Here’s How to Achieve Your CFE In Less Than 30 Days

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-23-24-amI was 24 and ready to explore.

And people can sense a freedom loving, thrill-seeking adventurer a mile away. Maybe that’s why I received multiple invitations to go on dates. But I wasn’t giving in too fast; love interests had to have persuasive lingo and an impressive resume of life experiences to catch my attention.

Okay, I did fall for a guy or two during that time, but my ambitions didn’t allow those experiences to go too far. Plus, I had just spent a year living under a rock in order to study for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. What the heck did I know about dating or building an emotional relationship? My heart wasn’t ready for my prince charming to sweep me off my feet, but my heart was craving experiences that would allow me to stretch myself further and become a person worth becoming.

Maybe Distinguished Toastmaster Joan Moore sensed it through my active involvement in Toastmasters: I was hungry for more, and my daily toastmaster appearances were the proof in the pudding. I would travel to Toastmaster clubs all over Illinois in order to deliver speeches, perform functionary roles (grammarian, timer, evaluation, etc.), and give informational presentations to corporations and community organizations seeking to charter a new club at their location. So, Madam Joan Moore didn’t hesitate to approach me with a new challenge.

“Have you thought about the CFE credential?” Joan Moore asked me. She was a driven Toastmaster who had also achieved many awards for her diligence as a CPA and CFE. On top of her long list of impressive accomplishments, I respected and valued her incredible leadership skills. She was someone who I was grateful to have as a mentor. So whenever she asked a question, I listened intently because I knew there was reasoning behind every word that she spoke.

“CFE! I am very familiar with the acronym,” I told her. CFE stands for Certified Fraud Examiner. My dark brown eyes lit up.

I had the honor of taking a forensic accounting course under the teaching of Professor Sandra Shelton at DePaul University. DePaul offered a one-week course from 9-5PM during the December intercession. You may ask, “Who wants to go to school during a 6-week winter vacation?” I did! Fraud investigation is the sexy side of accounting that most number gurus want to explore. So, we may have been experiencing blistering temperature and winds outdoors–as per usual in Chicago–but it became steamy indoors as I cracked open the fraudulent activities of America’s most-wanted white-collar criminals. How cool was that?

And I can’t forget about my big four-internship experience that led me to the accomplished Forensic Services Partner, Mona Clayton. Mona not only holds a seat in the boardroom, constantly leading her team to excellence, but she is also a frequent speaker and trainer on various topics such as data mining, anti-bribery, fraud awareness, and compliance. So, when I got a chance to go into her office and learn more about her, it only heightened my excitement to explore the opportunities as a Fraud professional. To top it off, I left her office with her latest book, A Guide to Forensic Accounting Investigation.

Five years later, the stars aligned and I built a relationship with the incredible Joan Moore who was going to motivate me to take the steps necessary to become a CFE. After hearing all the perks, I couldn’t resist the urge to purchase all of the CFE exam materials. Jumping for joy like a kid on Christmas, I created a study plan, studied every day, and rejoiced as perfect scores appeared across the screen for each of the exams.

Wrong. Rewind. Just ignore the last sentence. That’s not my real story. Here is what really happened; you may want to grab a cup of tea for this one.

I purchased my books and I was ready to roll. But my motivation didn’t last long. It was day three and I was already thinking of how I could mesmerize my audience with my next speech. I was so head-over-heels in love with Toastmasters that I couldn’t even focus for five minutes to learn the Fraud Triangle–the bread and butter of being a Certified Fraud Examiner.

After all of this, I gave my brain a break–a long six-month break–and immersed myself in the world of Toastmasters. We all know that it’s hard to stay away from something you love. So, I started my journey to go from Vice President of Public Relations of Chicago Speakeasy Club to Area Governor for the Central South Division. Find out more about the Area Governor (currently known as Area Director) role here.

If you read the long list of responsibilities as an Area Governor, you can say that I suffered from a severe case of distraction. But it was for a good cause, right? I learned a lot about myself and had the pleasure to motivate club leaders to move beyond mediocrity in order to enhance the speaking and leadership potential of their club members. I worked diligently with some of the most reputable Fortune 500 companies and regulatory agencies including Federal Reserve Bank, Ernst & Young, Bank of America, Mattersight, and Chicago Board of Trade’s Chicago Speakeasy Club. We organized speech contests, hosted leadership trainings, and encouraged club ambassador visits. Not a week went by that I wasn’t thinking about my Toastmaster Area success strategy.

And, fortunately, it all paid off. My team of clubs received the highest accomplishment that an area could achieve: President’s Distinguished. We were on fire!

But my exam progress wasn’t; when I received a warning stating that I had 30 days in order to achieve my CFE, I knew I had to buckle down. I did what any successful person would do–I got rid of distraction and I focused. That’s all you need in order to pass in less than 30 days.

The purpose of my story was to let you know that life happens. You still have other commitments when you are going through the process of taking these standardized exams but that shouldn’t stop you from achieving your goal.

In order to expedite your exam certification process, here is an outline of some things you should know.

1.  Join the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 

You must be a member to take the CFE Exam and earn your CFE credential. Find out more about the CFE requirements here.

2. Prepare for the CFE Exam

Bonus: If you are a student, you get a discount!

The full price of the CFE Exam Prep Course is $945 (shipping and handling charges will be added with the purchase of the CD-ROM version). Associate members receive a discounted member price of $745 (plus shipping and handling with the CD-ROM version).

