Today I wanted to discuss an issue which many novice actuarial students face: the dilemma of deciding whether the best time to study for your actuarial exams is during the school year, or during summer break.
A cost-benefit analysis should help you decide the answer to this. First of all, let’s get down to the basic facts. A semester is usually for around 4-5 months whereas the summer break lasts for approximately 2-3 months. On the surface, you seem to be getting quite a lot of time to study during the semester, but is it really so? What with all the assignments, exams and course load one has to deal with during the semester, you might not actually get enough time to study for your actuarial exams. On the other hand, you could fully utilize your summer break by putting in a good 10-12 hours of studying every day, since there are hardly any other major commitments to be fulfilled.
But effectively, it all depends on you and your study pattern. If you are able to switch your mind between different subjects easily and can multitask or get various things done in a short span of time, then maybe you can successfully manage to study during the semester- despite the heavy course load and involvement in other activities- by just putting in a few hours every day.
If studying a single subject during the entire day in a long stretch of time seems to be your thing, then maybe you should consider studying during the summer break. But keep in mind that if you have plans for attending summer school, or some other activities, you might not get enough time to study.
Of course, there are no distinct black and white areas in this situation. You might as well opt for a study plan where you study for some time during your semester as well as during your summer break. What counts most is that you actually do get the time to effectively study and complete your syllabus. Only you know your own pace of studying, and it is up to you to ensure that you get enough time to comfortably complete the exam syllabus at your own sweet pace.
Finally, I would just like to recommend everyone the use of a chart or timetable to study, since it really is an eye-opener and gives you quite a realistic estimate of the amount of time you actually have got on your hands to study for the exam. Of course, you would have to make the timetable in a manner that is realistic and do-able and accommodates all of your activities for the day. Hopefully, if you follow these tips, you will be able to make the right decision as to what time of the year is most suitable for you to study for your exams.
Best of luck to all of you! May you make the right decision and successfully pass your exams!