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Conduct of the examination and evaluation

You are about to write the CFE? Learn more about the conduct of the examination.


Assessed competencies by the CFE

In addition to the technical competencies, you must demonstrate the competencies that are essential to CPAs day-to-day practice*:

  • Professionalism and ethical behaviour;
  • Problem-solving and decision-making;
  • Communication;
  • Self-management;
  • Teamwork;
  • Leadership.

*In accordance with the CPA Competency Map requirements.

The September 2020 CFE will continue to align with the 2019 Competency Map, except that candidates will no longer be responsible for the new data analytics and information systems (DAIS) competencies or the new GST/HST competencies included in this version. All other changes to the Competency Map will be testable.

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Day 1

Schedule: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Duration: 4 hrs
Evaluation: Individual case, Capstone 1 module/course

This examination covers knowledge acquired during:

  • the undergraduate program or the equivalency process;
  • the core modules/courses of the national program delivered by the Order or the university graduate program. 

Day 1 involves a case study that will provide a change/twist to the Capstone 1 case you worked on as a group in the module/course. Your task will be to determine how the new information impacts your group’s initial analysis and conclusions.

September 2020 CFE study cases

  • Distinct Hotels Corporation case (version 1) – introduced in the January 2020 Capstone 1 module and will also be covered in the May 2020 Capstone 1 module.
  • Marmani Inc. case (version 2) – introduced in the May 2019 Capstone 1 module (version 3 of the Marmani case will no longer be offered, as previously stated) 


Day 1 will focus on enabling competencies, e.g. a candidate’s ability to apply critical thinking, decision-making skills, professional judgment, and integration. Coverage of the technical competencies will vary from one CFE to another, depending on the nature of the Capstone 1 case.

Day 2

Schedule: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Duration: 5 hrs
Evaluation: Role case

Day 2 of the CFE involves a case which you will analyze by playing one of the four key roles related to the CPA competency areas:

  • Performance management
  • Finance
  • Assurance
  • Taxation

During this examination, you must first read the section for all candidates, and then refer to the section specific to your role for additional information that concerns you.

Choice of role

All candidates who have not yet passed Days 2 and 3 of the CFE must choose a role upon registration, preferably based on the elective modules/courses they have completed in the Professional Education Program (PEP).

 Important: Choose your role carefully, because you will not be able to change it after you have submitted your application form.


Day 2 of the CFE will focus on assessing depth of competence:

  1. in the core Financial reporting and/or Management accounting competencies;
  2. based on the role selected, which may be broader than one competency area as described in the CPA Competency Map.

On top of these two components, all prior learnings are also testable, as it was the case during Day 1.

Day 3

Schedule: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Duration: 4 hrs
Evaluation: Multi-competency area cases

Day 3 of the CFE consists of three short cases that are common to all candidates. You will therefore have another opportunity to demonstrate your proficiency in Financial reporting and Management accounting, as well as demonstrate sufficient breadth of competency in all six competency areas.


By using different cases and roles, Day 3 of the CFE evaluates both technical and enabling competencies to confirm that you have the knowledge of a professional able to handle various issues.

Evaluation methodology

A Board of Examiners presentation provided by CPA Canada highlights the important examination design elements and describes the assessment model, particularly the differences in the testing objectives for each of the three days of the examination.