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Old 07-22-2014, 01:36 PM
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Statatak Statatak is offline
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Originally Posted by kernel View Post
I've heard the SOA 76 are much harder than the real exam.

For your next attempt, just focus on ADAPT level 4-6 and you should be fine.
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Old 07-22-2014, 02:16 PM
TheQueen TheQueen is offline
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Thanks that helps.

Originally Posted by Lorenzo Von Matterhorn View Post
I mean, I passed, so I guess I felt good enough.

But I guess the closest I saw to "mirrored" exam questions, as everyone else would say, is ADAPT. I saw some questions on my exam that seemed like literal duplicates of ADAPT questions. And by some, I mean like 3.

In the end, I did the first four ASM PE's, the SOA released exams, and easily 30 ADAPT exams. The four ASM PE's were good for testing your overall knowledge, but didn't mirror my exam too closely. SOA2007 was useless. SOA2009 was decent.

I'd suggest for November, putting in as many ADAPT exams as possible, and using the quiz feature to brush up on weak areas. Maybe even crack back into the manual if you don't understand a topic too well and start from square one.
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:08 PM
TheQueen TheQueen is offline
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Very helpful thanks. i liked ADAPT I just didn't have time to use it much. Onwards and upwards.

Definitely the Brownian Motion caught me out so I definitely know that is my weak spot.

Originally Posted by YellowParallelogram View Post
TL;DR version: Practice exams with ADAPT ad nauseam. Good luck!

Long version: I've copied and pasted what I posted in the July exam thread since it summarizes what I experienced and answers your question.

General thoughts about the exam:
  • If there's one word to describe it, it would be "fair." Not crazy difficult but not easy either. Felt comparable to the released 2009 exam but much harder than the released 2007 exam.
  • Distribution of problems was exactly how I anticipated. Compared to my exam P where there were a bunch of crazy combinatorics problems or FM which had a stupid amount of immunization and gimmicky annuities, this exam was relatively straight forward. No nasty surprises.
  • If I were to rank it on the ADAPT scale, it would have been a low to mid level 5 exam. Definitely not > 6 but harder than anything in the 4 range. I second the comment about the variance in difficulty. A majority of the problems felt like level 4 - 7 problems. About 5 were complete freebies (< 3 in ADAPT) and only about 3 problems that were crazy (> 8 in ADAPT).
  • ADAPT prepared me for about 70% of the exam. When I saw these questions, my initial reaction was "been there, done that" since I saw something similar in one of my 30+ ADAPT exams. The wording/presentation was very similar to ADAPT's style.
  • About 20% of the exam included problems which I hadn't seen before, but still very manageable to get the answer. They required a little bit more thought.
  • 10% of my exam had problems where I had no idea how to solve but could identify what topic they were testing me on.
  • 2 problems which required no computation for me. They were very easy.
  • SOA 76 sample set is not representative at all. Actual exam is MUCH EASIER.
  • I answered 23 in my first pass with about an hour and thirty minutes to go. Ended up answering 26 confidently. Spent 25 minutes on 1 problem which I thought I was doing correct but could not get a matching answer and 3 blind guesses. Submitted the exam with 20 minutes to spare since I was getting nowhere. Time was not an issue. Felt like I passed comfortably.
  • I had an earned level of 10 through consistently doing well on custom level 5 - 6 exams (was averaging ~24 or 25 on them). Anything in the 4 range, and I would easily get over 28. I did not do any of the ASM exams so I can't provide any insight as to how hard those were compared to my actual exam.
Keep in mind that difficulty is subjective. People get different sets of problems and have different levels of preparation with various strengths and weaknesses, which affect their perceived difficulty. The consensus is that the actual exam is similar to a level 4 - 6 ADAPT exam and that the middle and later ASM exams are more difficult. SOA 76 is much more difficult and not representative of the distribution of problems on the actual exam. I think the July sitting may have been slightly harder than March since there were a higher frequency of people who said the exam was 6 - 7 on the ADAPT scale, but this is just my gut feeling and not scientific at all. We won't really know until the SOA releases the numbers.

IMO, with this exam, 80% of the problems ended up following this kind of format:
  1. Given a problem with A, B, and C variables.
  2. Formulas X, Y, and Z use variables A, B, and C.
  3. Input variables.
  4. Algebra.
  5. Output answer.
  6. Repeat.
There were very few problems on my exam which tested understanding of the material at a deeper, conceptual level. The only ones that seem to need more than memorization of the formulas were the arbitrage questions which made you think logically about what positions to take in order to hedge against some risk. A majority of the problems only required you to quickly recognize what they were testing you on and then pull the relevant formulas to solve them. This comes naturally with a lot of practice and seeing a wide variety of problems.

