CPA Canada PEP and CFE WhatsApp Study Groups

Below are active WhatsApp CPA Canada study groups. I recommend bookmarking this page as the links are continuously updated.

==== TERM STARTING MAY 2021 ====
CPA Core 1 (May 2021) GROUP A (FULL)
CPA Core 1 (May 2021) GROUP B (FULL)
CPA Core 1 (May 2021) GROUP C

Groups per province:

CPA Core 2 (May 2021) GROUP A (FULL)
CPA Core 2 (May 2021) GROUP B

CPA Assurance (May 2021)
CPA Tax (May 2021)
CPA PM (May 2021)
CPA Finance (May 2021)

==== TERM STARTING JULY 2021 ====
CPA Core 1 (July 2021) >>
CPA Core 2 (July 2021) >>
CPA Assurance (July 2021) >> TBD
CPA Tax (July 2021) >> TBD
CPA PM (July 2021) >> TBD
CPA Finance (July 2021) >>TBD

==== TERM STARTING OCT 2021 ====
CPA Core 1 (Oct 2021) >>
CPA Core 2 (Oct 2021) >>
CPA Assurance (Oct 2021) >> TBD
CPA Tax (Oct 2021) >> TBD
CPA PM (Oct 2021) >> TBD
CPA Finance (Oct 2021) >>TBD

CPA Cap 1 >>
CPA CFE May 2021 >>
CPA CFE Sep 2021 >>
CPA Exam Challenge (NFC) >>

For questions or concerns, reach out to me at

CPA PEP 2021 Core 1

This Core 1 program is built on proven CPA coaching methods that help candidates pass Core 1 on the first attempt. You will learn Core 1 case writing, time management, outlining, technicals, formatting, memory aids, formatting, triggers, and much more. Sign up and start preparing for the Core 1 2021 now.

Tutor Application

GevorgCPA Coaching is hiring CPA PEP/CFE tutors and assistant coaches. If you are passionate about education and have strong CPA academic material knowledge, please fill out the form below and we will get in touch with the next steps. (NOTE: All tutoring and coaching is done remotely and you will be compensated per hour. Typical coaching sessions last an hour, once per week.)
Selected Value: 0
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What to Do Now that CPA Canada Cancels the May 2021 CFE (Ontario and Quebec)

For the first time, the CPA Canada Common Final Exam (CFE) will be held regionally. CPA Canada announced today that the May 2021 CFE will be cancelled in CPA Ontario and Quebec, but will proceed as planned in CPA Western and Atlantic. The exam delivery approach for both the CPA Western and Atlantic schools will be the same as in the September 2020 CFE, involving the use of hotel rooms.

The decision is due to the high COVID-19 case counts and new variants, affecting heavily Ontario and Quebec. Out of province writers from Ontario and Quebec will not be allowed to write in other provinces.

The September 2021 CFE registration will open in May and it is scheduled to be held from September 13 to 15. Capstone 2 will be offered in July, and the registration will open again in May.

Why did CPA Canada make this decision?

In addition to what was said about health concerns, these are my thoughts:

  • Historically CFE had been offered once per year in September, so adding May was mostly for the sake of scheduling flexibility and possibly higher graduation of CPAs into the market
  • Most students in Quebec follow the university programs and those are designed to write in September
  • There is really no “requirement” to hold CFE nationally, it just made sense from administration and marking points of view
  • CPA Canada was not expecting to cancel the May 2020 CFE (last year), so there are extra set of cases that could be used, making it practical
  • The costs/benefits of booking thousands of hotel rooms vs. postponing for 4 months must have not been financially viable

What does this mean for writers in Ontario and Quebec?

This news is certainly disheartening for the most of you. I recommend taking the time to re-strategize and focus on the positives:

  • You now have 4 more months (15 weeks) to study
  • You’ll get an extra set of CFE cases to learn from
  • First time writers will now be writing WDI v2 and repeat writers the DHC v3 cases, so you’ll have extra set of Day 1 cases to study
  • If you were on the fence about ordering a Performance Analysis Review (PAR) of your 2020 CFE, you can do so from March 16-21 and these PARs will be made available by July 1. I generally recommend PARs for candidates who were unsuccessful at the CFE and cannot work out their weaknesses.

Action items for Ontario and Quebec writers:

  • Revise your study plan to add 15 weeks of more technicals and more cases (old CFE/UFE)
  • Start planning your time off with your employers for August/September
  • Mark the registration deadlines for Cap 2/ September 2021 CFE

What about writers in Western and Atlantic?

Not much changes for writers in Western (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, NWT/Nunavut) and Atlantic (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland), as far as your exam strategy goes:

  • There will be ~65% less writers in your May 2021 exam, so less “competition” to tackle
  • CFE is still going to be marked on the curve, put your best efforts to get ahead of the  curve (est’d 1,000-3,000 writers)
  • You will be writing in hotel rooms, where there is more privacy and opportunity to focus
  • You will get only physical copies of the CFE cases during the exam. This is different than the electronic PDFs you had in the PEP program. Print and practice with hard copy cases now and in Cap 2
  • You will be using FolioViews software to look up standards. Download and practice the software to get familiar, when you get access

Action items for Western and Atlantic writers:

  • Keep working on your technicals and case writing, there are only 10 weeks left (as of today)
  • Follow the same study strategy as if the CFE was held nationally, nothing changes in your strategy
  • Watch my YouTube videos and register for my CFE prep program, if you have not done so yet

I encourage candidates to use the extra four months to be productive. Stay home and study case writing and technical materials. This will help to prevent the spread of the virus and have you well-prepared for the postponed exam.

PEP and CFE Exam Coaching

My name is Gevorg. I’m an instructor and a CPA exam coach. I’ve been featured on CBC News and Google News as a CPA exam expert. If you want coaching with me, contact me or sign up for my CPA CFE Review Course.

CFE Review by Gevorg CPA


How to Analyze Betterment Under IFRS for CPA Canada Exam Cases (IAS 16 and ASPE 3061)

Whether you are at CPA PEP Core 1, the electives, or the CFE, you have likely seen the “betterment” Financial Reporting (FR) issue. Betterment is covered under the CPA Canada Handbook and, in simple terms, it means enhancing a capital asset. For example, a building renovation, adding a new roof to a house, major repairs, etc. Here are the accounting treatments under both ASPE and IFRS.

Betterment under ASPE (ASPE 3061)

The ASPE 3061 section on Property, Plant and Equipment, specifically covers betterment. According to ASPE 3061, para. 14, betterment is: “The cost incurred to enhance the service potential of an item of property, plant and equipment is a betterment. Service potential may be enhanced when there is an increase in the previously assessed physical output or service capacity, associated operating costs are lowered, the life or useful life is extended, or the quality of output is improved. The cost incurred in the maintenance of the service potential of an item of property, plant and equipment is a repair, not a betterment. If a cost has the attributes of both a repair and a betterment, the portion considered to be a betterment is included in the cost of the asset.”

In CPA cases, do the following:

  1. Quote the above ASPE 3061.14 standard
  2. Use case facts to prove that there is enhancement
    1. > This can be done through a discussion of  enhancing the asset’s quality, estimated useful life, reducing operating costs,  and output quantity (memory aid: “a better QLOQ”)
  3. Analyze which costs can be capitalized
    1. > Just because it is betterment, it does not mean all expenditures can be capitalized. You can only capitalize “directly attributable cost necessary to bring the asset to the intended use.” Discuss the relevant costs and conclude which ones qualify for betterment
  4. Recommend

Betterment under IFRS (IAS 16)

The IAS 16 section on Property, Plant and Equipment, does not use the word betterment. Instead, the terms major replacement and major inspection are used. An example of major replacement is replacing the interior wall of a building or the engine of a plane. An example of major inspection is an airline company that does major inspections every few years.

In CPA cases, do the following:

  1. Quote the standard (IAS 16) and write that there are major replacements and major inspections
  2. Use case facts to prove that the event is either a major replacement or inspection
  3. Discuss that under IFRS, as long as there is future economic benefit (FEB) and costs reliably measurable, you can capitalize
  4. Use case facts to prove that there is FEB and costs are reliably measurable
    1. Similar to ASPE, only directly attributable cost necessary to bring the asset to the intended use can be capitalized
  5. Add that the carrying amount of the parts that are replaced (ie, the old parts) should be de-recognized
  6. Recommend

PEP and CFE Exam Coaching

My name is Gevorg. I’m an instructor and a CPA exam coach. I’ve been featured on CBC News and Google News as a CPA exam expert. If you want coaching with me, contact me or sign up for my CPA CFE Review Course.

