90-Day CFE Exam Challenge Success Story: Joanna Kardys-Stone

Joanna Kardys-Stone is a CPA whose work focuses mostly on financial statement audits. She began her studies for the CFE Exam at the end of 2017 but got busy and distracted over the holidays. For Joanna, the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge came at the perfect time for her to recommit to her goal. She participated in the challenge group in the ACFE Community on a weekly basis, checking in and staying dedicated to her weekly goals.

Joanna earned her CFE credential in June, and she has some tips and advice to share with anyone else who is considering signing up for the challenge.

Why was it important for you to gain the CFE credential?
I wanted to get another certification that would help me improve my professional skills. As a CPA working primarily in audit, the CFE seemed like a perfect enhancement. Fraud risk assessment is an integral part of every audit and having consistent exposure to topics discussed by the ACFE is very helpful. 

What did your study method look like?
My study method changed based on my availability. I tend to allocate bigger chunks of time to study when possible and do little sessions if I have no other availability. In general, I would read the guide then make notes followed by online practice questions. I would review all answers, and if I wasn't sure about my understanding of the topic, I would do additional research or look up topics in the Fraud Examiners Manual. The online practice question sections provide exact references to the answers in the manual.

I also followed the ACFE General Forum discussions and would try to connect the topics to what I was learning.   

How did you mentally prepare before starting the exam?
I didn't need additional mental preparation. The topics studied were very interesting to the point that I would prefer to study rather than going to work.

What did it feel like when you got the email saying you’d passed? How did you celebrate?
I was very excited. I did not have a celebration because it was during my busy season at work, but it was a great feeling to get this done.

What advice do you have for challenge participants who are preparing for the CFE Exam?
I found the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge to be extremely helpful. If it didn't happen, I would probably just be starting to work on the certification. I would recommend staying on track with your scheduled goals setup by the challenge.

Following discussion posts of others working on the challenge was also very motivating. I took several practice exams and made sure that I understood what I did wrong and why in order to not repeat the same mistake. As far as the exam taking, I would recommend scheduling exams in the morning before the work demands take over. I would wake up, do a practice test or at least a few practice questions, then take an exam. I took the exams over two days with two section at a time. Make sure to carefully read the full question and all listed answer choices.


If you’d like to join our upcoming challenge, sign up before it kicks off on October 1.