If you want my advice, here's what I think you should do. Get an ADAPT subscription and grind out exams until you hit level 7. Once you hit level 7, keep grinding exams at level 6 - 7 until you consistently get over 24 correct on each exam. Don't short change yourself during this process. ADAPT doesn't mean much if you're not taking the practice exams under exam conditions (i.e., strict time limit, no notes or formula sheet, etc.). I didn't even guess on my practice exams and just left ones I did not know how to do blank so that it didn't count towards my score. I consider myself as someone of average intelligence and passed this exam comfortably following a similar strategy so I think anyone can do it, it's just a matter of putting in the time and effort.

If you find yourself short on time, learn to make the most of the TI30XS multiview calculator. Monte Carlo simulation questions took about 2 minutes for me to solve using the table function and calculating estimated volatility or expected rate of return took less than 30 seconds. In some control variate problems, there's even a way to get the multiview to calculate beta for you. Granted, there were some nasty calculation intensive problems on mine (some long binomial trees) but by being efficient with other problems, you can afford to take your time on the longer ones and minimize the probability of making errors. Nothing is more frustrating than doing a long problem, using 10 minutes to get through it all only to find out your final answer doesn't match one of the choices because you made a careless mistake in one of the steps. This doesn't become an issue if you can recognize that a problem will take a long time and slow down appropriately. Once again, you get that way after doing lots of problems and punching in the same keys on the calculator over and over and over again. By the end of my preparation, I was calculating d1 and d2 in my sleep.

Overall, I think you'll be in good shape for November. You have plenty of time and it seems like you just need practice to keep yourself from getting rusty. I honestly think this exam caters to the brute force strategy well. Do a lot of practice problems and score consistently well. You've got this next time.
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:33 PM
beilny beilny is offline
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I got a 5 in March and was successful this time.

The level of difficulty is roughly what I expected it to be, an ADAPT equivalent of a high 4 to low 5.

You can expect theory questions, and they could ask about pretty much anything. So obviously, know the type of problems, but also the main ideas behind the more advanced topics (BM, interest rate models, Ito's Lemma, etc.).

The exam had some gimmies that didn't require much thought or critical thinking, but that was probably only 2 or 3 of them. Likewise, there were 2 or 3 that were pretty rough and required an extensive amount of thought and/or work.

From what I've been told and seen, the SOA starting giving fail diagnostics for this exam at this sitting. Not sure how helpful that is since you should probably review everything and that performance is based on a fairly small sample size. It might be algebra or a misread rather than a lack of content knowledge.
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:39 PM
YellowParallelogram YellowParallelogram is offline
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Originally Posted by beilny View Post
From what I've been told and seen, the SOA starting giving fail diagnostics for this exam at this sitting. Not sure how helpful that is since you should probably review everything and that performance is based on a fairly small sample size. It might be algebra or a misread rather than a lack of content knowledge.
I doubt the usefulness of this feature as well. One person who failed got a medium competency on everything so that didn't help pinpoint any weaknesses at all while another person got a low competency on stochastic integration, which would have most likely only been 1 problem on the exam anyways. Chances are also good that your next sitting will not have a problem on such an obscure topic, making it questionable if you should even focus on that (although if you have time, you might as well).
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:56 PM
TeamHuvid TeamHuvid is offline
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Originally Posted by goldthor View Post
I thought it wasn't hard enough.
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:08 AM
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OfWolfandMan OfWolfandMan is offline
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I once read in a blog that if you do at least 10 Adapt practice exams and reach an earned level of at least 7 then you are very, very likely to pass (90th percentile I'd wager).

I was an earned level of 7.08, did 15-20 Adapt practice exams, a few topic quizzes, the first 8 ASM practice exams, the past two released exams (most important), and skimmed through the SOA 76. If you do skim through the SOA 76, do it well before your exam date because they are helpful but discouraging because they are so much more difficult than the actual exam.

I passed but thought the exam was challenging (closer to Adapt earned level of 6). A lot of theory questions and tricks (but tricks to the simple topics and the straightforward topics were tested more easily)

I hope this helps.

I would say that if you followed something similar to this then you are very, very likely to pass.

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Old 07-24-2014, 06:17 AM
Greenwood Greenwood is offline
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I just went through ASM manual PEs and the exam was relatively far easier than them.
VEE: Econ Stat Finance
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:50 AM
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anguyen1910 anguyen1910 is offline
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I went through ASM manual for 1.5 months with chap 25,26 skipped. Most important thing is to do PEs and study from the mistake I made. I did 5 of them.
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Old 07-25-2014, 02:00 AM
tinou35 tinou35 is offline
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I learnt how to solve approximately 200 questions from the 7 first asm PE for MFE. And even if i passed, i wouldn't recommand to do so.
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