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CPA Canada Congratulates 5,912 CFE Passers and Throws Some Cash at Top Performers

a person behind a stack of books

On December 3, CPA Canada announced 5,912 writers of the Common Final Examination — Canada’s version of the CPA exam — passed the grueling, three-day examination required for licensure. This is down from 6,371 in September 2020, an impressive 75.8% pass rate for first-time writers (note: they’re called “writers” not candidates up north, don’t ask us why), an even more impressive feat when you consider the trash fire that was 2020.

In a press release, CPA Canada threw some applause [and then everyone clapped?] at successful writers:

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) applauds the 5,912 individuals who successfully passed the September sitting of the profession’s Common Final Examination (CFE).

“The achievement for these dedicated individuals represents an important milestone on their way to becoming a member of our profession,” says Charles-Antoine St-Jean, CPA Canada’s president and CEO. “The commitment displayed in studying and writing against the backdrop of a pandemic gives us glimpse of the next generation of CPAs: strong, focused and unshakeable under pressure.”

So dramatic. But nice of them to acknowledge how rigorous and stressful pursuing professional licensure can be. More important than recognition and virtual applause, however, is that top CFE performers also get CASH. Deloitte earns some bragging rights as well for cranking out two of the four recognized writers.

Following each CFE, the profession recognizes the CFE writers who achieved the highest standings on the exam. Chloé Bourgault-Bourassa, from Vérificateur général du Québec in Quebec City, is the recipient of the September 2021 Governor General’s Gold Medal Award as the September 2021 CFE’s top writer. In addition to the award, she also receives a cash prize of $5,000 [$3,947.50 in Freedom Bucks].

Regional gold medals that came with a $2,500 [$1,973.76 U.S.] cheque were awarded to three other students who topped the ranks of CFE writers in their part of the country. They were:

  • Western Canada – Sarah Wang, Deloitte LLP, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Ontario – André Caissie, Deloitte LLP, Ottawa
  • Atlantic Canada – Stacey Bailey, Morgan & Associates, , St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

There is no such monetary reward for winning the Elijah Watt Sells Award — given to top performers on the CPA exam with a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections — though some firms do give a bonus. A certain Big 4 firm used to offer a generous bonus but last we heard no longer does.

Since September 2020, CFE writers have been taking their exams in individual hotel rooms due to coronavirus as cramming 1,200 people into a gymnasium in the middle of a pandemic didn’t seem like a good idea to CPA Canada. While many professional examinations have gone virtual, administrators of the CFE did not feel online testing would allow the necessary monitoring. Instead, they rent something like 10,000 hotel rooms into which they cram aspiring CPAs while proctors prowl the hallways. The exam is offered twice a year in May and September, though May 2020’s CFE was cancelled due to … well, you know.

Congrats to the successful writers, and to those who missed the mark this time around, better luck next time.

CPA Canada congratulates 5,912 successful CFE writers [Cision]