When it comes to actuarial exams, we all study like crazy. Crazy amounts of time, crazy hours, and crazy times of the day. When it comes to how you are studying, would you consider it crazy? I’ve come to realize that even though I studied like crazy for my past two exams, I might have been crazy studying — or studying inefficiently.
How many times have you stared at a piece of paper and read the same paragraph a dozen times, only to realize you still forgot to pay attention to what it was saying. Recently, my eyes were opened to the fact that I may have been doing this while prepping for an exam. No, it wasn’t the exact same situation, but when it comes to optimizing my study time, I might as well have been.
A couple of months ago, I sat down to study with a friend. We both got through the material in about the same amount of time. When we were about to start the problems we started discussing which problems. She said she was going to finish all of the problems that night, and I said “You’re going to do all of the problems?!” “Of course, why wouldn’t I?” she replied. I explained how after each section I only typically did about 5-7 problems so I could get the idea and then move on. I was used to learning all of the concepts and my goal had been to just get through the manual. It was at that point that I realized, I’m only familiarizing myself with these topics and not actually learning them. Sure, it’s good to have problems to do once I’m through with the material, but when I finally go through all the problems, I basically have to re-learn how to do them. I felt like I had been hit on the head, and my eyes had been opened to my silly mistakes.
Now that I have been studying more efficiently, I feel like I have got a real handle on things. I am feeling a lot more confident on the problems, as well as the material that I have ACTUALLY learned! So, here is what I’ve been doing: I study for about 2-3 hours in the morning. I take this time to go through the manual, take notes, ask my friend any questions I may still not be understanding, and I start on the problems. After that, I go to all of my classes and get everything out of the way for that day. I end my day studying again, this time finishing up the problems and using ADAPT to quiz myself on the section I learned that day. I spend around 1, max 2 hours doing this. Obviously, I’m not completing a section each day, so the process may sometimes be more spread out than that, but what I like about my schedule is that I work on the material about every 12 hours. When I’m not studying, my mind can subconsciously focus on the topics, and I give myself time to unwind and de-stress from all of the studying I do.
With this new study strategy, I still get to study like crazy, but I’m not crazy studying. I am optimizing the time I spend working on the material and really learning it.