CFE Review by Gevorg CPA


CPA Canada 2020 Pass Rates Released

CPA Canada has now released the 2020 PEP and CFE pass rates. This was the first year when PEP exams where written at home and the CFE at hotel rooms.

2020 CFE Pass Rates

Below are the official pass rates as reported by CPA Canada:

CFE Offering

Cumulative Pass Rates

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

September 2020




September 2019




September 2018




September 2017




September 2016




May 2016




September 2015




There is a marginal decrease (0.5%) year over year, but overall it is consistent at the average 75% rate.

2020 PEP Pass Rates

CPA PEP Module

2020 Pass Rate

2019 Pass Rate

Core 1



Core 2















There are marginal increases overall in the PEP (Core 1, Core 2) while other modules have decreased or stayed flat.

PEP and CFE Exam Coaching

My name is Gevorg. I’m an instructor and a CPA exam coach. I’ve been featured on CBC News and Google News as a CPA exam expert. If you want coaching with me, contact me or sign up for my CPA CFE Review Course.

CFE Review by Gevorg CPA


Try These 5 Tips for the Assurance CPA PEP Module

About 75% of all CPA Common Final Exam (CFE) writers choose Assurance as their role. The reason is that it’s one of the “easier” roles to achieve depth in.

But don’t let this fool you, there is still a lot of material to cover and lengthy practice cases to write. Here are my top 5 tips for passing the CPA PEP Assurance module:

1. Know how to write procedures

Audit procedures are a heavily tested topic; it may come up as part of an Audit Planning Memo or as a separate required. In both cases, follow these best practices:

  • Use the RAP template: Risk, Assertion, Procedures
  • Make the procedures case specific by integrating case facts
  • Write at least 2 procedures for each FR issue
  • Make sure the procedures directly address the risk(s)
  • Don’t write the procedures in “point form” – use complete sentences

Writing procedures at the C level requires understanding of case writing and takes a lot of practice. I recommend keeping track of procedures as they come up in practice cases. By the end of the module, you will have an inventory of procedures to refer to. If you need a comprehensive template with lots of procedures, contact me to set up a coaching session and I’ll email those to you during our call.

2. Focus on these Assurance topics

There are roughly 23 chapters on Assurance in the Learning eBook, but I find the topics below to be the most commonly tested:

  • Audit Planning Memo (APM) – CAS 315, 320, 330
  • Assertions (B/S, I/S)
  • Audit evidence – CAS 500
  • Procedures – CAS 510
  • Analytical Procedures – CAS 520
  • Special Reports – CAS 805, HB 5815, HB 8600, HB 9100,  CSAE 3000, CSAE 3001
  • Reviews – CSRE 2400
  • Compilations – HB 9200

Start with the above topics, then read the rest of the chapters so that you are well prepared. As you’re reading the Learning eBook, make concise summary notes for yourself. It also helps to use different colours of pens/fonts to separate the different concepts.

3. Qual matters more in Assurance

The qual analysis makes up 90% of the case in Assurance, while quant analysis is a very minor part. From my experience, most candidates fail due to either time management issues or inability to write at the C level. Here are the best practices of writing the qualitative analysis in your cases:

  • Use bullet lists to organize your memo
  • Use formatting to separate the issues (eg bolding, underlining, italicize)
  • Keep your writing concise but deep enough for a C
  • Have templates in mind for the common topics (eg RAP and VOOP for procedures, RAMP for Audit Planning Memo, WIR for control weaknesses, SAPPY for special reports, RRIIO APEX for audit evidence.)
  • Come up with memory aids to chunk big technicals (eg IS COCCA CERV’d in BoSton? tells you all the assertions: Income Statement: Completeness, Occurrence, Cut-off, Classification, Accuracy // Completeness, Existence, Rights & obligations, Valuation in Balance Sheet).

Case writing is both a science and an art, the best strategy is to write lots of cases and to debrief effectively.

4. Manage your time well on the exam

It’s important that you manage your time on the exams. This means knowing how to Rank and Time Budget.


