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  #21  
Old 05-03-2018, 03:36 PM
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In the very olden days the first prelim was an English exam, but they got rid of that a while ago. I think FAP is better than an English exam but YMMV.
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Back in the old, old, days, the first actuarial exam was English.
Yes! That was before my time, but I've definitely heard stories.
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  #22  
Old 05-03-2018, 03:41 PM
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I guess my final thought on the subject is that yes, there are some people who do well on the preliminary exams and then struggle on the written answer exams. Some of them struggle through it; some of them end up career ASAs.

While I'm sure the feelings of career ASAs about "not finishing" are quite varied, looking at the DW Simpson Salary Survey, it's hardly the worst fate a person can suffer.


I'm only making $125,000 with 3 direct reports when I should be making $175,000 with 6 direct reports.

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  #23  
Old 05-03-2018, 04:23 PM
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do lawyers, doctors, accountants and analysts (CFA) have to go through two stages of drastically different exams? i doubt it (I could be wrong).
FWIW, a lot of people pass CFA Level 1 and 2 and then go on to fail Level 3 because they are not used to written exams as opposed to multiple choice.

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I am less concerned about employers, but I noticed a pattern in hiring: companies are staying away from ESL folks with 4~5 prelims, they now realize that native English speakers with only 2~3 exams will likely end up getting their FSA sooner!
Do you have any data that back this up? I used to work for a company with a huge actuarial program that hires both citizens/PRs and international students. I don't see a trend like you mention at all.
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  #24  
Old 05-03-2018, 04:37 PM
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what do the prelims accomplish at the moment? very little in my opinion for a process that takes 3 years on average.

I am curious, what do you think should be the purpose of the preliminary exams then?
As a rough description, to make sure that candidates learn the mathematics behind actuarial work well enough that the amount they know 5 years later, and even later still, will be adequate then. (“Adequate” recognizes the ability to consult sources then, but not to the extent that you need to consult a textbook to calculate basic life insurance premiums.)

I bet very few new FSAs could pass C today, in part because of time issues, but many would not get enough right with twice the normal time. I also bet that almost all would do better on C today than people who never studied C would. I hope all would know how to calculate expected values (not necessarily knowing specific formulas for moments of distributions), would have some understanding of the variability of results around the expected value, and an understanding of the effect of deductibles and maximums.
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  #25  
Old 05-03-2018, 06:48 PM
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As a rough description, to make sure that candidates learn the mathematics behind actuarial work well enough that the amount they know 5 years later, and even later still, will be adequate then.
you see, i don't really agree with that at all.

i don't know about other tracks but for pension, the FSA level exams are more than enough to hone your mathematics skills needed for work.

looking back, i don't think the prelims helped me in any way or shape. it was a complete waste of 1.5 years of my life.

all the modules (FAP/FSA/DMAC) actually were useful, the FSA level exams even more so.
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  #26  
Old 05-03-2018, 07:19 PM
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THAT, is the false expectation i was focusing on. i.e., people simply cannot afford to give up when they reach the FSA level exams, but those exams are different from what they were expecting when they entered the field.
really? i'm happy to stop at ASA. FSA isn't required in pensions at all.

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Originally Posted by Pension.Mathematics View Post
you see, i don't really agree with that at all.

i don't know about other tracks but for pension, the FSA level exams are more than enough to hone your mathematics skills needed for work.

looking back, i don't think the prelims helped me in any way or shape. it was a complete waste of 1.5 years of my life.

all the modules (FAP/FSA/DMAC) actually were useful, the FSA level exams even more so.
I haven't taken an FSA level exam and am also in pensions. Took the prelims years ago and recently took FAP. I agree that the prelims weren't all that helpful to doing the job well. EA exams are very useful. FAP had a few little useful tid bits, but a lot of useless stuff too. It was mostly good at teaching communication on the job type skills though and agree that it was a good replacement for an English exam. not hugely helpful otherwise though.
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  #27  
Old 05-03-2018, 07:31 PM
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I'm CAS. And the prelims have changed since I took them. But "demonstrate that you are good at algebra and understand some stats and distributions" strikes me as a really useful filter for candidates who might be good at this gig. The only material that I've found completely useless is some of the finance stuff. (The rate of return material is valuable, though.)

I think lots of professions have a variety of hurdles to get through, some of which will be easier or harder for some individuals. Doctors have to be good at physics and math in college, to get into med school. Once in med school, they have to be good at memorizing vast quantities of stuff. And to actually succeed in the field, they also have to be good at communicating with sick confused people.
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  #28  
Old 05-03-2018, 08:48 PM
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what do the prelims accomplish at the moment? very little in my opinion for a process that takes 3 years on average.

I am curious, what do you think should be the purpose of the preliminary exams then?
The prelims are useful for college kids who are attending terrible schools/programs and wouldn't be hired without having passed some of the preliminary exams.
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  #29  
Old 05-03-2018, 08:52 PM
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i don't know about other tracks but for pension, the FSA level exams are more than enough to hone your mathematics skills needed for work.
I'm doing the ILA track and my job is fairly traditional.

The FSA exams have been extremely relevant to my actual work, but I don't think I could have learned or understood the material without a solid mathematical foundation from the prelims. How do you calculate the cost of a VA GMDB if you never learned the basics of Black-Scholes? How do you calculate XXX reserves if you never learned the basics of survivorship, A(x), or a(x)?

By learning the prelim math first, you can really focus your attention on the concepts and applications. The math should be a tool, rather than the end result, at the fellowship level.
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  #30  
Old 05-04-2018, 07:50 AM
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they also have to be good at communicating with sick confused people.
A skill that could sometimes be useful on the AO, too.
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