View Full Version : Course 8I -- anyone who passed last fall got any good advice

01-16-2002, 11:58 AM
I've got 1-7, so I'm starting early on November. I'm interested in study plans that folks might have used last fall.

01-16-2002, 04:36 PM
I'm bumping up an earlier thread on studying for 8.

It has a number of gems of wisdom from me, as well as a few crumbs of value from others. :razz:

01-17-2002, 12:33 PM
1) start now.
2) Take good notes.
3) Actex is worthless as always.
4) Don't ignore the marketing crap.

01-17-2002, 02:02 PM
New 8I&8F Manual for Nov '02:


They look like they have good intentions, but obviously a new company.

Says it won't be avail until July - maybe send an e-mail and see what's up with that.

Maybe they will speed up the presses if they know there are customers waiting in the wings.

01-17-2002, 02:10 PM
My suggestions:

(1) take notes on each study note/chapter - I used 70 page spiral notebooks - used 2 for valuation, 2 for pricing, and 1 each for prod developmt and marketing

(2) set up a timeline and allow 6 weeks to 2 months before exam for review. -continually review notebooks, looking only at text for clarification

(3) use lots of mnemonics

(4) I didn't use Actex; preferred putting the notes in my own words

(5) Don't leave the case study until the very end!

Good luck!

01-24-2002, 05:18 PM
I passed the exam in 2000, with a 6.

My method:

(1) Make your own notes.
(2) Make the notes as condensed as possible. A rule of thumb: each paragraph in the required reading has one exam-testable "idea".
(3) Memorise the notes.

In the exam-room try & put yourself in an imaginary work situation. E.g. you are supposed to provide good advice to a business facing the same situation as described in the exam question.

01-24-2002, 07:37 PM
1 - UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING, from the original texts

The amount of material is significantly larger than the other exams (even Courses 5 and 6), therefore it is even more important on 8 to know as much about everything as possible, because they can only test a small portion of the material in one 6-hour session. (Your risk of choosing the wrong material to skip is far greater. The proof is left to the student as an exercise.)

2 - Take your own notes / outline to condense the material.

3 - Synthesize / condense further as you review. Bring the material from various notes together whenever you can.

4 - Memorize lists / mnemonics (and there are a lot of them - I had about 200 AFTER synthesizing and culling).

Even though the exams are no longer "regurgitation" of lists, there are many questions that require you to remember a number of points. The final answer may not be the list of factors to consider in pricing a VA, but if you have the list memorized and understand the material, you will be able to cover all/most of the salient points. In other words, these lists are a very helpful springboard.

You will also spend less time remembering the factors and can spend more time demonstrating your mastery of the material. Having the lists at your fingertips also reduces panic.

5 - Be constantly aware of the amount of material, and adjust your study patterns accordingly.

IMO (in hindsight)a key is to move up each step of your normal progression schedule by 2 - 5 weeks in order to be sure you have mastered and memorized the material. Depending on your past patterns, you may also find you need to spend more time per day.

Let me explain - in all other past exams, I finished my final iteration of review 3 weeks before the exam and spent 2 weeks simply drilling myself on facts and the last week drilling my lists / mnemonics / formulae and making 1 - 2 passes through the material. For Course 8, the volume is so great that just to write out (my secondary learning style is kinesthetic) all of the lists /formulae once through would have taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours - assuming that I didn't spend much recall time on any of them, which was a retention level I never actually achieved. (For other fellowship courses, I could do the same process in 2-3 hours by the end of the week.) So, although I left myself 2 weeks (8-10 study hours per day those last few weeks - just like in the past) for drilling, I found I should have spent probably twice that time. Similarly, I decided to move to this last phase according to my schedule, but I wasn't as comfortable as I have been in the past with my mastery level or with the thouroghness of my penultimate review, so I wish I'd spent more time on that phase. (See a theme here?)
There were several questions on the exam that I had a wonderful mnemonic for, but hadn't yet completely memorized it, so I was unable to spit it out immediately - that cost me time and raised my heart rate significantly.