Study with the CFE Exam Prep Course. The CFE Exam Prep Course is a computer self-study course available in U.S. and International editions.

Attend the CFE Exam Review Course. This 4-day, instructor-led course provides the essentials needed to pass the CFE Exam and become a Certified Fraud Examiner.

Study on your own using the Fraud Examiners Manual. The Fraud Examiners Manual is a 2,000 page guide exploring examination techniques and procedures.

3. Apply for the CFE Exam

A complete CFE Exam application with documentation is required to take the CFE Exam. The CFE Exam application fee is $350. If you have purchased the CFE Exam Prep Course, the fee is $250.  Buy the CFE Exam Course and you will save money!

Submit the  CFE Exam application.

Submit the supporting documentation to complete your application.

Supporting documentation includes:

Proof of Experience: Details on your work experience, including your responsibilities and percentage of time spent in each area.

Proof of Education:   Documentation of the education claimed on your exam application. Accepted documentation includes official transcripts, photocopies of degree certificates or diplomas (must be provided in English or translated to English). Advisory transcripts are not accepted.

Photo: A recent photograph. Low file quality or blurry images are not accepted.

Professional Recommendations: Three professional recommendations completed by individuals who have worked with you professionally and can comment on your character, integrity, and professional skills.

4. Pass the CFE Exam

The CFE Exam tests your knowledge and expertise in the four primary areas of fraud examination:

Financial Transactions & Fraud Schemes –  tests your comprehension of the types of fraudulent financial transactions incurred in accounting records. To pass Financial Transactions & Fraud Schemes, you will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the following concepts: basic accounting and auditing theory, fraud schemes, internal controls to deter fraud and other auditing and accounting matters.

Law – ensures your familiarity with the many legal ramifications of conducting fraud examinations, including criminal and civil law, rules of evidence, rights of the accused and accuser, and expert witness matters.

Investigation – includes questions about interviewing, taking statements, obtaining information from public records, tracing illicit transactions, evaluating deception and report writing.

Fraud Prevention & Deterrence – tests your understanding of why people commit fraud and ways to prevent it. Topics covered in this section include crime causation, white-collar crime, occupational fraud, fraud prevention, fraud risk assessment, and the ACFE Code of Professional Ethics.

Upon passing the CFE Exam, your application will be reviewed by the Certification Committee. After your application is approved, you will be a CFE.


  • Purchase the CFE Exam Prep Course. It will save you time and money.
  • Don’t procrastinate. If you really want this, put in the time now. You could actually study for 2 weeks if you are really focused.
  • Each of the four exam sections has 125 questions and you will have a maximum of 75 seconds to answer each question. Become familiar with the types of questions they can ask you. Review all the questions in your study course multiple times. Aim for 100% proficiency on your practice exams.
  • You have 30 days to complete all four sections of the CFE Exam and submit it to the ACFE for grading. Don’t spread your exams out too much because you might get antsy and fail to take the other exams. You also don’t want to risk the chance of cramming everything in at the last minute because you chose to take exam #4 on Day 30. I finished all 4 of my exams in 1 day! You can do it too.
  • In order to pass the exam, you must score at least 75 percent correct on each section of the CFE Exam. You can surpass this score requirement with focused studying. Instead of reading every word in my ACFE book, I went directly to the questions. Then I used the questions to determine what I should study. This method allowed me to pass each section with at least 90 percent correct on each of the 4 exams.

Have any questions about the CFE exam process? Feel free to contact me!

Let’s connect!

 Have you started studying for the CFE exam? Why do you want to become a CFE? Individuals with the CFE designation are in demand and have a higher chance of proving their credibility to employers before they even meet you. This is all done through the power of LinkedIn. Let the world know that you are a CFE by adding your credential to your LinkedIn profile.  Click here for your FREE copy of The Ultimate LinkedIn Cheatsheet.
I would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below. Thanks!

Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

19 thoughts on “Here’s How to Achieve Your CFE In Less Than 30 Days

  • June 10, 2017 at 5:27 am

    There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this topic. I love all the points you’ve made.

  • June 12, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…

  • June 12, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Very good info. Lucky me I discovered your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!

  • June 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    You’re so cool! I do not think I have read something like that before. So great to find somebody with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  • June 21, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    You’re so interesting! I don’t think I’ve read through something like that before. So nice to discover somebody with some genuine thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

    • September 22, 2017 at 3:10 am

      Thank you Sabung! I appreciate you reading the blog. If there are any topics you are interested in reading more about, don’t hesitate to let me know.

  • June 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I’ve got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

  • June 25, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the site is also very good.

  • June 25, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Your style is very unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web site.

  • July 15, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the post, I really appreciate you taking the time to write this.

  • July 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Not exactly sure if you’ll get to see this but I’ll ask anyways.
    Was it worth it? I’m about to jump on this ship and I need to know if it’s worth my time and funds.

    • September 22, 2017 at 2:55 am

      Hi Sisi! Thank you for reading. The CFE will open doors for you and give you opportunities in certain industries.

  • November 1, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the article! I really appreciate the insights and motivation. I have decided to take the exam and wanted your advice on a study plan. I would like to complete it in 30 days or so.
    How many hours a week would you recommend studying for each exam. Should I study for all 4 first and then take the tests or would it be better to study for one and take the exam and then move on to the next?

    Thanks for the help!

    • December 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Hi Kassandra, I wouldn’t even quantify it by hours but by your ability to retain the information and understand the type of questions that are asked. Are you using the ACFE study course? Feel free to reach out to me at for more information.


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