The (Sometimes Long) Road to Passing

Written by Randy Refeld:1002234_610788708938915_86604121_n

I returned to school in the fall of 2012 to become an actuary. There were a couple of routes available. I could take a series of online classes and seminars, or I could enroll in a traditional school. I chose to enroll in a traditional school for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the ability to get funding as a graduate student.

This path has been winding. If someone’s goal is to pass actuarial exams as quickly as possible I would recommend an online (or in person) class tailored to the exams. In my first year in school I took a 2-semester class that covered the material for Exam P.

After the spring semester of 2013, I had completed the coursework that covers the material for Exam P and was preparing to take my first actuarial exam. I took Exam P and failed. It wasn’t that the material was too difficult, but I was unorganized in preparation and had not mastered the material adequately.

From here I had to figure out how to pass the exam. I had learned the material, I got A’s in the course work and I had worked the practice problems. What was different about the actual exam? The actual exam requires a broader knowledge set than a college course. College classes place the emphasis on a deep understanding, while the actuarial exam places the emphasis on reaching the correct answer. Please remember that you need a deep understanding to master the actuarial materials, but it is a computer-based multiple-choice test so there will be no questions requiring you to prove theorems.

This is where Adapt from comes in. Here was a complete package of testing tools. I started by taking a practice exam to see where I was. The practice exams are timed and formatted the same as the actual exam. After taking a practice exam, I was able to review the problems I missed with complete solutions; many of the problems also had video solutions with complete instructions and assistance on the material.

After reviewing the problems I missed, I made use of the section called “Coach Recommends” that listed areas I needed to work on. I was able to make customized quizzes that covered only this material and kept studying the material and taking more quizzes until I was consistently getting the quiz questions correct.

Leading up to the day of the exam, I took a series of practice tests. I tried to do one a day to get myself prepared. I took the tests and worked through the problems, skipping any that gave me trouble. In skipping problems, you are able to mark ones that you wish to return to later – this tool on the exam works exactly like the one in the Adapt, so one can practice “marking” the problems they want to return to. Efficient use of this tool is very important. There is no “guessing penalty” on the actuarial exams, so it is important to answer each problem. The strategy I used was to make a guess in case I ran out of time before I could return, but to mark it so I knew which problems were guesses. After taking Exam P, I completed the survey and then received the screen telling me I had passed.

I have passed Exam P and am currently using Adapt to study for FM and MFE. I would recommend doing one at a time. I am doing 2 at a time because I am planning to take both exams sometime this summer as I am in school full time and have custody of my daughter. Everyone, myself included, has to find the formula that works for their situation, but I believe Adapt can prove to be a valuable tool regardless of your situation and personal needs.