I recently passed Exams P/1 and FM/2. Since I’ve found reading about others’ exam experiences to be helpful, figured I’d pass along the favor in a couple of brief posts here.
Resources I Used:
- Kellison’s Theory of Interest
- McDonald’s Derivative Markets
- The Infinite Actuary
- ASM Manual
- Final 14 days: Coaching Actuaries’ Adapt
Total Study Hours: 171
How I Studied:
I had no background in finance or interest theory when I started studying for FM; in fact, I hardly knew what an annuity was. As a result, my first attempt to teach myself from Kellison’s book quickly failed. The notation alone was overwhelming.
At that point, I purchased TIA’s FM course using a student discount code and watched all of the videos, taking notes and working problems sporadically along the way. I then returned to Kellison and read most of the relevant chapters.
Still feeling overwhelmed and wanting to understand the concepts well, based off of internet research, I turned to ASM. I read through every chapter and worked all of the odd-numbered problems, returning to the even-numbered problems for topics I especially struggled with (loan amortizations, bond premium and discount problems, etc.).
I read the McDonald chapters on the syllabus to gain a better understanding of the derivative market problems, and then moved on to practice exams!
I took the first several ASM exams, a TIA exam, and several Coaching Actuaries exams.
Walking into the test, I wanted to keep studying but did feel I had a firm grasp of key topics.
What I Liked:
ASM: the explanations, practice problems, and exams. It’s an awesome resource.
Granted, for me, using additional resources helped deepen my foundational understanding of the material and “build up” to a more difficult text. For anyone with a background in finance, though, I’d recommend just purchasing ASM.
On a practical note, I tracked my hours studied using Excel and would absolutely recommend this to anyone sitting for an exam.
What I’d Do Differently:
Personally I wasn’t a fan of Coaching Actuaries. I preferred the ASM exams. If I could go back, I’d stick with ASM and save my Adapt money.
TIA does a great job explaining an effective exam strategy: Breeze through the easy questions, marking harder ones you know how to do and leaving ones that you don’t initially know how to do blank. Review your marked questions first, then the incomplete ones. This ensures that you answer as many questions as possible even if you run low on time.
Questions or additional suggestions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.