The Best Exam FM Study Guide (2019)

by | Mar 28, 2018 | Actuarial Exams |

 

If you’re studying for Exam FM soon, you’re in the right place!  I’ve helped hundreds Exam FM candidates on their journey to passing the exam. So, in this post I’m going to go through the most popular study materials available right now.

The most popular study guides for Exam FM are ASM, 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.

Before I get into a comparison of these most popular study guides, it’s important to understand why they’re necessary.

Why purchase Exam FM study materials?

The Exam FM syllabus (which can be found here) lists all the concepts that you need to know for the exam. These include topics like time value of money, annuities, bonds, portfolios, swaps and immunization.

In the syllabus, they’ve also included some suggested textbooks to read.  But unfortunately those textbooks aren’t specifically designed for people trying to pass Exam FM. 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 decided to create study guides for you that are specific to Exam FM.  These study guides condense all suggested textbook readings into one single package that explains everything you need to know for the exam.

What makes these study guides better than the textbooks is that they provide specific examples about how the topics could be tested on the exam. In addition, they come with hundreds of sample Exam FM practice problems that you can use to prepare.

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 I’ll compare the difference study material options for Exam FM.  Hopefully this will give you some insight into which options are best for you.  Typically budget, preferred learning style, and prior knowledge of the exam topics are the biggest factors when choosing.

I’ve broken the comparison down into two sections: 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.  However, the online seminars tend to be a bit more expensive than manuals especially for non-students.

Study Manual: ASM

ASM (you can see a sample here) is one of the best manuals available for Exam FM.

It’s very clear, well-organized, and goes into great detail about how to use your financial calculator.  This is something that many other manuals leave you to figure out alone.  By the way, if you haven’t already purchased a financial calculator for FM, here are my recommendations.

Another feature that is extremely helpful is that it includes GOAL.  GOAL is an online program with over 1500 practice problems for Exam FM.  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, if you purchase ASM, you’ll also get their Pass Guarantee which allows 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 really like that this manual 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 great option for Exam FM is the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Manual] option.  ADAPT is very similar to GOAL, which is included with the ASM manual that I talked about above.  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 I can’t find a sample of it on their website.

The CA Exam FM 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.  But, that being said, GOAL has about 400 more practice problems than ADAPT.

Which study manual to choose

If you’ve decided you’re going to choose a study manual (rather than online seminars that I talk about below) then you can’t go wrong with either of these options.

But, ASM has several advantages over Coaching Actuaries in my opinion.

  1. ASM is cheaper.
  2. ASM has about 400 more practice problems in GOAL than Coaching Actuaries has in ADAPT.
  3. ASM is available in a physical copy, whereas Coaching Actuaries isn’t.

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

I always recommend purchasing your study manual new because it’ll be the most up-to-date with any syllabus changes and it’ll include GOAL.  In my opinion, having GOAL (or ADAPT) is extremely beneficial and I wouldn’t recommend going without it.

Using an old version of a study manual is OK if you’re on a very tight budget.  It should be Spring 2018 or newer though, otherwise it’s just getting too outdated in my opinion.  There have been several changes to the FM syllabus recently, so you don’t want to use a manual that is missing most of these changes.

Remember that the authors of study manuals regularly update them to fix errata and add additional sections.  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 include video lessons! These are extremely beneficial for anyone that prefers to learn by having an instructor explain things to you through a slide-show style presentation.  The most popular online seminars for Exam FM are TIA (The Infinite Actuary) and the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] package.

Online seminars tend to be more expensive than study manuals, especially if you’re not a student.  Fortunately if you are a student you can get a discount on both the TIA package or the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] Bundle.  Coupon codes for these are mentioned on their website.

TIA Online Seminar for Exam FM

Before purchasing any study materials, its best to 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 many 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.

TIA also offers a Pass Guarantee so that you can get a free 6 month extension if you don’t pass your exam. As always, you should read the conditions on their website for when this Pass Guarantee will and will not apply.

Another thing that I really like about TIA seminar is that it assumes 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 study manuals that I talked about above.  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 and ASM, Coaching Actuaries also has a Pass Guarantee (only on the 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!  They’re fairly equal in all aspects so if you prefer the teaching style in one more than the other, go with that one!

If you’re a student and/or you want lessons that will assume no prior knowledge, then I recommend the TIA seminar.  That’s because its $50 cheaper for students and because it assumes no prior knowledge.

Otherwise, everything between these two is quite equal, so I’d recommend going with the Coaching Actuaries [ADAPT + Learn] option.  I say this because, in my opinion, the ADAPT program is a bit more advanced than the equivalent feature in TIA’s seminar.

Where to buy your study guide

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

Here are reliable places purchase Exam FM 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 FM. 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 TIAFM 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 COACHINGFM 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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