How to Fail Your First Actuarial Exam – Part 2: Your (Non-Existent) Study Schedule
I made this mistake when I was just starting out writing my exams.
A “study schedule”….wasn’t something I had ever made before.
For all my university exams, I just studied whenever I had time. I didn’t have to plan exactly what I would study and when.
But that’s different for actuarial exams. Trust me. You don’t want to go into your study period not having any plan on how you’re going to conquer all the materials.
There’s a lot of material. And although 12-14 weeks of studying feels like a lot of time, it goes by quickly so if you have no plan on how exactly you’re going to spend that time you end up in a huge “time crunch” in the last couple weeks.
That’s definitely a situation you don’t want to be in.
I recommend creating two separate schedules
The first schedule is your overall study period schedule. This schedule will break down your whole 12-14 week study period into each of the 4 steps of the QuadPro Formula (which is basically just a breakdown of the 4 steps you need to go through while studying).
You’ll want to make sure you know exactly which parts of your study manual or seminar you’re going to have completed by the end of each week. You need to have deadlines for yourself, otherwise you’ll have no clue if you’re on track to finish studying in time for your exam or not.
I actually have a 12-week sample schedule for Exam P you can view if you’d like. Yours should be very similar to this.
I know it’s tempting, but don’t skip over this step. It’s absolutely necessary and only takes 5 minutes to create. Or just use the exact one I’ve provided above.
The second schedule is your daily schedule. This schedule will give a weekly overview of exactly when you are going to spend your time studying throughout the week. It’s an hour-by-hour schedule.
There are 168 hours in a week and you should plan to fit about 30 hours in per week if you’re using a 12 week study schedule. Make sure you know exactly when you’re going to fit those 30 hours in, otherwise you’ll procrastinate and leave everything until the end of the week (I know you do this too!). Then you probably won’t even fit in that full 30 hours.
Your first schedule should be made at the beginning of your study period but the second schedule (your hourly schedule) should be made at the beginning of each week so you have a fairly good understanding of your availability during that week.
One more thing..
You’ll notice that I recommend scheduling for about 360 hours of study time total.
This is just a wild guess, basically. Everyone is going to be in a different situation and require a different amount of time to prepare for the exam.
Some people will have more exposure to the material before-hand while others have never seen any of it. Some people just learn slower than others.
I always suggest giving yourself more time each week then you think you’ll need. That way, you’ll have extra time built into your schedule if you need it or if something urgent and unplanned comes up during one of your scheduled study times you’ll be able to catch up later.
The best part with doing that is that you always know you’ll have plenty of time to get through everything but if you do get done early, you’ve scheduled yourself in some free time, which is always awesome during exam prep time. 🙂
Start out by planning 30 hours per week and if you find that’s not enough time for you then start adding more into your hourly schedule each week. Like I said, the time needed will be different for each person.
So…go make your schedules and share them in the Next Step Community (its free!). I’d love to review them for you and see when you’re going to be fitting in your hours!
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