You’ve successfully completed Capstone 1 and have one final module before you can arrive at the CFE. You’re almost there! Below is a guide to ensure you are well prepared for this next 8-week course.
What is Capstone 2?
Capstone 2 has only one objective: to prepare you for the CFE. It has no exam, no facilitator, and no new technicals to learn. Essentially this module is designed to ensure you are eligible to proceed to writing the CFE. Capstone 2 provides you two things:
- Practice cases for the CFE
- Marking by the national marking centre (NMC)
To pass Capstone 2, you must attend the module workshop, complete module workshop activities, and reach at least 75% on the weekly activities.
Structure of Capstone 2
The module’s activities include:
- 12 marked practice cases
- 2 marked module workshop cases
- 4 unmarked practice cases
- 2 surveys (one at the module workshop and one at the end of the capstone)
- Capstone 2 introduction quiz
- Academic honesty quiz
- Module workshop participation
The practice cases given to you in Capstone 2 are all past CFE cases (except Day 1 practice cases, which are new every year). You can download these past CFE cases ahead of time from the CPA Canada CRC. In the CRC, you can find them in the “CFE Reports,” which are 300-400 page documents that summarize each CFE. You will need to open the CRC webpage, download all reports, scroll through and extract the exam cases/solutions one by one. I’ve already extracted and organized them in my CFE Review course.
Realistically it is not challenging to pass Capstone 2. Your target is not to “pass it” (you will certainly pass), but rather to use the marking and resources to study for the CFE.
Capstone 2 resources
Here’s a list of resources:
- To kick off Capstone 2, a module workshop will be held to provide you with information and practice session of all three CFE days.
- Weekly webinars that are hosted by each region. These webinars will cover technical topics encountered in weekly practice cases.
- Facilitator-monitored discussion board for questions, announcements and can even be used to find study partners.
- A sample CFE study calendar and a Capstone 2 calendar of when cases are due.
- Video walkthrough and spotlight videos on various topics related to the CFE.
- Marking of your cases by the National Marking Centre (NMC)
- Sample strong answers to the practice cases
- Feedback guides, debrief notes, and walkthroughs to the practice cases.
What’s not available in Capstone 2:
- Assigned facilitator to ask questions and get feedback (you post in forums for someone to answer)
- Personalized marking of cases (NMC marking is generic and impersonal)
- Additional practice cases for Day 1 (you get only 3 practice versions)
- Marking of additional cases
- Technical practice drills to develop your skills in a specific technical area
Throughout Capstone 2, you will need to submit your cases to NMC for marking. Your case responses must be written in Word and Excel, and uploaded to D2L dropbox. Submissions containing an extra file (for example, two Word files) will not be marked.
The Excel portion of case responses must be written using only one worksheet. Don’t use multiple worksheets (tabs).
The naming convention is also different from prior modules. You must use your candidate ID number in place of your name. For example, a Week 2 Day 3 practice case would be “1234567_W2D3.docx”. Note that not all cases are to be submitted on Friday. Refer to the Capstone 2 calendar for the submission deadlines.
Feedback received in Capstone 2
NMC will provide feedback on the 2 module workshop and 12 practice cases throughout the module.
Quartile performance scores will be provided to help you determine where you rank in relation to overall population.
Once you receive feedback, you should compare the total score from your feedback guide to the quartile performance document. This will help you determine where you rank in relation to overall candidate performance. For cases that are not assessed by the NMC, the quartile performance is based on historic candidate results.
During week 4, you’ll write a “mock CFE.” The mock CFE is a simulation of the CFE exam: you’ll write back-to-back x1 Day 2 and x3 Day 3 cases. Day 2 should be written in five hours, and the Day 3 cases in four hours. The mock CFE will help you gauge how ready you are for the exam,
For the mock CFE Day 3 cases, you must write each case in a separate Word and Excel file and submit to the corresponding dropbox in D2L. This is different than the CFE, where the response for all three Day 3 cases will be written in one Word and one Excel file.
CPA Canada strongly recommends that you wait until Week 3 of Capstone 2 to write the mock CFE. This will ensure that you have received feedback from the National Marking Center on their Week 1 and 2 practice cases and are provided with an opportunity to apply some of the skills they have learned on the mock CFE.
Should you take Capstone 2 if you’re re-taking CFE?
If you were unsuccessful at the CFE, you can choose to re-take Capstone 2 before your next attempt. Here are my suggestions:
- If you need to re-write only CFE Day 1, don’t re-take Capstone 2.
- If you are writing version 2 of your Day 1 exam case, then use the 3 practice cases you received previously to study.
- If you’re writing a new Day 1 exam case, then purchase only the Capstone 2 materials (usually $250 + tax).
- If you need to re-write only CFE Day 2/3, don’t re-take Capstone 2.
- If you need to re-write CFE Days 1/2/3, consider taking Capstone 2.
- There are different factors to consider. Has it been a while since you’ve taken Capstone 2? Has your Day 1 exam case changed? If you said yes to any one of these two questions, I suggest re-taking Capstone 2. If you said no, I suggest taking a CFE coaching program.
The key to success during Capstone 2 and the CFE prep is to debrief each of the cases you write. This will provide you an understanding of how each case is marked, what the ideal response looks like, and act as technical review. The time you spend on debriefing should be at least as long as the time taken to write the case and should be done right after writing the case.
You also want to ensure you are writing your cases in the allotted time, as this will better prepare you for exam conditions. Lastly, if you can have peer review it would be a great opportunity to learn different approaches and help you see cases from a different perspective. Extra study resources are available in CFE Review course.