Written by Jason Christiansen:
After an unsuccessful attempt of MFE in March, I started developing my plan for taking the exam again in July. Combing through an actuarial discussion forum, a member of the Coaching Actuaries team provided an incredibly useful Excel spreadsheet for setting a study schedule for this exam. I would have struggled to pinpoint exactly how much time to spend per topic were it not for the study plan spreadsheet. This is the first way I was helped by the Coaching Actuaries team.
So, this study schedule gave me 2 months to review the material and one month to practice exam-type questions. This left me searching for as much exam-like material as I could find from the SOA sample questions, practice exams in the study manual and Adapt.
I’d rate Adapt as the most effective of the three tools, due to the fact that it was most similar to the exam. Specifically, Adapt lets you constantly see that 3-hour countdown timer and with the question wording and computer base, the test taking environment is there. Topic coverage was almost identical to the exam. With other study prep tools, there are always a few questions on practice exams that you look at and say, “There is no way I’ll see this question, and if I do, I’ll guess”. I never felt myself saying that with Adapt, and I attempted all 30 questions for every practice exam that I did.
Once a practice exam was completed and it was time to review the solutions, what I liked about Adapt was that its intuition for each solution was spelled out. Sometimes textbook authors will do some “hand-waving” and show the solution, but Adapt gave solutions that let you think about each question from its first principles.
Having taught high-school mathematics for 5 years, the one piece of advice I can give regarding Adapt is to not cut-corners…hold yourself to the 3-hour time limit, don’t look at your notes (hide them while you’re taking a practice exam), and don’t guess. This lets you advance through the Adapt levels purely on what you know. This was my approach to the massive amount of Adapt exams that I took, and quite honestly, I felt the “real” exam that I took in July was easy, since I felt like I had seen it all before.
Adapt is the one tool that genuinely cares that its users get the complete experience from learning, to understanding, to being exceptionally prepared to take an exam. I have one exam left, and I will definitely use Adapt in preparing for it.