An Actuary’s Advice for Students Taking Exams

By Arnulfo Moreno
Posted on

We thank Syed Danish Ali, for sharing this post with members of CAS Student Central.  A version of this post was originally on the University of London’s student blog.

There are two aspects to consider that are relevant in undertaking any actuarial exam. The first is the psychological and the second is technical; I will try to elaborate on both holistically.

From the psychological side we have to realize that we ourselves are our greatest teachers; tutors and professors can show us the way, but we have to travel that path ourselves. A person who is determined and keeps on pursuing ultimately gets his/her rewards, with or without any tutor. Later on in our lives we will realize that ‘one repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil’ (Friedrich Nietzsche).The best tool we have for passing actuarial exams are study resources like study manuals and practice exams. From there, thoroughly read the technical concepts like time value of money, bonds and generalized linear modeling, etc. Understand them and then practice taking past exams.

Practice, and practice again; through practice and comparing your answers with the solutions you will be able to look inside the minds of examiners and see what they want from students in order to pass. An important requirement here is to give yourself ample time to study. There is no one time requirement because every student is unique, but you should feel that you have given yourself enough time.

Another crucial aspect is how to handle the possibility of failure.  We have to have the courage to face failures and still continue and not give up. Yes actuarial exams are difficult to pass, but the rewards after passing can be equally immense, so never give up. With consistent hard work, ample time and unconditional confidence in your abilities whether we pass or fail each and every one of us can perform miracles.

Syed Danish Ali is a graduate of the University of London. He is also a student of the IFoA and has four years of work experience as an actuarial analyst.


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