Get Rid Of Your Laziness

Written by Baron Cao: Baron

First of all, I want to say that my method does not fit everyone. I have taken classes at school that cover all the materials for MFE and a lot of the materials for C, other than the credibility and simulation portions of the exam. So, it’s more of a re-activation and strengthening of knowledge, than accepting of new materials.

I had a great plan to kick off the summer, because I had decided to study for two actuarial exams. I registered for the Exam C sitting for June 24th, and the Exam MFE sitting for July. Two exams in 22 days seemed painful and impossible, but that’s the way I decide to push myself to the limit.

I carried out a three-week plan for Exam C using the ASM manual and Adapt. The first 7 days were used to tackle the credibility part (around 1-2 chapters per day) and the next 2 days were to study simulation materials. The next 8 days were used to review the stuff I had learned in class, and the last few days were used for overall review.

But, here comes the laziness. I only finished the limited fluctuation credibility portion (2 out of 10 chapters) after a week in front of my desk. I found multiple different excuses to stand up: grab some food in the living room, went to McDonald’s or coffee shops for some snacks, or went to hang out with my friends, etc.

So, how did I force myself to study? I made a daily schedule that I had to meet – for example: three chapters per day for the rest of the week to finish the new material. I moved by battlefield from my desk to the quiet room in the library. It was summer and I only saw a total of four people there the whole time. I did not carry my phone either. The only entertainment I had was to walk around the room and occasionally get some water at the water fountain. Each day was divided into three parts. First, starting at ten in the morning, I worked until one chapter was done then took a lunch break. Next, I resumed work from one to two in the afternoon, then dinner. Finally, one more session at night if necessary, or just in my spare time.

I finished two chapters on the first day after I created the plan, then I got used to the pace of three chapters per day. In order to catch up with the speed, six chapters per day were scheduled for the old materials. Sixty three chapters (minus the supplemental questions as well as a few chapters that were rarely tested on that I chose to skip) were done only a day later than scheduled. Things became normal after that. I did Adapt exams, sample questions, and went through flashcards to help me review all the material. Though I was still struggling with Bayesian credibility during the actual exam, I felt good with almost everything else.

A similar situation happened during my preparation for MFE after I passed C. I found an awesome excuse not to study: celebrating passing C. Eating out, bowling, playing video games…soon after, I realized I had only finished 4 out of 26 chapters in the ASM  manual in a week.

This time again, I noticed I spent too much time at my desk, so I went to the library again like when I was preparing for Exam C. I went to the library and studied a chapter in the morning plus a chapter in the afternoon. I skipped all the end-of-chapter exercises in ASM – as most students would suggest, and used Adapt Quizzes as the replacement. Therefore, I would end up spending time trying some additional problems from the Adapt system at night.

When I look back now and reflect on my experience in passing MFE and C in 22 days, the first thing I realize is how important it is to get rid of your laziness when preparing for actuarial exams. It is not a mid-term for a college class where students can crack it with a few nights; it’s a battle that is going to last for a while. Everybody knows that C has a lot of materials; but if you can stick through the whole ASM manual, you will be the winner in the actual exam. When I read through the whole manual, my passing rate was 100%; when I didn’t, my failing rate was 100%. I will stick with this rule and share this with everyone who is wondering about the “magic”.