Letting Go to Gain Control: The Paradox of CPA PEP Stress Management & Exam Laptops

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
Apr 5, 2024
Photo credit: BrianAJackson/Depositphotos.com
Disclaimer: This post is about managing the stress that comes with completing a professional program while working, having a personal life, and other opportunities and responsibilities. It is not a replacement for mental health wellness resources. For access to free mental health and wellness resources, learners can visit CPAWSB’s webpage dedicated to Mental Wellness

Queries from Candidates

Sometimes I receive questions via emails and discussion board posts from candidates and turn them into blog posts to help others who are in similar situations or have questions. Here are some of my previous blog posts: Submitting Tasks After Reaching 75% for Exam Eligibility and Gettin’ (and Stayin’) PEP-py: Registration Dates and Deadlines. Today’s post highlights an exchange with a candidate around exam time about exam writing software and keyboard setup. 

Candidate question 

I copied the last question and answer from “CFE-Supplemental Frequently Asked Questions” as follows: “Where can I get more information on the exam writing software? Information about the CPA examination software, including a practice examination, can be found at https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/become-a-cpa/cpa-certification-programevaluation/cpa-examination-software. “

The issue is, this link cannot be opened no matter how many times I tried.
By the way, I also wonder if the computer that will be provided in the exam classroom is a normal laptop or a computer with a keyboard. Also, we are not allowed to bring a keyboard there, right? I just worry about my speed for reading and typing.


My response

If that link doesn’t work, please double check that your computer meets the specifications listed in the candidate guide. If it does, then please log a D2L helpdesk ticket so they can support you accessing the materials. 

Historically, CPAWSB laptops have been regular keyboards with a number pad. Re: details on the location and laptops will be available approximately 2 weeks prior to the CFE. 

Thank you,

Candidate response

Referring to “Historically, CPAWSB laptops have been regular keyboards with a number pad “, I’d like to confirm whether it is a separate external keyboard or just a standard laptop with a keyboard. I am doing my cases by using my external keyboard right now, and will switch to a laptop to mock the exam if no separate external keyboard is provided on the exam.

Sorry for the follow-up question.
Thank you!

My response

Last year, it was a laptop with a keyboard and number pad as a part of the laptop 💻 -all in one like this, with no extra external plug-ins. 1-2 weeks prior to the exam, CPAWSB will release a logistics memo outlining several details, including more specifics on this year’s technology setup.

If you want my advice, I will practice on a variety of laptops and setups so that I am confident that no matter what, my skills and not my setup are going to be the determining factor of CFE success. I say this kindly when speaking from personal experience, controlling as many variables as possible can be stressful. Looking back, I wish someone had reminded me that in the grand scheme of things, if you've got the skills, you've got what it takes. So, take a deep breath, relax, and trust in your abilities. (I say this both to my past self and sometimes to my present self too.😉)


Key takeaway

My bigger advice is to dedicate yourself to rigorous preparation with focused intensity, and then allow yourself to let go of unnecessary worry. If you've truly invested the effort and commitment, I believe that your diligence will be evident, regardless of whether you're dealing with your least favourite keyboard or struggling with a sticky mouse. 

Ultimately, success hinges on your capabilities and dedication. Trust in your abilities, and let your hard work speak for itself.

Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum. 

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB and a Senior Instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.