UPDATED: Exam-Taking Strategy for Exam MAS-I

Updated 3/18/2019 to reflect changes made to MAS-I since the original publishing of this post in January 2018

The key to passing MAS-I (or any exam for that matter) is to correctly answer all questions you know how to answer. This is different from answering as many questions as possible. The CAS has stated that candidates should expect 45 questions on the exam. Each question worth two points.

According to the CAS, the recent historical pass marks for S (the previous version of MAS-I) have been about 60% (about 54 points out of 90). That means you will need to answer about 27 questions correctly in order to pass the exam. This does not take into account the 0.5-point guessing penalty per wrong answer, so 30 is a safer target. The key is to identify at least 30 questions on your exam that you can answer correctly.

You will be given a 15-minute read-through time at the beginning of the exam, during which you can read the questions but can’t write anything or use your calculator. Take advantage of this time to identify easy questions and dog-ear them. Once the read-through time is up, target these questions first.

When going through the exam, you must be willing to skip a question. There is no point in spending too much time on a single question, leaving you with insufficient time for easier questions you know you can get right. Keep in mind that every question on the exam has the same weight. Getting an easy question right is worth the same as getting a difficult question right. Remember that your goal on the exam is to answer enough questions correctly to pass. So why spend 15 minutes on a difficult question that you may not get right when you could use those 15 minutes to answer 3 or more easier questions?

So, what does this mean? You should spend the first 30 seconds of every question making an assessment:

  • If you don’t understand the question after the first read, skip it.
  • If you think you may be able to solve the problem but it may take some time, mark it and skip it.
  • If you understand the question and think you can solve it quickly, solve it.


After spending 6 minutes on a question, you need to assess whether skipping is a better option. Apply this strategy to all questions during the first pass through. Then, go back to the marked questions and attempt those during your second pass through. If you still have time after the second pass through, attempt any questions you haven’t answered. If you’re comfortable with at least 30 questions, you should be able to pass the exam!

Keep the guessing adjustment in mind. If you’re not confident with how you’re doing on the exam, then you should guess on every question you can’t solve. However, if you are confident that you have answered enough questions to pass, avoid guessing at all.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. We wish you all the best in your studies!