At the same time, IMO study time effectiveness is an inversefunction of the elapsed time until the exam. (Again, the proof is left to the student, as is the derivation of the function. Discuss amongst yourselves.) [E.g., one hour 1 month before the exam may be worth 6 hours six months before the exam.] Therefore, DEPENDING ON YOUR PERSONAL LEARNING STYLES AND STUDY HABITS, starting now may be way too early. Personally, I started for Course 8 in May, 2001, but didn't really start dedicating myself to it until mid-July.

5 - Test yourself - be ruthless. You don't want to find out you don't really know something during the exam.

For your information as you consider whether any of this free advice (worth what you pay for it)will be helpful for you - 2001 was my second time on 8I, but since I spent less than 100 hours on it in 2000 (and finished taking notes on less than half the material), it was fairly close to a first attempt with regard to patterns and material mastery. I passed with an 8.

Enough of my study philosophy. If you want to learn more please send a # 10 SASE.

GOOD LUCK!!!! :grin:

01-24-2002, 09:46 PM
I have three pieces of advice--

(1) START EARLY. There's a lot of material on this exam, so getting an early start will help. You probably don't need to get too gung-ho about your studying at this point (after all, it's only January). But if you start reading the texts and familiarizing yourself with the material now, you won't have to cram nearly as much later.

(2) MAKE A GOOD OUTLINE. I wrote my own outline (about 500 pages). I found that writing everything down in my own words helped me to understand the material a lot better. (I also bought the Actex manual, but I found my own notes to be more useful). A few weeks before the exam, I made a condensed outline (about 100 pages, similar to the condensed outlines in the JAM study manuals). This allowed me to pick out the really important points and focus on them for the last couple weeks.

(3) DON'T FORGET THE CASE STUDY. Read the case study early in your studying, and re-read it often. As you're reading the texts, try to think about how the concepts apply to the companies in the case study. The exam had a lot of questions relating to the case study, so it's important to be able to apply the material to real-life situations.

Best of luck. It's a lot of material but there's no need to be intimidated. As you study for the exam, keep reminding yourself that this is the last actuarial exam you'll ever have to take. :razz:

01-25-2002, 04:29 AM
As you study for the exam, keep reminding yourself that this is the last actuarial exam you'll ever have to take. :razz:

Unless one is going for the FCIA designation, where the PEC requirement remains. :smile:

Baron Greenback
01-27-2002, 11:20 PM
I just passed 8F without memorizing a single list. No, really. Don't try this at home. You could fail, or get injured, or possibly deported.

Instead I took notes in painstaking fashion, which took forever. However I understood the material so well and in such detail that memorizing was superfluous. While I would not recommend skipping memorization stuff to others, there is a valuable lesson there. Unfortunately I did not learn it until my last exam!

01-28-2002, 06:08 PM
I did check with that new company on the study guide for 8I. They will have a preliminary version available in March (they hope) which will cover last fall's syllabus. Free update later this year for anyone who buys the prelim edition.

02-21-2002, 07:31 PM
For what it's worth I took Course 8-I for the first time in 2001 and failed with a 3.

I thought I had a good handle on the material until the SoA threw a 17 point question (question #2) at me on stochastic DAC GAAP balances that wasn't really covered by the syllabus. I work with GAAP (FAS 97 & FAS 120) at work so I thought I could handle it, I guess I was wrong.

I also believe that had I not choked on this question I would have done much better on all the ASOP questions.

Hopefully attempt #2 will be more fruitful, I just don't know.

02-22-2002, 04:14 PM
I looked at the Actex and it was 500 pages long. Way too long to be useful. I hand wrote 100 pages of stuff I had to memorize. Also, don't get bogged down in complex formulas and nomenclature except to work through a simple example to make sure you understand the concept. Part C is half the material, but only 25% of the exam. Make sure it only gets 25% of your study time. Rip the case study apart. For every product that these companies have go through the underwriting, distribution, investment and crediting strategy, banding structure, loads, loans, etc. Memorize the strengths and weaknesses of each company and their strategy to target customer segments or distribution channels. You get a copy of the case study during the exam, but you don't want to be wasting ten minutes flipping back and forth to look at it. You should spend at least a day trying to imagine ways to improve these companies' products and distribution. Make a schedule early on. With 1800 pages of reading, you need to be aware of the pace or get wiped out in October. Start in May so you can take a couple weekends off to recoup along the way. Smile and people will smile back.

