View Full Version : Everything about CAS 5-9

July 6th 2009, 09:58 PM
I've a few questions regarding Course 5-9:

1. How frequent is the change of the syllabus for each exam?
2. The rank of difficulty for the exams.
3. Roughly how much is each exam?
4. Besides web notes, study kits and text books, do I need manuals? What are the recommended manuals (if yes)?


July 24th 2009, 10:36 PM

I have hesitated in responding to your post since I knew that my response would be long. Tonight I finally worked up the courage to respond.

Hopefully this helps. If you have anymore questions, please let me know. Thanks.


I've a few questions regarding Course 5-9:

1. How frequent is the change of the syllabus for each exam?
2. The rank of difficulty for the exams.
3. Roughly how much is each exam?
4. Besides web notes, study kits and text books, do I need manuals? What are the recommended manuals (if yes)?

Thanks.1. Each of the five exam syllabi typically changes from year to year; however, the degree to which each changes is quite different. The Exam 8 and 9 syllabi have been left largely unchanged for the past four or five years. The only thing that consistently changes with Exam 8 is the textbook editions, but both 8 and 9 do experience the occasional deletion and addition of syllabus articles.

The Exam 7-US syllabus has been fairly static over the past three years. The main things that change are article deletions and subsequent replacements by Sholom Feldblum and others. The structure of this exam has changed dramatically, though, over the past five years. In the past (prior to 2004, maybe), its multiple choice and true/false questions led to the testing of esoteric accounting minutiae, which had to have been maddeningly frustrating for candidates to prepare for. For the past few years, though, the exam has been all open response; and while the exam still tests some of that minutiae, the exam quality has greatly improved.

I can't think of too many recent changes that have been made to the Exam 5 syllabus besides the occasional replacement of textbooks and articles with newer versions.

The most significant syllabus change has been with the Exam 6 syllabus from 2008 to 2009. Several of the articles were taken off and replaced with a text written by Jacqueline Friedland. The objective of the CAS was to create a text with a "singular voice" by replacing several antiquated articles with one text focused on teaching the material to candidates (as opposed to using a hodgepodge of texts written for research purposes).

There was also a significant change in the Exam 7-Canada syllabus from 2007 to 2008; but I did not take Exam 7-Canada, so I cannot speak intelligibly on that syllabus.

2. My order of exam difficulty (in terms of preparing for the exams):

5 < 6 << 8 < 7-US, 9

For context, here were my exam sittings (which likely won't yet mean much to you, nostalgia, since you're just now embarking on the upper-level exam journey):

Fall '06: 6
Spring '07: 5
Fall '07: 9
Spring '08: 7-US
Spring '09: 8

Here is my order of difficulty for my specific exam sittings:

5 < 8 < 9 < 6 < 7-US

I'm showing the above to illustrate the difference in people's "order of difficulty." If you ask others their "order of difficulty," make sure they are clear on how they are defining "difficulty." The more meaningful definition, in my opinion, relates to preparing for an exam.

I believe that 7-US and 9 are equally difficult to prepare for, but for very different reasons. The syllabus for 7-US is monstrous, so much of it has yet to be tested, and the exam is still, regardless of what the CAS purports, primarily "list-based," meaning that most of the questions require your putting down one of hundreds of lists to receive full credit. All of the exams have list questions, but 7-US easily has the most to learn. The syllabus for exam 9 is much smaller than that of 7-US, but the material is much more dense and challenging to grasp. Many enter the exam thinking they understand the various types of individual risk rating and are rudely awakened when results are released.

8 is challenging because one has to learn very large portions of two academic textbooks, but the material on this exam is very interesting to me, so this exam was less of a chore for me.

Though 5 contains a LOT of lists to memorize, I liken it to a "warm-up" exam, with 6 being a slight step up in difficulty since there are more methodologies to learn, practice, and perfect. The concepts on 5 just seem to fit together better (at least for me).

3. The price of each exam can be found on the CAS website. I believe most are around $600-$700, for non-students. However, as my employer covered the cost of all of my exams, I honestly (and perhaps somewhat sadly) haven't paid too much attention to these costs in a while.

4. I used the following for my exams:

5: All-10 manual + NEAS seminar
6: All-10 manual + All-10 seminar
7-US: All-10 manual + NEAS seminar
8: CSM manual + G0ldfarb manual + G0ldfarb seminar
9: All-10 manual + NEAS seminar

As you can see, I used a manual(s) and seminar for every exam. I thought that All-10 was most helpful for Exam 6. For most other exams, the most helpful thing about All-10 was the bank of questions it contained. You may have heard a lot about The Infinite Actuary as well, though I never used them for an exam, so I cannot comment.

I thought that the NEAS seminars were solid, especially for Exam 9. However, it helped that I entered each seminar having gone through the syllabus and worked through several exam questions. Many people complain about Sholom Feldblum's teaching style, but I liked it. If someone complains to you about his teaching style, I would ask the same individual how prepared he/she was entering each seminar.

I would not recommend the CSM manual for Exam 8. It contains a massive bank of questions, but many of the accompanying solutions are cryptic at best. Richard G0ldfarb's manual was very good, and I thought that his seminar (though quite pricey) was valuable. With exam 8, though, you really need to focus on the end-of-chapter and in-chapter textbook problems. Those are crucial for understanding, and oftentimes these same questions will appear on the exam with different numbers.

July 24th 2009, 11:41 PM
Thanks .godspeed!