Exam P/1 Recap

This is the second in an ongoing series of posts regarding exams.

Resources I Used:

  • The Infinite Actuary
  • ASM
  • Hassett and Stewart’s Probability for Risk Management

Total Study Hours: 165.5

How I Studied:

Having essentially no background in statistics or probability, I wanted to gain a good base understanding of the material, so I read chapters 1 through 11 of Hassett and Stewart’s probability manual and worked all odd-numbered problems.

I also read all of TIA’s Exam P slides and worked most of the section-end problems (all initially, then odd-numbered only as the exam date – and finals! – neared).

I read the slim ASM manual twice, and then it was on to practice exams: two TIA exams and a few ASM ones.

What I Liked:

Practice problems and TIA especially: I liked having groups of problems pertinent to each topic. Doing groups of problems together felt efficient to me, especially for challenging topics.

What I’d Do Differently:

Give myself more time! I signed up to take P three and a half months after taking FM, two weeks after a tough round of final exams, and one week after my brother’s wedding. And no, I didn’t have a strong math background.

Looking back, I would have felt far less stressed and more confident had I eased rather than rushed into the exam. I certainly studied hard and was pleased to pass but would remind others that taking exams is a marathon, not a sprint. Set realistic expectations for yourself.

Questions? Comments? Please reach out below.


Exam FM/2 Recap

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.

Exam Day

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.