New Year New Utilization: Incorporating PEP module changes to your study plan

It’s a new year and with that, comes change.

For those registered in a Winter PEP module, you will have seen a summary of administrative changes posted to your discussion board. These changes are reflected in the 2020 PEP Candidate Guide and rather than focusing on what those changes are, I’ll focus on how to use them. This post will discuss three tactics candidates can employ to add or edit their study plan to make effective use of these new or revised items.

Let’s start off strong – I’m MOST excited about…

Sample Strong Response

Yes, you heard right. In addition to the classic Feedback Guide (FG) and Solution set, candidates will be provided with sample strong responses for each practice case. The sample strong responses are provided to demonstrate what a competent candidate could achieve in the time frame provided. These resources should not replace a student debriefing with the solution. Recall, the solution is meant to be a study tool; rather than reading the CPA Handbook or Income Tax Act, the solution provides narrative to the technical concepts and is provided as a context-specific technical study resource. PEP is focused on applying what you know, not simply repeating a standard or framework.

After writing your response and marking yourself using the solution and feedback guide, consider enabling track changes in word (and using a different colour font in Excel) and edit your response using case writing best practices. The sample strong response is one example of how of what those best practices may look like. Remember, the goal is not to edit your case response to look anyone else’s, but to become a tweaked version of your work such that you are working towards incorporate small, incremental improvements to your case writing skills.

Daylight Savings Workshop

Your workshops just got one hour shorter, you’re welcome. Just kidding, this wasn’t the work of session leaders or a cheeky blog author. CPA Canada reviewed session leader and candidate survey feedback and determined that the workshops could either be trimmed down in time or bulked up in content. Choosing to focus on quality over quantity, workshops which were previously from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm will now run from 9 am to 4 pm. There are no changes to the hour lunch or two 15-minute breaks.

Consider using the extra half-hour morning cushion to arrive at 8:30am. Not only will you be providing yourself with an extra buffer of time which will help guard against the stress of running late and penalties incurred if you arrive late, but you can use that time to set your intentions for the day. Given that workshop attendance is mandatory and activities pre-determined, the value you derive from these two-day investments will come down to what you want to get out of them, the focused intensity to which you bring to your studies.

On Saturday am while both figuratively and literally plugging in, consider writing down 2 – 3 items you wish to grow and strengthen that day. I would suggest one technical skill and one enabling competency. CPAs are required to be both technically strong, but also to be able to communicate and share their knowledge. Perhaps you want to work on your communication and team-work skills, your goal may be to ask or answer a question during the debrief of an activity that day. Many candidates find it unnerving to speak in a group setting, but that with practice it becomes easier. Consider getting that practice now, before your Capstone 1 group presentation

One of the foundational principles CPA PEP is built on is that face time is sacred. Your session leaders are seasoned professionals with varying backgrounds. They have a common interest: they care and are invested in your success. Be sure you utilize their experience and feedback to help you achieve your education and career goals.

Building on enabling competencies including teamwork, problem-solving, and communication, it’s not just what you say, but…

How you say it

Communication minimum proficiency indicators (MPIs) for both your Integrated Problems and Practices Cases will now be Yes (“Y”) or No (“N”) depending on whether you have communicated effectively or not. This replaces the competency-based assessment of Communication (i.e. NA/NC/RC/C). I’ll provide some insider information on how facilitators are encouraged to score the Communication MPIs:

  • The “Y” is pretty much the default, but
  • “N” is to signify significant weaknesses that may have taken away from your technical discussion.

If you receive an “N” for your communication MPI, take this very seriously. Read your facilitators’ comments and follow the advice above to utilize the sample response and case writing best practices. If you are not sure if you have resolved the issue, email your facilitator and show them your revised response. While the examinations prior to Day 1 of the CFE are focused on your technical content, a lack of ability to communicate ones’ technical knowledge may result in failing the case portion of a module.

Stay Consistent

You have built up a number of great habits and skills this far; make sure you keep doing the things that are helping you achieve your goals. Then consider incorporating some of the above additional resources, then re-evaluate your study plan. CPA PEP is a graduate-level program which means the onus is on candidates to take ownership of their studies while pairing you with a coach for each module. If you an unsure of a change you want to make to your study plan, I encourage you to reach out to your facilitator, they’d love to hear from you.

Now go get ‘em and continue to maximize your effectiveness in 2020. New year, enhanced YOU-tilization. 

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB, and an instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.