2021 Board Report (May)

The Board was very thorough in reporting that they were disappointed with different case issues that writers failed to see or talk about in sufficient depth. I only take the time to read this report because they have the habit of revisiting items that writers missed during the previous year or two.

I have attempted to give some feedback below without revealing too much information about cases when you start writing them yourself.

  • The Board has noticed that some candidates were skipping over harder AOs, particularly on Day 2.
  • On Day 3, there was some evidence of some candidates spending too much time on Simulation 1, and later running out of time on the final Simulations.
  • There is a pattern for the past few years of writers generally performing better on the straight forward and commonly tested issues.
  • A disappointedly high number of candidates failed to understand the fundamental auditing concepts of sampling, CAATs and/or materiality.
  • Candidates generally had difficulty with data analytics and information systems being tested for the first time; directly or indirectly.
  • The Board talks to how they will continue to challenge writers to develop and draw on their enabling skill to respond to some case issues.
  • Some candidates continue to list case facts without elaborating why these facts are relevant to their discussion. Writers need to understand that depth includes explaining the impact to the users.
  • "Pro" and "Con" discussions were weaker than previous exams as not providing additional explanations to why or how the case facts supported their position.
  • The Board wants to remind writers the importance of answering the questions "why" or "so what" when making any point using case facts.
  • The Board has noticed that there is a better performance on more straight forward financial reporting issues, while candidates are avoiding the more difficult issues.
  • There were situations where candidates presented the technical information without providing explanations of how that technical knowledge applied to the case facts presented to them.
  • Writers are reminded that the role of the CPA if often to advise clients on the application of standards and tax rules, as well as how to proceed with certain business decisions. Without a clear explanation, a client would have incomplete information.
  • Candidates are reminded it is important to answer the questions "Why?" or "So what?" when making any point using case facts.

I don't recommend current CFE writers to read the entire report, as it will give away what is in the case. However, if you really want to read it, you can download the full Day 1 CFE Board notes here and Day 2 & 3 CFE Board notes here.