How to Fail Your First Actuarial Exam – Part 3: Your (Watch While I Do) Approach to Practice Questions

by | Jun 19, 2017 | Actuarial Exams

I know how easy is it to fall into the trap of believing that you know how to do a question just by looking at the answer and understanding it.

But understanding the solution that someone else has provided is entirely different than actually being able to solve the question yourself.

There’s an entire thought process that you need to develop that will allow you to go from reading a question to coming up with a method to solve the question.

Coming up with that method is often the hard part.

The solving methodology often seems obvious when you’re just reading a solution that someone else has created but to come up with that method on your own is really not as intuitive as it seems.

Coming up with the solving methodology is typically harder than doing the calculation part.

Actually, that’s why people often resort to this method in the first place. When you don’t have much time or you’re feeling kinda lazy, its much easier and quicker to just read solutions. It doesn’t require you to think near as much.

This makes it a very passive way of learning which won’t allow information to stick in your mind as well as an active way of learning would.

By just reading solutions, you’ll feel like you’re getting things done but your study time would be much more efficient if you got through half as many questions but actually went through the thought process of coming up with the solving methodology on your own.

I know that even though I advise against this, some of you are going to want to do this anyway, and my best advice to you is to AT LEAST set up the solution yourself before looking at the written solution.

What I mean by this is to set up the equations that you need and work through the solution but rather than inputting all the calculations into your calculator just use some sort of variable, maybe “R”, “W” or “B” as the answer and then continue on using that variable in place of the actual calculation.

That’ll save you some time without sacrificing the benefits of active learning and the benefits of coming up with the solving methodology yourself.

At least this will force you to come up with a methodology rather than just assuming you could have thought of it yourself!

So, my point here is that in order to be completely prepared for your exam (and minimize the risk of failing), make sure that you’re solving questions completely on your own, not reviewing someone else’s solution and assuming that you could have come up with the same solution yourself.

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