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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

How to Get Your CPA

What does the program for obtaining a CPA involve?

Students must have a University degree.  Following the completion of a degree students would generally complete a post graduate program CPA Canada has developed called the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP); this Program involves going through a number of modules and then writing and passing the CFE (Common Final Exam). 

The first 2 modules, Core 1 and Core 2 cover all of the various competencies students are responsible to know and are relevant for all students pursuing a CPA; the main focus of Core 1 is financial reporting and the chief focus of Core 2 is management accounting.  Students would then choose to do 2 elective modules form among the following areas: Assurance, Taxation, Finance and Performance Management.


Each of the four modules involves passing an exam.  After you have passed the exams you would then go on to Capstone 1.  The main focus of capstone 1 is completing a business case which students work on as a group rather than individually.  For this module there is no exam; however the student group is required to submit a report and present it.


After Capstone 1 students would do Capstone 2 which involves writing practice cases (including a mock exam) which are debriefed and intended to help you get through the CFE.   There is no final exam for Capstone 2; however students need to make a reasonable attempt in order to go on to the CFE.





Can anyone with a university degree go directly into the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP)?

Students who have a degree in accounting and have completed 120 credit hours are generally able to go directly into PEP.  However if the student’s degree is not in accounting the student can make up for missing prerequisites required for admission to PEP through  the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP). CPA PREP is an accelerated bridging program that is delivered part-time through distance learning or in-class sessions by the provincial (or in some cases regional) bodies.


For further information on the requirements for entering PEP as well as PREP we would suggest that students visit the CPA Canada website or provincial websites.

Is it possible to be exempt from writing the PEP Module Exams by attending an “Accredited” university program?

There are various universities which offer Masters or Diploma programs that have been accredited to offer all or part of PEP.  Students who participate in these programs would be exempt from all or some of the exams.

Is there any downside to attending an accredited Diploma or Masters program?

One downside is the cost.  Many of these programs cost several thousand dollars.  Furthermore they generally involve spending more time at university which may delay starting to work and earn money.  Also we have spoken to some of the students who participated in these programs who were concerned that they would be going on to the write  CFE without going  through the same preparation as students who completed the PEP module exams offered directly through CPA Canada.

Do I need a job in order to write the Challenge Exams or do the PEP modules?

No you do not need a job.  As a matter of fact if you don’t yet have a job, passing the exams leading to a CPA may help you get one as it will improve your resume.

 

Are there any key deadlines to be familiar with?

Yes.  There are deadlines for enrolling in all of the modules.  It is important for students to refer to the respective Provincial Institute module schedule to find out these dates (e.g. CPA Ontario for Ontario students or the CPA Western School of Business if you are in a western province), so as not to be disappointed and miss an exam sitting, simply because a deadline was missed.  These schedules provide the enrollment period for each exam.


People who wish to write the CFE in May must complete Capstone 1 in the winter prior to the CFE and people writing in September  must complete Capstone 1 in the spring prior to the CFE. 

Is it correct that Canadian students can be exempted from attending the core 1, core 2 and both elective modules and simply write the final exams (referred to as Challenge Exams) for each of these modules?

No Canadian students must take the modules although there are some exceptions for some international students who can write Challenge exams and are not required to take the modules.. 


For further details please visit the CPA Ontario or CPA Western School of Business websites.

If a student qualifies to write the Challenge Exams are there benefits to writing these exams rather than attending the modules?

There are actually a number of benefits to doing the Challenge exams rather than doing the modules.  Firstly, there is a large cost savings.  The cost of doing all 4 modules is over $5,000 whereas the cost of writing the Challenge Exams is under $2,000.


Secondly, the modules require a major time commitment as students must submit assignments (e.g. cases) throughout the modules. This can be challenging for students who are balancing PEP with work.


Thirdly, it normally takes 2 years to get through all of the modules; if one does the Challenge Exams one can write the CFE and be completely finished in only one year.  Also if the CFE is written within one year of starting the program there is less time for students to forget important knowledge required for the CFE.

