COMMON QUESTIONS FOR FIRST TIME EXAM TAKERS

What Exam Should I Take First?

The preliminary exams may be taken in any order, though you should be aware that they increase in difficulty as you proceed past the first two exams. The first exam on probability is a good place to start, unless you have recent use or knowledge of Financial Mathematics; in that case, take the second exam on Financial Mathematics.

How should I prepare for an exam?

Each person has a different learning style. Regardless, we strongly urge students to choose a study manual so you have a framework for your exam preparations. Research options for purchasing study manuals and materials here. A study manual is usually a summary of suggested and required readings whichhighlights those areas which are historically most important to know for the exam. Most manuals are written by actuaries and/or college or university instructors with expertise in the area of study for a particular exam or series of exams. Manuals often include practice questions by area of study and may also include additional practice exams. In combination with required readings, study manuals are designed to help you focus and organize your exam studying for more efficient use of your time.

You should only need one study manual and you should choose it in a format that works best for you; electronic if you want something that is easily mobile or printed if you prefer to work in the book. After narrowing down the options by format, you should review the samples on our website to choose the manual which is best suited to your exam preparation style. The main differences between manuals are the format, the author’s writing style and the presentation of the information.

Once you have selected your exam study manual, you may need to choose a suggested (or required) text. Read the material carefully while using the study manual to focus your preparations

On average, we recommend 100 hours of study time per hour of exam. Some people need more, but it is CRITICAL that you give yourself enough time to prepare for this test. Lack of preparation is the top reason people don’t pass.

As you approach your exam, you should be sure to take as many practice tests as possible. Practice Tests may be available in Study Manuals or sold separately. Practice tests are most effective if you simulate the test-taking environment by eliminating distractions and timing yourself. In other words, pretend you’re taking the real test under the same conditions. The more comfortable you get, the less stressful the real test will become.

How do I select a study manual and/or other materials?

You should only need one study manual and you should choose it in a format that works best for you; electronic if you want something that is easily mobile or printed if you prefer to work in the book. After narrowing down the options by format, you should review the samples on our website to choose the manual which is best suited to your exam preparation style. The main differences between manuals are the format, the author’s writing style and the presentation of the information.

Once you have selected your exam study manual, you may need to choose a suggested (or required) text. Use these resources to guide your studies and focus dedicated study time. Select supplemental tools like practice exams ideally based on those that accompany whatever study manual you chose or which appears as a recommended/suggested product to accompany your other selections.

Where can I purchase SOA or CAS Study notes?

The SOA or CAS Study Notes are not available through retailers. Instead, you should visit the SOA or CAS websites (www.soa.org or www.casact.org) to order those study notes or kits.

How do I know which calculator I need?

You will need to use an SOA or CAS approved calculator for exams.  All of the models sold on at The Actuarial Bookstore and ACTEX are approved and can be used for any of the exams. We find most students taking preliminary exams prefer not to use calculators with more advanced professional functions built-in.

Models like the BA II Plus Professional are best used for the more advanced exams, even though their memories must be cleared prior to an exam sitting.