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  #21  
Old 04-05-2018, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by wat? View Post
And if the ASOPs were just statements of the obvious, isn't it then a problem if actuaries are falling afoul of ASOPs?
It depends on why they are falling afoul:
Did they fail to memorize them? Did they fail to comprehend them? Or is it a moral failing?

In the first case, the exams are useful.
In the second case, case studies would be more useful.
In the third case, no exam could help. The ASOPs are useful, but testing them is not.
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What do you think the purpose of ASOPs are?
In all 3 cases the ASOPs are useful to prevent and expel malpractice, similar to the Hippocratic Oath. They are certainly useful, regardless of how we test them.
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(Hint: The Hippocratic Oath exists for a reason, and it's not just because "it's obvious".)
Thanks, the Hippocratic Oath is a perfect example. I don't know how we test doctors on it. I'll look into that.

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Suppose we agree ASOPs are important and should be tested. How should they be tested? Well, in FSA exams, I think there are opportunities to suggest improvements or alternatives to the situations presented in the questions and can be cited by ASOPs. (e.g., "Per ASOP 23, the actuary should consider either an alternate data source or address material flaws in the data before using the statistics presented. Also per ASOP 23 & 41, the actuary should disclose the limitations of the conclusion drawn due to the limitations of the data.") These are probably best addressed with questions via case studies. My understanding is not all tracks have case studies.
Yes, I agree completely with case studies. Good suggestion.

"So and So did X. What did they do wrong? What could they have done better?"
"So and So failed to document that they pulled mortality from a questionable source, and they also should have adjusted it to fit their demographics."


I'm only on my first exam, and there are no case studies. I hope there will be more in the future.

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If that's true, I think that's one improvement that can be made to the exams. In my experience, though, the questions on the case studies tend to be a lot harder to get full points on. It requires the candidate to take a higher level view of the problem and draw upon multiple aspects of the syllabus - it involves a much more thorough response than would a question that is not based on a case study.[/list]
I expect the pass/fail rate can be set independent of the type of questions asked. There's lots of variables to adjust: the breath/depth of material, the vagueness of the questions, the detail/specificity of the answers, the overall 'curve'.

Given that, I prefer "hard" questions because the higher variance means more chance to prove I'm on the "right" side of the given curve. Since the exams are certainly difficult, easy questions just take up space.
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Last edited by Sredni Vashtar; 04-05-2018 at 06:52 PM..
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  #22  
Old 04-05-2018, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Sredni Vashtar View Post
I'm only on my first exam, and there are no case studies. I hope there will be more in the future.
If you are only on your first exam, how can you even talk about issues with exams in general? (Excuse the snarkynes. I cannot think of a better way to express my disagreement with the way you have attacked exams with so little experience of taking them.)

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. One really shouldn't complain about too much memorizing on exams, until they have actually experienced how challenging it is to come up with a good question to test certain things.

I don't think it's possible to write any good question to test, for example, the Hippocratic Oath. It can only be tested by how the oath-taker actually behaves. Even saying how they would behave in a hypothetical situation probably won't tell you what the REALLY would do.
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  #23  
Old 04-06-2018, 09:52 AM
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If you are only on your first exam, how can you even talk about issues with exams in general? (Excuse the snarkynes. I cannot think of a better way to express my disagreement with the way you have attacked exams with so little experience of taking them.)
It's an open suggestion thread, not a personal attack. Some have agreed and contributed to it. Others have disagreed and still contributed. Seems harmless enough.

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I've said this before, and I'll say it again. One really shouldn't complain about too much memorizing on exams, until they have actually experienced how challenging it is to come up with a good question to test certain things.

I don't think it's possible to write any good question to test, for example, the Hippocratic Oath. It can only be tested by how the oath-taker actually behaves. Even saying how they would behave in a hypothetical situation probably won't tell you what the REALLY would do.
I agree completely. That's exactly what my OP is about. Some questions are not good, because the subject matter doesn't lend itself to good questions. "It is in the nature of our careers."

I think it's a dilemma worth thinking about. It suggests the content and/or the structure could be improved.
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Last edited by Sredni Vashtar; 04-06-2018 at 10:19 AM..
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  #24  
Old 04-06-2018, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Sredni Vashtar View Post
It depends on why they are falling afoul:
Did they fail to memorize them? Did they fail to comprehend them? Or is it a moral failing?

In the first case, the exams are useful.
In the second case, case studies would be more useful.
In the third case, no exam could help. The ASOPs are useful, but testing them is not...

Yes, I agree completely with case studies. Good suggestion.
...
I hate memorizing stuff. But I think it's appropriate to test the ASOPs that way.

I'm an old experienced actuary. I've seen tons of ASOP-based case studies. Most of the "professionalism" continuing ed the CAS offers is focused on case studies around the ASOPs. They publish a regular article in the newsletter with a case study and some discussion, as well.

The problem with _testing_ based on case studies include:
  • there's a good chance you could get credit without reading the ASOPs, unless the question is really picky.
  • the answers given in real life to case studies differ so much between experienced actuaries and newer actuaries that I fear it would be hard to pick appropriate "right" answers for new people.
  • the questions would be burdensome to write and grade.

I'd be willing to put up with the third point if I thought it would lead to significantly better testing, but I don't think it would. I think it would lead to worse results. I see the point of those tedious memorization questions to be to force every candidate to actually read and engage with the ASOPs, in the hopes that they remember they well enough to look at them when appropriate. I don't think you need to test ASOPs at a high Bloom's level. I think we need to certify that every actuary knows they exist, knows how to find them, and is familiar with their contents. Those tedious memorization questions do an excellent job at the first and third of those, and an okay job at the second.

The professionalism seminar (at least the CAS one, and I'd guess the SoA one) make you talk through case studies with a mix of other candidates and trained, experienced actuaries. This is more valuable than just having some case studies on exams, too, because you get to hear a wide range of interpretations and discuss the ASOPs from a variety of directions, not just from the perspective of "what would be a safe answer to this high-stakes question?" So the required educational process does include case studies, in case you were afraid it didn't.
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  #25  
Old 04-06-2018, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by PeppermintPatty View Post
The professionalism seminar (at least the CAS one, and I'd guess the SoA one) make you talk through case studies with a mix of other candidates and trained, experienced actuaries. This is more valuable than just having some case studies on exams, too, because you get to hear a wide range of interpretations and discuss the ASOPs from a variety of directions, not just from the perspective of "what would be a safe answer to this high-stakes question?" So the required educational process does include case studies, in case you were afraid it didn't.
Yes, the SOA does the same. And there were a series of articles in one of the section newsletters that invited responses from readers and discussed the results of the previous survey in the next issue.
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I feel like ERM is 90% buzzwords, and that the underlying agenda is to make sure at least one of your Corporate Officers is not dumb.
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  #26  
Old 04-14-2018, 02:58 PM
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Sredni Vashtar Sredni Vashtar is offline
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The professionalism seminar (at least the CAS one, and I'd guess the SoA one) make you talk through case studies with a mix of other candidates and trained, experienced actuaries. This is more valuable than just having some case studies on exams, too, because you get to hear a wide range of interpretations and discuss the ASOPs from a variety of directions, not just from the perspective of "what would be a safe answer to this high-stakes question?" So the required educational process does include case studies, in case you were afraid it didn't.
There's this, though similar to the modules, it's insignificant in the scope of things.

A better way of putting my post might be, "what's the best use of the thousands of hours that we spend studying?"

What would make us the best possible actuaries, and what would more reasonably cull the herd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeppermintPatty View Post
I hate memorizing stuff. But I think it's appropriate to test the ASOPs that way.

I'm an old experienced actuary. I've seen tons of ASOP-based case studies. Most of the "professionalism" continuing ed the CAS offers is focused on case studies around the ASOPs. They publish a regular article in the newsletter with a case study and some discussion, as well.