  • The Assurance elective blueprint tells that 50-70% of the exam is Assurance and 20-40% is FR.
  • Start your cases with FR and then write Assurance and any other areas
  • The FR topics may impact your Assurance analysis (eg materiality calculation), so it’s important to rank these first
  • Write FR topics in any order, as long as you address all of them

Time budgeting:

  • The Assurance blueprint tells that the cases are  80-120 minutes in length
  • Allocate about 20% of the case’s time on reading the case and the rest on solving the requireds
  • Spend roughly 8-10 minutes on each issue and move on when you reach your time limit

5. Write more practice cases

You will get 8 practice cases (PCs) and 8 integrative problems (IPs) in the module.  Unfortunately, those PCs and IPs don’t fully prepare you for the exam, since they don’t cover every AO that you may possibly see on the exam.

I provide four (4) original Assurance supplemental mock exam practice cases to help you improve your case writing skills and broaden your technicals. They cover a range of AOs, including:

  • Business combination (IFRS)
  • Sale and leaseback
  • Lease from lessor’s perspective
  • Held-for-sale assets
  • Biological assets
  • Government assistance
  • Convertible debt
  • Special engagements
  • Use of an auditor’s expert
  • Test of control procedures
  • Substantive procedures
  • Impact of misstatements

Head over to the cases section of my website to learn more. Most of the above topics are not covered in the Assurance module, but they come up on the exam over and over.  If you have any questions  or need additional help, I’m here for email support.

Assurance Practice Cases and Solutions

Preview and purchase the supplementary mock exam cases to improve your case writing skills and take on the Assurance module.






Should You Take Tax or Assurance CPA PEP Module First?

The Tax and Assurance electives are the “bread and butter” of accounting. If you want to work in public practice (or if you already work in public practice), you should take those two electives; they are required for various licensing requirements.

Candidates often ask me which one is better to take first, Tax or Assurance? The short answer – take Assurance first.

Assurance is “kind of” easier than Tax

Unless you are a tax specialist or someone well-versed in the Canadian tax, you will likely find the Assurance elective easier.

The number of common topics in Assurance are much lighter than in Tax:

  • Audit Planning Memo (APM) – CAS 315, 320, 330
  • Assertions (B/S, I/S)
  • Audit evidence – CAS 500
  • Procedures – CAS 510
  • Analytical Procedures – CAS 520
  • Special Reports – CAS 805, HB 5815, HB 8600, HB 9100,  CSAE 3000, CSAE 3001
  • Reviews – CSRE 2400
  • Compilations – HB 9200
  • Misc assurance topics…

The quant analysis is also very minor, compared to Tax, and from my experience, most candidates fail due to time management issues on the quants.

The key to getting good at the above Assurance topics is to read the Learning eBook and make concise summary notes for yourself.

Take Assurance, then Tax

The Core and Elective modules are different. It’s better to take the “easier” Assurance to get comfortable with the Elective module and exam, then take the Tax elective when you have experience under your belt.

  • Elective modules have longer cases
  • The exams have two cases and few MCQs
  • There is greater requirement for depth in the Electives

You are better off “warming up” with Assurance, then take on Tax.

Assurance Practice cases and Solutions

I will be releasing supplementary Assurance mock exam cases to improve your case writing skills and technical knowledge. Check back on Feb 2021.



5 Things You Need to Know for the CPA PEP Tax Exam

The PEP Tax module is arguably the toughest. You have to be prepared for quants, and I mean a lot of quants.

Below are my top 5 tips for Tax candidates:

1. Know the Blueprint

The CPA Canada’s elective blueprint gives the breakdown of the exam structure. Here are the competency allocations for the Tax module:

  • Total Duration: 4 hours
  • MCQ-portion (Update: Due to COVID-19 restrictions the Tax exam is now remote and has 2 cases only)
    • Up to 30 questions
    • Allow 40 minutes
    • Competencies:
      • Tax 100%
  • Case-portion
    • 2 cases
    • 80-120 minutes in length (each)
    • Allow 200 minutes
    • Competencies:
      • Tax 50% (from my experience, more likely 70-80%)
      • FN or FR or S&G or MA 50%  (from my experience, more likely 30-20%)
  • Other notes
    • You will have access to the Handbook (HB) and the Income Tax Act (ITA)
    • New tax standards cut-off date is December 31 of the prior year
    • Reference sheet for common tax formula are provided

2. Be Prepared to Study for Hours

Be prepared to spend more than the usual number of hours going through the cases. Most of the AOs have quants components, which means you need to debrief the excel solutions thoroughly.

