My Week-by-Week CFE Study Plan For The Next 2 Months

  • I started posting CFE/CPA content regularly on my Instagram! I was super happy about this because I have been meaning to do that for a long time. I have always been active on stories but I was told stories weren’t as easy to save for future reference. I hope this will work better for you guys!
  • I finished the Capstone 2 module workshop (see post here) and saw/attempted my first Day 1 & 2 cases for the first time ever. I have never seen Day 3 case in its official format prior to the workshop but they were essentially just short 75- to 90-minute cases (for a total of 240 minutes).
  • I feel like I attempted and debriefed more cases in the last 3 weeks than I have from Core 1 to my last elective (PM). Okay, maybe not more based on the number of cases but these cases I attempted for Capstone 2 & Densmore were LOOOOOONG.
    • Day 1: WDI (Capstone 2)
    • Day 2: Kepler (Densmore), Elcar & EnviroCab (Capstone 2)
    • Day 3: The Taylors & Elyse Burch (Densmore ) Perkins, StillGood, Dream Donuts, Festival Inc & Jump (Capstone 2)
  • I finally finished technical review for Finance (which was scheduled to be done weeks ago). I had the motivation to do it finally because I found it difficult and ineffective to attempt Day 2 cases before I finished the review. Granted, I expect there will be more reviews required as I write more cases. However, at least I now have a better foundation.
  • I watched several Densmore CFE prep videos (most the tips on how to write cases but not the debriefing videos) and watched the first CPA Capstone 2 webinar. I am behind on those but I figured my priority should be case-writing, debriefing and reviewing technical (see my first impression of the Densmore’s CPA Competency Map Study Notes here).

Strengths & Weaknesses


Let’s start with the positives and go over the list of strengths first. These came from assessing my own performance and comfort level. They will be items I will not dedicate as much time on improving in the next 5 weeks.

Typing Speed

I always had a pretty good idea of my typing speed being adequate despite my inefficient fingers use (i.e., I don’t type with all fingers). I was having dinner with my college friends last weekend and we talked about typing speed. My two friends who said they typed too slow currently have an average typing speed ranging from 45 – 50 WPM. For reference, I can type somewhere around 77 – 89 WPM (based on this website). Note, I tested my speed on my Bluetooth mechanical keyboard that I use for hours everyday. On exam days, since we will only be given a Lenovo 15 inch laptop, I expect my typing speed to suffer.

Management Accounting & S&G Technicals

I can’t believe I was low-key freaking out about my weak FR technical until I remembered I only need to get Competent in FR or MA to pass Level 2. I am not saying I will give up on FR completely but this nugget of knowledge simply gave me peace and calm. I have been performing much better on MA & S&G AOs so I will schedule the rest of my CFE prep accordingly. Note, I am still struggling with reaching depth for MA (not S&G as I only need RCs) but I expect reaching from RC to C to be easier than NC to RC. This is because I usually only need to write one more pro/con or risk to get from a RC to C.


Taxation & Financial Reporting Technicals

I think I only got RC twice max for Taxation. For FR, I have seen some improvements on my scoring if I have encountered an AO referencing the same handbook section before. However, I still don’t feel confident whenever a Tax or FR AO shows up as I know very little. With tax, I struggled with applying even the basic knowledge for something I should already know (e.g., donation for personal income tax). Accordingly, I am scheduled to review tax technicals this week before my next Day 3 case. Hopefully I will feel better soon.

Reading Too Fast / Missed Case Facts / Lack of Depth

When I said that to my friend, she thought I was whining about nothing. Sadly, this weakness is real. I know I read too fast because I usually finished my outline much quicker than suggested (e.g., took me 45 minutes to read & plan for a Day 2 case when I should have allotted 60 to 75 minutes). Obviously, this means I missed critical information or case facts I need to reach depth on occasion. Since I am not struggling with time (maybe if you think about it, I am but not the usual out of time but rather, too much time), I know I could have spent more time reading and planning. For day 2 cases where depth in my role is required, I find myself struggling with reaching depth. It was a combination of the lack of technical knowledge and rush (for no good reason).

Starting My Cases Too Late In The Day

I read somewhere or was told by a past CFE writer that it is most ideal to attempt your case in an exam setting that includes starting at the same time as CFE. For me, it would be 9 AM. Matching your practice start time with your actual start time is supposed to help with training your body. This way, you will perform the best comes CFE. Since my CFE leave isn’t starting until Aug 18, I have no choice but to write my cases in the evening during the week. However, I have been sleeping in rather later or going out before I write my case on the weekend. I don’t have anymore appointments or social events to attend (except for our undecided Whistler trip) so I will try my best to adjust my case-writing schedule.

Updated Study Plan For CFE (Week-By-Week)

Week of August 8 (5 Weeks Before CFE)

  • Technical Reviews
    • taxation (heavy focus as I am really weak in this area)
  • Case Submissions
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 3 case (75m, Veza)

Week of August 15 (4 Weeks Before CFE)

  • CFE leave starts on Aug 18
  • Technical Reviews
    • Taxation & FR
  • Case Submissions
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 3 case (90m, Lake Country)
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 2 case (300m, Solar Panel)

Week of August 22 (3 Weeks Before CFE)

  • CFE leave until Aug 29; Whistler trip (will decide whether we are going still in a week or so)
  • Technical Reviews
    • Finance / Assurance
  • Case Submissions
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 1 case (240m, WDI)
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 3 case (75m, TinyCo)

Week of August 29 (2 Weeks Before CFE)

  • Back to Work / Re-assess CFE Prep for the next 2 weeks
  • Technical Reviews
    • depending on how the past few weeks go
  • Case Submissions
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 3 case (70m, King Street)
    • 1 x Capstone 2 Day 3 case (90m, Elder)

Week of September 5 (1 Week Before CFE)

  • CFE leave resumes until CFE
  • Technical Reviews
    • probably a good time to review tips I picked up from debriefing
    • identify problem areas that require the most attention for the next 2 weeks
  • Case Submissions
    • None

Week of September 12 (CFE Week)

My plan hasn’t changed – still plan on checking in at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Sunday and relaxing fully the day before Day 1 of CFE!

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