Preparing for the September 2020 CPA PEP exams

We at CPAWSB understand stress can often accompany exams. Adding the layer of a remote exam may impact the stress of preparation. 

Our goal is to be both empathetic and provide you with tools for self-empowerment. When faced with any circumstance you have two choices;

  1. Change your circumstances: Candidates can defer their examinations; we would suggest speaking with learnersupport@cpawsb.ca about your options before deferring your exam in the candidate portal.
  2. Change your mindset: you have more power than you may think.
  • You are not at a disadvantage: Everyone writing the exam is writing in similar circumstances. If your home writing circumstance is not ideal, consider renting a hotel or a similar alternative for the exam period. 
  • Examinable material: the Competency Map, your syllabus for the module, the exam, and the Common Final Exam, has not changed. The work you have invested in during the module to develop technical competency will be tested on exam day. 
  • Focus on the controllable: To that effect, focus on your inputs, your study plan, your environment, and set yourself to be in the best position to write your best exam, whatever that may look like. 
  • Accept the challenge: you are in training to become CPAs, the individuals or teams people turn to for solutions to problems that haven’t been solved before. Embrace the ability to demonstrate competency in any format. Building experience and confidence in a dynamic set of circumstances will add to your ability to perform as a resilient CPA. 

Specific to writing exams outside a traditional examination centre, consider the following: 

  • Read the FAQs to familiarize yourself with the exam format and regulations well before the exam date. 
  • Create a place where you can write the exam in optimal conditions. This means a quiet place with no distractions from kids, partners/roommates working from home, barking dogs, etc. 
  • Have your water/coffee/tea and a snack, if needed. It would help if you planned to be completely hunkered down for the length of the exam. Anticipate anything you think you’ll need and bring it to your exam writing space to minimize the need to leave it.
  • You also want to put your phone on silent, so you’re not tempted to read texts that come through.
  • You have a break between cases. This is a great time to clear your mind and prepare for the next case. Consider stretching, jumping jacks, or taking deep, cleansing breaths – whatever works best for you! It is not the time to dig into your study notes and cram before the next case.

Further to the above advice, we thought it would help to share some past blog posts to help you prepare. Please go to our website to view the exam schedule.

Study Time: Preparing for the Module Exam

Gearing up to study for your module exam can seem daunting. Here are some tips to get you started.


Studying: The Search for Enough

A post about knowing how much study and preparation is enough. 


Approaching Things Differently the Second Time Around

Though it may not feel like it at the time, one of the best ways to learn something is to fail at it. Read on for ideas on how to make failing a module, course, or exam a learning opportunity.


Practice Like You Play: The Importance of Writing in Exam-Like Conditions

The post explores the importance of writing cases in exam-like conditions by offering counter-arguments to common objections from candidates.


Tips for a Better Response: Case Writing

This post offers ideas on how to improve your case submissions (and as a bonus, most apply to your regular work, too!).

Nikki and Sam

Guest writer Nikki Reardon Marchiel, CPA, CA is a long time CPAWSB session leader, facilitator and mentor to other facilitators.

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 Nikki and Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.

Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum.