Actuarial Outpost
 
Go Back   Actuarial Outpost > Actuarial Discussion Forum > General Actuarial
FlashChat Actuarial Discussion Preliminary Exams CAS/SOA Exams Cyberchat Around the World Suggestions

DW Simpson Global Actuarial & Analytcs Recruitment
Download our 2017 Actuarial Salary Survey
now with state-by-state salary information!


General Actuarial Non-Specific Actuarial Topics - Before posting a thread, please browse over our other sections to see if there is a better fit, such as Careers - Employment, Actuarial Science Universities Forum or any of our other 100+ forums.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #51  
Old 12-06-2017, 07:55 PM
Z3ta Z3ta is offline
Member
SOA
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
a) That's part of work. There will be times that you will have less than a desirable amount of information/time/resources, but will need to make a recommendation based on what you have available.
b) To the extent that the FAP modules are poorly designed, it's not a justification to do away with it entirely, but rather to re-vamp the design. Insufficient data isn't a good enough reason to say the modules are useless.
(a) In real life you investigate things as much as possible and don't just continue on with the work without critical information. The EOMs force you to hand wave by design. Candidates have the same questions and point out the same errors for years and years and the SOA never clarifies or addresses these issues.
(b) Revamping could work too, but that's also more work for the SOA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
For me, no. Personally, I learn better by extrapolating via examples
Supplementing your understanding with concrete examples is a great way to learn, but I don't mean any disrespect in saying this: this is a main issue I see with video courses available today that I'm sure at least hundreds of actuaries use as their primary study resource... these FSAs learned by example themselves and they teach by example. The result is that when they try to explain what's under the hood, they end up explaining their own erroneous understanding that was backed into with faulty logic. In other words, rather than learning the actual theory and understanding why something works, they learn that it works by example and create their own reasons why which miss the mark. This is so damaging to the profession.

You can't learn solely by example unless you want to have a slew of misunderstandings that lead you to believe that similar looking problems can be solved with the same techniques when, in fact, they can't because you're missing some vital difference in the context/assumptions. I see it all the time and it's a major pet peeve of mine.

If you want to learn this way, then the only way to be proficient is to traverse all possible problems. It seems a bit more reasonable to just understand things than have to see every combination one at a time. You're also not reasoning why you're doing things at that point and without a way to reason it out, you'll easily make mistakes and forget how to do things. And reasoning by your own extrapolation based on seeing problems is a good way to be wrong.

Last edited by Z3ta; 12-06-2017 at 08:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #52  
Old 12-06-2017, 08:00 PM
Ito's Phlegm's Avatar
Ito's Phlegm Ito's Phlegm is offline
Member
SOA
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Favorite beer: free
Posts: 14,133
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoanonstop View Post
I know plenty of people who could crush the actuarial exams but don't see the point in taking them. If you're smart enough, you don't need a credential to sell that smartness. That does not mean that there aren't smart people with credentials, it just means it is lower value for those individuals than other ventures
And what exactly is wrong with the large amount of people who are taking and passing actuarial exams today?

The OP says there's a problem with the exam process. That we are discouraging talent. So what's wrong with the students who are passing exams?
__________________
ASA
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old 12-06-2017, 08:17 PM
wat?'s Avatar
wat? wat? is offline
Member
SOA AAA
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hi
Studying for beer
Favorite beer: Fresh Squeezed IPA
Posts: 32,932
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3ta View Post
(a) In real life you investigate things as much as possible and don't just continue on with the work without critical information. The EOMs force you to hand wave by design. Candidates have the same questions and point out the same errors for years and years and the SOA never clarifies or addresses these issues.
(b) Revamping could work too, but that's also more work for the SOA.
You are given a project with some background and a bit of data, but upon delving into the data, you realize there are significant flaws in one or two fields. Your client is fairly unresponsive, but has given you a hard deadline that is coming up in a couple weeks. What do you do? (This is covered in discussions on professionalism and would also be beneficial to include for near ASA's, imo.)

