Gevorg CPA interview with CBC News Toronto

I had a chat with CBC News about this year’s CPA exam hotel room format and the level of difficulty.  Full article below:


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CFE Review by Gevorg CPA

5 Free CPA Exam Supplemental Resources

Majority of candidates writing the CPA exams look for supplemental resources. The materials provided by CPA Canada are abundant, but understanding the tough technicals and building a solid exam strategy is challenging.  Some seek mentors, study partners and the majority sign up for a a prep or a coaching program. Here are 5 free supplemental resources that you can use to prepare for your exam:

1. Reddit

Reddit’s r/Accounting is a community of accountants who actively discuss their school and career lives. You can use this resource to ask help with exam questions and discuss exam strategies. Head over to the sub-Reddit, search your question or make a new post. If you make a new post, make sure to use [CAN] tags, as both US and Canadian accountants post there.

2. YouTube

Filled with technical videos and exam reviews, YouTube is a great resource to prepare for the CPA exams. My YouTube channel regularly publishes videos and webinars tailored for CPA students. Search for exam strategies and technical problems to better understand the concepts you’re struggling with.

3. CPA Canada website

CPA Canada has Certification Resource Centre (CRC) with mock exams, exam reference schedules, and CFE reports. Use it to understand the exam structure and practise past exams.

4. Study partner portal

CPA Western School of Business (CPAWSB) has a Peer Study portals that lets you connect with a study buddy. Use it to connect with a like-minded peer to share resources and mark each others’ cases.

5. HTKAcademy

HTKAcademy is a website with free CPA study notes. I find HTK’s notes to be easy to read and tailored towards the CPA exam writers. Head over there and look up ASPE or IFRS standards that you find difficult to understand.


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How To Become a CPA in Canada


The majority of candidates pursuing the CPA designation are part of the PEP (Professional Education Program) program. This program consists of two Core modules, two Elective modules, Capstone 1, Capstone 2 and the CFE. More information about the PEP program can be obtained at CPA Canada’s website:


If you are an internationally trained accountant, you can apply through the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), Reciprocal Membership Agreement (RMA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). You can read more about it at CPA Canada’s website:

A detailed article on the MOU application can be found here:


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CFE Review by Gevorg CPA

CPA Canada CFE Review – CFE Sep 2020 Days 1, 2 and 3 course now available







Dear Candidates,

I would like to invite you to my upcoming free webinar How to Succeed at the CFE: September 2020. This 1-hour webinar will cover the following topics:

  1. Structure of the CFE
  2. Passing profile
  3. What to expect this year
  4. Study strategies
  5. Key technicals
  6. Efficient case writing
  7. Why candidates succeed or fail
  8. Q&A

Register now >

Additionally, I’m excited to announce the release of my new CPA CFE 2020 course: CFE Review: The Honour Roll Prep Program. This is a comprehensive prep and coaching course for CPA Canada’s September 2020 Common Final Exam (CFE).

What is the CFE Review course?

CFE Review is a supplementary coaching program that teaches approach, case writing skills and strategies towards the CPA Canada’s Common Final Exam (CFE) Days 1, 2 and 3, based on Honour Roll methods. The course includes:

  • Case writing walkthroughs
  • Efficient outlining strategies
  • Quant analysis templates
  • Time management methods
  • Memory aids
  • Qual formats and templates
  • Technical study notes
  • Access to 8-hours of engaging video lessons
  • Historical CFE AO data (bonus)
  • Honour Roll student interviews (bonus)

Learn more >

What support do I receive?

The program offers you a 360-coverage of the CFE and includes the following learning materials:

  • Video lessons (unlimited access until you pass)
  • Free 30-minute coaching consultation
  • Step-by-step breakdown of a Day 1, 2 and 3 case
  • Sample answers
  • Supplemental practice drills
  • Case writing templates
  • Quant templates
  • Study plan for September 2020 CFE
  • Case checklist
  • Technical review checklist
  • Immersive video lessons as opposed to voice-over audio lectures
  • Access to 1.5hrs of exclusive CPA Honour Roll technical interviews

Course preview >

Learn more and sign up at my course platform.

Warm regards,
Gevorg, CPA
Instructor & CPA Coach

CFE Honour Roll Interview – Strategies from Jonathan

I chatted with Jonathan, an Honour Roll student from CPA CFE 2019. Below is the partial interview and transcript.



Why don’t we start with your background, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Melfort, Saskatchewan, I work at MNP, I’m a designated professional there, so I just got my letters a couple of weeks ago. I graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, with high honours and great distinction there, and I actually wrote honours thesis paper that’s being published in the American Accounting Association Journal this February.

Why don’t you tell us about your CFE prep schedule, for example, how many weeks did you take off and how many hours did you study?
For sure. I took off from start of Capstone 2 onwards, I took a couple of weeks off before, just to relax and get ready, which I would highly recommend if you can, because it was really nice, I found that after a little bit of time off I was ready to start doing something again, so I could get started right into studying full-time.

I took 8-weeks off in total. I studied every day Monday to Friday from 8 to 5, I took a lunch in that time, I treated it like it was my full-time job during that time and then at 5 o’clock I stopped studying. I would just take the evening off and relax like I normally would if I was just working. I tried to maintain as much consistency as I could from working full-time to studying full-time for those 2 months.

