CFE Pre-Loaded Tables: Exam Strategies

In a recent update, CPA Canada announced a change to the May 2023 Common Final Examination (CFE).

Starting from May 2023 CFE, all tables on the CFE that contain 10 or more lines of financial information, including F/S, will be pre-loaded into the spreadsheet component of the exam writing software (SurPass). This change is applicable to all cases on all three days of the CFE.

How do pre-loaded tables impact CFE?

Since the new rule applies to 10 or more lines of information, I anticipate this will impact management accounting (MA) and Finance AOs, in addition to financial statements. This means you may get some MA or Finance tables that are pre-loaded into your spreadsheet, in Days 2 and 3.

Day 1 may also be impacted. Sometimes Day 1 exams have F/S and sometimes they don’t. With this update, I expect your Day 1 exam to have F/S. I recommend to use it for Situational Analysis Framework analysis, by copying the relevant numbers and performing high-level quant analysis.

Will CFE be harder?

I don’t anticipate CFE to be harder due to this change. Prior to 2020, the CFEs had pre-loaded F/S, and their level of difficulty was equivalent to the ones from 2020-2022, where F/S were not pre-loaded.

With the reintroduction of pre-loaded tables, even if 10 lines, I expect the exam to maintain a similar level of difficulty. 

What are my CFE strategies now?

With the new update, you can optimize your CFE strategy to save time and improve the overall exam performance. Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of the pre-loaded financials:

  1. Copy relevant numbers: Instead of manually transcribing the numbers from the F/S, simply copy the relevant figures from the pre-loaded tables and paste them into your calculations. This will save you time and minimize the risk of errors from manual transcription.
  2. Expect Day 2 F/S adjust AO: You may get Day 2 FR AO to adjust the F/S due to FR errors. You can copy the pre-loaded F/S and make adjustments to arrive to revised F/S faster.
  3. Perform calculations efficiently: You can now perform the MA and Finance calculations efficiently. For example, if you need to calculate the working capital ratio, copy the current assets and current liabilities from the pre-loaded financial statements and perform the calculation.

Overall, I don’t anticipate CFE to be more difficult. You should use this update to your advantage.

Extra resources

By adopting effective exam strategies, you can leverage this new feature to save time and improve your exam performance.

Extra resources are available at CFE Review courses.