Des Moines Girl
02-22-2002, 04:32 PM
Hi DallasStars!

I'm with you. I took 8I for the first time this fall and failed with a 4. I coulcn't even begin to answer the GAAP DAC question. I was pretty proud when I saw I got a 1 on it (I don't know if you can even get a 0 on individual questions.). When are you going to start studying?

02-22-2002, 07:23 PM
Well I also got a 1 on question #2 (crappy compared to the 7's I got on other questions).

I was planning on starting next week during my lunch hours. I was planning on listening to the tapes I made (12 tapes of 3 hours in length each, can't recall what's on them now though). I may change the tapes to asf format and push them audio through my web-site so that I will always have access to them.

I say "I was planning ..." but since my wife and I just had a baby and my parents are coming at the end of the month, who knows when I will really have a chance to start.

Is it true that I heard ActuaryBert got a 10? What's the study time like we that person works I wonder?

What in the world am I doing wrong? Although I'm a Canadian in the US can I blame the Sept 11th incident?

Either way I should start in March on the ASOP's and marketing and really cracking down on the Case Study.

How about you Des Moines girl?

02-25-2002, 10:30 AM
Congratulations on your new baby!

I got a 1 on question 2, also. (I don't know how though - must have been a symathetic grader.) I am planning on starting to study on 4/1. My goal is to be mostly ready, except for memorizing and working problems by early Sept. I will have to take some time off then to have our baby. Hopefully, I will be able to find time to study between when the baby comes and the exam. We'll see.

Good luck to you! You'll have to keep me posted on your progress.

02-25-2002, 10:34 AM
This will be my third "attempt" (although both attempts we refund requests since I never even came close to getting through the material). We have a mid-August birth pending. I like your idea of having all the material under control before the arrival. Now to see if I can put "should" with "did". Luck to all. Sleep is over-rated.

02-25-2002, 11:19 AM
Good luck to you too, GG! Congrats on your future arrival also! We'll have to start a support group for 8I takers with new additions! :smile: Keep us posted on how things are going! Are you planning on starting to study soon?

02-25-2002, 11:30 AM
Not until after the C7 Seminar in Atlanta (mid March). Hopefully late March/ early April. As I found last sitting, trying to study with a toddler who wants her Daddy means not a lot of study time, until later in the evening or really early in the a.m. Not the best times for info retention. I don't imagine that will change much this time either. I'm toying with the idea of putting my notes on my website so I can look at them at home or work, without having to lug quite so much back an forth. If I manage to get that accomplished, I will post the URL so others can have bad notes to use as well. [if I sabatoge the minds of others, I have a chance :smile: ]

02-25-2002, 12:13 PM
I've been studying for 3 weeks so far - and I'm only 1 week behind my study schedule.

I skipped exams for a couple of years because of new additions.... no way could I have managed to study then. -- Good luck to those of you who are trying.

On the flip side, it isn't easy to study with toddlers either.

"Mommy, do you realize that the only reason I was sitting on my sister's head was to try to get your attention?"

"Mommy, if I let Mark sit on my head, will you pay attention to me?"

Sorry, I didn't get much studying done over the weekend.

02-27-2002, 04:21 PM
Thanks Insider, it seems like I won't be the only on estudying for course 8 with screaming in the house. :smile:

02-27-2002, 09:44 PM
Having toddlers certainly adds an unnecessary challenge to these exams. Don't give up! I sneaked by with a 6 on 8I while entertaining a 3 year old and a 1 year old.
Too many nights of studying between 10PM and midnight after the family went to bed. But it can be done! Just remember, the sooner you're done, the sooner family playtime can begin.

However, now that I'm done, I must have too much free time or I need a new challenge. Our third child is due about 9 months from the January results.

Good luck! Learn that case study.....

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mathgod on 2002-02-27 20:45 ]</font>