I used Adapt to pass Exam FM and MFE on my first attempts. As a recent graduate, I would like to offer you advice on using Adapt and starting your career as an actuary.
I graduated from a university not well known for its actuarial coursework. I thought that three exams and three summer actuarial internships would ensure a job offer – but unfortunately, I’m still job searching. Exams and internships are important but networking while in school and at internships has proven to be what distinguishes candidates in today’s entry-level market. I can’t tell you who you need to know or how to get a job but, I can tell you how to put yourself in the best position to succeed as an actuary.
One of the most commonly asked questions in forums revolves around the difficulty of the exam and more precisely, what the actual exam like with EL. I scored an 8 on FM with an EL of 6.38 and I recently passed MFE with an EL 5.88. I’m not setting a benchmark or a goal; I’m merely here to tell it like it is. I didn’t take a course at school to prepare me for MFE, the material was entirely self-taught using the Actex manual and Adapt. Companies give employees study hours but not enough to prepare you from start to finish for an exam, which involves a lot of outside study time. Adapt is arguably the best resource if used properly. Based on my experience, I’ve been successful when I go through the study manual then sign up for a 30 or 60 day subscription (30 seemed to be enough but it varies based on the amount of time you can put in and how well you understand the material). Once I start using Adapt, I do a practice exam a day and review the solutions before I take one the next day. When beginning, I focus on the easier ones (my EL+1 and below) until I completely understand them. Sometimes I won’t even bother on the ones that look too hard because I know that I’ll get there when I’m ready. When Coaching Actuaries recommends a quiz and there are 6 or fewer topics, then I’ll take a quiz in between practice tests. The week leading up to your exam, you should feel ready so there is really no need to keep increasing your EL. Focus on your weaknesses and take quizzes. There’s nothing worse than knowing what you struggle with then seeing those questions pop up on your exam. Stay confident and know that your hard work will pay off.
As mentioned earlier, the best thing that you can do for your career is network. This means going to career fairs at school, talking to your classmates and professors after class, and meeting with people at your internship that you don’t directly work with. The key is to put yourself out there and more importantly keep in close contact with those people. LinkedIn is an easy way to maintain a professional network but try to make your interactions more genuine. Give an old professor, mentor, project manager, or coworker a call and ask if they would serve as a reference or if they know of any actuarial opportunities they can refer you to.
Computer skills are highly sought after and it’s never too late to learn how to write code. If you’re still in school, learn as many computer-programming languages that are offered in your computer science, statistics, and math departments (VBA, SAS, R, and C++ are good places to start). If you finished school and are looking for employment, keep studying for exams but try to gain more programming experience through books and online tutorials.
Study hard and stay dedicated to Adapt. Doing well in Adapt doesn’t always result in a passing score but actuaries don’t always achieve success on their first try; they become actuaries by persevering and working even harder.