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  #31  
Old 12-06-2017, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Colonel Smoothie View Post
I agree, it's wasteful to test people on material that isn't going to be used on the job or that they'll forget shortly after taking the exam.
Was college wasteful? high school? You do forget a lot. If remembering is so important we should have to retake the exams periodically.
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  #32  
Old 12-06-2017, 01:40 AM
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You're trying to create a set of exams that require more creativity and problem solving ability instead of raw study effort and computational prowess.
Both creativity and problem-solving ability are so vague as general concepts that any effort to create a standarized test for them is laughable.
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  #33  
Old 12-06-2017, 01:55 AM
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Both creativity and problem-solving ability are so vague as general concepts that any effort to create a standarized test for them is laughable.
That was a response to my concern that exams have a heavy focus on carrying out computations rather than testing grasp of underlying concepts. This was in the specific context of the current exam material. In other words, testing on properties of the exponential distribution rather than just computing the probability that a specific one is greater than 1... just as an example.

I feel that a deeper understanding of what things mean and a more macroscopic perspective is important in addition to being able to do computations. I worry that right now many people are able to pass these exams learning by example and skipping the much more important step of understanding the actual underlying concepts at a level that allows recognizing their applicability in unfamiliar settings. Recognizing when it is appropriate to use something from the exams in real life requires the ability to abstract and see when two situations are isomorphic. Itís such a useful skill that these exams donít do a great job of preparing people for.
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  #34  
Old 12-06-2017, 02:04 AM
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This is pretty much how I feel. The exams are so disheartening from a learning stance. Do I want to spend 300 hours learning things I likely won't use on the job? Or spend 300 hours learning things that I believe will help me elsewhere that I can specifically choose? For most actuarial jobs, the exams are just barriers.

Unfortunately, a lot of people focus on the grades they got in college or the exams they've passed. Little do they think about the knowledge that they gained during that process. What matters most to these individuals is quite myopic; checking off their "success boxes".

If one wants their salary to be defined by these boxes rather then persistent knowledge, then don't remove them. That barrier keeps salaries higher.

-Riley
Since there are many possible actuarial roles, it seems impractical that all the actuarial exams should be used on the job. Shouldn't you be learning that stuff on the job anyway?

The actuarial credential should be a broad and establish minimal competency. It should maximize the amount of pertinent actuarial knowledge you learn in the least amount of time. I think we do a pretty bad job at that but that's the ideal. Some of it will be boring. Accounting is extremely boring compared to learning machine learning but both matter for competency.

In real life hiring, I think most people hire based on skills and persistent knowledge. FSA or FCAS is just the bare minimum.
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  #35  
Old 12-06-2017, 02:15 AM
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I worry that right now many people are able to pass these exams learning by example and skipping the much more important step of understanding the actual underlying concepts at a level that allows recognizing their applicability in unfamiliar settings. Recognizing when it is appropriate to use something from the exams in real life requires the ability to abstract and see when two situations are isomorphic. Itís such a useful skill that these exams donít do a great job of preparing people for.
That's great and all but I don't think I've ever seen exams that were good at doing that. Exams are by their very nature rather restrictive and some things can't be taught.
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  #36  
Old 12-06-2017, 02:25 AM
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That's great and all but I don't think I've ever seen exams that were good at doing that. Exams are by their very nature rather restrictive and some things can't be taught.
Ask someone who passed exam C what an estimator is and maybe youíll understand my perspective.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:10 AM
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Ideal travel time should be 2 years. Otherwise, you'll be bogged down with exams while the data scientists who are fresh out of masters programs are outcompeting you because they're devoting more time to actual work.
Outcompeting in terms of what?
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:11 AM
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I think that the 5 prelims might not be too much, but could change their focus to better effect. The FAP could definitely use some paring down. It's extremely redundant.
What do you think could be pared out of the current FAP syllabus?
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  #39  
Old 12-06-2017, 04:18 AM
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The exams mostly encourage the development of skills that both don't translate into being an effective problem solver as an actuary and are mostly lost soon after passing. The skills to abstract and understand underlying concepts would be practical and exams with this focus would produce actuaries that can adapt what they've learned to real world problems. Many talented people would be attracted to this type of focus and would not feel the burden of a huge opportunity cost to waste time on acquiring largely useless skills.
IMO, from what I've seen from the FAP syllabus, this is the primary benefit over the style of testing via the FAP over the computer-based preliminary exams. Making a recommendation based on your analysis and writing up a justification of your analysis? That's essentially the gist of what we do.

One could make the argument that multiple-choice testing doesn't give exam writers enough opportunity to truly test for creative problem solving. To resolve that issue, all exams could be written answer.
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  #40  
Old 12-06-2017, 10:20 AM
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What do you think could be pared out of the current FAP syllabus?
I think that there is no need for modules 1-8. The entire course could be the two assessments and the readings etc.

The readings should absolutely be reduced in number since many are redundant. Currently there are so many redundant readings that each gets very little attention from candidates. It's exhausting reading the same thing so many times. An effort to reduce them to the essentials would lead to candidates getting the most out of each one. Candidates would also have a more clear understanding of what will be tested on the assessments.

The SOA should be transparent about its grading policy on the assessments and provide feedback to candidates with every failing score.

The SOA should also force itself to randomly regrade papers that have already been graded to demonstrate that their process is consistent and investigate when there are mismatches between a new score and the one originally issued. The mismatch rate should be published on their website. This would quickly lead to practices that ensure consistency. Every grader should have to provide internal documentation detailing why they issued the score that they did to aid in this effort and to make providing timely feedback possible.

EDIT: A huge advantage to these changes would be that the SOA would not have to manage so much module content and the burden on graders would be significantly reduced. This means they could address all of the broken links and errors in the slides and case studies and maintain them properly. With a reduction in grading workload, each candidate would get the proper attention he/she is owed (and paid for) and grading would be completed in a more timely fashion. Candidates, employers, members and the public would have increased confidence in the integrity and value of the credential. It's interesting that my suggestions would make the FAP course much closer to resembling the CAS OC1/OC2. Maybe they're doing something right.

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Originally Posted by wat? View Post
Making a recommendation based on your analysis and writing up a justification of your analysis? That's essentially the gist of what we do.
Having the ability to make recommendations and effectively communicate is paramount, but must be coupled with complete information (or at least as complete as possible) and real data/analytics/science/expertise. I hate to say it, but the FAP course currently encourages actuaries to be confident in hand waving more than anything else.

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One could make the argument that multiple-choice testing doesn't give exam writers enough opportunity to truly test for creative problem solving. To resolve that issue, all exams could be written answer.
There are a lot of people that agree with you on that. I would say that simply requiring deeper insight into the concepts tested would lead to more actuaries that have better problem solving skills and the ability to recognize when the concepts can be applied effectively at work. Not everyone will have that breakthrough, but at least they would be forced to acquire the necessary tools. You might be surprised how many people pass exam P and can't tell you what a random variable is. That's not a good sign.

Last edited by Z3ta; 12-06-2017 at 11:08 AM..
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