Exams and Confidence

Written by Duncan Bishop:

I am a senior at University of Connecticut and just passed MFE during the summer to go along with exams FM and P, all three of which I have used Adapt for. I think one major thing students who take exams struggle with when studying is confidence in their abilities when exam day finally arrives. Having confidence in your understanding of the materials is very important and can help you when you finally sit for the exams.

Why does confidence matter? My personal experience is that if you are confident with your studying you won’t become flustered if you come upon a question that you don’t know how to solve. There have been multiple Adapt exams as well as moments in all three SOA exams where I’ve hit a stretch of 5+ questions where I can only answer a few. It’s a discouraging feeling knowing you just skipped 5-10 questions and only answered two. This will fluster many students and they’ll be nervous causing them to lose track of small details under stress. If you feel confident with your knowledge of the material, just skip those questions and return to them later.

A great way to build confidence is through Adapt. The earned level system is perfect for confidence building because as you raise your earned level you become a smarter student, but also confident in your abilities to solve harder problems. If you struggle leveling up try to see it as if you’re learning the core foundation. I passed MFE with a 3.59 earned level because I spent majority of my time taking quizzes. Never did I take a quiz higher than level 4 or 5, because I wanted to make sure I had the conceptual part of the material down.

Many people who sit for exams feel a sense of impending failure and disappointment which is natural. Start studying early and study often and you’ll have a more positive way of thinking when the exam comes. I failed my first ever exam which was FM. Since then I’ve passed FM, P and MFE in a row without a failure. Passing FM and getting the first exam under my belt was a boost of confidence that it wasn’t impossible to pass. This carried over to my next exam.

For closing notes you should focus on understanding the material so you won’t have to skip questions much on an exam. If you do skip questions realize that you’ve studied a lot for this and you know the material well, maybe you just need to warm up with other questions before coming back to it.  Don’t get overconfident and become complacent with your preparedness. These exams are some of the hardest in the world and you never know what may show up from the syllabus. Study, study more, then study even more. As the weeks roll by you’ll build your confidence if you’re prepared and know the syllabus. Adapt is a great tool for learning and practicing by increasing difficulty at a comfortable rate. Being prepared and confident is a great way to achieve a passing mark on any actuarial exam.