Densmore Blog


How the CFE is Created - Part 1 of 3

On July 18, 2016

The purpose of this blog is to assure you that both creating the CFE and marking the CFE are quality-controlled processes carried out by talented and dedicated individuals.  You have no input or ability to impact either of these processes, but it should reduce your stress to know that they are both thoroughly controlled. Therefore, you should focus on the one aspect of the CFE process that you can control, creating a passing response, without stressing out about what you can’t control.

There is nothing random or arbitrary about the CFE. A committee called the Board of Examiners (BOE) oversees its development and marking. That committee has a chair, vice-chair and 16 appointed members. The 16 individuals are appointed based on regional representation and ensuring specific skills sets are present within the BOE.


The BOE chair has overall responsibility for all of the BOE activities. Now, we all know that a committee of 18 is an unwieldy beast that could mess up just about anything.  Therefore, most of the real work gets delegated to a sub-committee of six individuals who work extremely hard to oversee the preparation of the CFE and the marking guides. More importantly, they determine the passing profile of a successful CFE candidate.


Let’s take a look at some of the functions. The BOE staff maintains a pool of cases with which to create a complete CFE. The staff works actively with authors to create the necessary types of cases with the necessary testing components to ensure adequate coverage of the competency areas. There is a myriad of restrictions around what a CFE can, or cannot, and must test. A complete CFE must have sufficient assessment opportunities to allow for a valid assessment of all of the Level 1 to 4 assessment components of the CFE. Essentially, the BOE staff creates the CFE with all of these assessment requirements and restrictions in mind and hands over a near-complete examination to the CFE sub-committee.


I should note that this sounds like a mechanical process, but it is anything but. Creating a CFE is an art as much as a science. Quality examinations have a feel and flow that set them apart. Any university professor can create an examination that tests knowledge. The challenge for the BOE staff is to create and maintain through the review process those quality intangibles. It is mostly the BOE staff that sets the tone and feel of the CFE. It is up to the sub-committee members along with the BOE staff to refine and improve the cases, along with the related marking guides.


The CFE sub-committee reviews the cases and refines them as part of a multi-step editing process to arrive at a complete CFE. This is a serious process carried on in conjunction with the BOE staff and the finished product has to meet all of the parameters set for CFE candidate evaluation plus have the intangibles that make a quality examination.


(Bruce Densmore – July 18, 2016)

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