What Can be Tested in CPA Canada CFE Day 2?

Day 2 of the CFE is considered by many to be the hardest of all CFE days. You have to ensure that you achieve depth (ie, score C/CD) in as many AOs as possible. This article will help you find the key areas to study and explain how Day 2 works.

Structure of Day 2

As I wrote in the Ultimate Guide to CFE blog post, Day 2 has one case that must be completed within 5 hours. It’s broken into two sections: Common AOs (blue below) and Role AOs (red below).

Common is the same for everyone writing the CFE. Role is based on the specific area that you choose and you have 4 options:

  • Assurance
  • Performance management (PM)
  • Tax
  • Finance

Common AOs

Common AOs test on FR and/or MA competencies only. The “and/or” here means you could get:

  • Only FR
  • Only MA
  • Mix of FR and MA

Based on recent CFEs, the common AOs contain a mix of the two (approx. 3 FR and 3 MA AOs). There are typically 6 AOs in the Common component. 

The complexity level of the common AOs is at the Core level (ie, same AOs as you’ve seen in Core 1 and Core 2). From my experience, the FR and MA AOs are more complex than in Core 1/2. For example, in recent Core 1 exams, basic revenue recognition AOs have been tested (ie, upfront non-refundable deposit, percentage of completion, right of return). While in recent CFEs, the revenue recognition AOs were lengthier and touched on non-routine, complex topics: royalties, multiple performance obligations, variable considerations, warranties, loyalty points, etc.

I recommend studying non-routine FR AOs as a strategy for Day 2 common component. Examples of non-routine FR AOs:

  • Revenue recognition
  • Financial instruments (FI)
  • Leases
  • Accounting for income taxes
  • Business combinations
  • Investment in associates
  • Earnings per share (EPS)
  • Foreign currency (FX)
  • Investment properties
  • Joint arrangements
  • Accounting policies, changes in estimates
  • Share based payment (SBC)
  • Employee benefits
  • Agriculture
  • Operating segment (IFRS only)
  • Interim financial reporting (IFRS only)
  • Borrowing cost (IFRS only)
  • FV measurement (IFRS only)

Having concise FR notes can help you quickly study the above topics.

For MA, the AOs are repetitive and touch on these topics:

  • Variance analysis
  • Break-even point (BEP)
  • Pricing
  • Data analytics and info services (DAIS)
  • Budget analysis

I recommend practicing different variations of above AOs to master them for CFE Day 2.

Role AOs

The role specific AOs are based on your selection from the four electives (roles) and any competency areas that fall within these categories (i.e. PM contains Strategy & Governance and MA, Assurance contains Assurance and FR). I recommend to choose your role based on your strengths and will likely be based on one of the electives you took during PEP. 

The level of depth is tested at the elective level (ie, same level as in electives). Typically, there are 7 AOs in your role, meaning you will spend more time on the exam discussing your role.

I recommend re-writing your role elective’s practice cases as a warm up during Capstone 1 to get ready for this component. For example, if you took PM as your elective, re-write all module PCs and any mock exam PCs you have for PM.

The recurring AOs tested in the CFE role components include:


  • Audit planning memo
  • Control deficiencies
  • Procedures
  • Special reports


  • Performance measures
  • Strategy (ie, mission, SWOT)
  • Decision analysis  – quant
  • Decision analysis – qual


  • Valuation
  • Capital budgeting
  • Sources of financing
  • Ratio analysis
  • WACC


  • Taxable income/payable – corp
  • Taxable income/payable – individual
  • Employee benefits

Strategy for Day 2

Your goal on Day 2 is to get as many “Competent” (C) grades as possible. It’s important that you achieve at least 2-3 Cs in FR or MA (one or the other). It’s also important you get at least 4-5 Cs in your role. This is needed to pass the Days 2/3 levels 2 and 3.


Day 2 will have no other competencies other than FR and/or MA, and your role. There are often surprises on the CFE, but the above listed topics are the most commonly tested. 

The popular CFE Review program contains all-inclusive list of all topics that can be tested on your CFE for each role, based on the Competency Map. You can preview the program here.