CGFM Examination Preparation

Study Tips from Sarah Mongeau, CGFM, CPA, CFE, and AGA Boston Chapter Member.

​​​​​​​When I joined the Commonwealth’s State Auditor’s Office (SAO) in 2017 I was encouraged to join the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and the local Boston Chapter.
The SAO strongly encourages professional development of all staff members and provides professional and monetary incentives for staff obtain professional certifications. Although I hold a current Certified Public Accountant License in the Commonwealth and had worked within the governmental sector for over 16 years, I felt that there were gaps in my knowledge and experience that would be fulfilled by obtaining the AGA’s Certified Government Financial Management (CGFM) certification.

In the summer of 2018, I commenced the multi-step CGFM certification process.
This process began by reading AGA’s Code of Ethics, completing an application and paying and application fee and uploading my official college transcripts. Once my application, payment and transcript were received and approved by the Office of Professional Certification, AGA e-mailed me an eligibility letter I was ready to begin studying for the 3 examinations; Governmental Environment, Government Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting and Governmental Financial Management and Control.

Due to my demanding work schedule I chose to purchase AGA study guides and self-study the materials to prepare for the exams. AGA - CGFM Study Guides (A note of caution to CGFM candidates – although cheaper CGFM test preparation materials/study guides are available online, these may not provide the appropriate content required to pass the AGA exam – candidates should invest in the AGA official test prep materials.) Having passed the “written” CPA exam 25 years ago, I was no stranger to comprehensive examinations, however, the concept of taking computerized exams was new to me and I was somewhat apprehensive in going to a computer testing center.

Exam 1 Governmental Environment, is a very practical examination.
I was able to read the material in the study guide and take the sample test questions and memorize some basic concepts to prepare for successful completion. I studied during my spare time throughout the summer and took the exam in October 2018.

After Exam 1 was behind me I began to prepare for Exam 2.
I believe that having passed the CPA exam facilitated preparation for the Government Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting exam. I must also note that when I studied accounting in college, governmental accounting was one chapter at the end of my Advanced Accounting textbook. The accounting, reporting and budgeting concepts presented in the extensive Exam 2 Study Guide were somewhat overwhelming. This was also complicated by the presentation of the 3 different levels of government (Federal, State and Local) and the different presentation for each.

Exam 2 requires diligent review and time commitment to master the concepts. I found myself struggling with keeping myself focused in my studies. In March of 2019, the AGA provided an incentive option to CGFM candidates who enrolled in a two-day review class in Washington, DC to provide vouchers that would waive the exam fees. Recognizing that this was a perfect opportunity to direct my focus, I enrolled in the two-day accelerated review class in early April 2019 and was able to pass exam 2 in May 2019.

As the content of Exam 3, Governmental Financial Management and Control, was relevant to my current role as an audit manager at the SAO I was able to review the study guides to prepare for this examination.
I took and passed Exam 3 in May 2019, therefore completing the exam requirements. Completing the requirements for the CGFM has allowed me to fill in the gaps in my professional knowledge and experience and provide me with the tools to advance my Governmental Financial Management career. In November of 2019 I was promoted to Audit Director at the SAO.

For AGA's Important Tips for CGFM Candidates, visit AGA - Candidate Tips.