How to Debrief a CPA Canada Case

As you continue on your journey towards your CPA designation, being able to debrief and achieve competency efficiency becomes increasingly important. In fact, debriefing will likely become your main study method.

1. Know when to debrief

The most effective way to debrief is not too long after writing the case. This way, the case facts are fresh in your mind and time can be saved from avoiding having to read the case again. Debriefing the case the following day will be more realistic and effective in managing a work-study balance.

2. Understand the marking competencies and how it relates to you

CD – Know what you completed very well, but not always the optimal rank.
C – Know what you you completed correctly
RC / NC – Know what you were on the right track on, but needed to include more
NA – Know what assessment opportunities you missed

The objective is to achieve a C, noting that achieving a CD might mean you spent too much time on one assessment and could have used that time elsewhere. The goal is to do enough required for each assessment. Focus your attention on the assessments that are not at a level C.

3. Review the sample responses

A sample response will show the level of depth/breadth expected of a candidate writing under the time constraints. Review how you could have approached a quantitative and qualitative analysis more efficiently, what case facts might have been missed, etc. Think “What more did I need to include in my response?”.

4. Review the solution

The solution demonstrates a “best” response, meaning, under no time constraints. It should be noted that candidates are not expected to strive for perfection. However, the solution provides a resource to ensure that your notes are complete.

5. Create and organize your notes

Organize your notes by topic (i.e. Financial Reporting, Tax, etc.) and continue to add to them each debriefing session. Watch as your knowledge on the topics expand over time.

6. Give enough time to the debrief process

Do not rush the process of debriefing and making notes. Typically debriefing a case should take as long as it took you to write the case (i.e. debrief 2 hours for a 2 hour case).

While debriefing can be an intimidating process, it is a necessary process to ensure you are making the steps to improving with each and every case. Building this habit will make the CPA journey much more manageable.

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