How to Start Studying

by | May 7, 2017 | Exams, Pre-ASA |

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If you’re writing an exam for the first time, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get started.  In this post, I’ll be breaking down the steps that you need to take in order to get prepared for exam day.

First things first…when is exam day? (This post refers specifically to Exam P, but everything applies just as well for FM)

Step # 1: Find out when exam day is

The SOA provides an exam schedule for Exam P which you can find here. I’ve just linked to a Google search because the link changes each year.  The first link should be the one you need.

Based on the schedule, you can determine when you want to write the exam.  Computer based testing (CBT) is offered in most areas but if it is not offered in your area then you will have to do the written paper exam.  You can find out which areas offer a written paper and pencil exam here.  If your city isn’t on that list, you can make sure that there is a test center in your area by clicking “locate a test center” here.

For CBT, the schedule gives you a range of dates and you will be able to select any date within that range (as long as you register early enough; otherwise spots will fill up and you may not be able to get your desired day).

Step # 2: Determine when to start studying

You should plan to start studying about 12-14 weeks before your exam.  I have a 12 week study schedule for various popular Exam P study manuals/seminars.

Unless you are really limited in how much time you can spend studying each day, more than 12-14 weeks will be a bit excessive.  I know it feels kinda exciting to get started but that quickly goes away so if you start too early you’ll end up dreading studying in the final weeks when you should be at your peak!

Step # 3: Determine which study materials you will use

Refer to my blog post on how to choose your study materials! There are many excellent options and it comes down to personal preference and reviews from other Exam P writers.

I highly recommend getting a 30 day subscription to ADAPT in your last month of studying which is an great resource for tons of practice questions.  Find out more about ADAPT in this post.

Another great resource for Exam P practice questions is this Daily Exam P Practice Questions Facebook group.

Step # 4: Create a Study Schedule

Many people (including myself when I writing) set out with the best intentions of getting lots of study time.  But life happens and “things” get in the way and studying gets boring eventually, so procrastination sets in and study time keeps getting pushed further and further.

A study schedule is so important in ensuring that this doesn’t happen but it is often forgotten or ignored when students start studying. Check out my 12 week study schedule for Exam P here.

The hardest part about studying though, is sticking to your schedule and that’s where an accountability partner or study group comes in really useful.  You can make a commitment to finishing some part of your studying each week and then report back to the partner or group when you’ve completed it.

We have study groups in the Next Step Community (free).

Step # 5: Register for your exam

Registration usually opens about 2 months before the exam period.  If you get to this step before 2 months it will likely be closed and you’ll just have to move on and come back to this later.

You can register here for Exam P.

Be aware that there are TWO steps you need to take in order to register for CBT.  First, you will need to register for the exam through the SOA.  You can do that by going to “MMMM YYYY Exam P Online Registration – CBT – OPEN” on the registration page that I linked to above.

Once you’ve registered with the SOA, you will get an email a couple days later from Prometric.  Prometic is the company that administers the CBT exams so you will need to sign up with them too.  This is when you will select your exam date and CBT testing center. Keep in mind that Prometic administers examinations for many different clients (that’s what they do!) so the centers aren’t branded by the SOA or CAS.

Step # 6: Sign up for a freebie membership in the Next Step Community

The Next Step Community is a great resource for students going through actuarial exams.  It provides plenty of resources and is a great place to connect with other aspiring actuaries throughout your study period.  Freebie members get access to study groups and study hour tracking as well as several other resources.

Step # 7: Study!

Now you’re officially ready to get started! Very exciting!

This is by far the longest and most difficult part.  Make sure to give yourself sufficient time and stick to your study schedule.  If you have questions about the material, go ahead and ask in your study group.  If something is unclear to you, there will definitely be others wondering the same thing!

If you have study strategy or exam prep questions, I’d be glad to answer them!

I hope this helps you get set up for your exam. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Good luck on your exam!

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