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How to Navigate CFE Exam Rules on Challenge Exams

Published November 25, 2015 by Ira Walfish

The CFE has a new rule that you can only write one challenge exam per day. How will this affect you as a CPA accounting student preparing for this important final exam?

Well, it definitely makes the planning of when you write your exams a bit more cumbersome.  Firstly, the Tax Elective and Core 2 exams are always on the same day.  So don't plan on writing them in the same sitting – can't be done.

Secondly, the Assurance Elective and Core 1 also cannot be written in the same exam sitting, as they are either on the same day or Core 1 is not offered in the same exam sitting as Assurance.  So, that's out as well.

What should you do then?  I would recommend the following:  

(1) Write Core 1 and Tax in the same exam sitting; and
(2) Try to write the Assurance Elective right before or right after Core 1 – i.e. back to back. 

Writing Core 1 and Tax at the same time is a practical decision. If you consult the CPA Blueprint, which I would highly recommend, you'll notice that on Core 1 you will have 10-20% tax objective format questions. That's a lot. What that means is you will get a double win by studying both financial accounting for Core 1 and tax for the Tax Elective.  So those are two exams that are good to do in the same sitting.

With respect to Core 1 and Assurance, use a similar logic. The CPA Blueprint shows that on Core 1 you will have 10-30% assurance objective format questions. On the Assurance Elective, you will have 20-40% financial accounting objective format questions. Though these questions only comprise up to 25% of the exam, it is still a big chunk! 

For this reason, it makes sense to write both your Core 1 and Assurance back to back and as close as possible, because you'll be studying assurance and financial accounting for both exams. By writing the two in immediate succession, you will remember more and be better prepared when you write the second exam.

It really doesn't matter which one you write first. The key is to be prepared for both assurance and financial accounting before you write either exam.

These are just some of the considerations in deciding how to choose when to write your Challenge Exams.

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