Can you tell us how you debrief your cases?
Yeah, so I debrief a lot, I would say compared to some of my cohorts that were at the same firm, I would say I debriefed the most. I really valued that debrief time because I use that as a study period. Instead of just looking at the solution, I would use my debrief time to really dive in, to understand fully where the solution was coming from, what exact handbook reference do they refer to, how they applied them. When I was prepping, I was told that you should spend equal time as the case was to debrief and I definitely did that, if there was a 5-hour case, I spent at least 5 hours debriefing it. That was my main study resource, I never spent a whole day studying technical, most of my technical study was through debrief, so I would spend (for a 5-hour case) the whole next day debriefing.
* * *
I would have tabs in the tracking sheet for each kind of Assessment Opportunities (Management Accounting, Financial Reporting, Assurance, etc. all six of them) and then every case I would type in what was tested, what you were supposed to do, and how I performed on it.

Once you went through this process and you got to CFE, was there anything that surprised you, when you actually got to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, or was it like you expected?
I found it to be exactly but I expected it to be. For Day 2, we were warned ahead of time that there’s going to be FR [Financial Reporting] issues that you’re not going to know about, so I wasn’t surprised by them necessarily. I was surprised because I didn’t know about them, but I wasn’t surprised that there ones that I hadn’t studied yet.

Knowing that going in, there was really nothing on there that was out of the normal or bizarre, I would say, I found everything to be very, very expected, in how the questions were provided, how many assessment opportunities there are going to be, etc.

Do you use a computer outline or a paper outline?
I did not know what to do on the first day of Capstone 2.

I was a little overwhelmed. Other people knew what their approach was, going in there, their mentor told them to do this so they’re doing it, so I felt a little overwhelmed because I didn’t know what my approach was going to be.

In PEP [Professional Education Program], it wasn’t as essential, because I felt like I had more time in those exams or I could make up time easier so I didn’t feel as pressured to really nail down a strategy, whereas in the CFE, you don’t have extra time. So I played it by ear and tried out some different things, I found on Day 1 and 2, I did my outline on the computer and I did my outline very [in-depth], it was really fleshed out, it had the full AO [assessment opportunities] on it and it had a lot of points that linked back to the analysis underneath it so that it was kind of ready to roll, so that when I was actually writing my response, I was typing in, fleshing out the details, and done.

On Day 3, I didn’t outline on the computer, because I didn’t have enough time. Instead, I would just, on a piece of paper, I write down how many AOs were there, and the highlight of them (FR, Assurance, weakness-implication-recommendation) so I would do the highlights and then do how much time I have for each one, because it was such a short case, that I felt that I didn’t need to flesh out [the details]. I didn’t outline Day 3, it depends on what works for you, I could remember all of them and I found I was wasting time as I was outlining, I could have just been working on the answer.

But on Day 2, I really needed to outline, after 3 and 1/2 hours, it’s a lot of typing and it’s a lot of thinking, and you’re starting to get tired. I found it really beneficial that in that first hour, I had already fleshed out, you know, AO#8, so that at least when I’m typing it out I kind of already have a benchmark to go on and then I just need to flesh in the details and provide recommendation, what it may be.

(I totally agree with you, you just don’t have the time to do that in Day 3. Sometimes there is not even a point, because the requireds are a little obvious, they are jumping out at you).

Exactly, and you know there’s only there’s only gonna be 4-6, so it’s not as Day 2, 14 or 15 of them. You’re not gonna remember what 12 is vs 14, in hour 4, when you’re exhausted.

You mentioned earlier that you had a mentor assigned to you. Can you tell us a little bit about that and if you had just one mentor and if you had a study partner that you studied with and what was that like?
I selected the mentor, but it was all provided through the firm. I really valued having a mentor.

We didn’t live in the same location, but we chatted on the phone once a week, to talk how the week was and things like that. It was just really nice having a mentor because they’ve been through the process, so they know what to say to you, they know what you’re going through.

My mentor had just wrote in the last couple of years, she remembered the practice cases. When I said to her I just did this case, she said, “Oh, I remember that case, that one was terrible!” That was really nice, they knew exactly what I was going through, I really enjoyed that.

I did not have a study partner, I did everything independently at home. I did that the whole way through University and through CPA PEP, so for me that works and that was my preference, because I didn’t want to feel like I was comparing my performance to someone else’s, and I didn’t want to feel like I was holding someone else back because I wanted to study this more or vice versa, because I heard, leading up to it, that someone doesn’t want to study Day 1, for example, but you do, so I felt it was easier if I did it on my own.

Having a mentor was awesome, it was so important to me because they helped me stay grounded and continually remind me that Perfection is not the expectation and that was so important.

If there’s one, single best advice that you would give to future CFE writers, what would that advice be?
Just stay calm and relaxed during the whole process.

Without my mentor, I know I would have spiralled into a super stressed-out, high-strung state, during that whole 8-week and that is not what you need to do prepping for it.

It’s like what you said before about when you peak, you really want to peak at the end of the 8 weeks. If you are high-strung, if you’re studying all night in week 2, you’re not going to make it to week 8. For me that was really hard, because I’m used to [in] University studying all night, try to get the perfect answers, it was a really different study approach for me, but it was so essential, because I could have never maintained a full day and night study pattern for 8 weeks. On the day of the exam, I would have been totally burned out.

Let’s go into a little more technical side of things, we spoke about case outlining and how you do Day 1 and Day 2 on the computer, can you walk us through the exact steps?

* * *


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