Also, have these complaints been forwarded directly to the SOA regarding FAP modules? If these complaints have existed for years and years, I hope that those frustrated by these omissions of information have all been contacting the SOA directly about them, because sheer volume of complaints is one way to get your issue noticed.

Quote:
Supplementing your understanding with concrete examples is a great way to learn, but I don't mean any disrespect in saying this: this is a main issue I see with video courses available today that I'm sure at least hundreds of actuaries use as their primary study resource... these FSAs learned by example themselves and they teach by example. The result is that when they try to explain what's under the hood, they end up explaining their own erroneous understanding that was backed into with faulty logic. In other words, rather than learning the actual theory and understanding why something works, they learn that it works by example and create their own reasons why which miss the mark. This is so damaging to the profession.

You can't learn solely by example unless you want to have a slew of misunderstandings that lead you to believe that similar looking problems can be solved with the same techniques when, in fact, they can't because you're missing some vital difference in the context/assumptions. I see it all the time and it's a major pet peeve of mine.

It seems a bit more reasonable to just understand things than have to see every combination one at a time. You're also not reasoning why you're doing things at that point and without a way to reason it out, you'll easily make mistakes and forget how to do things.
Two points:

1) It sounds like you're more frustrated with exam preparation materials/resources than you are with the exams themselves.

2) What is the main point of a basic education system for a profession? Do you believe that the actuarial exams do a worse job of attesting to a basic education level than do bar exams for lawyers or board exams for doctors? I don't have personal experience with either of the latter two, but I've got to imagine that residencies for physicians exist for a reason, and it's not because board exams do such a great job of attesting that exam passers won't make mistakes and won't forget the material soon after taking it.

And this statement
Quote:
If you want to learn this way, then the only way to be proficient is to traverse all possible problems.
is akin to saying "The only way to learn multiplication via example is to actually do all possible multiplication problems that exist."
__________________
"Mathematical Induction: How mathematicians manage to suck all the fun out of lining up a row of dominos, knocking the one on the end down, and watching the entire row fall." -BC
Skip it. - AG

AO Golfers Unite! Here and here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Referral? clicky
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old 12-06-2017, 08:32 PM
Z3ta Z3ta is offline
Member
SOA
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
You are given a project with some background and a bit of data, but upon delving into the data, you realize there are significant flaws in one or two fields. Your client is fairly unresponsive, but has given you a hard deadline that is coming up in a couple weeks. What do you do? (This is covered in discussions on professionalism and would also be beneficial to include for near ASA's, imo.)

Also, have these complaints been forwarded directly to the SOA regarding FAP modules? If these complaints have existed for years and years, I hope that those frustrated by these omissions of information have all been contacting the SOA directly about them, because sheer volume of complaints is one way to get your issue noticed.
The incomplete information in the EOMs is at a completely different level that would not be acceptable in real life. The right thing to do would be not to proceed.

I have not notified the SOA. They have their own community forum that is linked to from the module slides which is one of the saddest things I've ever seen. It's just a bunch of hard working candidates asking legitimate questions that only the SOA could/should clarify on that just go ignored for years. They knowingly neglect fixing errors and never clarify their vague language after countless candidates have had the same confusions for years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
is akin to saying "The only way to learn multiplication via example is to actually do all possible multiplication problems that exist."
This is hyperbole. I'm talking about much more nuanced concepts that are very difficult to truly learn through examples. You really need to traverse many carefully constructed exercises to get the same understanding following a proof would provide, if that's even possible at all.
Reply With Quote
  #55  
Old 12-06-2017, 08:56 PM
MathStatFin's Avatar
MathStatFin MathStatFin is offline
Member
Non-Actuary
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 4,316
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
I'd have more confidence that the person were doing it correctly after 6-8 times than 1-3 times.

Also, if you consider the assessments as midterms & finals, you can consider the EOMs as homework. If I were creating a course, I don't have the confidence that students would be able to adequately explain themselves without first practicing how to do so.



I was as well. I did the same, but I've come to appreciate what I missed out on in my college experience by taking that route. At the time, I thought it was the best. Knowing what I know now, I'd do things a little differently.




It's not the financial cost that's an issue, it's the human resource issue. How many graders do you think are involved in grading EOMs? How does that compare to how many people you think will need to be involved in creating, administering and grading these written exams for thousands of test-takers?

It's an excuse that's oft quoted because it's true.



a) That's part of work. There will be times that you will have less than a desirable amount of information/time/resources, but will need to make a recommendation based on what you have available.
b) To the extent that the FAP modules are poorly designed, it's not a justification to do away with it entirely, but rather to re-vamp the design. Insufficient data isn't a good enough reason to say the modules are useless.



For me, no. Personally, I learn better by extrapolating via examples, and I don't consider myself smart compared to other actuaries, so it takes quite a few tries for me to get there. The bolded above is essentially what professional development and one's career is all about. Power be to you if you've got full understanding & retention of a concept the first time you see it. But to me, the exams are a first step in understanding. If you've passed the exam, you've got the first step down. Later in your career/training, you'll see an application and better understand why things were done a particular way. Then you'll see it again later and have an even deeper understanding of why. And so on.

If the profession was only about the exams, then I think the exam system would be inherently flawed, because there is no reinforcement. But your career *is* the reinforcement.
This could be perceived as a major weakness for some people -- some managers don't like hand holding while others love to coach their donkeys. In fact, I would go even further and say that some people NEED to understand what they're doing in order to be effective. What you're describing is kind of like how you train a dog to do tricks. It's like learn by doing, learn through failure, etc. really? Is that the best way to go about things? It's not, sorry. To make matters worse, the person who needs a coach isn't likely to improve processes or be able to generate new ideas. Just like a dog is man's best friend, a coachable donkey can also be a manager's best friend.

He's right that the exams aren't going to weed out the hard working coachable donk, but he doesn't seem to realise that the exams are there for the benefit of employers not as some kind of ultimate test of intelligence/creativity/problemsolving.
Reply With Quote
  #56  
Old 12-06-2017, 09:11 PM
MathStatFin's Avatar
MathStatFin MathStatFin is offline
Member
Non-Actuary
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 4,316
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3ta View Post
I think itís possible to shift the focus of questions while still using a CBT format. It requires more thoughtful questions which requires more expertise, but Iím sure changes could be made in this direction.
ok, take the prelims. It's CBT and you probably want it to be multiple choice. Then the exams are offered many times during the year, so you'll probably need some fresh question templates quite often. PITA!
Reply With Quote
  #57  
Old 12-06-2017, 10:09 PM
Heywood J Heywood J is offline
Member
CAS
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,022
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr T Non-Fan View Post
No matter what your opinion is on the number of exams there are, the current system won't change because of it. And it won't matter how many posters agree with you.
That's the kind of refreshing attitude that keeps actuarial science at the forefront of innovation.
Reply With Quote
  #58  
Old 12-07-2017, 03:42 AM
wat?'s Avatar
wat? wat? is offline
Member
SOA AAA
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hi
Studying for beer
Favorite beer: Fresh Squeezed IPA
Posts: 32,932
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3ta View Post
The incomplete information in the EOMs is at a completely different level that would not be acceptable in real life. The right thing to do would be not to proceed.

I have not notified the SOA. They have their own community forum that is linked to from the module slides which is one of the saddest things I've ever seen. It's just a bunch of hard working candidates asking legitimate questions that only the SOA could/should clarify on that just go ignored for years. They knowingly neglect fixing errors and never clarify their vague language after countless candidates have had the same confusions for years.
Then yes, if it's that flawed, I think some attention is warranted.