  • Plan to spend 15-25 hours per week studying
  • Go through the ITA to understand its structure and where common things are (eg CCA rates).
  • Deconstruct the excel solutions to understand the formula
  • Make personal notes of the common topics (see below)

3. Write Schedule 1 Explanations in Excel

One of the most common topics tested in Tax is the Schedule 1. The case provides the accounting income and your task is to figure out the net income for tax purposes (NITP), taxable income (TI) and potentially tax payable (TP). Candidates often ask me if it’s required to write explanations for additions and deductions and if so, where is the best place to write them.

  • All additions (eg amortization) and deductions (eg CCA) require explanations
  • Keep your explanations in excel to help the marker tie your numbers to the analysis
  • Explain WHY an item is allowed or disallowed, don’t write superficially
  • Check out my interview with Matt, who passed the CFE with Honour Rolls, while writing depth in Tax.

4. Show Support for Calculations

If you want to get Competent (C), you need to show support for calculations. If the marker is confused, he/she will not take the time to dig through your complex spreadsheet,

  • Your quants need references to suppose the calculations
  • You can create “note 1”, “note 2”, etc, but it’s simpler to use letter annotations (eg A, B, C = A-B)
  • Make sure to keep your annotations simple (time management is key)

5. Focus on these Tax Topics

Though the CPA Competency map for Tax is lengthy, and any of the testable materials can come up, these are the key topics to focus on:

  • Section 85 rollover
  • Acquisition of control
  • Employer provided automobile – standby charge
  • Employer provided automobile – operating benefit
  • CCA
  • Tax income/payable – individual
  • Tax income/payable – corporation
  • Deductibility of expenses(eg home office, meals, moving expenses, etc.)
  • Common business expenses DISALLOWED
  • Common business expenses ALLOWED
  • Death/divorce of taxpayer
  • Employee vs Contractor
  • Residency
  • Property Income
  • Sales tax (GST) rules and deadlines
  • Pros/cons of incorporating
  • Salary vs. Dividends
  • Filing and payment deadlines 

Get More Mock Exam Practice Cases

I will be releasing four (4) original CPA PEP Taxation mock exam practice cases to help you prepare for the tax module exam. My cases will test you on new AOs and help you better prepare for the exam. Check back on this blog post in June 20, 2021.

Get Personalized CPA Tax Coaching

I’m Gevorg. I’m an instructor and a CPA exam coach. I’ve been featured on CBC News and Google News as a CPA exam expert. If you want coaching with me, contact me and we’ll discuss your needs.




CFE Results 2020 | Where To Find Results & Next Steps if You Failed

CPA Canada announced that the Common Final Exam (CFE) 2020 results will be released on Friday, November 27, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. PST. Find out if you passed using the links below:

(Note: CPAWSB students can check the detailed transcript at

Honour Roll

The list of CFE 2020 Honour Roll candidates will be made available at the link below:

How to Read the Transcripts

You will receive Day 1 and Days 2/3 transcripts.

The Day 1 transcript will have “Pass” or “Fail” only.





The Days 2/3 transcript will have 4 levels of assessment:

  • Level 1: Sufficiency – The combined number of Cs and RCs.
  • Level 2: Depth in FR or MA – The combined number of Cs in FR or MA
  • Level 3: Depth in Role – The number of Cs in your role (Day 2 only)
  • Level 4: Breadth – The minimum number of Cs and RCs in all competencies

The transcript will show pass or fail at each of the levels. Only Level 1 will show sufficiency grouping from 1-10 (1 means you were close to passing, 10 means you were far).

What to Do if You Failed

Day 1 and Days 2/3 are assessed and graded separately. For example, you can pass Day 1, but fail Days 2/3. Similarly, you can pass Days 2/3 ,but fail Day 1.

If you were unsuccessful at any of the CFE days, you can:

  • Request review and re-marking
  • Purchase Performance Analysis Report (PAR)
  • Retake the next exam

Review and re-marking will have your exam re-marked by a senior marker. There are specific deadlines and fees for application. About 8% of candidates in 2019 requested re-marking and only 1% of them were successful. Read if CFE results are worth appealing here.

Performance analysis report (PAR) is available for Day 1, Days 2/3, or all days. There are specific fees for each type of PAR report.

Before retaking the next exam, make sure you fully understand your transcript and the reasons you failed..

Get Personalized CPA Exam Coaching

Sign up for the newest CPA CFE Review Course, the comprehensive and highly personalized CPA exam prep course for May and September 2021 CFEs.

CFE Review by Gevorg CPA