Hi there! Thank you for your warm congratulatory wishes! <3 Hmm, prepping for these exams, I feel, varies massively from person to person. The first step, I think, is to find out in where your strength lies. I knew from uni that my strength was in case writing/form/structure, and that my weakness was in technicals. If you’re like me, the process might be a little easier for you— or so was I told. In uni, I was pulled aside by several profs (over my four years ofc haha) before handing back my midterms. Every time, I was told to see them during office hours because he/she wanted to speak with me. Needless to say, this scared the living daylight out of me. Turns out, I scored nearly perfect on the case (which apparently was extremely rare), but barely passed, if not failed, the technical portion. Although the cases required a lot of technical, I knew enough criteria and hit enough relevant points to make it seem as if I knew what kind of conclusion I was drawing. The common ground between these discussions with them was what hit me hard, and that is: the problem is obviously that you’re not practicing enough. Case writing is extremely difficult to improve on because you can’t unlearn the way you analyze something. What you pick up and don’t pick up in a case is highly dependent on the things you’ve built up over the years. If I tell you something you’ve trained yourself to think was important all along has no relevance and will not score you any points, it will take some time to change your thought pattern. Technical exercises on the other hand, are free marks. It’s there to compensate for the marks lost on cases. Formulae don’t change. The way you solve it doesn’t change. Cases do. So the fact that you’re scoring well on cases so early on means you inherently ‘get it’, and are avoiding what YOU think is hard work.
If you’re inherently better at case writing, I suggest you focus on drilling in on the technical competencies. I’ve always resisted doing the math (ie: consolidation etc), but after looking at it through a different lens, I realized how much of what they said rang true.
If however, your strength is in the technical competencies, then I would suggest that you spend most of your time debriefing - as in thoroughly reading and rereading the answers and marking key, to the point that you can almost memorize what points you’re getting marks for. This way you know what you’re writing is adding value and not taking away from your 1) own time, and 2) credibility by rambling and dancing around the main point which makes you look very uncertain.
The second thing is to consciously mind your emotional health. The cpa,ca process is very rigorous. Still, I frequently feel worn out thinking about the amount of things I have to juggle simultaneously — added to that is the fact that I was never very interested in pursuing this field in the first place, which augments the emotional baggage.
Here, the professional body requires you to work full time to fulfill the experience requirement while completing their exams. Unless you work for a big firm, designated training offices (which you are required to work at if you manage to get into one), pay you minimum wage for hours that equate to slavery, and don’t pay you overtime (which you are required to do if you don’t want to risk losing your job). You’re also not paid for the time you take off work to study.
Most of these firms don’t compensate you for the cost of your professional prep schooling (which I didn’t sign up for because I can’t afford them), exams ($400 each x four modules since I’m just ‘challenging’ or taking the exam without attending classes, approx $1400 for each of the exams after the four modules), and annual student membership fees (approx $400). (Did I mention that most firms, including the big four, fire you for not passing your exams on the first try?)
Naturally, with so much on the line, writers freeze up. If the process were not difficult, we would not have pens and prep sessions that aim to instil confidence in us with mantras like
1. Believe in yourself
2. It’s only an exam
3. Attitude is everything
4. Attack to control
5. Be one with your role
6. I will pass the UFE .
It’s not that you don’t understand or know enough to pass the exams. It’s more likely that you’ve reached a burnout from work and study and can no longer keep up emotionally. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to keep me sane and my head above the water.
If you could only take away one thing from this, remember: do your best and forget the rest. Thinking about it is hard, doing it is easy.
You’re going to do great <3