90-Day CFE Exam Challenge Success Story: Amelia Tercero


Amelia Tercero has been one of the most active and engaged members of the ACFE Community. Since joining the ACFE in June 2018, she has posted more than 300 times. Tercero is always eager to share knowledge and experiences with fellow members to learn as much as possible about the anti-fraud profession. It was no surprise when she signed up for the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge in October 2018, and she brought her lively personality to the challenge group.

Tercero has a background in financial services, mostly in banking, but no matter what her role was, she couldn't keep from identifying, deterring and preventing fraud. She knew that joining the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge would put her on the fast track to pursuing her professional passion of fighting fraud.

Why did you join the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge?
Before my decision to participate in the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge, I had long been contemplating my CFE journey. I knew that eventually it would be a must-do with no negotiations or procrastination. Prior to joining, I would dabble in the discussion forum topics to see what I was already familiar with and to see how responsive others were. It turned out to be very motivating, leaving me with a sense of belonging. I didn’t know a whole lot about the ACFE at that moment, but eventually a switch went off this past June. From that moment, I went full-force ahead with no looking back. I was determined to have my CFE credential before the year’s end.

Finally, earning my CFE was a personal goal in my ongoing career. I wanted to be doing the type of work where I could easily integrate into a business culture that embraces technology and innovation. I wanted to be the person who steps forward and helps an organization move toward deterring, preventing and detecting fraud.

What did your study method look like?
I might have spent a few more hours than most until I found my routine. First, engaging in the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge group in the ACFE Community (their online discussion forum) was important for me. My studying was rigorous, rigorous, rigorous. I read, reviewed and reread — and it paid off!

Many of us in in the online group were also helping each other work toward our common goal, which was to pass the exam. We shared best practices while asking questions within the community, and we learned amongst each other respectfully, all of our experiences motivating one another.

I did the challenge because I wanted structure. Definitely, set up a specific study time and have consistency. Review and read difficult areas or missed questions. There’s no need to read the entire Fraud Examiners Manual, but you do need to read the entire section of information at the bottom of each question for better understanding. 

How did you mentally prepare before starting the exam?
Since I had missed signing up for the April-June challenge, I planned to enroll in the next one, which would begin in October 2018. Not wanting to waste any time, I joined the Los Angeles ACFE Chapter and went to my first chapter meeting, earning some CPE credits, but more importantly the knowledge. I also met great people and got to exchange information.

My goal was to pass before the end of the year with no giving up allowed! I took the last test on December 29. I wanted to take it earlier but I had a moment of doubt. It can and will happen, so don’t let it take over. Stepping back for a moment helped me because I really needed to take a mental break. I was already a bit anxious, feeling like I was running out of time, but for me it was important to not take all this hard work into 2019.  

For my last test, I reviewed what I needed, took a practice exam, took a 30-minute break and then took the test. It was tricky, but I had studied hard and ended up passing all four sections.  

What did it feel like when you got the email saying you’d passed? How did you celebrate?
After I got the news, I swear I sighed! I lay on my bed looking at the ceiling and my mind went blank. I calmly said to myself, “I did it. What a journey it was. My work paid off.” After that, there were cheers and dinner with my friends, who all stood by me during my three months of studying. I also let the three people who wrote recommendation letters for me know I had passed.

The Sunday before receiving my passing email, my father said to me, “Boy! This has really taken you through some challenges.” When he saw my certificate, the smile on his face said it all.

What advice do you have for challenge participants who are preparing for the CFE Exam?
In conclusion, my friends, I hope I have impacted your decision and your personal journey to earn the CFE credential. I truly came across people I otherwise would not have met. My best piece of advice is to stay focused. It can happen for you too! 

If you’d like to join our upcoming 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge, sign up before it begins on April 1, 2019.