Unsuccessful Results for September 2021 CFE: What to Do Next

The September 2021 Common Final Exam (CFE) results were released on Friday, December 3. 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%. Below is a screenshot from 2020 appeal results released by CPA Canada:

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, please check it out.

Should I write May 2022 or September 2022 CFE?

May exams have less writers from public practice due to busy tax/audit season. With less writers from public practice, the level of competition will be lower, since most public practice students have several resources. Since CFE is marked on average performance (“curved”), your chances of passing in May are higher.  The biggest disadvantage of the May exam is the Day 1 case. If you need to re-write the Day 1 from September, you will need to wait until next September to get the same case. Otherwise, you will need to learn a new case. See the Day 1 case schedule below. If you’re writing CFE for the first time, or re-writing Days 2/3, May exam is a better option.

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

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

  • Creative Toys Inc. (CTI) v1 – 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 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 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.

I suggest studying technicals ahead of time, whenever you can, so that you don’t get rusty and keep your technicals fresh. 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, study resources, or sign up for a coaching program.

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 virtually (eg Zoom) or meeting in 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 normally $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.
  • Coaching: CPA exam coaches are subject-matter experts who work with you to understand your weaknesses and coach you to achieve better exam performance. Coaching program fees vary and it’s important that you find a program that’s effective.

What’s different about Gevorg, CPA CFE coaching program?

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

Features Gevorg, CPA CFE course Other providers
Case marking
Access until you pass
Supplemental cases
Day 1 case marking*
Flexible marking schedule
Weekly live coaching sessions*
Free access to CPA SpeedType™ time management and case typing training tool
Free 1-on-1 coaching
Clever memory aids
Engaging video lessons
Honour Roll student technical interviews
Private WhatsApp group for support
T2202 issued to use as tax credits*
CPA PER coaching program discounts
Featured in national news

*Some but not all CFE coaching providers offer Day 1 marking and weekly live sessions. Some providers offer 1-on-1 coaching through mentors or instructors who may not be subject-matter experts. T2202 certification is not issued by all providers. The information in this table is based on the information made available on competitor websites.

What does your CFE coaching program offer?

I offer a 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.

Do you mark extra cases?

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


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.