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Group & Health Core Exam Old Group & Health Design & Pricing Forum

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  #1  
Old 02-12-2019, 02:51 PM
fightinphilz fightinphilz is offline
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Default Seeking advice for how to study for Core

I've now failed Core twice, and i'm taking it for a third time in the spring. My problem is, i just have such a hard time memorizing these 344 MATE flashcards. There's literally just so much material on all these flashcards, and i find it extremely difficult to recall the material from memory. It's such specific detailed lists that don't have a huge amount of context, so i feel like memorizing all these lists just seems impossible, and yet so many people out there are doing it and passing the exam.

Can someone offer some study strategies to how they accomplished this feat, of memorizing all these flashcards? It just seems so much easier said than done.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:07 PM
AlexLar2007 AlexLar2007 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fightinphilz View Post
I've now failed Core twice, and i'm taking it for a third time in the spring. My problem is, i just have such a hard time memorizing these 344 MATE flashcards. There's literally just so much material on all these flashcards, and i find it extremely difficult to recall the material from memory. It's such specific detailed lists that don't have a huge amount of context, so i feel like memorizing all these lists just seems impossible, and yet so many people out there are doing it and passing the exam.

Can someone offer some study strategies to how they accomplished this feat, of memorizing all these flashcards? It just seems so much easier said than done.

I find that to get the much needed context, it helps a lot to actually read the assigned books. It helps with the deeper understanding of the material as well as easier memorization of lists and cards.
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  #3  
Old 02-14-2019, 01:27 PM
ksc413 ksc413 is offline
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Take this with a grain of salt since I got a 5 on my first attempt (studying for #2 now), but acronyms are my go-to for the longer lists. Easier to see what I'm missing that way. I also notice a lot of crossover between flashcards (at least for TIA), so combining cards into larger groups might be more useful than memorizing individually.

Also agree with Alex above. I don't think you need to do the full readings necessarily, but read through sections you have trouble memorizing so there's a story behind the list instead of just words on a page.
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  #4  
Old 02-14-2019, 06:35 PM
PoisedGiraffe PoisedGiraffe is offline
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Something that I did was use a whiteboard to practice notecards. I found that I couldn't keep track of all the items in my head when I was trying to recall, especially for longer lists.

Writing each of the cards out every time, and then writing the items I had missed helped. This also helped me come up with acronyms or patterns in the cards when I could see how I tended to write them out myself(sometimes my wording wasn't exactly the same as the card, as I was just jotting down the idea)
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:07 AM
ksc413 ksc413 is offline
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Originally Posted by PoisedGiraffe View Post
Something that I did was use a whiteboard to practice notecards. I found that I couldn't keep track of all the items in my head when I was trying to recall, especially for longer lists.
Totally stealing that idea...thanks!
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2019, 10:52 AM
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Derek @ TIA Derek @ TIA is offline
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Good suggestions here.

Let me be clear with this - this exam is NOT about just memorizing a big pile of lists. To me, that's a common misconception for this exam, and I hear students talking about notecards a lot. They are clearly important, but that's only part of the story. You need to have the big picture of what the notecard really means with some context, so that you can intelligently answer a non straight-forward question about the material, and you need to understand how the material ties together.

That being said, the notecards/lists are an important part of your overall learning process. For memorizing the notecards, I think it's really, really important to actually write them out. It's too easy to look at the back of the card, read through them as you're reciting a few of them in your head and thinking "Yeah, I got most of these." It's a much harder exercise to truly write them out. It also engages a different part of your brain and your learning process, so it will help them stick. On top of that, literally writing for 5 hrs on the exam is surprisingly hard work, and your hand will get tired (this fatigue truly is an issue), so this is a great way to get your hand in shape before the exam and working on writing quickly but legibly.

You'll see that I recommend and include a lot of mnemonics/acronyms in my online course. I was never one that used those techniques prior to the FSA exams, but seeing the massive amounts of lists, I knew I'd need to adopt another strategy, and that's what worked for me. It doesn't work for everyone, but it definitely does help a lot of students. Additionally, you can think of making songs to help you remember or picturing the items together in a drawing, so you can mentally store and recall those items.