 

PASS PEP Exam Courses

Why would a student need to take a PASS course for the PEP Module Exam? Wouldn’t the knowledge gained in university and the PEP modules be more than sufficient?

We would not say that anybody "needs" to take the PASS  PEP Module Exam Course.  We however believe that it is very beneficial to students.  This is due to the fact that there is a tremendous amount of material for which students are responsible on the PEP Module Exams which has been accumulated over a number of years at university.  The purpose of the PEP modules is not to teach you all of the technical you need t pass the exam.

If a student has already passed or is exempt from one or more PEP Module Exams can he/she opt to only take particular courses only for certain modules, say for example the Core 2 and Assurance components?

Yes.  It would not be a problem for the student to take the PEP Module Exam courses he/she requires.  These are priced separately on the site, which you can see in the PEP Module Exam Course description.   

Does the PEP Module Exam Course prepare students for both the objective format questions and the cases which appear on these exams?

Yes  After the lecture on a given topic students write practice objective format questions - mainly multiple choice questions - which are taken up in class.  Students are also provided with practice exams, which include numerous objective format questions and cases.  Finally for the elective modules students can submit the practice exams which are marked by professional markers and returned to students with constructive feedback. Please take a look at the course description on the PASS website. 

Do the PEP Module Exam course fees include the course material or does a student have to pay extra for the material?

The course fee includes all of the material, i.e. both the technical and case binders.

 

Indian and International Students

Am I eligible to write the CFE (Common Final Exam) in Canada?

You need to be an Indian CA.  You register with one of the Provincial CPA bodies or if you writing the exam in Western Canada (i.e. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba) with the CPA Western School of Business(CPAWSB)..  If you are registering with CPA Ontario it could take between 8 - 12 weeks to register you and confirm you are eligible to write the CFE.  Registration with CPAWSB is quicker.   In our experience, if you have an Indian CA, you should not experience any problems registering and being able to write the Canadian CFE exam.

When is the CFE written?

The CFE is slated to be written two times a year - late May and mid Sept.

Where do I write the CFE?

You write the CFE in the Canadian Province in which you registered.  It does not really matter where you write, as the CFE is a Canadian wide exam, the same for everyone in Canada.

How many times can I write the exam?

You can write write 3 times in total.

How do I write the CFE?

The CFE is only written on the computer, using word and excel.  It is an open book exam - you have access to the Handbook and Tax Act on the computer.

Can I bring in other resources to the exam?

No.

Is the exam very different than the one I wrote in India?

Yes - it is a case based exam and you will need to practice and learn case writing, in addition to being familiar with the technical. There are no multiple choice questions on the exam.

Are all 3 days marked together?

No - Day 1 is marked separately - pass or fail.  Day 2 and 3 are combinded and marked together, pass or fail.  If you fail Day 1 or Day 2/3, you only have to re-write the day(s) you failed.

If I am an Indian CA - can I go directly to the final exam, the CFE?

If you are an Indian or Pakistan CA, you can go directly to the CFE and not have to take Capstone 1 and 2.

Does PASS incorporate Capstone 1 and 2 in the course?

Yes - Capstone 2 is duplicated.  Students purchase the Capstone 2 material and hand in for marking the practice Capstone 2 exams, to PASS, who mark them.  For Capstone 1, students will write 2 practice cases, attend a live online session and receive a handout, all necessary to be prepared for Day 1 of the CFE.  Therefore, PASS recommends that students do NOT attend the CPA Canada Capstone 1 and 2 courses.  They are not necessary.

What would be the approximate cost of getting my Canadian CPA?

If one adds the PASS/Orbit course fee, plus the registration fee with the CPA Province, plus the student fee, plus the CFE exam fee and the travel to Canada to write the exam, the approximate cost is $5,000 US or $6,500 Cdn.

Does PASS have a dedicated course for Indian and International Students?

Yes, PASS has put together an extensive course specifically for Indian and International Students which covers both a technical review and intensive training on how to write CFE cases..

Do I have to be in Canada to take the course?

No - you can live anywhere in the world and take the entire course.  You will have to make 1 trip to Canada to take the CFE.

