Memorizing vs. Learning

This blog entry is intended for CFE candidates who are struggling to get past NC or RC on technical assessment opportunities.

One of my ideas to why there are these struggles with some candidates are related to the differences between learning and memorizing. Because this is an open-book exam, the CFE Board has high expectations about technical knowledge. The question is, can any writer memorize enough of the IFRS and ASPE handbooks to display the breadth and depth necessary to pass the CFE? For 99.9% of the writers, my belief is no. You could study all day and night for a year and still couldn’t rattle off everything that the Board might test you on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the authors of the handbooks couldn’t recollect everything within them. This doesn’t even include taxation and the hundred of pages of testable rules or the accumulated effect of studying for weeks while working (for some people) or dealing with their families (for some people).

Because the CFE is a technical exam, I have noticed that some writers don’t always see the differences between memorization and learning. A good case writer needs to be able to apply the technical knowledge to different situations and not only the case that they just wrote and are trying to learn from. This is where you start finding the differences between good and poor case debriefing.

Am I saying no memorization is required to pass the exam? No, some things need to be at the top of mind. While you are writing, you don’t have enough time to research everything in the handbooks.

Want to learn some good strategies for being able to display a high competency in accounting knowledge? Want to understand what I mean about how to properly debrief? If you are looking for great advice for writing the CFE, please contact me to work as your mentor.