Answers to 10 common questions about Exam P
This post goes into detail with answers to 10 common questions I get asked about Exam P. So if you’re writing SOA Exam P (or CAS Exam 1) soon, you’re definitely going to want to read this!
- How is Exam P Scored?
- How to pass Exam P?
- How hard is Exam P?
- How long is Exam P?
- How much does Exam P cost?
- When should I take Exam P?
- How many questions on Exam P?
- How long should I study for Exam P?
- How to register for Exam P?
- Is Exam P or Exam FM harder?
- What is the Exam P pass rate? (Bonus 11th question!)
How is Exam P scored?
I know you really want to know how many questions you need to get right on Exam P to pass, so I created this quick video for you:
There are 30 questions on Exam P. Your Exam P performance is scored on a scale of from 0 to 10, 10 being the best.
You need to score at least a 6 to pass. But that doesn’t mean that you need to just get 60% of the questions right.
Actually, right now you need to get 71% of the questions right to pass (according to the Nov 2017 SOA Exam P passing percentages file). This 71% stays fairly stable from sitting to sitting so it’ll likely be about the same for yours.
There are some added complexities though. You would think that you need to get 71% * 30 = 21.3 questions right to pass Exam P (essentially 22) but the SOA adds some “pilot” questions into the mix questions on your test.
Pilot questions are questions that the SOA is testing out to determine the difficulty of them for future exams. They don’t tell you which questions are pilot questions nor do they tell you how many pilot questions are on your exam.
Pilot question DO NOT count toward your final score. So if there are, for example, 3 pilot questions then your score is based only on the 27 questions that actually count, and therefore you would need to get 71% *27 = 19.17 (essentially 20) of the non-pilot questions right.
There is also the fact that with Exam P computer based testing (CBT) there are several different “sets” of questions so that not everyone gets the exact same exam.
The passing score for each set of questions can be different depending on the overall difficulty level of the questions.
For example, if Set A is easier, maybe the passing score is 75% whereas for Set B the passing score could be 67%. The weighted average passing score could be 71% in this example, but people that got Set B didn’t need to achieve 71% to pass.
See how there are a lot of complexities in this system?
It’s impossible to come up with an exact number of questions that you need to get right to pass.
Taking all these things into consideration, I believe that a score at 23/30 or 24/30 would be almost guaranteed to pass but it is certainly possible to pass without getting that many right due to all these nuances.
How to pass Exam P?
The most important thing you need in order to pass Exam P is a good study strategy. You can learn all about that here in my post, The # 1 thing you need to pass Exam P. Enjoy!
You can also join my Study Strategy Program where I show you everything you need to do, step-by-step, to give yourself the best chance of passing.
How hard is Exam P?
If you are willing to put in the effort and know how to study for Exam P properly (which I teach in the Study Strategy Program) then you won’t find Exam P that hard. It’s all about proper preparation for the exam.
Unfortunately, less than 50% of candidates pass each sitting. I know that most people are not failing because they aren’t smart enough or because they don’t have the proper study materials. People fail generally because they didn’t know how to study properly and in many cases because they didn’t fit in enough study time for various reasons.
The Study Strategy Program fixes both those problems because I show you step-by-step exactly what you need to do, down to the day, and I do regular check-ins to keep you on track, motivated, and focused so that you don’t end up cramming during the last month (or weeks).
How long is Exam P?
Exam P is a 3 hour exam with 30 questions.
How much does Exam P cost?
The exam itself costs $225 (as of this writing).
That’s why my Study Strategy Program has a $225 Pass Guarantee – If you don’t pass, I pay your next $225 exam registration fee. Pretty awesome, right?
When should I take Exam P
Ideally you should wait to take Exam P until you’ve passed a few calculus courses. Calc 3 is the most advanced so if you’ve passed that it would be the perfect time to take Exam P.
Exam P requires lots of calculus which means that you’ll need to be very familiar with integration (single and double) and differentiation. You’ll also have to have some experience with probability concept but those can be learned through your study manual. Calculus is more difficult to learn that way.
I have a post here about the best study guide for Exam P here. When you decide to write Exam P, you should definitely read that before purchasing your study guide.
If you’re not in your second year of college yet, I you don’t need to consider taking any actuarial exams yet. It’s a bit too early.
How many questions are on Exam P?
There are 30 questions on Exam P and there’s is a 3 hour time limit, which means that you should answer each question in 6 minutes or less. Of course, some questions are going to take longer than 6 and others will take less.
On exam day (and when you’re doing practice exams) I recommend that you watch when you start each question, add 6 minutes to the start time, and then write down that time on your exam paper so that you know when you need to stop.
It can be very dangerous to allow yourself to consistently go over 6 minutes per question on exam day.
How long should I study for Exam P?
You may have heard the 300 hours rule for Exam P. Personally, I think it’s very hard to say how long you need to study for because it will depend on how familiar you are with the material and it’ll depend on the process you take to study.
For more of my thoughts on this, I’ve already written about that here.
How to register for Exam P?
The registration deadline for Exam P is usually at the beginning of the month before you plan to write. For example, if you’re writing in July, the deadline will likely be somewhere in early June.
You can check the registration deadlines here for Exam P 2018.
First you’ll register for the exam with the SOA. A few days later the SOA will send you an email with further details on how to sign up with Prometric (the CBT administrators). That’s when you’ll actually pick your exam date.
Is Exam P or FM harder?
This is going to be different for everyone! It depends a lot on your overall understanding of the materials on each exam. You should read this post to determine which one you should write first.
If you take enough time to fully prepare, you’ll probably feel that both are of comparable difficulty.
Calculus and algebra are very important to understand for Exam P which can be difficult to grasp for some people, and those topics are a bit more advanced.
So generally, if you’re unsure which to start with, FM would probably be the safer bet! Most people find the FM topics easier to relate to their everyday life and can therefore conceptualize the topics easier.
What is the Exam P pass rate?
The pass rate for Exam P is about 41%. Sometimes it’s a bit lower and other times it’s higher. You can go here to see the pass rate history for all actuarial exams, including Exam P.
The effective pass rate (this only takes into consideration candidates that scored 50% of the passing score) is about 45%-52%.