Right now in Canada, about 8,000 would-be CPAs are sitting around twiddling their 10-key fingers not knowing A) if they passed September’s Common Final Examination, and B) if their scores will even count after a long legal review into the disaster of an exam that plagued thousands across the country. From testing center Internet outages to late starts, there’s no question the CFE was an absolute clusterfuck. What remains to be seen is what happens from here.
And according to a recent Financial Post article, the fallout has real consequences other than anxiety.
“Most accountants would expect a raise on receiving their CFE results, so there’s a real economic cost for us every month it’s delayed,” said one candidate who wrote the exam in Ottawa.
“It also makes us put our life on hold,” the candidate told the Post, adding that the day results arrive typically “becomes an anniversary date for future promotions and increases.”
As it stands, candidates can be sure they won’t be seeing scores this year. But we already knew that, as CPA Canada said back in October that they “anticipate that results will be released in January 2020.” Anticipate being code for “hopefully but don’t count on it because look how bad this has been screwed up already.”
The Financial Post piece continues with further thoughts from understandably-frustrated CFE writers:
“It’s… a waste of money to pay people to mark exams that the legal advisors will (possibly) conclude should be thrown out,” said the candidate who wrote the final examination in Ottawa.
Another test taker, who works for a Big Four accounting firm in Vancouver, said limited information about the third-party review and how the problems experienced will affect the exam assessments has left CPA candidates across the country in an uncomfortable limbo.
“At this point, the only lens this can be seen through is one of even greater fear and heightened stress,” the candidate said. “Will the exam be thrown out? Will our careers and schedules be upended by a mandated rewrite?”
No word yet on where law firm Borden Ladner Gervais is in their extensive review of what went wrong in September. According to an earlier statement by CPA Canada, the firm has “retained a world-leading technical expert to undertake a detailed review of the software and Wi-Fi issues; and is also retaining a world-leading psychometrician (an expert in the validity, fairness and reliability of examinations).”
Given that some candidates were instructed at the testing center to use their phones as hotspots and therefore potentially given an unfair advantage in the form of access to materials they otherwise wouldn’t have had, it’s not out of the question that BLG might want to throw some results out. For now, however, all we’ve got is waiting, wild speculation, and a nebulous, not-so-firm score release date of January 2020.
Merry Christmas, Canada.