July 2006 - Posts
For a major exam like the Uniform Final Exam
, you need to plan out how you’re going to prepare for it. There’s no book to open up and study for 5 hours a day. Instead, you have to write practice exams.
The UFE, the final exam you need to pass to get your CA, consists of one day devoted to the five hour comprehensive case, the “comp”, and six 80 minute multi-competencies stimulations (“multi”s) spread equally over 2 days.
When preparing your study plan, we’ll assume the company you work for will do one comp a week which they’ll mark for you. That gives you four more days – write one comp on the first day, debrief it on the second day, and then write multis on the next two days. One or two multis per day, depending on how you plan things out..
Weekends, of course, are off. You can’t burn yourself out while studying. The effect of burnout is more than just feeling bored or tired: you don’t feel like trying as hard.
And that’s lethal, because when you’re practising you have to behave as if what you’re doing is really “for real”. Otherwise, you have a very high chance of developing very bad habits that could carryover to the final exam.
It’s no different than training for a sport or an artistic performance: your practice regimen has to reflect how you’re supposed to behave, otherwise you’re just going through the motions of preparing for your event, and not actually improving your skills.
A funny thing happened during the SOA
- common sense came under attack from a tax professor.
One of the earliest things we ever learned, was that you don't touch your RRSP
s until you retire. Or engage in a special government program to finance the purchase of, say, your house.
Then along came "tax week" where an instructor fed us all sorts of crazy ideas, such as "perhaps the person's retirement savings aren't doing so well". The logic was that if they could invest in something more profitable than their retirement portfolio they should pull money out and put it there.
In some extreme situations perhaps this may make sense. While preparing for the UFE
, though, we came across a question where this scenario popped up. A man has several assets he can sell to raise money to buy out his sister's share in the family business.
Should the RRSP be up for sale?
The solution to the real UFE question was, "for all that is good and holy, please don't." I'm paraphrasing slightly, but the key message to take away was that if you didn't stop him from cashing out off his RRSP, you weren't going to get full marks.
Which makes perfect sense if you haven't been listening to crazy or elaborate theories that rely on you deciding to take over the man's life and to convince him not to sell other assets.
What's the moral of this story? Careful whose advice you follow.
We've been getting some very good advice which has served us well through two exams. And there have been some things we would've been better of not knowing.
Hopefully you'll be able to discern what is good and bad advice yourself - some other time I'll explain how this applies to many other aspects of your life beyond accounting.
Like what, you may ask?
Remember that reporters don't give equal weight to everyone with the right answer, they just give equal weight to everyone with something to say.
It's up to you to discern which side is telling you the truth, and which only thinks it's telling you the truth.
In a fit of irony, I'm going to end this series of thoughts with the disclaimer from Wikipedia's RRSP page in case you haven't already read the original ASX disclaimer
.The above is not intended to replace tax or investment advice. It
presents an overview of the topic only ignoring several areas,
including certain penalties and risks involved with RRSPs. See Canada Revenue Agency's web pages on RRSP or a professional tax preparer for more information if preparing a tax return and details of RRSP penalties. See an Investment Advisor for information on risks of investing.
With exam results out, preparations for the UFE
are in full swing.
And by coincidence, a page on Wikipedia
has just appeared describing the UFE
. How convenient.
The entry there consists of raw facts. I'll try and keep ACS more interesting by flavouring it with opinions on the UFE. Can I make reading about this process fun? Unlikely, but I'll give it a shot.
Until I find a way to make this topic more amusing, I'll share this what happens when you hit a flaming melon filled with gasoline with a baseball bat.
It is, of course, a little predictably NSFW.
As reported, the SOA was destroyed
. The extra-good news is that I scored high, confirming the wisdom of the exam writing philosophy
Now it's time to gun for the Gold Medal; that's the award for the top score in your province or region. If I fall short, but do well, I pass. If I win, well winning is always good.
If I didn't have a lofty target, I'd probably do what I did through high school and university - slack off.
Passing the first time is a worthy goal itself - otherwise you have to spend a couple of months studying all over again next year - but I'm glad to be blessed with bonus motivation - glory, and cash.
What more could I possibly need?
Three times in two nights I've witnessed cars and bikes moving the wrong way up the same one way street in my neighbourhood.
The cyclists are morons for endangering their own lives - not only are they doing one of the stupidest things a cyclist can do, they're also doing it at night when they're even more invisible to harried drivers.
Then there's the guy driving his car up the street the wrong way. Do I even have to explain what's wrong with that?
As a gingerly passed him by, I remarked that he was going the wrong way. He remarked, "yeah I know" in an annoyed voice.
He should've done apologized and performed a 3 point turn - there was plenty of room - instead of continuing to behave like he learned how to drive in a minefield or something.
It was a shame I was in my car; last year another drive did the same thing. But I was on my bike, so I simply blocked the whole road and waved her back. After a moment of hestitation, she decided against running me over and backed off.
If 'past lives' were a reality, I could've been a traffic cop.
There's not much more to say beyond the title. My apologies for the idiotic rhyming.
The results are out, I passed the SOA
's End of School Exam, fellow CA student blogger Neil passed
, and so did a lot of friends.
On a sad note, it looks like my study buddy didn't make it - there's always next year though.
It does look safe to say, however, that my exam writing philosophy
is holding up well so far.
