With the September 2018 CFE just around the corner, we reached out to some Honour Roll winners from the last CFE exam to share some advice for future exam writers.
Before the exam
Set up a study schedule
- Regardless of how much time you allocate to studying, stick to your schedule to ensure that you remain on track.
- Make sure not to overwork yourself and adjust the plan as you go if you start to burn out.
Have a study-life balance
- Carve out personal time away from textbooks and cases. Stepping away from the material for an afternoon, or a day, or even a couple days can help calm you down and make the studying process less overwhelming. Don’t forget to keep up with your hobbies!
- Focus on mental and physical health. Exercise daily or as much as possible, eat clean, spend time outdoors, get plenty of sleep, and do whatever you can to keep your body feeling smooth, so you don’t burn out when exam time comes around.
- Let the cases really direct what you study. If there is something you don’t know in a case or don’t do well on, mark that down so you can focus on your weaker areas.
- Study in groups and review each other’s cases. This will give you a new perspective on how to approach a case you could be having trouble with.
- Write every practice case like it is a real exam, right from the start. Try not to take additional time, look at resources, or break for a distraction because it’s important to simulate the exam environment as best as possible.
- As part of your debrief process, go back and re-answer the questions. Whether it be recreating the excel document or getting the sections from the handbook, this helps you be more efficient at finding the sections in the handbook. Knowing how and where to find the answers to the things you don’t know is an important skill.
During the exam
- Bring enough food and snacks for the day as the exams can be mentally exhausting.
- Be confident that no matter what shows up on the exam, everyone is in the same boat. Stick to your writing strategy, try not to change things up after establishing a routine, and don’t spend too much time on one issue.
After the exam
- Avoid thinking about the results and talking about the exam with friends and colleagues! Dwelling on your exam or the results is a fruitless exercise and it won’t change anything. Be confident about the effort you put into preparing for the test
- Catch up with friends and family or find an activity or something that will take up your time.
- Travel after writing the exam! It’s nice to have something planned for after the summer when the exam is behind you and it will give you a chance to get away.
- Get back to work to fall back into your usual routine so you’ll be too busy to worry about the results.