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As you already know, writing actuarial exams is one of the biggest pieces to becoming an actuary. But, when’s the best time to write your first one?

You should start thinking about writing your first actuarial exam in your second year of college/university. By this time, you’ll likely have built up your mathematical abilities enough to be able to understand, through self-study, any of the concepts that you haven’t already learned in school.

If however, you’re already done your second year of school, you should start writing them right away. Ideally, you’ll want to have 2-3 exams passed before you graduate.

However, there are some things to consider before you jump into the books.

Time to Study

If you’re a college student, you’re course workload is probably enough to keep you busy almost constantly. So, when exactly will you fit in time to study?

Although actuarial exams are important, you’ll also want to keep your grades up so don’t want to sacrifice too much of you “school study time” for “actuarial study time”.

That’s why, for you the best time to study for an actuarial exam is when you’re off during the summer or while you’re doing an internship or co-op placement. Although it’s still difficult to study while you’re working, it’s much more manageable than studying while you’re in school. Plus, it’s something that you’ll have to get used to anyway.

For most people, it takes between 14 – 18 weeks to be fully prepared for the first two actuarial exams (Exam P and FM).

Financial Cost

Actuarial exams aren’t cheap to write. The exam fee itself is $225, plus you’ll want to purchase study materials ranging from $70 to $500 depending on whether you’re a student and the type of materials that you purchase.

You can find my recommended study guides for Exam P here and Exam FM here.

There are free options as well, but it’s best, in my opinion, to invest into one of the paid options so you know it’s up-to-date and you’ll get the support you need.

On top of that, you may also decide to join the Study Strategy Program where I personally show you step-by-step how to study for actuarial exams. This can help you shave years off your exams, because rather than using the trial-and-error approach to studying, you’ll get all my knowledge and experience to show you the best approach the first time.

Which Exam to Write First

Likely by the second year of college you wouldn’t have taken any courses in advanced calculus, so you’re probably want to start with Exam FM. (Here’s my recommended exam order if you’re interested).

Exam FM is often found to be the easiest exam for most people so it’s a good place to start. If you want more details on how to decide, you’ll probably find this video helpful.



If you’ve decided to write an exam soon, be sure to sign up for my studying tips & advice emails that I send out regularly for Exam P and FM. You can do that at the top right hand corner of this page.

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