View Full Version : Bensics Manual - Again
01-23-2003, 06:29 PM
Looking through the Actex catalog, it appears that they are selling what amounts to Bensics' update to his much maligned EA-2B study manual titled "Central Study Manual" (I believe he teaches at Central Connecticut State so that explains the name)
Actex obviously thought low enough of the manual to have someone else write it. Don't they have an ethical responsibility not to carry it? I'm extremely disappointed that Actex would allow themselves to aid in its sale, and thus leading an unsuspecting actuarial student to drastically set themselves back in their studies.
I know that Nick M. reads the board from time to time. Perhaps he can provide insight as to why Actex would continue to carry this piece of drivel that is so bad even Actex wouldn't put its name on it??
01-23-2003, 06:49 PM
[partially off topic]
Now that the search utility is back, I was finally able to do a search on F. Bensics' name. I am not surprised that there were a lot of mistakes in his ACTEX, and that people don't like his manuals. I had him for four semesters in college. They were rough, but I made it through. I'm glad to see that it wasn't just me, that I'm with the general consensus on this!
[/back on topic]
01-24-2003, 11:42 AM
I wish that I had read this thread before wasting my companies money on that study manual. I didn't realize that it was written by the same person who wrote the old Actex manual. Well, at least I know not to even open that one.
01-24-2003, 12:23 PM
If you didn't open it, you may be able to send it back. I would just send a note to the bookstore telling them what you just posted here.
01-24-2003, 01:15 PM
Yeah that's probably a good idea. I might just do that.
01-24-2003, 11:44 PM
Worst Manual Ever!
01-28-2003, 06:59 PM
Hello everyone. I was glancing at the board this morning, and, as requested by WWSituation, can comment on the availability of the Central Study Manual as an official product of Mad River Books.
I hope my commentary below helps to elucidate the rationale.
First, ACTEX Publications and Mad River Books are two separate (and admittedly affiliated) companies. The retail decisions made by Mad River Books are independent of the publication decisions made by ACTEX Publications in terms of the precise titles chosen for its official repertoire of study manuals. Mad River Books, as a separate entity, is a competitor in the actuarial education retail sales market, just like any other, whose principal aim is to supply the student with the product of his or her choice. That said, by making the product available, those who wish to use it may, but those who do not wish to use it don't have to. While your comments seem to imply that any student having purchased the specific manual in question will have been duped, our customer feedback indicates that unilateral dissatisfaction with it is simply not the case. Some students do purchase and use this manual, and are happy with it. Are we to deny them their choice? If one is prepared to criticize Mad River Books for not denying them their choice, and for not conducting independent quality evaluations, then he or she must also criticize the numerous other retailers stocking that same item for doign exactly these same things.
From the point of view of our retail store, the elimination of a given product due to a supposed quality evaluation is a "slippery slope" causing two major problems. First, the cutoff regarding which products to sell and which products to eliminate is arbitrary. There would be no basis to determine which ought to stay and which ought to go. Second, the quality evaluation itself is subjective. I know as much as anyone, since I am still taking exams, that students learn and study in very different ways, and that a study method or reference that one student finds offensively horrible may be regarded as a life-saver by another. For these reasons, Mad River Books takes the perspective that it will simply attempt to carry a wide range of products that will have the greatest likelihood of serving the most customers.
Separate from this decision is the decision of ACTEX Publications to include or exclude a given title from its line. There may be a slew of reasons for a change to the "lineup," but the most central reason (no pun intended) is whether or not the particular reference fits nicely with the educational philosophy of the publisher. Every publisher would like to have such things as consistency of style, layout, presentation, organization, et cetera, and changes may reflect corrections to imbalances in these items that occur over time. Studying is a subjective discipline with no "right" answer, and to say that ACTEX eliminating a reference from its repertoire implies that it feels that nobody should use that reference is simply erroneous. ACTEX, like most others, feels that students ought to have the right to choose the study material they feel will best help them prepare for the exam. These two decisions (the decision by ACTEX to eliminate the manual from its repertoire and the decision by Mad River Books to carry its reincarnation) do not have to be viewed as inconsistent.
To close on what turned out to be a lengthier response than I planned, ACTEX and Mad River Books are committed to the actuarial profession and the advancement of individual actuaries within the profession. Both entities welcome feedback such as the type displayed on this forum, and based on it, reevaluate their practices on a regular basis in an attempt to improve. This decision, like most others, is always open to scrutiny and to change. I thank you for your outspokenness with regard to this matter, and I hope that you've found my commentary to adequately address your concerns. Thank you for allowing us to continue to serve you, and good luck with your studies.
01-29-2003, 11:52 AM
Nick, thanks for responding.
I guess I just cant believe the claim that there are students out there that demand this manual. Its errors and mistakes are very well documented, not to mention the author's complete unwillingness to acknowledge them or issue erratas. I believe that it is more likely that students who don't know any better will get it because it is available and their company is paying for it.
Nevertheless, the point is clear that Actex and MadRiver are distinct entities. I suppose that it is less of an ethical dillemma for MadRiver Books.
01-29-2003, 02:56 PM
I have to second everything just said by WW Situation.
For last May's sitting, I fell into the category of the students who did not know any better and my company paid for the manual.
As for the students demanding it, that certainly is hard to believe. I just checked out the Mad River Books website (http://www.actexmadriver.com/drilldownresults.cfm?Step=1&FullCat=Study%20Materials%2CEA%2D2B) only to find that there is no description of the Central Study Manual and no picture of it compared to every other material Mad River Books sells for EA-2B. So, as far as not trying to dupe the public, it definitely appears as if the choice has been made by Mad River Books that not giving any information about the manual is wiser than listing its author or stating that it is the "former Actex manual".
To reiterate how bad I found the 2002 version of the Bensics manual to be, I would find myself studying and then every few days coming across an inconsistency with my various study materials only to find that the Bensics manual was consistently proven to be incorrect. Perhaps, my favorite mistake was that Bensics apparently does not know how the 133 1/3% Rule works. His solution to problem 38 in the 2002 Actex manual seems to indicate that he thinks the 133 1/3% Rule applies only to the prior year and not ALL PRIOR YEARS. This is just one example of the misinformation that has given Bensics a bad name with actuarial exam materials.
01-29-2003, 06:04 PM
I just checked out the Mad River Books website (http://www.actexmadriver.com/drilldownresults.cfm?Step=1&FullCat=Study%20Materials%2CEA%2D2B) only to find that there is no description of the Central Study Manual and no picture of it compared to every other material Mad River Books sells for EA-2B. So, as far as not trying to dupe the public, it definitely appears as if the choice has been made by Mad River Books that not giving any information about the manual is wiser than listing its author or stating that it is the "former Actex manual".
I have to agree here. Presenting the manual in the catalog without the author's name is inexcusable. Bensics has made quite a name for himself. I don't believe there can be ANY acceptable reason for not providing customers with the valuable piece of information that Bensics is the author of this manual.
02-03-2003, 03:34 PM
For whatever it's worth, the Actuarial Bookstore website carries the Central Manual and has a complete description of it. They fully disclose that the manual is essentially the same as last year's Actex manual with updates for 2003 including the exam solutions.
02-04-2003, 12:41 PM
Hello again everyone.
I wish to say that when I made my previous posting, I was not aware that this manual was posted on the web without an author name. As you know, we recently underwent a web redesign, and not all of the kinks were ironed out immediately upon launch. This was an unintended omission for which we at ACTEX apologize. We have now posted the name of the author next to the product to eliminate this confusion in the future.
I wish to thank you all again for your feedback about this issue and about others, and we thank you for your business.
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