Get ahead on exams


Actuarial exams are interesting things. In some sense, they are completely optional. Unlike other qualifying exams like the Bar Exam, where you must pass before practicing law, actuaries take exams at their own pace. So why do so many students approach them? As a college student, my faculty advisor is very encouraging for us all to pass as many exams as possible before completing our undergraduate degrees. Fortunately, we have a strong actuarial program that supports our studying and preparations. I am aware, however, that this is not a common find at many universities. If you are unsure if you should be approaching exams at this time or putting them off, consider the following points.

If your college does not or did not have an actuarial option as a major, don’t worry! Although it can be helpful to have professors and classmates who are knowledgeable about the subject matter, exam preparation is 100% self-motivated. With the infinite resources available, many of us are left on our own to self-teach information outside of the classroom. Supplemental material, such as Coaching Actuaries, places the correct tools in your hands to make passing exams possible. With hard work, determination, and focus, exams are completely within your control.

Since exams are not mandatory in order to be hired in the actuarial workplace, I was curious as to why some of my classmates approached their exams.

  • Charlie, age 21 said, “The more exams I have under my belt, the more attention I seem to get from prospective employers during interviews.”
  • Shannon, age 21 remarked, “If I pass exam FM before the end of the summer, I think my internship may become a full-time offer for post-graduation!”
  • Logan, age 21 added, “When I pass exams, my salary increases and I am granted more responsibility at work.”

These students are all in line for some great internship experiences this summer. Each one is at a different stage in their exam process, either having not passed one yet, passed one, or passed two, but all three are working hard towards their goals.

The earlier you begin preparing for exams, especially while still in college, the more you get in tune with your study habits. I have heard many graduates admit they wish they started exams earlier because studying does not come as easily once starting work full-time. Although some companies offer paid study time for exam preparation, it may be difficult to balance a full work load while learning new concepts and combatting practice exams.

Nine out of the ten people I polled agreed that with each exam, the preparation, learning, and passing gets easier. Despite the increase in difficulty of the material, each time I study for an exam, I tend to establish new things about the way I learn. With fresh and improved routines, the absorption of the information becomes a smoother experience and therefore becomes progressively enjoyable.

Passing exams is a rewarding experience. Although it can be tedious and sometimes frustrating along the way, there are countless approaches and many valuable study aids. If you are someone who is debating if taking an exam is the next step, my advice is to go for it. It will not hurt to try, and you may surprise yourself with how worthwhile the investment is. Spend your time wisely, work hard, set personal goals, and self-discipline. You will not regret getting ahead on exams.