David Rodriguez, CFE, CPA, CIA combined multiple study techniques to pass the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge. Here he outlines how he succeeded using the challenge group, different study methods and support from others in the ACFE Community.
Why did you join the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge?
Once I had decided to sit for the CFE exam, I started researching the prep course subscription packages on the ACFE website. It was at that point that I came across the 90-day CFE Exam Challenge. I liked that I would be provided a monthly study plan that included milestones to help keep me on track. I knew the combination of the 90-day challenge and the CFE Exam Prep Course would be a recipe for success.
What did your study method look like?
The CFE exam comprises four sections, so I prepared and sat for each section separately. I started off by watching the “CFE Exam Review Course – On Demand Course” videos while highlighting the important information in the “CFE Exam Review Course Slidebook” for a particular section. Next, I answered all of the “CFE Exam Prep Course” questions correctly at least once while reading the explanation that supported the correct answer. This would be followed by “speed rounds”, where I would test myself on 34 (homage to Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton) questions at a time. If I correctly answered the “speed round” question, I would move on to the next question. If I answered the question incorrectly, I stopped to understand why I had gotten the question wrong and referred to the Fraud Examiner Manual as needed. I repeated the “speed rounds” until I had answered all the questions at least twice. Next, I took the practice exam for the section for which I had prepared. Using the steps above, I was able to pass the practice exams with 90% or better on the first attempt. Lastly, I scheduled to sit for the exam as soon as possible after successfully completing the practice exam. Once the exam was scheduled, I would move on to the next section but continue to do at least one “speed round” every other day as the exam day approached to keep the material fresh.
How did the challenge help you accomplish your goal of passing the CFE Exam?
There were three ways that the challenge helped me accomplish my goal of passing the CFE Exam. The first was the weekly motivation that was sent out by the ACFE staff every Monday during the challenge. This gave me that little extra boost to keep up with my studies every week. The second thing that helped was the monthly roadmap that included multiple milestones to hit throughout the month. It was a great way for me to assess if I was on or off track. Last but definitely not least would be the group discussion board for the 90-day challenge. The Challenge group was a great place to exchange progress and challenges that I was having with other “challengers”. It was also a daily reminder that I was not on this 90-day journey alone but that others around the globe were doing the same thing that I was doing.
What did it feel like the you got the email saying that you passed? How did you celebrate?
Within a few minutes of completing the exam, I received an email with my detailed score for the section I had just completed. Completing each exam brought me one step closer to becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner. After passing the fourth exam, my wife and I celebrated at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Once I obtained my CFE certificate in the mail, I framed it and added it to my achievement wall that sits behind my desk.
What advice do you have for challenge participants who are preparing for the CFE exam?
The first bit of advice that I would provide is to tackle each of the four sections one at a time. This allows you to take the exam while the material is still fresh. The next piece of advice would be to take the exam online with a remote proctor and on the weekend if possible. This allows you to control your testing environment and limit things that might be out of your control (e.g., traffic, room temperature, etc.). Lastly, I would advise to schedule time on your calendar to study (including weekends). Remember, this is only 90 days. If you put in the time to study, you will pass!!
SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners