If you’re studying for Exam P soon, I highly recommend you invest in some high-quality study materials.  In this post, I’ll be comparing the most popular options and helping you decide which materials are right for you.

The most popular study guides for Exam P are ASM, ACTEX, TIA and the Coaching Actuaries.  These will teach you all the math concepts you need for the exam.  In addition, you can get personal, step-by-step guidance on how to prepare for the exam by joining the Study Strategy Program.

You’d be well off purchasing any of these options, but first let’s talk about why you’ll need these materials.

Why purchase Exam P study materials?

The Exam P syllabus (which can be found here) lists many different math concepts that you need to know.  These range from things like general probability, univariate distributions and multivariate distributions.

The syllabus mentions some recommended textbooks to read, but the problem is that they’re not specifically designed to help you pass Exam P.  They’re just regular text books like you might have been assigned to read in your college or university courses.

Fortunately, many actuarial-minded people have set out to help you prepare for your exam as efficiently as possible.  So, they’ve condensed all those recommended textbook readings into a more manageable package that relates everything specifically to Exam P.

These study materials will not only teach you the concepts that you need to know, but they’ll also give you specific examples about how the topics could be tested on the exam.  Better yet, they come with tons of sample Exam P practice problems that you can use to prepare.  That’s something you won’t get by just reading through the recommended textbooks.

In addition to study materials, you may also find step-by-step guidance on how to prepare for your exam to be helpful.  The Study Strategy Program offers a studying coach and mentor, a personalized study schedule, accountability, a Q&A forum and performance targets so that you feel 100% confident that you’re preparing the right way.

Study Material Comparison

Now that you know why study materials are important, I’ll compare and contrast the differences between the most popular options.  Hopefully this will give you some insight into which options are best for you.

I’ve broke the comparison down into study manuals and online seminars.  Study manuals are best for people that prefer to read, whereas an online seminar would be best for anyone that prefers to watch video lessons.

Study Manuals: ASM and ACTEX

ASM (you can see a sample here) and ACTEX (you can see a sample here) are both very similar, which is why I’ve included them both together in the same section.

Both of these manuals are great for Exam P, but ACTEX tends to be the more popular one.  I like that ACTEX includes a calculus and algebra review at the beginning (but this is available for free in their sample linked above).  The choice between the two really just comes down to the style of writing that you prefer.

They both have many great features.  In particular, I love that they include GOAL.  GOAL is an online program with over 800 practice problems for Exam P.  You can use it to take practice exams in simulated exam conditions, or to quiz yourself on topics that you’re having difficulty with.

In addition to that, they both have Pass Guarantee clauses which allow you to get an extension on everything in the package if you fail your exam.  This only applies in certain situations, so make sure to read the Pass Guarantee details before purchasing.

Lastly, I like that both of these manuals can be purchased electronically or a physical copy can be purchased.  Personally, I prefer to have a physical copy so that I can write in it (or sell it after my exam is done).  But the electronic version is nice for anyone that lives outside the U.S. and doesn’t want to pay the high shipping costs.

Study Manual: Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Manual]

Another very good study manual option for Exam P is the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Manual] option. ADAPT is similar to GOAL, which is included with the ASM and ACTEX study manuals.  It gives you hundreds of practice problems, rated by difficulty level, so that you can gradually work on harder and harder problems as you improve.

The study manual included in this bundle is very well designed and helpful, but unfortunately they don’t have a sample available on their website (that I can find).

The CA Exam P manual is only available electronically, but the benefit of this is that you’ll always have the most up-to-date version.   Also, in my opinion, the ADAPT technology is a bit more advanced than GOAL that is included with ASM and ACTEX.

 

Which study manual to choose

Any of these three of these options (ASM, ACTEX, Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Manual]) will be enough to fully prepare for your exam if you used them properly.  But, going with ASM or ACTEX is my recommendation.

There are two reasons for this.  First is that ASM and ACTEX are both cheaper than the [ADAPT + Manual] option from Coaching Actuaries.  Secondly is that you cannot get a physical copy of the Coaching Actuaries manual.  Personally, I prefer a printed manual so I’d be hesitant to purchase one that only offered an electronic option.

Is it OK to use an old version of a study manual?

Generally I recommend purchasing your study manual new.  The new versions are the most up-to-date with any syllabus changes and they’ll include GOAL.  In my opinion, having GOAL is extremely beneficial and I wouldn’t recommend going without it.

Using an old version of the ACTEX or ASM manual is OK if you’re on a tight budget.  It should be newer than 2015 though, otherwise it’s just getting too outdated in my opinion.  The only thing that has been recently added to the syllabus (in 2018) is Probability Generating Functions.  So, an older manual may not have any information on that.

