According to the previous post called Probability and Actuarial Science, actuaries are specially-trained professionals who use their knowledge of probability, statistics, and specific models to evaluate and price risks, e.g. risks of living too long, the risks of dying too soon, the risks of property damages, the risks of becoming sick and a whole host of other risks that are quantifiable. To be an actuary, a candidate must pass a series of exams.

It is fitting that the first actuarial exam, called Exam P, is on probability. How hard is Exam P? What is the pass rate? How much time should a student spend in studying for Exam P?

Exam P is administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). It is a 3-hour multiple choice exam consisting of 30 questions. There is a rule of thumb that says that the number of hours required for studying an actuarial exam is the length of the exam times 100. This would mean Exam P may requires 300 hours of studying and preparation.

The 300-hour requirement is not far fetched. Typically a student should take an undergraduate course in probability and statistics (calculus based) prior to taking Exam P. The class time for such as course can certainly be a part of the 300 hours.

Let’s say the class time is around 90 hours (spread over two 15-week semesters with 3 hours of class time each week). That leaves 210 hours for a period of intense studying prior to taking Exam P, sometime after taking the probability and stats course.

In fact, the most effective form of studying is working practice problems. In these 210 hours, the student should review concepts for sure. However, the best way to review is to apply what he or she has learned in the probability and stats course through problem solving.

Intense problem solving is not optional as the pass rate for Exam P and other actuarial exams tend to be around 40%. If a student spends 15 hours a week studying, the 210 hours of studying would take about 3 and a half months. Passing actuarial exams requires dedication.

We give another plug for our Exam P site. It has over 100 realistic Exam P practice problems. We know of students who passed Exam P as a result of studying our practice problems.

Dan Ma math

Daniel Ma mathematics

Dan Ma Exam P

Daniel Ma Exam P

Dan Ma actuarial

Daniel Ma actuarial

2018 – Dan Ma