Quote:
This is hyperbole. I'm talking about much more nuanced concepts that are very difficult to truly learn through examples. You really need to traverse many carefully constructed exercises to get the same understanding following a proof would provide, if that's even possible at all.
What much more nuanced concepts on the exam are you referring to here? Actually asking for examples.
__________________
"Mathematical Induction: How mathematicians manage to suck all the fun out of lining up a row of dominos, knocking the one on the end down, and watching the entire row fall." -BC
Skip it. - AG

AO Golfers Unite! Here and here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Referral? clicky
Reply With Quote
  #59  
Old 12-07-2017, 04:01 AM
wat?'s Avatar
wat? wat? is offline
Member
SOA AAA
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hi
Studying for beer
Favorite beer: Fresh Squeezed IPA
Posts: 32,932
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MathStatFin View Post
This could be perceived as a major weakness for some people -- some managers don't like hand holding while others love to coach their donkeys. In fact, I would go even further and say that some people NEED to understand what they're doing in order to be effective. What you're describing is kind of like how you train a dog to do tricks. It's like learn by doing, learn through failure, etc. really? Is that the best way to go about things? It's not, sorry. To make matters worse, the person who needs a coach isn't likely to improve processes or be able to generate new ideas. Just like a dog is man's best friend, a coachable donkey can also be a manager's best friend.

He's right that the exams aren't going to weed out the hard working coachable donk, but he doesn't seem to realise that the exams are there for the benefit of employers not as some kind of ultimate test of intelligence/creativity/problemsolving.
I'm sorry - I'll rephrase "extrapolating via examples". I've read through each piece of required (and optional) reading for every actuarial exam I've ever taken - prelims, FSA and all. While I felt I understood the large majority of the material I read through the first time, it wasn't until I see the application for myself that it makes more sense. And the more times I see the application, the more it makes sense. So maybe "reinforcement via concrete example".

I think that this is generally the case for many candidates out there (that practice & review many times over is the key to understand the concepts), and I think that reconciling work back to theory and understanding that is essentially what work experience represents. I think that as a person gains experience, they understand their work better, and that mistakes/misconceptions will happen along the way. But it's not the role of exams to make sure that candidates who pass their exams have a complete mastery of a concept. That's why in the US there exists an experience requirement in the USQS General Qualification Standard.
__________________
"Mathematical Induction: How mathematicians manage to suck all the fun out of lining up a row of dominos, knocking the one on the end down, and watching the entire row fall." -BC
Skip it. - AG

AO Golfers Unite! Here and here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Referral? clicky
Reply With Quote
  #60  
Old 12-07-2017, 08:15 AM
Z3ta Z3ta is offline
Member
SOA
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wat? View Post
What much more nuanced concepts on the exam are you referring to here? Actually asking for examples.
There are so many examples but here’s a really simple one. Suppose you have a problem with a random variable X described that gives the prize in some gambling game. The problem asks you to find the expected value of playing a new game where you receive double the prize of that one but have to pay a fee to play.

You notice you can find the original game’s expected value, double it and subtract the fee and you get the right answer!

However, because of Jensen’s Inequality it turns out that the same method would not work if you wanted the average prize for a game that gives you the squared prize of the original game.

If you formally learned Jensen’s Inequality you’d never make this mistake and you’d also understand the reason why it works that way (convexity).

This is also why you can’t find the life expectancy of someone and calculate an annuity with that duration to get the value of a whole life annuity. That case looks a bit different, but it’s the same exact concept and you’d likely only see that if you learned the concepts abstractly.

As a side note: I’ve seen actuaries make this mistake several times on the job (assuming you can find an expected value and plug into the function and get the expected value of the function). This is also a common misunderstanding among other types of analysts.

Last edited by Z3ta; 12-07-2017 at 09:29 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:20 AM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
*PLEASE NOTE: Posts are not checked for accuracy, and do not
represent the views of the Actuarial Outpost or its sponsors.
Page generated in 0.71383 seconds with 9 queries