Should I take actuarial exams while in college?
Writing your first actuarial exam while you’re still in college can seem like a bit of a daunting task. But, it’s actually very common and recommended. Most students that decide to be an actuary while they’re in school aim to have at least 2 exams passed before they graduate.
One of the first things actuarial employers will look at when you apply to their job postings is how many exams you’ve already passed. So, having passed 2-3 before you even graduate will look really good on your resume.
The problem is that it’s really difficult to study for actuarial exams and for your regular courses at the same time. So, how can you handle it all? Here are some of my tips.
Starting your actuarial studies early is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you’re not overwhelming yourself. For most people, it takes anywhere from 3-4 month to fully prepare for Exam P and FM (the first two actuarial exams).
Depending on your school workload and anything else you’ve got going on, you may need longer. There’s no need to rush. So start early and do a little bit of studying every day.
Plan Your Study Time
Keep in mind, you may need more than 14 weeks to get through everything. That’s OK!
I also find that it’s really helpful if you take it one step further and break down that schedule into daily tasks. That way, you’ll know exactly how much you need to get done each day from now until your planned exam date.
Each day you’ll have to figure out how you’ll incorporate time to get that studying task done along with everything else you need to do in the day. It can be a juggling act sometimes, but being consistent is one of the best ways to prevent being overwhelmed and stressed later.
Map Out Your 168 Hours
This point goes hand in hand with my previous point. Each week has exactly 168 hours that you can take advantage of.
The members of my Exam P & FM Study Strategy Program have found it incredibly helpful to use the 168 hour time tracker that I provide. With this tracker, you plan out exactly when you’re going to sleep, eat, exercise, study, etc.
Why do we do that? Primarily because as students (or any busy person) it’s really easy to overestimate the amount of stuff that we can get done in a day. It’s also easy to procrastinate. Having a plan of exactly when you’re going to get things done during the day prevents procrastination and it ensures that you actually have time to do everything that you had planned to.
You’ll have to set priorities while you’re studying. You only have a limited amount of energy throughout the day, so you’ll have to decide early on each day how you’re going to spend that energy efficiently.
Studying for actuarial exams usually requires that you’re alert and refreshed. If you find that you feel this way first thing in the morning then you may want to get up a bit earlier to study. But, maybe studying for your exam doesn’t require as much energy as some of your other courses.
It’ll be up to you to set your priorities to determine which tasks you’re going to do when you have the most energy.
An Alternative to Writing While in College
If writing an actuarial exam while you’re in school still seems way too overwhelming, I completely understand. Another possibility is to write exams while you’re doing your internship or while you’re off during the summer.
This is what I did to pass my first few exams. I found that it was far easier to study during my internships than it was to study during school. It would have been way too difficult me to manage my time and still get good enough grades.
Getting help from someone who has already been in your shoes can reduce the amount of time that you need to prepare for an actuarial exam. It’ll help you avoid ‘beginner mistakes’ and prevent timed wasted on the wrong things.
That’s why I created the Study Strategy Program where I help Exam P and FM candidates to study for their exams efficiently and consistently. If that sounds like something you’d like to participate in then read this to learn all the details.