1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I need a study strategy for actuarial exams

  1. Dec 19, 2014 #1
    i really need help with studying the actuarial exams. My issue is im not studying 'smart. and with the difficulty of the exams, studying hard won't get me through.
    I passed exam P, but I studied way too hard for it; ie 1 year for 5 to 7 hours per day, 5 days per week. It ended up with me memorizing the questions and passing by regurgitating rather than understanding. I know the exams are supposed to be hard, but there has to be a more efficient way.

    With the FM exam, it's been a year and I find myself having to go back to chapter 1 every few months and i feel I'm not moving forward at all. With 1 year, I really should have taken the exam by now. My goal is to study smart and try to take the exam by April or June.

    What is the best way to study? I know the answer is to do more problems, but I'm looking for 'specific' study strategies that you guys can offer.

    I'm just looking for suggestions. If I don't pass in June, I'll consider a different career path, but I really want this to work out
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2014 #2
    So the first and most important thing you're doing wrong is that you're not taking exams. This is keeping you from focusing like you need to.

    Part of what the exams teach is the ability to identify what's important and then quickly learn difficult material under tremendous pressure. You're not identifying what's important, and not under enough pressure to learn it.

    So, set a date for the next FM exam. Then split the time up between chapters. Most good study manuals have some suggestions on how to do this.

    Let us know what date you set.
  4. Dec 20, 2014 #3
    Thanks. Right now, I'm scheduled for April 10. I'm using 'the infinite actuary' courses to study and I'm feeling I'm getting stuck on the section about annuities(which is like chapter 2 of the entire course). I push myself and just keep moving forward by following a strict schedule(1 to 2 weeks per chapter), but I feel like I end up not learning, not retaining anything and I just have to go back and start over again and again.
  5. Dec 21, 2014 #4
    I have passed two exams. I focus on understanding. If I had to just learn it all by rote, I wouldn't have been interested in it enough to do it.

    Doing more problems is not necessarily the only answer, and in fact, your story is a good illustrating of why that is, despite the way people always say "problems, problems, problems", when, in truth, thinking about concepts is also part of what you need to do in order to find meaning in things in order to make them memorable and understandable. You can think about concepts while you do problems or separately. I have a knack for seeing the intuitive meaning of all the formulas, but if you browse around, you might be able to find books that do a better job of conveying that, if you can't figure it out for yourself. Looking beyond actuary study materials might be a good idea.
  6. Dec 21, 2014 #5
    Great, given a few days holiday, etc, you're looking at almost exactly 100 days till the test. You should be thoroughly through the material a few weeks ahead of time, so let's say 80 days.

    How many problems are in the manual? I don't think I ever did all of them in any manual, but you should do lots. 800 is probably not an unreasonable number for FM, given the ease of most of these questions. So that's just 10 a night. Make it 12 to ensure you stay ahead. You should check around to see how many problems others are doing, to ensure that number isn't low.

    Don't do all the problems in a section, or even all you intend to do. Do enough that you feel ok about that section, but then come back to it now and again and work problems you got wrong (you should have a way of keeping track).

    With a couple of weeks to go, you should take practice exams under exam conditions, and grade yourself.

    I assume this means when you go back after moving forward several chapters you have problems with the questions? You'll do a bazillion different annuities problems throughout FM, so the early stuff should get hammered in simply by forging forward.

    Letting yourself get hung up on the early things is an easy way to create real problems for yourself. Keep moving, and come back to the earlier material now and again. This is an important skill to learn during exams as well; time management and assessing the difficulty of the problems is really important to passing.
  7. Dec 21, 2014 #6
    As a side note, moving slowly through exams is a red flag to employers. It's not the end of the world, but it's just another issue you'll have to overcome.

    Avoid telling anyone you spent a year studying for P & FM. Instead, work on knocking out FM and MFE quickly. Then you can honestly say that you took longer than you hoped getting through the first two, but have picked up speed since.
  8. Dec 23, 2014 #7
    Thanks guys. I'll try again and this time focus on your suggestions. I think my issue is 2 things: applying the concepts to problems, and knowing when to move forward. Using exam P for example, I would watch or read an entire lesson and feel like I'm following along, and then when it comes time to do problem sets, I literally can't do any of the problems. I know that while I was studying for P, my first 1 or 2 runs through the material, I was getting only about 5 to 10 percent of the problems correct. Almost every single question, I had to look at the answer or had no idea how to start the problem. That itself made me know that I wasn't getting the idea and made me hesitant to even move forward. And when I did move forward and came back, I would be at square one and still not remember how to do the problem. In the end, that's why it took me that long to pass P. It took me that long to memorize the types of problems to learn enough to pass. I'm trying a different manual to see if it helps, but in general, that's kind of where the frustration is
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook