This is a difficult question because everyone has a different opinion about what “hard” is and different people find different things “hard”. To run around the block may be hard for Joe but easy for Amy. It all depends on you and your unique abilities.
My Personal Background
But putting that aside, I will answer from my own perspective. I am someone that did well in math courses in secondary school and generally understood math related subjects fairly easily with little explanation. In secondary school, I got high grades in math and performed near the top of my class.
When I went to University (I studied at the University of Waterloo – Go Warriors!), I was no longer one of the top students. I just did average, or maybe worse in some cases, than average. But I still put in a ton of effort and was fully committed to becoming an actuary. The math didn’t come as easily to me and there were several concepts that I couldn’t understand without putting hours and hours of time into learning.
So, from my perspective, yes actuarial exams are hard. You have to study a lot and it takes a huge time commitment. I didn’t understand everything the first time so I often had to do tons of research to figure out exactly what my study manual was talking about. I found some topics on actuarial exams to be too complicated for me (maybe if I had spent more time trying to figure it out it would have made more sense) but I could still pass exams not understanding every single concept.
But just understanding the topics isn’t good enough. You also have to be able to apply what you have learned to various different questions that they ask and do so within a limited time frame. It is hard. Very hard.
But, I have passed 6 of the 8 actuarial exams now, including all of the preliminary exams, so I can say that it is still POSSIBLE to pass if you are in a situation like mine.
Honestly, if my background sounds like yours, I’m sure you can do this if you put in enough effort. If you’re background is better than mine then you’ll likely have an easier time with exams, although I’m sure it will still be difficult.
Some people are much, much, MUCH smarter than me and feel that actuarial exams are easy so if that is you, then you’ll fly through exams without thinking much of it.
Learn From My Mistakes
The difficulty of actuarial exams is the main reason that I started the Study Strategy Program. I knew that so many students were failing exams not because they weren’t smart enough but rather because they didn’t know how to study properly for these exams. AND they have busy lives that sometimes cause them to put studying for exams on the back burner.
Unfortunately, that often leads to failure.
So now I’ve developed a strategic plan to help aspiring actuaries learn how to study properly for actuarial exams. I’m always improving the “formula for success” so if it’s something you want to learn and apply to your Exam P or FM studies, come join me! I’d be glad to help you pass.
Check out the Study Strategy Program here – I even guarantee you pass otherwise I pay your next exam registration fee!