2021 Board Report (September)

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 was happy with time management, observing discussions for one required would often end abruptly, suggesting the writer had spent their budgeted time on that AO.
  • Some candidates inserted irrelevant discussions due to misinterpreting or neglecting to consider the specific case facts in the simulation.
  • Standard approach templates or trying to fit answers from practice exams into the current exam caused for less relevant responses. Candidates should focus on the case facts as presented.
  • The Board is reminding candidates that it is good practice writing cases and know different approaches to use, they should not automatically assume the task is the same as in previous years.
  • There is a pattern for the past few years of writers generally performing better on the straight forward and commonly tested issues.
  • For some technical financial reporting issues, there were issues in not applying the right sections of the handbook and reminded that this is an open book exam and writers should use it better.
  • Some candidates did not perform well in the financial impact of their technical responses, missing out on calculations/quantifying their recommendations.
  • The impressions left on the Board is that some calculations were being done without first taking time to clearly identifying the purpose leading to a lack of structure or unclear calculation.
  • Some candidates were struggling to identify valid special reporting options and understanding the purpose of the ones that they did identify to link to the case facts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Many candidates provided an audit approach that was generic (RAMP) without recognizing the case facts and how it impacts the approach to be used for an engagement.
  • Rather than using case facts describing events that had taken place in the Simulation, weaker responses relied on theoretical knowledge or presented hypothetical reasons.
  • 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.