Unsuccessful Results for May 2021 CFE: What to Do Next

The May 2021 Common Final Exam (CFE) results were released this Friday, August 13. The result are at the National Certification Centre website: https://www.certificationenterprise.net/CPAcp/cpLogin.aspx

If you are unsuccessful, here are the next steps and the answers to frequently asked questions.

Why was I unsuccessful?

There are different reasons. You may have struggled with technicals, time management, or efficient case writing. The first step is to look at your detailed transcript to see what Level you failed.

For Days 2/3:

  • Level 1 sufficiency: This is driven by both Days 2 and 3, with more emphasis on Day 3. Failing Level 1 means you didn’t achieve C and RC enough in your cases.
    • Decile ranking: Decile ranking is for Level 1 only. It shows how close you were from passing. For example, decile 1-3 means you were close to passing, while decile 8-10 means you were far. If you passed Level 1, you will not see decile ranking. Decile ranking is not available for Level 2, 3, or 4.
  • Level 2 depth in FR/MA: This is driven by both Days 2 and 3, with more emphasis on Day 2. You didn’t achieve enough Cs in FR or MA.
  • Level 3 depth in role:  This is driven by Day 2 only. You didn’t achieve enough Cs in your role (PM, Assurance, Finance or Tax).
  • Level 4 breadth: This is driven by both Days 2 and 3, with more emphasis on Day 3. You didn’t achieve enough Cs or RC in all competencies (for example, you may have scored NC in all Tax or Finance AOs).

For Day 1:

  • You will see only pass/fail assessment with no details.

Should I appeal?

No, I don’t recommend appealing. The chances of success are less than 2%.

Should I get PAR report?

It depends on your situation. PAR provides a breakdown of each case, with comments on your performance. It takes several months to receive the PAR report and it is costly. I wrote a detailed post and description of an example PAR here.

Should I write September 2021, May 2022 or September 2022 CFE?

CPA Canada has confirmed that May CFE writers can write the upcoming September 2021 exam, however the timeline is very short and you may not get the chance to prepare. If you’re considering this, please contact me for a quick call to discuss your strategy.

What Day 1 cases are in September 2021, May 2022 and September 2022 CFEs?

For the September 2021 CFE, the following Day 1 cases will be tested:

  • Waste Disposal Inc. case (WDI) v2
  • Distinct Hotels Corporation case (DHC) v3

For the May 2022 CFE, the following Day 1 cases will be tested:

  • Creative Toys case (CTI) v2 – introduced in the May 2022 Capstone 1 module

For the September 2022 CFE, the following Day 1 cases will be tested:

  • Waste Disposal Inc. case (WDI) v3
  • CanDo Fitness (CDF) v1

When should I start studying again?

This depends what CFE Days you are writing and which exam sitting you will be re-taking:

  • Re-writing next year in September:
    • CFE Days 1,2,3 re-write: Start studying from April.
    • CFE Days 2, 3 re-write: Start studying from May.
    • CFE Day 1 re-write: Start studying from June.
  • Re-writing next year in May:
    • CFE Days 1,2,3 re-write: Start studying from January.
    • CFE Days 2, 3 re-write: Start studying from February.
    • CFE Day 1 re-write: Start studying from March.

If you are working in the public practice and you’ll be busy in winter, you should start your studies sooner, in October-November.

What should be my study plan as a repeat writer?

This depends on what CFE Days you are re-writing. Here is an effective plan to follow:

  • Step 1: Review technicals, especially complex, non-routine topics
  • Step 2: Make personal summary notes, flashcards, computer notes
  • Step 3: Re-do cases from your electives (especially if you didn’t clear Level 3)
  • Step 4: Write cases. If you’ve written all Capstone 2 (past CFE) cases, then get supplemental CFE cases.
  • Step 5: Get your cases marked.
  • Step 6: Get a study partner and more study resources.

Where can I get more study resources (tutoring, coaching, personalized support)?

There are several options available to you:

  • Tutors: CPA tutors provide 1-on-1 help by connecting with you over Zoom or meeting you person. Their level of expertise varies and it’s important that you find a tutor that fits your needs. CPA Canada publishes a list of tutors which you can request by contacting your provincial CPA school. The tutoring fees are $60-$80 per hour.
  • Supplemental cases: Writing more cases will help to broaden your technical and improve your time management skills. You can obtain supplemental CFE cases here. The price is $59-$97 for a casepack.
  • Coaching: CPA exam coaches are subject-matter experts who work with you to understand your weaknesses and coach you to achieve better exam performance.

What does your CFE coaching program offer?

I offer a comprehensive CFE coaching program that teaches technicals, case writing skills and proven strategies towards the CFE. The CFE Review provides the following learning materials:

  • ​​New CFE practice cases with solutions and feedback guides (six Day 3 cases, one Day 1 case)
  • Dedicated Day 1 prep course with marking
  • Marking of three (3) Day 1, one (1) Day 2 and three (3) Day 3 case (total of 7 cases marked)
  • Case writing walkthroughs
  • Case outlining templates
  • Quantitative analysis templates
  • Time management methods
  • Memory aids
  • Technical study notes
  • 8-hours of engaging video lessons
  • Historical CFE data
  • Supplemental practice drills (including DAIS)
  • Study plan for the CFE
  • Case checklist
  • Technical review checklist

You’ll also get free one-on-one coaching with me. You get access to the course materials immediately and you keep access until you pass, no matter how long it takes.

What’s different about Gevorg, CPA coaching program?

I offer a personalized coaching program that’s based on Honour Roll strategies. My candidates achieve overall 90%+ pass rate and several graduate with distinction. 

Features Gevorg, CPA CFE course Other providers
Case marking
Access until you pass
Supplemental cases
Day 1 case marking*
Free 1-on-1 coaching*
Clever memory aids
Engaging video lessons
Honour Roll student technical interviews
Private WhatsApp group for support
Featured in national news
T2202 issued to use as tax credits*
Flexible marking schedule

*Some but not all CFE coaching providers offer Day 1 marking. Some providers offer 1-on-1 coaching through mentors or instructors who may not be subject-matter experts.  1-on-1 coaching you’ll receive is personally with me.  T2202 certification is not issued by all providers. The information in this table is based on the information made available on competitor websites.

How long does it take to go through CFE Review?

The video lessons take 1-2 weeks to complete. You’ll receive a personalized study plan for the May and September CFEs to help you organize your studies and start preparing.

Do you mark extra cases?

Yes, my CFE program includes 7 case marking and I can mark extra cases if needed. 

When should I sign up?

You keep access until you pass, so you can sign up anytime. I constantly add new learning materials and new cases to the course, and occasionally increase the price. By signing up soon, you’ll get the course at the current price and access to all new learning materials that will be added.


I know failing the CFE is demotivating. It doesn’t mean you’re not smart or unable to succeed, it means you need a new strategy. Take some time think about your options and decide what you will do differently next time. If you feel CFE Review is the right coaching program for you, you can watch some free lessons by clicking on the image below.