Just remember that the authors of the manuals regularly make updates to fix errata and add additional sections that will help you.  So, by using an old manual you’re missing out on those updates.

Since Coaching Actuaries is only available electronically, you’ll always have the most up-to-date version if you purchase it.

Online Seminars: TIA and Coaching Actuaries

Online seminars offer something that study manuals don’t.  Video lessons!

If you prefer to learn by watching videos and having an instructor explain things to you through a slide-show type presentation, then an online seminar may be better for you.  The most popular online seminars for Exam P are TIA (The Infinite Actuary) and the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] package.

Online seminars are more expensive than the ASM and ACTEX study manuals that I talked about earlier, especially if you’re not a student.  Fortunately for students, you can get a discount on either the TIA package or the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] Bundle.  Coupon codes for these are mentioned on their website.

TIA Online Seminar for Exam P

To decide if this is a good option for you, you should first check out some of the sample videos to make sure that you like the teacher’s presentation style.  You can find sample videos from the TIA seminar here.

I’ve heard lots of good things the TIA seminar, including:

1. The videos are very well done.
2. Instructors are able to answer your questions about the videos in the online forums.
3. Videos can be downloaded to your phone or tablet (only a certain # at a time) so that you can watch even when you don’t have internet access.

I also like the fact that TIA offers a Pass Guarantee (free 6 month extension of their online seminar) if you don’t pass the first time. That’ll save you some money in the unfortunate situation that it happens.  Of course, you should read the conditions on their website for when this Pass Guarantee will apply.

Another great feature about the TIA seminar is that they assume no prior knowledge of the exam syllabus. So if you’re rusty on your calculus and algebra skills, or if you’ve never seen some of the concepts before, TIA should do a good job of teaching you everything you need to know right from the basics.

Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] Bundle

Similar to TIA, you’ll also want to watch a video sample from Coaching Actuaries to make sure that you like the teaching style. You can watch a sample video here.

The [ADAPT + Learn] Bundle includes video lessons, ADAPT and an online study manual.  ADAPT is similar to GOAL, which is included with the ASM and ACTEX study manuals.  It gives you hundreds of practice problems, rated by difficulty level, so that you can gradually work on harder and harder problems as you improve.

Just like TIA, I’ve heard great things about the Coaching Actuaries seminar:

1. The videos are very well done.
2. Instructors are able to answer your questions about the videos in the online forums.
3. Most practice questions have video solutions.

Like TIA, ASM and ACTEX, Coaching Actuaries also has a Pass Guarantee (on longer subscription lengths) so that you can get a free extension if you fail.  Before purchasing, you should read the conditions in which this Pass Guarantee will apply though.

Which online seminar to choose

Deciding between these two options is a tough choice!

If you don’t have any prior calculus and algebra background (or if it has been a while since you studied it) then I recommend going with the TIA online seminar.  They’re video lessons assume no prior knowledge of these concepts.

In any other situation, I recommend going with the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] option because of the ADAPT program that you’ll have access to is more advanced than the technology that TIA has for practice problems and exams.  Also, if you’re not a student, this option is cheaper too.

Where to buy your study materials

Be careful when you’re purchasing study materials.  Amazon and E-Bay are generally not reliable sources.

Here are my recommendations on where to purchase your Exam P study materials:

For ASM you should order from ACTEX Mad River. Here’s the link to ASM + your first month of my Study Strategy Program for Exam P.  In the program I guide you step-by-step on how to prepare for your exam.

For ACTEX you should order from ACTEX Mad River. Here’s the link to ACTEX + your first month of my Study Strategy Program for Exam P.  In the program I guide you step-by-step on how to prepare for your exam.

For TIA you should purchase directly from their website.  If you purchase TIA on the same day as my Study Strategy Program, you can use discount code TIAP on my website to get your first month in the program for $65 (that’s 15% off!).

For Coaching Actuaries you should purchase directly from their website. If you purchase the Coaching Actuaries Bundle on the same day as my Study Strategy Program, you can use discount code COACHINGP on my website to get your first month in the program for $65 (that’s 15% off!).

To join the Study Strategy Program where I guide you step-by-step on how to prepare for your exam, you can go here.

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Get FREE study tips and advice for Exam P & FM!

You can get my best studying tips and advice sent right to your inbox. Just add your email below. Learn things like:

• How to get 80%+ questions right.

• Why you shouldn't memorize.

• The quickest way to pass your exam.


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