View Full Version : developing a study plan for P and FM exams

December 19th 2009, 09:37 PM
I'm currently employed as an analytical chemist and am contemplating a career change to the financial sector. I will be laid off at some point, but I do not know when. In the initial post of this thread I will discuss my plans to study for the P and FM exams. I welcome any comments that others here might be willing to share.

My previous education includes a master's degree in chemistry supplemented with 27 graduate hours in mathematics. My mathematical strengths were analysis, then algebra and statistics was weakest, but I did pass two graduate statistics classes with an 'A' and 'A-'. The lower graded class required the higher graded class as a prerequisite.

I used to be very, very good and fast at executing undergraduate level calculus. As an example, both semesters of undergraduate Physical Chemistry were in the top 5 list of easiest 'A' grades acheived and I somehow managed not to know any chemistry after taking them as they were just calculus classes with non-standard symbols (psi, P, V, etc. instead of x and y).

A few months ago I started reviewing my freshman calculus textbook and the textbooks for statistics alongside the SOA 140. The statistics textbooks I have are Wackerly, Mendenhall and Schaeffer (5th) and Hogg & Craig. Wackerly, et al. is mentioned in the syllabus for the P exam. I have also ordered a copy of the ASM study guide for the P exam. Sorry, Dr. O, I bought it on the used market.

What did I learn so far from my math review? I have forgotten an embarrassingly large amount of calculus. Much of it is coming back quickly, thought I am thankful that I need not worry myself about the trig functions. Perhaps the worst part of this review is that I have yet apparently lost my adeptness at u substitution and chain rule integration. I have virtually no recall of probability and statistics. Lastly, when I attempted to do this review by working through the SOA 140 I found myself retaining my old bad habit of losing patience with the reading and trying to quickly skim just to find how to solve the problem at hand.

How does this translate into a plan of study for the P exam? First, I will work through the non-trig u substitution and chain rule problems from my calculus text. Then I will work through the sections of Wackerly et al. suggested in the P syllabus. At this point, Hogg & Craig goes back on the shelf; I just looked at how much Bayes material this book covers - only about 10 pages. I'm willing to assume that the ASM guide covers Bayes better and more specifically than Hogg and Craig for my purposes.

After this textbook review I will work through the SOA 140 followed by working through the ASM. I'm working full-time and taking a couple community college classes (discussed below). This means review time will likely be limited. Therefore I will assess how quickly I was able to complete my review through the SOA 140 - if I feel confident that I can work through the ASM P guide by the next exam date I might register. Otherwise I will wait to register while working through the ASM.

I have established a plan to review for the P exam. My plan for the FM exam right now is sort of passive. I'm taking two accounting classes this semester at a community college. I'm still exploring various aspects of the financial sector that I think I might be interested in. If I decide to pursue an accounting career, I'll need the coursework. The accounting coursework will also translate easily into a career in finance. Lastly, I hope to learn some of the vocabulary used for the FM exam through the more advanced accounting classes.

My current work commute is an hour one way. I'm taking advantage of the time by listening to various Itunes U lectures. I've already listened to Navarro's "Intro to Economics" lecture series and am now listening to Yale's ECON 252 "Financial Markets." Once I pass the P exam, I will reassess my preparation needs for the FM.

Please offer any suggestions or advice about this study plan.

December 26th 2009, 09:54 PM
I did some basic calculus review last night before bed. It went better than the last time. I decided to just read and do some problems from my old calculus text (Leithold, TC7). Things are coming back and I'm getting correct answers, but I'm taking much longer than I used to to keep u substitution coefficeints straight. Hopefully the speed will come back with practice.

Made it through chain rule and integration by parts last night. Keep telling myself when integrating by parts, differentiate away the polynomials and keep the exponential by integration. I keep trying to setup problems the other way round which leads to a mess in a hurry. Again, hopefully my intuitive problem setup skills will return for practice. The important thing is that I'm getting to the correct answer, even if it is taking longer than I'd like right now.

I think I'm going to go to double integration tonight. After that maybe I'll open the prob and stats textbook.