In this post, I’ll be explaining the 3 simple techniques that Erin and I implemented in her Exam P study strategy so that she could break away from being stuck at level 3.2 and reach level 6.1 by exam day (and passed). Then you can use the same ideas to increase your earned level too.
Before we start, it’s important to understand how your earned level is calculated. It’s actually pretty simple. You just need to get 70% or higher on a practice exam to see a subsequent increase in your level. Scoring 50% or less will result in a decrease. This video provides all the details if you want to know more.
Now that you understand when your earned level will increase, you can start implementing these same 3 techniques that Erin used to improve hers.
1. Understand rather than memorize
One thing that Erin was having a lot of difficulty with was deductibles. She was trying to memorize all the variations of formulas that the exam requires whenever a deductible is present. This ended up confusing her, and slowing her down drastically.
The problem was that Erin didn’t fully understand deductibles and how they worked. But with some in-depth explanation and a thorough example, all the deductible formulas began to make sense to Erin. She no longer had to memorize and because of that she could answer questions quicker and more accurately.
If you’re having trouble understanding certain topics, the first thing to do if you want to increase your earned level is to tackle those difficult topics. To do that you could read through those sections in your study material again, or join the Study Strategy Program where I’m able to help you make sense of those concepts.
2. Drill problems
Erin consistently stumbled on double integration questions. They’d always take her over 6 minutes to complete and often she’d get through the whole solution just to find that her answer wasn’t one of the options.
These were clearly an area where Erin could improve her scores so she needed to work hard on them. To conquer this issue, I introduced her to the idea of “drill problems”.
To do drill problems, you get 10-15 practice problems related to the topic or type of problem that you’re struggling with. Then you go through all 10-15 problems, track which ones you get wrong, then loop through again doing just the ones you got wrong. Continue to repeat the process until you eventually get all the questions right. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can then do all 10-15 questions again one more time.
Why do drill problems work?
Sometimes when you do similar problems all in a row, you start to recognize patterns in how the questions are asked and also how the solutions are structured. Having that insight on exam day can save you tons of time! Not only that, but it also helps to reinforce the same concept over and over again, several times, from different perspectives.
ADAPT has a feature that allows you to do problems related to certain topics, so you can use ADAPT for drill problems if you’d like.
3. Do full exams frequently
The last technique that Erin used was to commit to doing practice exams (under exam conditions) frequently and consistently. She started early and did 3-4 exams every week during her last month of studying.
One of the most important things to do while you’re studying for an actuarial exam is to do tons of practice exams. So if you want to improve your earned level, you’re going to have to do the same thing that Erin did. That means lots of timed exams with no notes and no distractions.
So these are just 3 ideas that worked for Erin, but everyone is different and you may be in a completely different situation than her. If you want to know the exact techniques and strategies that you should be using for your unique situation, or you want help understanding certain topics, I’m here to help you. Consider joining the Study Strategy Program – all the details are here.