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