CFE Day 1: Can You Write Qual Before Quant?

For each strategic issue in Day 1 of the CFE, candidates will be marked on a qualitative (qual) and quantitative (quant) component. In this article, I’ll discuss if this should be done in a specific order. For example, should qualitative be written before quantitative, or should quantitative be written before qualitative.

You can read about basics of Day 1 here

Day 1 marking

As per CFE Day 1 feedback guides, the marking of strategic issues is divided into quantitative and qualitativeFor example, below is the marking guide for a proposal AO:

You’ll notice the feedback guide shows the quantitative first. However, even though the quantitative comes first, you can choose to write the qual (pros vs cons) first. There is no criteria in terms of which one you should write first.

Quant vs qual

Some candidates require more time to think about the most appropriate calculation to perform on an AO. Doing the qual (pros vs cons) first ensures they can finish the AO in the allotted time while they consider the calculation. This is better than spending the entire time solving quant and leaving qual empty.

However, there can be instances where the qualitative may still be fresh from your reading of the case or easier to spot, and in such cases, it’s beneficial to write the qual (pros vs cons) first.

I suggest picking one strategy and sticking with it throughout the exam.

Writing all quant/qual at once

Since you are likely highlighting and noting down potential pros vs cons as you read them, you can even do all of the qualitative responses first, for all strategic issues, and then take care of the quantitative at once for all issues. If your strength is performing calculations instead, the reverse can be true: you can solve all calculations first, and then come back to do your qualitative. Be careful with this strategy though, your recommendations must stay consistent. Don’t forget what your first analysis was as you’re doing the second part.

If you’re struggling with quants, the Day 1 Quants Mastery toolkit is a valuable resource to practice with.


Some candidates prefer writing quant and then qual, others prefer the reverse. Some candidates prefer writing all quants, and then all qual, for all strategic issues. It’s usually because they are efficient in working in one workbook at a time (excel vs word). Others may find it more efficient to finish an entire AO while it’s fresh in their minds.

The preferred method is entirely up to your preferences and your strengths. I’ve coached students under both methods and the results were successful.

Extra resources are available at CFE Review course.