Is PASS teaming up with any Indian course providers to provide the PASS course to Indian CAs?

Yes - PASS is working with Orbit Institutes to provide the PASS course to Indian CAs to help them obtain their Canadian CPA.

Are there any other course providers in India or elsewhere, catering to the Indian CA market?

No - only PASS/Orbit has developed a dedicated course to prepare students with an Indian CA to pass the CFE and are the only ones offering a course in India.

How do I register for the course?

You can register on the PASS website by clicking on the course description for the course for Indian and Other International CAs currently living in Canada or not currently living in Canada and then scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on register for this option.

What happens after I register?

The following:  (a) You receive an online confirmation (b) We will send you a technical binder and you will have access to all of the technical videos and (c) We will send you an email with practice cases (online) as well as guidance for getting started..

Do I receive other material during the course?

Yes - there will be additional material e-mailed to you as the course progresses.

What are live-online classes and will there be any?

Live online classes are where you sit at your computer and log in and watch the instructor live, teach the class.  You can ask questions by using the chat box to text or you can unmute your microphone and ask the question orally.  

What if I miss an online class?

No problem - all live online classs are recorded, so you just watch the video.  the video is uploaded the following day.

How long will I have access to the videos?

Until you pass!

What if I have questions - who do I ask?

If you have technical questions, contact Ira (iwalfish@passyourcpa.ca) or Michael (mjlevi@passyourcpa.ca).  We are happy to answer questions.

How long do I need to study for?

Difficult to answer - if working full time, you should begin no later than the beginning of January if writing the CFE in May and no later than the beginning of May for the Sept. CFE.  If not working, can start a bit later.  The earlier you start the better the chances of passing.

Does it matter if I took my CA in India many years ago?

No  - It will just mean more time is required to review the technical and get up to speed.

What is the biggest area on the exam?

The exam covers 6 competencies:  Financial reporting, management accounting, audit, tax, finance and governance.  Financial reporting and management accounting are the 2 biggest areas.

 

Which PASS CFE Courses Should I Take?

I am completing my PEP Module Exams by December. I plan on writing the CFE in May or September. Which PASS CFE courses should I take?

If you completed your PEP Module Exams by the end of December, and want to write the CFE in September, you should take advantage of the fact that you have a considerable amount of time to prepare for the CFE. 

See the home page, in the yellow box that says PEP Module Exams CFE and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

It is important to make good use of this time, so consider the following:

(1) If you took the PASS PEP Module Exam Courses 


We would suggest you take the  PASS Comprehensive Course.  This course provides intensive training in writing CFE cases effectively.

In addition to this, you may want to consider 3 other courses:

(a) If you want an additional financial accounting technical review, consider attending the CFE Technical Accounting IFRS/ASPE Course in the winter (if you did not attend the Core 1 Module Exam Course);

(b) If you want an additional management accounting technical review, consider attending the CFE Technical Management Accounting Course in the winter (if you did not attend the Core 2 module Exam Course); and

(c) If you would like to get a head start on case writing in the winter, you may want to take the CFE Multi (Day 3) Case Writing Course (these cases are in addition to those offered in the summer Comprehensive case writing course).

(2) If you did not take the PASS PEP Module Exam Courses 
 
Consider taking the Complete CFE Program, which includes a technical review in both financial and management accounting along with the CFE Comprehensive Course in the summer, where you write cases and learn techniques to move up the levels.

In addition, if you also want to get a head start on case writing in the winter, you should take the CFE Multi (Day 3) Case Writing Course (these cases are in addition to those offered in the summer case writing course).



I am completing my PEP Modules Exams in March. I will be writing the CFE in September. Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

If you completed your PEP Module exams by the end of March, you can write the CFE in September. 

See the home page, in the yellow box that says Module Exams CFE and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

Consider the following:

(1) If you took the PASS PEP Module Exam Courses -
We would suggest you take the  PASS Comprehensive Course.  This course provides intensive training in writing CFE cases effectively..


