Actuarial Exams – Part 2 (Sharing my old write up)

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Guidance for Actuarial Exams

I would also like to share a few tips that have worked for me in passing my actuarial exams or kind of guide you. I would like to start from selecting the right subject and end on actually writing the paper in three hours time.

Selecting the right subject

The most crucial thing is selecting the right subject for exam. Fresher may well opt for CT1 or CT3 as these are extreme basics but beyond this you should select your paper wisely. The syllabus of every subject is written on website of the institute. Before selecting the subject go through the syllabus topics completely. Selection of wrong subject may prove very expensive as it will cost you your precious time and efforts. Please go through the perquisites for example before selecting CT5 make sure you have passed or at least studied thoroughly CT1 and CT3 as these are the prerequisites. Such pre requisites are given on the initial few pages of the study material. Make sure that you read these things carefully before going ahead with the subject. There are some subjects which can be studied better along with practical work experience. Also good guidance from fraternity regarding selection of subjects is advised.


Once you have selected the subject which you will appear next, go ahead with its preparation. Devote some time daily for its preparation. Prepare from the study material carefully, If you find the language very technical you may well opt for the reference books whose list you will again find in first few pages of the study material, these are recommended by ActEd. The more you learn about the concepts the more you will be eligible to pass the exams. This is a well-known fact! You can never pass an actuarial examination until you are thoroughly familiar with the actuarial concepts. Only if one has understood the concepts clearly, can one apply them to a numerical problem. Understanding concepts right from the first exam is very necessary as several examinations of later series build on concepts covered in earlier exams so it is important to have clarity of concepts right from the beginning.

Know you concepts right and practice more

As the saying goes “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in war”. Don’t omit any concept, learn everything. After getting your concepts right, practising on regular basis is very important. Practice is key to success. It is important to recognize that the actuarial examinations are not testing one’s knowledge of actuarial concepts presented in the study material; but they are testing one’s ability to apply those actuarial concepts in practical situations. They achieve this by testing students on numerical problems and case studies. To that extent, these examinations can be classified as application exams rather than theoretical exams. So as application based exams, you have to know how to apply the concepts to numerical problems. The best way to do this is by doing lots of practice problems. Solve problems from all available past exams or from reference textbooks. Don’t glance through the problems but actually solve them – this helps improve speed of solving problems and helps clarify concepts further. Solving questions from Question papers of past exams, question banks, x series etc are very important to get a feel of what will be asked in exams. It will also help you in Time-management. Well if you don’t practice, there are great chances that you may go blank in exam or may not be able to complete paper on time.
As students, it is very easy to remain focused only on the numerical details of the problems in the exam or on the specific formula to be learned without looking at the big picture. I used an effective method as follows: When you tackle a new concept, take a few minutes to think about what is the logic behind the concept, how does it co-exist with other concepts that you have learned about covered in the same or prior exams, have you faced this concept at work or heard any of your senior colleagues talk about it. Taking some time to dwell on this helps put things into perspective. Many students feel that it is not very necessary to do this, learning the formula or method to solve a problem by rote is mostly sufficient – but incorporating this method into your studying helps you retain this information longer and apply it with ease in the examination.

Also, Some Actuarial concepts may be complicated and may take some good time to seep in. Hence it is advisable to start preparing for exam early (around 4 or 5 months) to give good time to yourself and avoid any last minute panic which invariably fails to serve the purpose. Keep the last two weeks before the exam exclusively for revising concepts and solving old exam problems. Don’t try to cram any material at last minute Your brain will not accept it and may only muddle it up with other concepts learned. Relax your brain one day before the exam – it deserves the rest if it has to function at its best on the exam day.