If you’re wondering how to pass Exam P, or you just want to know how to study for it properly, this post is going to tell you how to do that!

I have to say that trying to pass your first actuarial exam can be a bit overwhelming.  When you’ve never written an actuarial exam before it’s almost impossible to know what to do.  I was in that exact situation when I wrote my first exam.

That’s why I created the Study Strategy Program where I work with Exam P candidates and show them step-by-step what they need to do in order to be successful on Exam P and Exam FM.  It saves them a ton of time and money.

Through my own experience and that program, I’ve been able to create a process for passing Exam P. It’s actually very successful for members that are willing to trust in the process and work hard.  Now, I’m explaining that process to you, so read to the end.

Here’s how to study for and pass Exam P.

Step 1: Pick a good study guide.

There are 4 primary study guides that I recommend for Exam P.  You only need one of them but the best one for you depends on multiple different factors.  I’ve written an entire article comparing all the best options but here’s a quick summary:

ACTEX study manual – advantages are that it goes in-depth into all the necessary Exam P topics; its got a calculus and algebra review at the beginning; its budget friendly; it’s got lots of practice problems and is clearly written (for the most part).

ASM study manual – advantages are that it’s best for people with more background knowledge of the syllabus; it’s probably the quickest study guide to get through; clear and concise; it’s got lots of practice problems.

TIA online seminar – advantages are that there are videos for each lesson; instructors can answer your questions; includes lots of practice problems

Coaching Actuaries online seminar – advantages are that there are videos for each lesson; instructors can answer your questions; includes ADAPT for practice problems

Step 2: Create a study schedule

This is easy, because I’ve got an Exam P study schedule here that you can follow.  It’s super important to actually stick to this schedule because otherwise you risk not being prepared enough.

For most people, it takes about 3-5 months to be fully prepared for Exam P.  It will depend on how busy you are and how well you already know the materials.

In the Study Strategy Program, each member gets a Daily Goals calendar that shows them exactly what they need to accomplish each day.  You should definitely create something similar for yourself.  It makes a huge different in your focus and productivity, and also ensures that you’ve given yourself enough time to get everything done that needs to be done.

Here’s an example of the Daily Goals Calendar you’d get in the Study Strategy Program.

Step 3: Follow the study process

Plan out your schedule so that you can be through your study guide in about a month.

If you decided to go with ASM or Coaching Actuaries online seminar, you may be able to get done a bit earlier because they’re on the shorter side.  Or, if you have more than 3 hours per day to study you can probably get this done earlier too.

Plan for about 1 week of review once you’ve gone through your study materials for the first time.  During that week it will be important to fully understand anything you had difficulty on while you were going through your study materials for the first time.

Next, do tons of practice problems.  This is really, really important.  Make sure you always understand the solution and don’t move on until you do.  A benefit of being in the Study Strategy Program is that you can email me, any time, with your questions when you’re not  understanding.  This saves a ton of time because usually the solutions aren’t that clear, unfortunately.

Finally do practice exams in exam conditions, which means no notes, no breaks, and no distractions just like on exam day.  Treat it like the real thing!

(Something that’s really difficult to do on your own here is to adjust your schedule as you go.  In the program, I’m constantly monitoring each member’s progress to see how they should adjust their study strategy in order to be as effective as possible).

Step 4: Exam day

Have a strategy for exam day before you go in. Make sure that you’ve practiced it too!

As of right now, the only things you need to bring on exam day are your calculators (here are the 2 calculators I recommend) and your ID, but you should double check that is still the case for your exam day.

Pencil and paper will be supplied by the exam center.

OK so that gives an overview of the 4 steps that you need to take in order to pass Exam P, but there are some other things you can do that will significantly increase your chances of being successful.


Life is distracting.  If you really want to make sure you stay on top of your studying and don’t fall behind, you need someone to keep you accountable to the study schedule that you’ve set.  One of the biggest reasons for failing actuarial exams is because the candidate didn’t get enough studying in.

It’s easy to start out with good intentions of studying every day, but things always happen, life gets busy, and it becomes easy to procrastinate and put studying off.  This is especially true for actuarial exams because 3-4 months always feels so far away!

I’m sure there are lots of other things you’d rather be doing than studying. There are always other tasks on your “to-do” list that seem more urgent than studying too.

Having someone to old you accountable enforces the deadlines that you’ve set so that studying doesn’t get put on the back burner.

In my Study Strategy Program, I do regular check-ins to ensure that you’re keeping up with the study schedule that we’ve decided on.  That way you don’t end up cramming everything in during the last few weeks before your exam.  Cramming makes studying so stressful and rarely works for actuarial exams.

A Study Strategy

If you’ve gotten this far, I know you’re genuinely interested in how to study for Exam P properly so that you pass the first time.

Over 50% of people writing Exam P fail each sitting.  The reason for this isn’t because people don’t have good study materials.  It’s because they just don’t know how to study properly for actuarial exams when they’re just getting started.  Like I said above, it was a problem I ran into myself.

The “how” to study for Exam P is called your “Exam P study strategy”.  A good study strategy needs to be unique to you. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy because different things work for different people.

That’s why first time exam writers in the Study Strategy Program have such a huge advantage over other Exam P candidates. They get a personal study strategy and they know specifically what they need to do to give themselves the best chance of passing Exam P.

If you’d like me to show you how to study for Exam P so that you can pass Exam P, click here to learn all about the Study Strategy Program.  The strategy you learn in this program for Exam P can easily be applied to all your other preliminary exams and if you don’t pass, I even pay your next $225 exam registration fee!

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Get an actuarial job even in today's competitive market!

Get all my best tips on how to become a TOP actuarial candidate so that you can get your actuarial dream job.

Just add your email below.