The problem with _testing_ based on case studies include:
  • there's a good chance you could get credit without reading the ASOPs, unless the question is really picky.
  • the answers given in real life to case studies differ so much between experienced actuaries and newer actuaries that I fear it would be hard to pick appropriate "right" answers for new people.
  • the questions would be burdensome to write and grade.
I would imagine "easy" case studies, rather than case studies with lots of gray areas. In the case study, the actuary forgets to state assumptions, reference sources, account for a type of risk, uses a dumb time horizon, doesn't trend properly, etc. And if you're able to get full credit without reading the ASOPs, then all the better.

The closest test I know of is the GRE's analytical writing test. It gives you a poorly constructed argument and you have to take it apart. You can study it by memorizing logical fallacies. Or you can just use common sense to point out what's wrong with the argument.

It's more useful than a test literally on logical fallacies, because someone might memorize them but not be able to see them in practice. And contrariwise, somebody always catch them in practice but be able to list them.

Quote:
I'd be willing to put up with the third point if I thought it would lead to significantly better testing, but I don't think it would. I think it would lead to worse results. I see the point of those tedious memorization questions to be to force every candidate to actually read and engage with the ASOPs, in the hopes that they remember they well enough to look at them when appropriate. I don't think you need to test ASOPs at a high Bloom's level. I think we need to certify that every actuary knows they exist, knows how to find them, and is familiar with their contents. Those tedious memorization questions do an excellent job at the first and third of those, and an okay job at the second.
But this was surprising to me. As I don't think of actually referencing the ASOPs in practice. I've never gone down a list like that in my head, during a meeting or project. Or looked up the list before taking on a new function. And nobody in my jobs has ever mentioned them as something you actually reflect on during work... So maybe I'm really thinking of them the wrong way, and I should do those things.
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His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
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Last edited by Sredni Vashtar; 04-24-2018 at 10:22 AM..
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  #27  
Old 04-14-2018, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sredni Vashtar View Post
There's this, though similar to the modules, it's insignificant in the scope of things.

A better way of putting my post might be, "what's the best use of the thousands of hours that we spend studying?"

What would make us the best possible actuaries, and what would more reasonably cull the herd?


I would imagine "easy" case studies, rather than case studies with lots of gray areas. The actuary forgets to state assumptions, reference sources, account for a type of risk, etc. If you're able to get full credit without reading the ASOPs, then all the better. If the goal is to get actuaries to read them at all, I'd just say make them swear to have read them.


But this was surprising to me. As I don't think of actually referencing the ASOPs in practice. I've never gone down a list like that in my head, during a meeting or project. Or looked up the list before taking on a new function. So maybe I'm really thinking of them the wrong way, and I should do those things.

I've never memorized that which is common sense. Things like the logical fallacies, or "good" vs "bad" behavior, or how to critically think, or how to be a good friend.... It's always seemed that the memorization of the list and the actual good practice, have very little to do with each other. But it's good to hear a clearly opposing perspective.
The best use for the ASOPs in my day to day work (and I'm only now reaching a level where I am an "actuary" in regards to professional responsibilities, as opposed to be an assistant to an "actuary"), is as a reference to refer to when organizing future work.

As an example, standard valuation reports - put in the extra effort before you've done any work to structure the results in a way that complies with the ASOPs regarding communications, data, assumptions, provisions, then do the work in compliance with those standards.

Our quality procedures (policed by our Chief Actuary by random audits) regarding documentation of work effectively add a checklist of 'did you ???' that mandates producing the work in compliance with the ASOPs.

I really don't have to ever reread or refer to them because they're so ingrained in the process.
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  #28  
Old 04-25-2018, 07:14 PM
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Don’t take the FSA track for your own practice area. It will just annoy you.
I was taking the Health exams and never had worked on medical insurance before. (Was in a niche field instead.) It landed me a Sr. Analyst job at an insurer. lol
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  #29  
Old 05-01-2018, 12:49 PM
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The FSA exams are bad enough that I actively discourage potential actuarial students from entering the profession.
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  #30  
Old 05-02-2018, 12:10 AM
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The FSA exams are bad enough that I actively discourage potential actuarial students from entering the profession.
Agreed. I spent a good amount of LFV study time researching why I shouldn’t be an actuary.

OTOH, once I become an FSA, I’ll want everyone else to endure the same degree of suffering.
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