On top of the notecards, there are lots of calculations that you need to understand and be able to set up quickly, there are various considerations, and there's a lot of analysis that you need to do on the exam to answer a question that you haven't seen before and that may not be directly on one of those notecards. Memorizing the notecards is important, but I definitely hear of situations where someone simply memorizes all of the notecards but still fails the exam because they don't know how to put it all together or properly attack the numerical problems. Practice exams are very important to see how problems may be ask, but also to work on your exam taking methods and timing.
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:54 AM
WokeBae WokeBae is offline
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I'll second the fact there is a lot more to the exam than just memorizing the notecards. I was told contrary, to just memorize notecards, and you'd be good. Having every notecard down verbatim on average probably gets you a 5. I never used acronyms. The acronyms presented in the study material seemed to be just as random and subjective as the lists themselves, I conquered the notecards by literally reciting them out loud all day every day. Writing them down would have also been beneficial, as it prepares you for the extensive amount of writing. As Derek mentions, fatigue is no joke and probably often overlooked. I also needed to read the source material. Many of the notecards seemed random or lacked context. After reading the source material, I could at least see where it was coming from. To be honest, I read the source material more than once, and often on the second pass could actually see the notecards as I was going along. I know some people who had very little issue with the written exams, they were very difficult for me. Keep mixing it up and familiarize yourself with the SOA solutions and the solutions for TIA, MATE, and Condie. Train yourself to answer the questions in a manner similar to what you see in the solutions. The sooner you can give them what they are looking for, the sooner you can move on with your life.
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2019, 12:41 PM
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I'm on attempt #2, and here's what I've found

1. Like some others have mentioned, reading the original source material is a huge benefit here. I never even considered cracking open a textbook for the preliminary exams, but this exam is a totally different thing. A lot of it is very readable - I'm suddenly a huge fan of the Kaiser Family Foundation! There are exceptions, for example I'm not reading through every word of FAS 106 - the TIA outline of what we need to know is sufficient.

2. 8,493 note cards with a single prompt on the front and a list of 75 things on the back don't work for me. I'm doing the readings then watching the TIA videos, making (and constantly revising) my own outline in the form of a word document with prompts on the left, responses on the right. When possible I'm breaking the lists into sub-lists. So, if the exam says "List 4 things" I have a list memorized of the 4 things. If it says "describe" the 4 things, I've memorized the list of 4 things as one prompt, and the details on each of them as 4 additional prompts.

3. Mnemonics with one letter from each thing are totally useless for me. Knowing that I'm missing "one of the ones that starts with P" doesn't get me to the answer most of the time. Whenever possible, I'm trying to memorize lists in some kind of logical way.

Example: "Goals of Insurance Regulation".
The first thing I think of is 1) prevent insolvency, obviously.
So that leads me naturally to think about 2) prevent less serious problems.
Then I think through who the stakeholders are in all this:
I remember there's one for the insurers 3) Maintain fairness among competitors
and one for the insureds 4) be sure the products are a good value
and last there are two for the government 5) Raise tax revenue 6) Advance social goals.
Then I argue with myself that the last one probably shouldn't be considered one for the government, but at that point who cares - move on

4. To help with some of the really bulky lists, research "Memory Palace". The more ridiculous the visual/mental associates you come up with, the better they will stick.
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Old 02-25-2019, 06:29 PM
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Derek @ TIA Derek @ TIA is offline
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Fantastic post, Tbug! Thank you for sharing those ideas with everyone.

The active reading and outlining that you're doing is a great way to help learn the concepts in your own words and reinforce them in your brain with multiple inputs - seeing them, writing them, reciting them.
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Old 03-01-2019, 05:27 PM
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DarchArvor DarchArvor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbug View Post
Example: "Goals of Insurance Regulation".
The first thing I think of is 1) prevent insolvency, obviously.
So that leads me naturally to think about 2) prevent less serious problems.
Then I think through who the stakeholders are in all this:
I remember there's one for the insurers 3) Maintain fairness among competitors
and one for the insureds 4) be sure the products are a good value
and last there are two for the government 5) Raise tax revenue 6) Advance social goals.
Then I argue with myself that the last one probably shouldn't be considered one for the government, but at that point who cares - move on
This is gold.
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