Do actuarial exam scores matter?
If you’re writing an actuarial exam soon, or just got your exam score back, you may be wondering whether the score really matters at all.
Fortunately, your score doesn’t matter. Employers typically only care that you passed your exam. It’s uncommon for them to ask your score on the exam. If they do want to know your score, it’s unlikely to have any impact on whether or not you’ll get hired.
Let’s go into a bit more detail though.
How are actuarial exams scored?
Exams are scored on a scale from 0 to 10. A score of 0 is the lowest, and a score of 10 is the highest.
In order to pass, an exam candidate needs to achieve a score of 6 or higher.
For most actuarial exams, the pass mark is set based on the performance of all the candidates. If the exam was very hard, the pass mark will be set lower and vise versa. For example, a pass mark could be set to 56% meaning that a candidate only had to get 56% of the questions correct in order to pass.
This 56% would then be assigned a score of 6 on the actuarial scoring scale from 0 to 10.
What do actuarial exam scores mean?
The actuarial scores for 6 and above are assigned in such a way that:
- Any candidate that achieves 100% to 110% of the passing mark (ie 56% in the example above) will receive a 6.
- Any candidate that achieves 110% to 120% of the passing mark will receive a 7.
- A candidate that achieves 120% to 130% of the passing mark will receive a 8.
- A candidate that achieves 130% to 140% of the passing mark will receive a 9.
- A candidate that achieves at least 140% of the passing mark will receive a 10.
Note that depending on what the passing mark is for an exam, it may be impossible to achieve a high score like 9 or 10. For example, if the pass mark was set to 80/100 it would be impossible to achieve a 9 or 10 because 130% off the passing score would put a candidate over 100.
The actuarial scores for 5 and lower are assigned in such a way that:
- Any candidate that achieves 90% to 99.99% of the passing mark will receive a 5.
- Any candidate that achieves 80% to 90% of the passing mark will receive a 4.
- Any candidate that achieves 70% to 80% of the passing mark will receive a 3.
- Any candidate that achieves 60% to 70% of the passing mark will receive a 2.
- Any candidate that achieves 50% to 60% of the passing mark will receive a 1.
- Any candidate that achieves less than 50% of the passing mark will receive a 0.
Pass marks for Exam P and FM
Now that you know what the scores mean and how they relate to the passing mark, it’ll be interesting for you to see the historic pass marks for Exam P and FM, the first two actuarial exams.
This is a really good resource that is updated frequently whenever new pass marks are released.
For Exam P, the pass mark has been 71% since January 2014 (as of the writing of this post in July 2018).
For Exam FM, the pass mark has been 70% since February 2014 (as of the writing of this post in July 2018).
Do employers care about your exam score?
Employers are only concerned with whether or not you pass. Actually, sometimes an interviewer that sees that you got a 9 or 10 will say “oh, you must have over studied!”. It’s a bit of a joke, and you should never aim to just pass with a 6, but it just goes to show that employers don’t care about your scores.
Are you more likely to get a job if you get a 10 rather than a 6?
While an interviewer may ask about your exam scores, it will rarely (if ever) have any impact on your exam raises, starting salary, or ability to get a job.
How to find your exam score
You can find your exam score by logging into your SOA account and going to your transcript. Usually the score won’t be available until about 2.5 months after you take your exam.
If you want to know what the pass mark for your exam was you can refer to “Candidate Percentage” file posted here for your exam. Again that won’t be available until about 2.5 months after your exam.
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