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5 Tips for Balancing Actuarial Exams and Life
Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious while studying for an actuarial exam? You’re not alone.
I’ve come up with these 5 tips to help you reduce actuarial exam stress while also learning to balance studying and life.
- Set specific daily goals for yourself.
- Give yourself a longer study period.
- Plan and organize all 168 hours in a week.
- Declutter your life.
- Plan fun things to do every 1-2 weeks.
Regular exams are usually stressful enough, but an actuarial exam is on a whole other level.
You’re studying for months.
You’re doing hundreds of practice problems.
You often don’t know what to expect.
But, are you putting unnecessary stress on yourself? If so, consider the potential consequences (from WebMD).
- Mental illnesses, such as depression
- High blood pressure, stroke, heart attack
- Skin and hair problems, like acne and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems like ulcers
Putting your body in a constant, long-term state of stress just to pass actuarial exams isn’t worth it in the long-run. So here are some tips that will help you balance studying and life.
Pick one, implement it, and then come back to implement another in a few weeks. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!
Tip # 1: Set Specific Daily Goals for Yourself
By setting specific goals for yourself to accomplish each day, you’ll know when you’ve done enough studying studying for the day. Without a plan, you’ll feel like you always have to be studying. You don’t know if you’re on track, so you just study, study, study during all your free time.
Often times, you feel like you just want to relax. Take a break. Do something fun! But with the exam hanging over your head, you probably feel like the only thing you should be doing is studying.
For members of my Study Strategy Program for Exam P and FM, I break down their entire study period into small, manageable daily chunks. This way, each member knows when they’ve done enough studying for the day.
For some members it takes 2 hours. For others it takes 3. But the point is that they know when they can stop for the day, and they no longer have to study.
You can create something similar for yourself. Break down your entire study period from now until exam day until small tasks so that by exam day, you’ve done everything you need to.
You may need to adjust it as exam day gets closer depending on how well you’re performing, but that’s OK.
Tip # 2: Give Yourself a Longer Study Period
Studying for just 2-3 months for an actuarial exam really isn’t that much time. You’re cramming a huge amount of material and studying into a fairly short time frame. Instead, try giving yourself an extra 2 months.
You may be putting unnecessary time pressure on yourself to get your actuarial exams passed. Realistically, an extra 2 months in the grand scheme of things isn’t going to make much difference at all.
This will significantly reduce your stress levels because you can take studying at a slower pace and you can do other things that you enjoy at the same time as studying. This is how you fit studying INTO your life, rather than having it TAKE OVER your life.
Tip # 3: Plan and Organize All 168 Hours in a Week
Each week has 168 hours. Are you, like most people, just deciding what you’ll do with those hours when the time comes?
Doing that leads to many inefficiencies. It often means you’re spending time on things that aren’t really a priority to you.
By planning out all 168 hours in a week towards things like studying, work, school, family time or anything else important to you, you’re being more intentional with how you spend your time. You can decide which things are highest priority for you, and figure out how (and IF) you’re going to fit them all into a week.
It’s easy to overestimate how much you can get done in an hour. So, for things that are really important to you, like studying (hopefully), plan about 1.5x as many hours for studying as you actually think you need. If it ends up being too much then you’ll have a little extra free time.
Tip # 4: Declutter Your Life
A disorganized study space makes it really difficult to focus and it can be stressful too. Usually, it’s just a reminder of all the stuff you wish you had time for, but don’t.
If you ever walk into your regular study room and instantly feel stressed, it may be because the room is a mess. Clothes on the floor. Boxes in the corner. A desk full of papers. You can’t concentrate with all that mess!
So, take an hour this week and clean it up. Make it into a place you ENJOY being in. Buy a few things to spruce it up, make it smell nice. Get yourself a super comfortable chair.
Cleaning up and throwing away things that you no longer need or want can really lift a weight off your shoulders. You’ll feel it! Trust me.
Tip # 5: Plan Fun Things to do Every 1-2 Weeks
When you’re studying so hard, you must take some time to do fun things that you enjoy. So, make sure you don’t neglect them.
There are so many things you can do to take your mind away from studying. And if you plan these things weekly it’ll give you something to look forward to. It’ll help you push through in times when you feel like you’re dreading studying.
Here are 10 ideas:
1. Make dinner plans with some good friends.
2. Plan an all-day trip to a museum, zoo, or amusement park.
3. Look for a sports pick-up league in your area & play a game of your favorite sport.
4. Is there a movie you want to go see?
5. Walk through the craft store and start a new art project.
6. Take a long hike with your dog (or a friend’s/neighbor’s dog).
7. A full day of baking, shopping or gaming with a friend.
8. Book a laser tagging or paint balling quest.
9. Go home and visit your family for a weekend.
10. Organize a pizza and games night with friends.
So, if you’re studying for an exam right now, remember that stress is only going to make things worse. Please take these tips into consideration. Implement them. They’ll work.
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