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Catch the Wave II – Game Plan

As mentioned in my last blog regarding the new SOA curriculum changes, we created an Excel exam planning spreadsheet to help you complete your ASA by July 2018. VEE courses and the FAP modules are not included. Students will have to manage their time to complete all of the VEE courses and the FAP modules, as well as the APC, by July 2018. (You can learn more about our VEE courses here.)

This Excel model arranges exam dates for you in the exam order you specify, and generates a daily study schedule for each exam you plan to take. You can decide how much study time you want to spend for each exam.

Here are the assumptions of the model:

  1. Preparation for the first unpassed exam begins on the start date you input. Preparation for subsequent unpassed exams starts a day after the previous exam date. For example, if you are taking exam MFE on 11/20/16, you’ll start preparing for your next exam on the next day, on 11/21/2016.
  2. For convenience, the exam date is the middle of each exam window, and the exam date for each exam is the same every year. For example, Exam MFE has an exam window from November 17-23 this year, so November 20th is the exam date in the model.
  3. The recommended minimum study time is 60 days for P and FM, 90 days for MFE and C, and 120 days for MLC.
  4. The very last exam dates are set for April 2018, as it takes at least 6-8 weeks for official exam results.
  5. The goal of this model is to pass all 5 preliminary exams before July 1, 2018, therefore completing your ASA requirements by then.

User manual

If you see a pop up warning message when you first open the Excel file, make sure you click “Enable Macros”.

Part 1: Inputs (Only yellow highlighted cells are input fields.)

Step 1: Enter the date you plan to start in cell D20; it can be today’s date, a date in the past, or a date in the future.

  • The default date is set as the date you open the file. It changes every time you reopen the file as it currently uses an Excel formula =TODAY().
  • Feel free to input your desired starting date in this cell. Once you have changed this cell to a certain date, it will be hardcoded and the date will not change upon reopening.

ASA Screencap 1

Step 2: Select exam names from the drop down menu in the order you plan to take them.

  • You can enter up to 5 exams. You MUST start from the top cell and cannot leave empty cells between exams; otherwise, a VBA running error will appear. For example, entering P, leaving an empty cell, and then selecting FM as the order for 1, 2, 3 is not appropriate.
  • Enter exams in the order you plan to take them.
  • Each exam name can only appear once. A warning message will show in column L if multiple names are selected.

ASA Screencap 2

Step 3: Indicate whether you have passed a specific exam by selecting Y or N from the drop down menu. (Y=Passed, N=Not Passed). This is a required field.

  • Empty cells will be treated as N.

ASA Screencap 3

Step 4: Customize your study time for each exam.

  • The current values are recommended minimum study days stated in assumption (3).
  • Simply enter the number of study days you plan to study for each exam.

ASA Screencap 4

Step 5: Warning messages in column M?

  • “This date might be too late for the outcome of the exam result.” Per assumption (4), if the exam date is past May 1, 2018, you might not get your exam result(s) by July 1, 2018.
  • “This date is later than July 1, 2018.” Remember, the goal is to complete exams before July 1, 2018.
  • The solution to the above warning messages is either rearranging the order in step 2, or planning a shorter study time in step 4.

Step 6: Click the “Generate Detailed Study Schedule” button.

  • If you did not select “Enable Macros” when prompted, the button will not work. In this case, you will have to go into the Macro Setting and turn on the option called “Enable all Macros.”
  • If any Macro running error happens, double-check the procedure and your inputs, or re-download the file from our website.

ASA Screencap 5

Part 2: Outputs

  1. You should only see two tabs, “Game Plan” and “Exam Windows,” when you open the file.
  2. Column H and I list the recommended study days and exam date for each exam. The values will change dynamically when you make changes to the exam order or the number of study days.
  3. After you click the “Generate Detailed Study Schedule” button, you will see each exam tab show up in the order you entered in step 2.
  4. In each exam tab, there will be an exam start date, a study start date, and a detailed study schedule for each day.
  5. The total number of study days should be grater or equal to the minimum study time you entered in step 4.
  6. If you are not satisfied with the recommended dates in the “Game Plan” tab, you can modify the exam date and study start date yourself.

This is one of the many ways you can plan your study schedule. If you have no way of finishing all of the requirements for ASA by July 2018, keep calm and stay focused, because every exam you pass today will transition to the new curriculum. Learn more about the transition rules on the SOA website.

Click here to download the Excel file. Besides taking exams, if you are interested learning Excel VBA, feel free to dig into the visual basic code.

Good luck and have fun!