If you’re writing Exam P or FM soon, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything ready to go the night before so you’re not scrambling to get it ready on exam day..

For CBT exams, the testing center will provide pencils, papers, and ear plugs. All you need to bring is:

  • Your ID
  • Your calculators
  • A sweater

For paper and pencil exams, you’ll need to bring:

  • Multiple pencils
  • A pencil sharpener
  • A good eraser
  • Your ID
  • Your Acknowledgement Letter (Printed)
  • Your calculators
  • A sweater
  • Drink

For each of these items, I’ve written a bit more about the specifics below. Read each of the items applicable to you very carefully and fully.

(Note: In the video above I talk about all this, plus what you should expect on exam day)

Your ID

On exam day you’re going to need to bring a valid (non-expired) government-issued identification that includes your name, photograph and signature. For most people, a passport is good enough. If you’re testing in your home country then a driver’s license will work too.

Your ID must:

  • Be in good condition (not bent, cracked, frayed, taped or damaged).
  • Have your name that matches exactly with the scheduling notification.
  • Be an original (not photocopied or a picture).
  • Be valid (not expired).
  • Include your name, photograph and signature.

If the name on your ID isn’t in the English or Latin alphabet, or if it doesn’t have a photo or signature then you’ll need a secondary form of identification. You should read this article from the SOA for all the details.

The ID requirements may change at any time so it’s best if you refer to this page for the most up-to-date information.

Your Calculators

On exam day you can bring in as many calculators as you’d like. I recommend bringing in at least 2 (here are my recommendations) in case one stops working.

Your calculators must be on the SOA’s list of acceptable calculators, otherwise you won’t be able to use them.

Your Acknowledgement Letter

When you registered for a pencil and paper exam, you should have received an email from the SOA with subject line “Order Confirmation – Society of Actuaries”. Within this email, you’ll see your Acknowledgement Letter.

Within the text of the email, you’ll also find the wording “This is the ONLY ticket of admission you will receive”. You should print off the entire email, including the Acknowledgement Letter at the bottom.

Sometimes exam centers will allow students into the exam after viewing the email on a phone, but it’s safest just to print it off so there are no problems getting into your exam.


The temperature in the exam room is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s hot, other times it’s cold. So, because of that it’s best to dress in layers.

In my experience, sometimes they will not allow you to take your sweater off during the exam. If you take it into the exam room, it has to stay on. If this is a concern for you, you could ask the proctor about their policy before entering the exam room.

Multiple Pencils, an Eraser, and Pencil Sharpener

You’re only require to bring these items for the paper and pencil exams. In fact, the center may provide them to you but it’s best to bring your own just incase they run out or don’t provide them.

I recommend bringing multiple pencils so that you can easily switch to a new pencil without sharpening during the exam. But, at times a pencil sharpener may come in handy so bring one.

A really good eraser is good to have on exam day too.

For CBT exams, pencils will be provided by the exam center. You’ll only get the eraser at the end of the pencil and you won’t get a pencil sharpener. If you want new pencils you’ll have to raise your hand and ask the proctor. They should give you 2 to start with.


For paper and pencil exams, you’re allowed to bring a drink into the exam room. However, it should be something that you can drink from quietly and discreetly without disturbing other exam writers. Food is not allowed unless you’ve been granted special authorization (due to medical conditions) by the SOA before exam day.

For CBT exams you cannot bring any food or drink into the exam room unless you’ve been granted special authorization (due to medical conditions) by the SOA before exam day.

Best of Luck

Hopefully you’re very well prepared and don’t need any luck, but I want to wish you all the best on your exam. I hope that you’re successful and pass it without any issues!

If you’re writing Exam P or FM next, or you’re a bit concerned that you may not pass, then sign up for my study strategy tips and advice emails (top right hand corner of this page) so that you receive them for your next exam.

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