Densmore Blog


Unsuccessful CFE 2017 Attempt

On December 1, 2017

Didn’t get through the CFE this time? 


No one said the road to success would be smooth, and unfortunately, if you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are experiencing what feels like a major sink hole in your road. As difficult as it is to keep perspective, this is a speed bump in your career and does not define who you are. Know that the CFE is passable and while you were not successful at this attempt, you will be able to re-write and succeed.


We recognize for many of you it may be the only thing you ever failed in your life and this is a very tough blow. You will need to process your disappointment and maybe anger, and then move on to accepting the results.


Be prepared for reactions from co-workers and family members, so assure them you are okay and you will move forward. They will be concerned for you and your positive attitude will say a lot about the confidence you have in yourself. Some of the hardest conversations you will have will be with your friends and peers who did pass. We encourage you to show a brave face and congratulate those you know who passed. It takes strength of character to do this, but you will be glad you did once it is behind you.


The best advice we can give you at this point comes from the words of that old, and to some annoying, Disney song, “Let It Go,” as hard as that may seem right now. You have some decisions to make going forward but they can be made over the next few weeks. There will be a follow-up blog to this giving you some specific steps to consider.


Between now and January, take time off, reconnect with friends and family and forget about all things CFE. In early January, once you have had time to process, do some soul searching and be honest with yourself. What were your strengths and what were your weaknesses? Determine what worked and what didn’t work. This early assessment is the first step in efficiently utilizing your time to prepare for your next attempt.


Again, we understand how difficult it is to receive unsuccessful results. We want to assure you that the CFE is doable and even though it is not openly discussed, many current CPAs also struggled through the process. Take comfort that once it is behind you, it is rarely ever mentioned again.

(December 1, 2017)

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Avatar Kunle 3 months agoReply
I passed day 1 and 3, but failed day 2 on depth and overall on level 1. My concern is how do I study to repeat days 2 and 3. It's not like I have access to the new curriculum of day 2 and 3 tests to practice with. And I don't think it would be ideal to study the old day 2 cases I've previously did because i "remember" some of the solutions when i last debriefed (which will influence the way I write it).

Should I register for Capstone 2 again, just to get the exposure I need? Or does Densmore offer a similar curriculum for failed attempts?
Avatar Paul Morris (Densmore Consulting) 3 months agoReply
For clarification, if you didn't pass Level 1, your performance on both days 2 and 3 contributed to the result as they are considered to be a single evaluation unit. In other words, your Level 1 score was the sum of your scores on each assessment opportunity on both days 2 and 3. Unfortunately, your interpretation that you passed day 3 is incorrect.

If you "failed day 2 on depth," I presume that you failed Level 3 for your chosen role. However, if you failed Level 2, please note that it is also evaluated on days 2 and 3 based on the FR and MA assessment opportunities available on both days.

I highly recommend that you attend one of our CFE Prep courses next year. We develop proprietary case materials that will be "fresh" to you. However, please note that every study plan inevitably involves writing some cases that you have seen before. Don't be concerned about that. Your focus in 2018 has to be on skills development, and you can refine those skills even if you remember some of the technical aspects of the cases.
Avatar Ann Li 3 months agoReply
I wrote my CFE this year, it is my first time. I passed day 2 and 3 and failed day 1. I took capstone 1 last year and deferred my day 1 this year because of personal reason. The only thing I can think of that made me fail my day 1 is my structure. I realized the PRI's structure is total different from FVT's structure, since I did PRI case and if they made our paper based on FVT's structure, we will fail for sure. I need suggestions and what I should do for next year's CFE day 1. Please kindly provide me with some options. Thanks so much,
Avatar Paul Morris (Densmore Consulting) 3 months agoReply
I'm a bit confused by your comment. Did you do PRI in Capstone 1 in 2016 and then write the FVT case on Day 1 of the CFE in 2017?
Avatar Ang 3 months agoReply
I wrote PRI this year and last year. so what are my options for 2018?
Avatar Paul Morris (Densmore Consulting) 3 months agoReply
Your options are to write either version 2 of FVT, which was the 2017 Capstone 1 case, or to write version 1 of the 2018 Capstone 1 case. You have lots of time to make the decision, but we generally recommend to third-year writers that they write FVT. The rationale is that there will be one more practice case available to write and that it will be the "real" CFE Day 1 case that the first-time writers faced in the September 2017 CFE.
Avatar Ang 3 months agoReply
Thank you so much Paul! Your advice is very helpful.
Avatar Ang 4 months agoReply
As a experienced writer in 2017, I pass day 2 and 3, failed day 1, which is pretty much I thought before. Densmore has been very helpful in preparing me for the exam. However, I still don't feel comfortable in writing day 1 case, and next year is my last best chance to pass the CFE. I am wondering if you have any advice for me. Thank you!
Avatar Paul Morris (Densmore Consulting) 4 months agoReply
Did you write PRI as your Day 1 case in 2017 or did you write FVT?
Avatar Ang 3 months agoReply
I wrote PRI in 2017.