90-Day CFE Exam Challenge Success Story: Nora Koci


Nora Koci is an internal auditor for Ryan Specialty Group, which is based in Chicago, Illinois. She’s in her final semester of pursuing a Masters in Forensic Accounting at Roosevelt University. Her B.A. is in audio arts and acoustics from Columbia College, and she used to work as a stagehand. Moving into audit was a big career change for Koci, and her ultimate goal is to one day be a Special Agent with the FBI.

Aside from work and study, she also works part-time as a dog walker. For fun, she trains and competes with her dog, Samoa, in agility and nosework. They are trying to work their way into tracking and IPO training, which is a three-part sport which includes tracking, obedience and protection phases. Koci participated in our previous 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge and came out a newly certified CFE. She was active in the discussion forums and helped cheer her fellow participants along their journey. Now, she has some advice to share with those who will join the upcoming challenge.  

What inspired you to join the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge? 
I wanted to push myself to finish the CFE within a specified amount of time, but also get and give support to others. It helps me a lot when others are going through the same process, and it’s nice to bounce ideas and ask questions of others. Seeing the questions that others asked also helped me to do my own research in order to help them.

What did your study method look like?
I stayed an hour late at work every night to have quiet, (mostly) uninterrupted time to go through the questions. I also had a full-time graduate schedule as well as a full-time job, so I made sure to carve out time to review for the exam. I focused on one section at a time; however, when I got tired of one section, I would move to another.

How did you mentally prepare before starting the exam?
Lots of deep breaths and ensuring that my exam would be uninterrupted. I made sure that I took the exam on a night that I wasn’t overly exhausted or stressed. The exam is already enough pressure! I made myself a cup of coffee and a cup of ice water so I would not have to get up.  

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What did it feel like when you got the email saying you’d passed? How did you celebrate?
I was at work and yelled “YES!” super loud and threw up my hands and everyone looked at me. It was a huge relief because even though I felt like I did a good job studying, there was a small doubt that I would fail. After I got the news, I went out with coworkers for lunch to celebrate! 

What advice do you have for challenge participants who are preparing for the CFE Exam?
Take it slow and focus. Do one section at a time and be sure to go through each question and understand the answer. Don’t just memorize it. Take the exam when you feel ready and prepared — don't rush it. It’s okay to skip a question and go back to it after you have answered the questions you know. Get the easier ones out of the way. Then spend a little more time thinking on the ones you don't know. I wish everyone luck on their studies!

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