How Many AOs Can you Miss in CFE Days 2/3?

Let’s face it, time management is one of the biggest challenges when to comes to passing CPA Canada’s CFE.  Inevitably, you may be wondering whether you can “skip” some AOs and still pass CFE. Let’s take a look at this strategy in this post.

Understanding AOs in the CFE Days 2/3

The CFE is marked on a curve, which means the passing threshold is adjusted based on average performance. Over the span of two critical days – CFE Day 2 and Day 3 – you’ll get a total of 31-32 AOs. Specifically, Day 2 usually has 13 AOs, while Day 3 usually has 18-19 AOs.

31-32 AOs is a lot. The ideal scenario is to cover all AOs (don’t miss any), but due to time constraints, slow typing speed, or unforeseen issues, it might become necessary to prioritize certain AOs over others and “skip” some.

The Art of Prioritizing AOs

In Day 2, you must get Cs on your role AOs and either FR or MA. You don’t need Cs in all AOs, but you need it in the majority of your role and FR or MA. Note that RC won’t help you,  it has to be Cs.

As such, I suggest that you “target” either FR or MA and make sure you get the Cs (either FR or MA). Additionally, study your role really well and ensure you get at least 4-5 Cs in your role .

In Day 3, you should  get a mix of Cs and RCs, aiming to get Cs in FR or MA, depending what you decided to target in Day 2. For example, if you’re targeting FR, then aim to get Cs on FR in Days 2 and 3. This means, in Day 3, you should rank and write FR ahead of other AOs. 

How many AOs can you skip?

As noted, you should try not to skip any. However, if you have to, then:

  • Day 2: You can potentially miss maximum of 2 AOs. Preferably, these missed AOs should be from the FR/MA area that you’re not targeting. For example, if you’re targeting to get Cs in FR, then you could skip 2 MA AOs.
  • Day 3: You can potentially miss up to 3 AOs. I recommend missing your role AOs. For example, if your role is Assurance, you can miss 3 Assurance AOs, because you already received Cs on it in Day 2.

How many Cs do you need?

As a rough guideline, I recommend getting the following at the minimium:

  • FR or MA: Get 3-5 Cs in FR or MA (not combined), in Days 2 and 3 together. For example, 2 Cs in FR in Day 2 and 2 Cs in FR in Day 3 for a total 4 Cs. 
  • Role: Get 4-5 Cs in Day 2 role.
  • Day 3: Get a mix of Cs and RCs, with max. 3 NC/NAs.


Remember, these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Each CFE passing threshold is adjusted based on average performance and ideally you should attempt all AOs. Your success depends on comprehensive preparation, understanding of technicals, and good time management skills.

Stay connected with me for more advice and insights on acing your CPA exams.

Extra resources

Extra resources are available at CFE Review courses.