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Thread: Jump in difficulty between tests?

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Level II Poster
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    Jump in difficulty between tests?

    I'm an undergrad currently studying for the first exam and I'm wondering if, to all those who have passed a few exams or anyone familiar with the exams, there is a big jump in the difficulty from one test to the next? I'm just curious really. I'll be graduating next spring and I'm shooting for three exams by winter '06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robertr24
    I'm an undergrad currently studying for the first exam and I'm wondering if, to all those who have passed a few exams or anyone familiar with the exams, there is a big jump in the difficulty from one test to the next? I'm just curious really. I'll be graduating next spring and I'm shooting for three exams by winter '06.
    In my personal experience, I'd rate the exams in 3 different categories (for the SOA track, anyway).

    Tier 1: P and FM - the first two preliminary exams.
    Tier 2: M and C - the second two preliminary exams.
    Tier 3: The upper level exams (5, 6 & 8).

    Some would say that M is in a tier of its own, above the other 3 preliminary exams. But they do range in difficulty. And, these preliminary exams feed off of each other. You will find in studying for later exams that the material overlaps things you've learned previously. Which is good.

    Finishing 3 in a year and a half is good. If you happen to fail one, though, remember: you are taking this exam with other mathematics/actuarial science/business/economics/finance majors around the world that are not lacking in intelligence - generally the people taking these actuarial exams are in the top 25% of their school/class. Take this, plus the fact that the passing percentages usually fall in the 30-40% range (which means 60-70% of test takers fail), makes for a somewhat stepp mountain to climb. This isn't meant to intimidate you: rather, it's to give you hope in case you don't pass every exam on your first try. Good luck with your plan and studying.

  3. #3
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    Thanks very much for the response. Yeah those statistics are a bit intimidating, and I have no doubt in my mind that this will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but I'm actually very confident that I'm going to achieve it. I think the bottom line with this, as well as most other things in life, is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to get a job, it's going to take a lot of work. Work = time = money. Bottom line. As long as you keep that in mind, I don't thing it's too bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robertr24
    Thanks very much for the response. Yeah those statistics are a bit intimidating, and I have no doubt in my mind that this will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but I'm actually very confident that I'm going to achieve it. I think the bottom line with this, as well as most other things in life, is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to get a job, it's going to take a lot of work. Work = time = money. Bottom line. As long as you keep that in mind, I don't thing it's too bad.
    Absolutely. I think that's the best mentality to take with you through the exam process. Just for reference - most testers go by the adage that for every hour long the exam is, you should prepare 100 hours for it. Thus, since Exam P is 3 hours long, 300 hours of preparation should be put into the exam. While this is not true for everybody, some take more hours to prepare that this: some because they end up failing and putting more time in, and some because they would rather invest the time now than fail and have to put in more time again in order to pass a test they were probably just 1 or 2 questions away from passing. It will depend on how you take tests. Good luck.

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