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Thread: If I fail Exam P twice will that effectively be THE END?

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Newbie Poster
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    If I fail Exam P twice will that effectively be THE END?

    I recently failed Exam P, badly. I completed all the practice problems in the ACTEX books several times. I downloaded a computer program that included past P questions and simulated exam conditions. I do feel that I have a good grasp of the related material. I have a BA in Economics with a minor in Math and I also went heavy on statistics. But none of these things seemed to help on exam day. It felt as though I could have done just as well had I not studied at all.

    The focus of my study method was to do the problems over and over again to get an idea of the types of questions that could be asked. My new study strategy will include the following: be honest with myself about my proficiency level, memorize everything, every formula, method and concept; focus on the concepts to ensure I understand the underlying principles cold, and only after I have done these things will I again concentrate on the problems themselves.

    If there is anything else that I can do, or do differently, I would greatly appreciate anything you could add.

    I am also very worried that if I do fail exam P again, that I should just give up and go find another career because it would make me highly undesirable in the job market. This is what my actuarial recruiter tells me. Is it true?

  2. #2
    Actuary.com - Level III Poster
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    New York
    You can fail P as many times as you like. A pass is a pass. Of course if you are already working for an employer that values you passing exams then this may affect their decision to keep you past the intern or entry period. And not passing P means you're very unlikely to be considered for a job in this field.

    I say come up with a plan. If you pass P go this route... if you fail again... find a position that is as closely related to math/finance/insurance as possible and study on the side. Once you pass P then pursue your initial plans had you passed P the first time around.

    I'd advise against just straight memorization. P is much less about memorizing formulas (as opposed to FM) and more about understanding the concepts. You can memorize the gamma, beta, pareto or what ever distribution but if you don't UNDERSTAND which ones to use in a problem it's pretty useless information to have retained. Memorization shouldn't be the focus. That should just come naturally with exposure but it's the concepts and application that should be focused on and understood.

    Hope that helps! Best of luck!

  3. #3
    Actuary.com - Level II Poster
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Failing an exam only hurts the ego and the pocket book (i.e. it costs money to take the tests). Find your weaknesses that caused you to fail and work on strengthening those things.

    For the P/1 exam you do need to be strong in calculus and know all of the probability distribution functions and their means, s.d., and variance. For the discrete distributions I found it very helpful to fully understand the concept of the distribution. Knowing that helps you see how the probability distribution is derived from the multiplication principle of probability. Other than that, practice taking practice tests (available in online & paper forms) under simulated testing conditions. I recommend Infinite Actuary.com and Dr. Ostaszewski's problems for this.

    The InfiniteActuary.com site used to offer practice tests for P/1 for free. I don't know if they still do that or not. They should; it's a great marketing tool as well as a great source for the beginning student.

    Good luck. Do not give up.

  4. #4
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Hi Gabe:

    I think that I can provide some very good advice for you based on my own personal experiences in the actuarial field. But you may be failing the exam for reasons independent on your ability to pass them. If you contact me, I can share my own personal experiences with you. It might be very helpful. Email me with your phone number and I will be happy to contact you.

    Howard Heller, President

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