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Musings on The First CFE Report - Sept. 2015 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Part 3 - The Bad

Published April 1, 2016 by Michael Levi

Let's take a look at The Bad, from the 2015 CFE.

In the previous blog we looked at "The Good" from the 2015 CFE.  And, there was a significant amount of positives in the new system.  However, as in any major change, not everything is good.  So....here is what we don't like:

1)     Many Assessment Opportunities (AOs)


We noted in the previous blog, when discussing "good" points, that the fact that there were many Assessment Opportunities can be both positive and negative.  We pointed out the positive idea that one could miss an AO and it would count for less, since there were a lot of AOs.  However, the flip side is that you have to be super diligent in making sure you address ALL the requireds.  While it is true, that missing an AO is a bit less important, in general, the strategy has to be to hit every required, big or small.  It also means that every issue needs a relatively thorough discussion, to give you a shot at getting competent.  If there were fewer AOs and issues were combined into one AO, one could miss a few issues and still get competent.  That is impossible when the AOs are broken down to such a degree.

2)     Passing Formula - Not Yet There...

A question we often get is:  How do you pass?  What is the basis?  Well, the Board sets out a Decision Model in the Examiner's Report, and describes four levels that make up the Decision Model. 

A "competent" candidate must do the following:

Sufficiency - RC + C = score (accumulate enough RCs and Cs to get to the next level)

Depth - # of Cs (score enough Cs in either financial reporting or management accounting competencies, to get to the next level)

Depth - in "role" area on Day 2 - # of Cs (score enough Cs in your selected role competency, to get to the next level)

Broad - across all 6 areas - # of RCs (score enough RCs in all 6 competencies over Day 2 and 3 - can't leave out an area)

So, it is a good start.......but........can't the Board disclose a bit more??  For example, why not provide some details on how the Sufficiency (level 1) is marked?  Does the Board assign a value to "reaching competent" (RC) and to "competent" (C) etc.?  If yes, how much?  Are they all equally weighted?  Is a "C" on Day 2 equal to Day 3?  What value (if values are assigned) did a candidate need to proceed to Level 2?

With respect to Level 2 and 3, it appears the candidate must demonstrate depth in financial accounting or management accounting and in the role on Day 2 of the comp that the candidate selected.  "Depth" means getting "competent" a certain number of times.  We are however not told how many times?  Same question for Level 4, achieving breadth across all of the competencies, which means "reaching competent" a certain number of times.  The question is how many times?

We strongly feel this type of information should be disclosed.  For those who aren't aware, prior to 2003, the former UFE exam actually used to be based on a marking key, where candidates could see every mark on every question and there was a passing mark on the exam.  The world did not come crashing down and candidates had a much better understanding as to how the marking scheme worked. 

Candidates are owed nothing less than a proper disclosure as to how the exam is marked.

3)     Passing Stats - Any Ideas?

On the subject of disclosure, does anyone find it somewhat strange that there are no passing statistics released (i.e. how many students actually pass a module exam or the CFE)?  We are not suggesting this is as important as the proper disclosure of the passing formula, discussed above, but it is somewhat irritating to have to guess at such an easy statistic that could simply be disclosed.  In fact, for many years, these statistics were disclosed (in the former UFE), until it was decided to not disclose these statistics.

Without getting into the politics of the situation, this may have had more to do with Provincial Institute sensitivities than anything with respect to the students.  If this is the case, since we now have consistency, for the most part, across Canada, it is time to go back and properly disclose the number of passing candidates, preferably by Province.  It is perfectly reasonable for everyone to see if candidates are having more difficulty in a particular Province and this type of information would be useful at the university level as well. 

Bottom line - we should be moving to more disclosure, not less and it is time to tell students and everyone the passing stats.


ACTION POINTS

1.     Assessment Opportunities - Keep in mind there are lots of these, so hit every required and issue, knowing full well there could be an AO for each one, and you need to write enough for each AO to give yourself a reasonable shot to score competent.

2.     Getting Competent - We know that you need "competent" several times in financial accounting + management accounting + your Day 2 role.  Therefore, make sure you focus on getting depth, i.e. Competent in these competencies as much as you can.  What this means practically, is know your technical well in these 3 competencies, even better than in the other 3 competencies.  This is not only because the competency map requires more knowledge in one's depth area, but also you can pass the exam even if you never get "competent" in the other competencies on Day 3, but will fail if you don't get enough "competents" in financial act'g. or management act'g. and your depth role on Day 2.

Stay tuned for next Friday's Musings on the CFE - The Ugly.  Until then, happy studying!



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