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Thread: Studying while working

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Studying while working

    I've got two exams down (P/FM) and have been working at an actuarial consulting firm for the past year and a half. I took my first two exams while still in college and essentially crammed for them (studied 8-10 hours a day for 5-6 weeks prior to the exam). That approach worked well for me, as I passed both exams on my first try without too much stress. Since starting my job I have failed MFE twice and skipped two sittings because I simply wasn't prepared. Technically my job has a study program, but it's very difficult to use my allotted study time when we're very busy (as we have been every day since I started). It seems like I keep getting one week a month where I can study 3-4 hours. I make good progress, and then for the rest of the month I don't have time to study at all, and then when I pick it back up a month later I have to start from the beginning again because it's been too long.

    Does anybody have any tips on how to get more out of my study time given that it's so patchy and irregular?

  2. #2
    Actuary.com - Posting Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by HowManyExamsDidYouSay? View Post
    I've got two exams down (P/FM) and have been working at an actuarial consulting firm for the past year and a half. I took my first two exams while still in college and essentially crammed for them (studied 8-10 hours a day for 5-6 weeks prior to the exam). That approach worked well for me, as I passed both exams on my first try without too much stress. Since starting my job I have failed MFE twice and skipped two sittings because I simply wasn't prepared. Technically my job has a study program, but it's very difficult to use my allotted study time when we're very busy (as we have been every day since I started). It seems like I keep getting one week a month where I can study 3-4 hours. I make good progress, and then for the rest of the month I don't have time to study at all, and then when I pick it back up a month later I have to start from the beginning again because it's been too long.

    Does anybody have any tips on how to get more out of my study time given that it's so patchy and irregular?
    This is on your boss. If his performance isn't tied to your passing % but only to your work, he probably won't push for you to pass. You need to sit down with him/her and explain that you are trying to get credentialed and if they can't assist you with that, then you need to start looking elsewhere. This is all assuming you want to become ASA/ACAS or FSA/FCAS.

  3. #3
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    I've thought quite a few times about whether I need to look for a different job where I could actually get meaningful support through the exam process. But what would I say to a potential employer when they ask why I want to leave my current job? If I say it's so I can study more I worry they'd get the impression that I don't want to work hard, and it's usually a bad idea to complain about your former employer during an interview. Is there a decent way to say that I am interested in working somewhere with a better study program without sounding like I don't want to get work done?

  4. #4
    Actuary.com - Posting Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by HowManyExamsDidYouSay? View Post
    I've thought quite a few times about whether I need to look for a different job where I could actually get meaningful support through the exam process. But what would I say to a potential employer when they ask why I want to leave my current job? If I say it's so I can study more I worry they'd get the impression that I don't want to work hard, and it's usually a bad idea to complain about your former employer during an interview. Is there a decent way to say that I am interested in working somewhere with a better study program without sounding like I don't want to get work done?
    To me that was always the difference between consulting and insurance. I've never worked consulting so I cannot speak from personal experience but what you are saying is similar to what I heard from my friends that do.

    If you are thinking of switching jobs and applying to insurance companies instead of consulting, I think if you cite the reason that you found the work to be too client oriented and you wanted a working environment where you could allocate some time to studying. I think it's a pretty well known fact that it's harder to study while working in consulting.

    Do realize that you will most likely get paid less in insurance than consulting.

  5. #5
    Actuary.com - Level II Poster
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    I do not presently work in the industry, but I do work full-time and must study outside of work during the evenings & weekends, if I want to pass exams. I teach college math and my employer could care less if I ever pass another actuary exam. My personal life is all about passing exams, VEE's, and getting a job as an actuary assistant somewhere, somehow.

    Thankfully I have a wonderful fiancee who appreciates my hard work and dedication. On our first date I stressed that I study - a lot of study - far beyond a typical college student. She understands and is patient with me. I try to only study a couple of hours in the evening. However, that month before an exam I try to take as many practice exams as I can and that requires more time.

    I look at it this way. If it's in my heart to truly be an actuary/CERA, then I will do whatever it takes to get there. I study an hour or two before work and an hour or two after work. It just has to be done.

    Good luck. I understand how study time at work would be beneficial with mentors nearby. It is also somewhat a standard practice, from what I have read. I hope your boss sees potential benefits to allowing you regular study time at work... until then, set up shop at home. You've gotten this far. You can do it.

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