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How is Day 1 of the CFE is evaluated?

Published November 12, 2020 by Kayla Levesque

 

How is Day 1 evaluated?


Day 1 is marked independently from the other days (Day 2 and 3). It is marked holistically as a pass/fail. Below is an overview of how candidates are evaluated along with some important comments from the Board of Examiners (comments are addressed in italics)[1]


1.  Situational Analysis- Candidates are expected to provide a highlight of the changes presented in the case. This can include an update on the key success factors, overview of the company and current constraints, a financial overview, users’ preferences and an appropriate internal/external analysis. The key points to notes about a situational analysis is that 1) it should not take too much time to write, if so, you are writing too much and 2) it cannot be a standalone component. See below for the Board’s comments.


Some candidates have spent an inordinate amount of time preparing a full situational analysis, rather than addressing the changes that were relevant based on the case facts presented.

 

Candidates are reminded that the purpose of the situational analysis is to identify relevant

changes in circumstances since the Capstone 1. It is not intended to be a full SWOT, nor is it

intended to be a standalone analysis that is rewarded. Only when the information is integrated

into the discussion of the specific issues is there value added.


2.  Analysis of Major Issues- This requires candidates to understand the unique decisions they are assisting with. What tools are required and what situational factors are applicable? Candidates are strongly encouraged to understand the information presented and assess how they can use the information. This may require interpretation of data, integration of data and a thorough assessment using both quantitative and qualitative information.  This requires critical thinking skills!


Before coming to a conclusion/recommendation, you must complete a thorough analysis. What helps candidates “analyze an issue”? Both a qualitative and quantitative analysis is required. The quantitative analysis should be completed first. When you are analyzing quantitatively make sure you explain your calculations, assumptions and restrictions. When you are done your quants ask yourself “so what do my results mean”? This will help you summarize your quantitative results in your report.


Your qualitative analysis will most likely be a pro/con, advantages/disadvantages or risk/opportunity assessment of the strategic decision. It is important that you use the case facts and situational analysis into your discussion. This will show the markers that you understand the relevance of the case facts and you can integrate information. The key is to make sure you have a balanced analysis (don’t be bias!). Lastly, when using a bulleted approach be sure to show complete thoughts- don’t leave the markers guessing what you were trying to say (see the communication section for key comments).


Candidates are reminded that avoiding the numbers is a fatal flaw for the Day 1 case and are strongly advised to perform a balanced quantitative and qualitative analysis. Candidates are reminded to step back and think about the interrelationships between the issues.

 

3.  Conclude and Advise- Remember, you just took so much time analyzing an issue, do waste this analysis by skipping your conclusion. Although an overall conclusion is necessary, it is also important to conclude after each analysis and also integrate other analysis/factors. What is your final decision/recommendation and why?


Candidates are expected to conclude on each analysis they complete, and their conclusions are

expected to be consistent with the analysis they perform.

 

4.  Communication- In this assessment candidates are evaluated on their ability to professionally communicate. This includes a presentation of both the qualitative and quantitative analysis in an easy to follow, professional manner.

The presentation of the exhibit in Excel by some candidates was hard to follow.

 

The use of decision matrix and column format in Word (with pro/con listings) is also not an effective communication technique because it is difficult to clearly communicate the thought process in this format.

 

Many candidates persist in using point form to list the pros and cons related to an issue, with little explanation of their thought process. This can be a poor communication technique because it can lead to responses that are unclear and in many cases challenging to understand, since the point listed can often be interpreted more than one way. Candidates are not discouraged from using point form; however, they need to ensure they go beyond the case facts to clearly explain why the point is relevant.

 


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