If you’re anything like me, getting to the last 3 days before your exam probably makes you feel nervous but also so mentally drained that you’re excited to finally write the exam and be done. Here are some of the tips I’ve followed that have helped me get through my actuarial exams:
Review Practice Questions
Three days before an exam, I’m in exam mode doing a lot of practice questions. Whether it’s Adapt exams/quizzes, questions from the ASM/Actex manual, the SOA sample problems, or whichever other source, I do as many questions as I can. At this point, my goal is to not only build on what I already know, but also jolt my memory on the topics I’m not as strong with. For those topics I haven’t seen as often but I’m at least vaguely familiar with, I like to reinforce my memory going into the exam, so seeing those types of questions near exam time can be very beneficial. What I like doing during the course of learning the material for each exam, is to take note of which questions I’ve ran into difficulty with. This is a good time to redo those questions, as it makes for a great refresher of the topics I find challenging.
What I avoid doing is learning obscure topics that I’m completely unfamiliar with up to this point. There’s a point where you realize that you either know something or you don’t. If it’s the case that you don’t, there’s probably a more efficient way of using the little time you have left, such as making sure you get the topics you are familiar with right.
Two days before the exam, I continue my review of practice questions, but I also allot some time to review my formula sheets. These exams are very formula heavy and what frequently ends up happening is the SOA decides to put questions that are quick and easy to do if you know the formula, which are almost always the formulas that rarely appear during your studies. This is a great time to review those formulas. Knowing the steps to complete a question but not being able to remember a formula is not fun, so taking some time out of the day to make sure you can apply those formulas can make a big difference on the exam.
It’s always great to understand how formulas work and know how to derive it when a situation occurs, but that’s not the case quite often and there’s not always a lot of time to learn every topic in that kind of depth either. It also doesn’t take too long to memorize formulas, so when you’re running low on time, this can be an efficient way of utilizing your time.
Take a Break
The day before the exam, take a break and relax. There’s nothing worse than over-studying and burning yourself out when it’s exam time. The chances of one more day of studying being the difference between passing and failing are extremely low. Not only is getting those extra hours in unlikely to be a difference maker, but it also puts a lot of pressure on you right before the exam, which is exactly what you do not want to happen. You want to come into the exam feeling fresh and ready to pass that exam. Personally, having a day to de-stress myself by hanging out with friends, watching my favorite TV show, and getting a full night’s sleep goes a long way in putting me in a great mindset for writing the exam. Everyone learns differently and has their own preferences to studying, but these have been the tips I’ve received that have really helped me on my last 72 hours before the exam. Hope this helps and good luck on your exams!