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Old 06-17-2016, 10:01 AM
guppi guppi is offline
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Omaha, NE
College: University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Posts: 7
Default Supplemental Study Material Advice

Hello! First FSA-level exam taker here...let me tell you, sorting through material for FSA level exams is nothing like the preliminary exams. Multiple source materials, multiple study manuals, flash cards, audio books, CDs, online seminars, and's a little overwhelming.

I've read enough to understand that getting the source books and SOA Study Note is basically mandatory for success. My question to you is the supplemental materials - like TIA/PAK/ACE/XP/etc. I want to get the best for my (company's) money...and the majority of information out there on these materials is posted by people who work for the company and are looking for my money. I'm asking that NO posts come from company sponsored accounts on this thread and that only people who have actually used material give their opinion (or second hand if a coworker did).

This will benefit everyone - the companies will get free, honest feedback that will help improve the products and the rest of us will get unbiased opinions from people who took the exam. If you passed or not, your opinion is important on these materials to the rest of us - please share!
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Old 06-20-2016, 09:24 AM
Sam9530130 Sam9530130 is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2

My company bought the PAK Premium package for me and I have started studying a little over a week ago. So far, I really like the format of their notes and the online seminar videos are short and to the point. It is also my first go at a FSA-level exam.

I haven't received the condensed summary or the flash cards yet so I can't comment on that but from what I've seen so far and heard from others, I would definitely recommend it.
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Old 06-20-2016, 10:35 AM
almostdonewiththis almostdonewiththis is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 164

I've seen every manual with the exception of XP. TIA has decent videos, I would say better than PAK. PAK wins in every other area. Even in the last sitting, they have developed so many helpful items in addition to the basic outline/summary of the source readings. They take student feedback and improve their manual every sitting. You may get what you need from other manuals, but you will likely be at a disadvantage if you don't use PAK's supplemental materials.
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Old 07-14-2016, 09:57 AM
guppi guppi is offline
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Omaha, NE
College: University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Posts: 7

So...I ended up with The Infinite Actuary. My thought process was: it's been great for the prelims I used it for, so why change up a good thing?

Disclaimer: I haven't shared my concerns directly with the instructor and given him a a chance to respond. Also, I might be extra bitter because I wasn't reimbursed in full from my company (TIA is considered more than 1 supplemental material due to videos, note cards, and manual) so I have a financial stake in the materials. Here's your grain of salt to accompany my opinion. And this is only my opinion.

Early analysis: I was wrong. The "Detailed Study Guide" they give is severely lacking. It actually has formulas that are not defined (first example: 13.2.3 Effect of Price Impact, Section A, VAR Chap 13). As in, you have to open the textbook, find the formula, and figure out what alpha/beta/gamma is and then how to use/apply it. I've also found the videos to skip over material - which might be OK if it's not a main topic or something, but based on the lack of detail in other materials I have to question if it's an oversight rather than intentional. This might be a personal pet peeve, but another thing on the videos - the instructor is reading, not teaching, the material. I haven't found much substance added yet - but I guess we are talking mostly about definitions at this point. This leads to him using analogies that aren't complete or are completely irrelevant. Not just bad, irrelevant to the material. And I'm still in section A.

Since this is my first FSA level exam and first look at the supplemental materials that go along with these exams, maybe this is the new normal I have to get used to (my coworkers familiar with other exam material disagrees and laughed at what I pointed out). As my disclaimer states, I have not shared these concerns with the instructor directly and have not given them a chance to respond. I want to first share this opinion with others who are looking for advice - I can always change my opinion, but as of now I really wish I went a different route. But, that is just one random internet person's opinion. Maybe you'll look at the samples and find it works for you. Me, I'm going to try picking up some old free stuff from around the office to supplement my $1,095 in supplemental materials.

I hope this feedback is helpful to candidates and all material providers - just because this is a personal review of TIA doesn't mean the others shouldn't be checking their own materials for inadequacy!
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Old 07-14-2016, 10:33 AM
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Caitlin525 Caitlin525 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: East Coast
Studying for ERM-ILA
Posts: 130

Someone at my company recently warned me against getting TIA for the ERM exam. She said she'd used it for another FSA exam but specifically didn't like the ERM exam one. I wonder how different they are.

Everyone at my company told me to go with ACE so I ordered their stuff. We'll see. It seems like a huge adjustment from prelims!

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Old 07-14-2016, 05:54 PM
Nardo! Nardo! is offline
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 103

My two cents:

I tried TIA the first time I took ERM and didn't much care for it. I used PAK this time (new employer) and I thought they were better, but weren't exactly what I needed.

My plan for the next exam I take is to read the source material + study notes and make my own flash cards. Then, once all that is done, read a study manual, run aforementioned flash cards, and work problems.

I remember things best when I've written it down myself (and if you google it, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that's the case for everyone). Plus you get your hand used to writing which is important.
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Old 07-14-2016, 06:37 PM
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PaulP PaulP is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Studying for ERM, CFE, SDM
Posts: 1,381

Almost everyone likes to learn just a little bit differently. I've had students that just liked the source materials, some that listened to MP3s of videos, and a couple that would finish a reading and then email me to talk about it.

I'd suggest looking around at all of the different providers to see if any of them see right for you, and then supplement with your own personal touches. (And of course, feel free to ask me any questions!)

Originally Posted by Nardo! View Post
Plus you get your hand used to writing which is important.
This is REALLY good advice! One thing I hear a lot from students is that they didn't realize how much their hand would hurt.
Paul - CFE/SDM/ERM Online Seminar Instructor
PAK Study Manual Packages/Seminars for CFE/SDM/ERM Fall 2019

SDM: Sample
CFE: Sample
ERM: Sample
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corp finance, erm, fsa exams, soa

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