In addition to this, you may want to consider 3 other courses:

(a) If you want an additional financial accounting technical review, consider attending the CFE Technical Accounting IFRS/ASPE Course in the winter (if you did not attend the Core 1 Module Exam Course);

(b) If you want an additional management accounting technical review, consider attending the CFE Technical Management Accounting Course in the winter (if you did not attend the Core 2 module Exam Course); and

(c) If you would like to get a head start on case writing in the winter, you may want to take the CFE Multi (Day 3) Case Writing Course (these cases are in addition to those offered in the summer Comprehensive case writing course).

Given that the live CFE Technical Accounting IFRS/ASPE and Technical Management Accounting Courses begin before the end of March we would suggest that you take the video version of the course.


(2) If you did not take the PASS PEP Module Exam Courses -
Consider taking the CFE Comprehensive Course, which includes both case writing and techniques to help you move up the levels from "reaching competent" to "competent".

In addition, if you also want to get a head start on case writing in the winter, you should take the CFE Multi (Day 3) Case Writing Course (these cases are in addition to those offered in the summer case writing course).

I completed or am completing my PEP modules. Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

See the home page, in the green box that says PEP CFE and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

I completed a Diploma/Accredited Program by December. Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

See the home page, in the purple box that says Diploma / Accredited Program CFE and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

I am a repeat CFE writer. Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

See the home page, in the purple box that says Repeat CFE Writer and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

I am an international student (i.e. I have a CA from another country and I want to obtain my Canadian CPA). Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

See the home page, in the blue box that says International Student and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

Given that Capstone 2 is supposed to prepare students for the CFE why would a student need a course in addition to attending Capstone 2?

The issue is not whether students “need” a course; rather the issue is whether it would be beneficial. For the Comprehensive CFE Course we believe that the additional opportunity to write additional cases, have them marked and returned with constructive feedback as well as the opportunity to attend debriefings offered by very experienced instructors will provide students with an edge when writing the CFE.  Students will also learn effective techniques for achieving “competent” that have been developed by PASS.  Furthermore keep in mind that the large firms with whom students from small and medium firms need to compete on the CFE, generally provide training in addition to that provided by Capstone 2.

I am writing the PDPA Exam. Which PASS CFE Courses should I take?

See the home page, in the red box that says PDPA Student and click "read more" to see a list of all the courses.

Should all candidates take the CFE Technical Accounting IFRS/ASPE Course?

The CFE Technical Accounting IFRS/ASPE Course course is ideal for students who would like both a review of all difficult financial accounting topics as well as the opportunity to learn how to effectively apply accounting knowledge in a CFE case.  It will therefore be particularly useful to students who did not already take the Challenge Exam course and therefore never had the chance to attend a course that offered a comprehensive review of accounting.  This would include students who participated in the modules offered by CPA Canada or who participated in an accredited Diploma or Masters program that exempted them from writing the Core 1 & 2 and/or elective module exams.

Should all candidates take the CFE Management Accounting Course?

The CFE Technical Management Accounting Course is ideal for students who would like both a review of all difficult management accounting topics as well as the opportunity to learn how to effectively apply this knowledge in a CFE case.  It will therefore be particularly useful to students who did not already take the Challenge Exam course and therefore never had the chance to attend a course that offered a comprehensive review of management accounting.  This would include students who participated in the modules offered by CPA Canada or who participated in an accredited Diploma or Masters program that exempted them from writing the Core 1 & 2 and/or elective module exams.

 

Resources for Module Students

For which PEP modules would the resources for students taking modules be applicable?

PASS will help students get through CPA the PEP modules by providing resources for Core 1 and Core 2 as well as the Assurance and Taxation Modules.  

What kind of resources do you provide for students taking the PEP modules or just writing the PEP module exams (without taking the modules)?

PASS provides resources to help students to develop their technical and case writing skills, both of which are important for the PEP module exams, to get through CPA PEP.  To help students prepare from a technical perspective PASS provides extensive technical resources for PEP students  and for students in Accredited Programs or students exempt from the Core and Elective Modules, including notes as well as videos which cover all of the major technical topics for which students are responsible.  For case writing, PASS provides effective case writing resources which include simulated cases students can write in order to practice their case writing as well as professional marking of the cases and videos of case take-ups by an experienced instructor.