At ACS' old home,
I listed the five accounting assertions
While in class today we scored another fun new mnemonic to remember the assertions - in case a list of five things is hard to keep straight.
The trick is to remember the phrase "East Coast Road Via Philadelphia".
- E = Existence
- C = Completeness
- RO = Rights & Obligations
- V = Valuation
- PD = Presentation & Disclosure
They used Pittsburgh in their suggested answer, but Philadelphia is better: as you can see, the letter D makes the cheese steak town a much better choice.
Once in a while I feel a bit indignant when I see supposed professionals acting like complete slobs.
Example: the guy in the washroom who just tossed his paper towel at the garbage can, which was right in front of him.
Did he pick it up? No, he turned tail and wandered straight out.
Thanks for making a mess of things and expecting everyone else to clean up after you.
The sad thing is that he's in no way unique. The sense of laziness and entitlement some people display around offices continues to baffle and disgust me.
This week I'm in a training class but I don't really feel like writing about it or other ASX-ish
topics because my mind is fixated on the unravelling war situation in Lebanon.
One of my main primary sources of information outside regular media is the stream of posts
on Matt Good's blog
If you don't know Matt Good, he's an amazing Canadian musician
, but he also cares about other things in the world, which you can easily tell from reading his site.
He uses the site as a platform for people to discuss the conflict and post their first-hand experiences. You can see what it's like for innocent civilians in both Israel
as they try and live through yet more needless violence.
The last link points to a video I also posted on videosift: live footage of a missile strike.
The video itself isn't very high quality footage, but listening to the amateur videographer makes it rather chilling.
Another interesting, and more direct source, is Beezer's blog, 'Lebanonlive'.
In the case of the recent fracas
regarding Google's Eric Scmidt, I read a bit about how people were upset over how Google's Blog treated the matter. Well they were kind enough to add a direct link
to the blogger in question, Donna Bogatin, erasing all doubt about who their rebuttal was aimed at.
The funny thing is that at first it wasn't clear who was being criticized, and she got very upset
, wanting them to point their finger directly at her. So that's exactly what they did - and I don't think it did her much of a service, though, because now we know for sure that they believe she is the person who was taking their man's comments out of context and distorting the truth about how they operate.
Careful what you wish for, eh?
Ironically, though, she's glad they did it
. But all it did was confirm that she did some flaky analysis. Oh well, at least she gets more traffic, I suppose.
If you want to read about the actual talk and what he covered instead of the silly controvery, Googlefact
has you covered.
Nothing is a better kick into wanting to write as interesting articles written by others.Neil
has a nice article about fake supplier fraud and how to prevent it
. In short, trust no one. Well, you don't have to be paranoid, but you can't assume everything's working okay if you have anyone in your company in a position to cheat or steal from you.
Neil's post reminds me of the time I spent trawling through the CICA
handbook before the last exam. There's an excellent section that contains list of rationalizations and opportunities for people to commit fraud, as well as warning signs. A great read. And, sadly, not readily available online. I think that's one way CA
's are able to keep a tight lid on the profession.
Of course, one handbook section isn't enough to turn you into an all-star. You need a university degree with tons of accounting courses, practical experience, and some common sense/intelligence to get good at this work.
After doing various seemingly 'simple' tasks lately it's been kind of inspiring to realize that, "hey, I actually know how to do some practical things now."
Was there ever a more ringing endorsement for going through the rigamarole of becoming a CA?
Well, you also enjoy the humour of a clip like this
more (thanks again, Videosift
). Then again, just about anybody who has ever worked in something resembling an office will enjoy it too.
If you've noticed a drought of articles dealing with accounting, I'd argue that's a direct by-product of having recently written the End of School exam. While dealing with the topic at work occupies your thoughts to a mild extent, having to study it drives you insane.
And you don't want anything to do with that madness as long as you can.
Well, about 10 days is enough for me.
Having gotten over one lack of motivation to do something, I ran smack into another wall of potential indifference.
You see, it's hard to get psyched about checking out how, say, someone's installation of Peoplesoft is coming along when you suddenly find out that in less than a week the entire system is about to get upgraded.
"Oh yeah, figure out if we set everything up correctly." And hours later. "Did I mention everything is going to change completely next week?"
I mean, let's just pack up, go home and watch zany Japanese TV clips
if that's how you're going to be.
Even without the benefit of hindsight, it should've been clear that it would've been a brilliant idea if I had been told in advance of that tiny little fact instead of very late in the day.
Fortunately the upgrade doesn't seem to really affect what I was doing, but just barely. Another bullet dodged, another week of work almost done.
Next page »
But two things happened:
- the third reason for rocking did not transpire
- the internet swallowed and destroyed my original post. Damn you internet.
The third reason would've been "the wireless internet even works on the plane", but it doesn't. Although the plane was parked about 20 metres away, the connection died.
The internet swallowed and destroyed my original post when I tried to post it... and got booted out by the system. Nuts.
Anyway, my original comments were long-winded and no doubt in deserve of a good quick edit, or even a re-write, which is what they're getting now. And if I don't go ahead and post that video of KK donuts being produced - yay glazing waterfalls, thanks Videosift!
- I'll end up getting long-winded again. So enjoy the donuts, which are my way of celebrating an early return home.