Overcoming Exam Related Stress

While preparing for Actuarial exams, we often find ourselves in between a rock and a hard place as we try to stay ahead of schedule. The exam date inches closer and closer Georgeevery second the clock ticks. A quick glimpse at the syllabus reveals a lot tous, “Oh, I need to go back and review chapter 4 before I embark on chapter 8 material…” or ” Oh well, I still have 3+ chapters left and the exam is less than a month and half away…”. “What about chapter 6…..I Remember having trouble withXYZ concept……”On and on and on! While the top 10th percentile of exam takers are able to stick to their planned study schedule from day one to the last day, the rest of the stack finds itself fighting to keep up. There is always something getting in the way ofsticking to the study plan. Some of these things are unavoidable while others are well within our control. For instance, on a beautiful Wednesday evening right before clock out time, the very day that you had planned on  knocking  out chapter 10 in your study manual and start reviewing for the exam on time, the boss comes knocking on your office door with a new  project that has to be completed before corporate meeting the following Monday. For those still in college it as simple as your Philosophy professor announcing on Friday that there will be a test the following Monday. Sooner or later the pressure is on!  The following are some ways that could help anyone preparing for Actuarial exams overcome study related stress.

While preparing for Actuarial exams, we often find ourselves in between a rock and a hard place as we try to stay ahead of schedule. The exam date inches closer and closer every second the clock ticks. A quick glimpse at the syllabus reveals a lot to  us, “Oh, I need to go back and review chapter 4 before I embark on chapter 8 material…” or ” Oh well, I still have 3+ chapters left and the exam is less than a month and half away…”. “What about chapter 6…..I Remember having trouble with  XYZ concept……”  On and on and on! While the top 10th percentile of exam takers are able to stick to their planned study schedule from day one to the last day, the rest of the stack finds itself fighting to keep up. There is always something getting in the way of  sticking to the study plan. Some of these things are unavoidable while others are well within our control. For instance, on a beautiful Wednesday evening right before clock out time, the very day that you had planned on  knocking  out chapter 10 in your study manual and start reviewing for the exam on time, the boss comes knocking on your office door with a new  project that has to be completed before corporate meeting the following Monday. For those still in college it as simple as your Philosophy professor announcing on Friday that there will be a test the following Monday. Sooner or later the pressure is on!  The following are some ways that could help anyone preparing for Actuarial exams overcome study related stress.

Plan for the unexpected

As obvious as this might sound, planning on there being an unexpected occurrence within your study plans is very crucial. This occurrence can be anything from emergencies to even having a bad day to the point that you don’t have the energy to study or you may have studied for long hours the previous night making you feel out of it the next day. While creating a study plan, it’s beneficial to be as realistic as possible. For instance if you know that you have friends that you hang out with occasionally, expect that somewhere before your scheduled test date one of your friend might extend an invitation for you to join them in doing something that you may not feel like skipping. Having some extra days set aside for such occurrences will go a long way in making sure that you don’t end up spending planned study time taking care of other unforeseen events. As a result, the probability that you will go off schedule is very minimal hence keeping stress from building up.

Diversify your friendship network

If you are like me or many other people out there taking actuarial courses on a college campus you can attest to this. Majority of those that we see and spend time with are fellow students that are taking the same courses and evidently preparing for the same exams like us. Although they offer a lot of value in terms of sharing their experiences about studying and passing exams, they can be a source of stress too. It’s good to dream and think about an exam you’re taking in a few days or months, but talking about exams most of the time isn’t healthy either. This is very true especially if you happen to be surrounded with many test takers where some of them may have failed to pass an exam once or several times. Having other people outside of campus or in other career fields will prove very helpful in such a case. Conversations with them won’t be centered around exams and even better, they bring different ideas to the table which in the long run will make a well rounded future actuary. A good actuary is multifaceted anyway.

Seek help

Although preparing and passing  actuarial exams takes a lot of independent studying, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Help is available almost everywhere this days. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your desk at home. There are ton of online forums where anyone can find help. I personally owe it to YouTube. I have learned a lot of things from there for free. From piano lessons to Tabular integration – a topic that wasn’t covered during my calculus class back in the days and that have saved me a lot of time while dealing with integration by parts problems. It always feels good to watch a complete Harvard University lecture straight from my desk. The Bottom line is, help is available to those that are willing to ask for it. Don’t walk this journey alone unless you are an exemption to this rule.

Believe in your abilities

Last but not least, you have to believe in yourself. We are all gifted differently. What a boring world it would be if all of us were gifted the same way. Who would be come up with different inventions? You have the “will” and where there is, a will there is a way. Don’t let yourself soak in stress. After all I don’t think there is anyone that completes all their actuarial  exams by worrying and stressing out day in and day out. Put on your planning hat, network with a diverse group of friends and associates, ask for help if needed, believe in yourself,  and you will find yourself accelerating to victory!