Do students taking the PEP modules require additional help with their "technical" beyond the assistance provided by CPA Canada during the modules?

It is not absolutely essential for students to obtain additional resources beyond those provided by CPA Canada.  However many students find the additional resources provided by PASS to be very helpful for CPA PEP for a number of reasons.

  • PASS provides a technical binder with a summary of technical topics all in one binder making it very easy and efficient to study.
  • PASS also provides thorough video technical lectures by very knowledgeable instructors on all difficult topics, which is particularly helpful for some of the more difficult technical topics; this complements the training provided in the modules.

 

About PASS

How many years has PASS been offering courses?

PASS has been offering courses for over 30 years.  Under the predecessor program PASS offered courses for the CKE which was very technical similar to Core 1 and Core 2 as well as for the SOA and UFE which are similar to the CFE, a case based exam.

Are your courses given only to students in small and mid-sized firms or have your courses also been used by the large “Big Four” firms?

PASS has provided courses to students from firms ranging from one partner firms right through to the Big Four.  As a matter of fact over the years we have offered courses to all of the Big Four firms including PWC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG.  For the last 22 years PASS has delivered the PWC national UFE program and is now delivering the PWC CFE program. 

How does the live online format PASS offers differ from taking a video version of the course?

The live online courses are courses offered by a live instructor; they are however offered electronically rather than in a physical class room.  Students have the opportunity to ask questions orally or using a chat box as the sessions are conducted in real-time (i.e. students sit at their computer and watch the instructor lead the session and students have the ability to ask questions either by text or voice).


This is quite different than a video online session which is not live where students simply watch the video.


You may wish to refer to the detailed description of course venues on our website.

 

Are course fees tax deductible?

Yes

Would you recommend live online sessions over video sessions?

In most instances we would recommend live online sessions over video sessions as it is very beneficial to have a live instructor who can answer student questions in real time.  Also it is easier to focus in an online session compared with watching a video.

The only advantage of the video session is that videos can be watched at the student’s convenience.
This can be very helpful when for example the student has a work schedule which conflicts with the times that live sessions are being offered.  Also with a video the student can control the pace.

However, all students who take the live online sessions have access to all of the videos and can watch them whenever they wish.

Some courses cut students off videos after they are viewed a number of times. Does PASS do this?

No - You can have access to all videos as long as you need them and watch them as many times as you wish.

Who teaches the PASS sessions?

Michael Levi and Ira Walfish teach most or all of the financial accounting (core 1), assurance and management accounting (core 2) sessions.  Most of the tax sessions are usually taught by Professor Joanne Magee, of York University.  See the list of PASS instructors for more information.

Would you recommend taking in-class sessions or live online sessions?

Due to Covid we do not have in-class sessions for the 2022 exams.  However we plan to offer in-class sessions again starting in 2023.

Students who enjoy face to face interaction with an instructor and live close enough to a city in which in-class sessions are offered are generally better off taking the in-class version of a course.

However the online courses will be ideal for students who cannot attend the in-class sessions, i.e. they live too far from a city where the in-class course is offered, cannot attend the in-class course or simply enjoy the online experience.

Is it possible to utilize a combination of venues? For example can a student take some sessions live online and others through video online?

That is certainly possible.  Many former PASS students have taken advantage of this flexibility and have used both venues - live online and video online - for the same course.

As a result of Covid for the last 2 years we were not able to provide in-class instruction.  However, very shortly we are planning to re-instate in-class offerings so that students will be able to move between 3 venues - in-class, live online and video online - for the same course.

If students take a course in-class or live online, do they still automatically gain access to the videos in case they miss a class or simply wish to review a class?

Yes, that is one of the nice things about PASS.  All students regardless of the venue they use, have access to all of the videos relating to their courses.

Does a student need to be registered with a provincial CPA Institute in order to register for a PASS course?

No. Students are not required to be registered with a provincial CPA Institute in order to register with PASS, although students must register with their provincial CPA Institute (or CPA western School of Business if you live out west) before they can write any of the exams which comprise the CPA certification program.

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