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Old 07-13-2019, 05:21 PM
XP-SteveScoles's Avatar
XP-SteveScoles XP-SteveScoles is offline
Join Date: Apr 2016
College: University of Manitoba
Posts: 245
Default FAQ and Testimonials from this sitting

Hey students
First, THANK YOU to the students that bought our premium package yesterday - that was an all-time record for us on results day!!

Second, getting lots of questions from students - here is a "FAQ" of common questions to help you choose the best study help for the 300 hours of your life you are about to invest in SDM.

1) I just failed SDM on first attempt. Previously I was using another study company for SDM and due to the syllabus change I felt that the quality of the material could be improved. I felt like I did too much memory work without spending enough effort to link to the case study. I would like to ask how can XP improve on these aspects for my preparation this round? What are the elements in your program which could address the weaknesses in my previous preparation?

This is a good insight into one of the things you need to be better at for this exam. For the case study, we have a critical case study assignment and solution videos. We also have an 80-point checklist of points in the case study that connect directly to the syllabus material.

Our study manual and syllabus videos also connect the material to the case study directly - there are a lot of connections to make!

The case study analysis is actually just one of several major areas you are likely missing out on that can make a real difference on this exam. Other areas to help you include ... Interactive videos, practice exams, flash cards that have extra tips on understanding, lots of instructor comments in the study manual to explain common ways material is or can be tested, personal video feedback on practice or SOA exams, etc.

2) How is your study manual set up?
Each study manual section includes extensive instructor comments including extra explanations of confusing concepts and tips on how to study that section of the syllabus for how you will be tested on this exam. It also has many connections to the case study.

3) Why should I worry about feedback when I have already passed two exams.
This is an important question and the answer is why we include this in the Premium Package.

First, I think it is fair to say students have been tricked into thinking all SOA written answer exams are similar -- which is far from the truth.

Second, for an average SDM student who has already passed two written answer exams, I can usually find about 10 to 15 points they could pick up on the exam that they are completely unaware of. I go through their specific errors in a personal video and give more feedback to make sure they have truly fixed those errors.

When you realize the most common mark for non-XP students is a 5 and those students are likely only 6 or 7 points away from a Pass, those 10 to 15 points I identify can be an absolute game changer.

4) Do you have audio flash cards?
We will have audio flash cards and downloadable videos for your listening enjoyment. I think for many students this can be very helpful -- I also include little extras in our flash cards and audio versions to push you to towards understanding the material rather than just memorizing.

5) What is your background?
former full-time actuary, now part-time university instructor, university case study coach (two national championships) and sports coach. I also enjoy long walks while contemplating how to turn the RPPC case company into the juggernaut it deserves to be

6) Do you have samples for me to take a look at?
Study manual:
Practice exams:

7) I have heard you have really good practice exams - tell me more
Three of our practice exams are meant to simulate the real thing - so they bring in the case study and tough SDM-like questions to bring everything together. These final 3 exams are the culmination of our enhanced SDM study process that has worked really well.

This is also where I give detailed video feedback - which is well-calibrated to what passing students do - so you are not left wondering/hoping you are doing the right things to pass.

These practice exams also have special answer commentary to point out common errors to help give you proper immediate feedback so you can quickly weed out common errors.

8) What is the pass rate for your students?

Online seminar (now called Premium Package) for 2018+Spring 19: 86%

I recommend the Premium Package as that has all of the tools that seem to work so well. Also, I think this might be one of the highest ever recorded pass rates for an actuarial study product/exam in history.

Having said that, every student I have worked with has said they worked harder for SDM than they have for any other exam in their life. Really hard work + XP seems to be the best formula for SDM.

Testimonials - a few of the comments we have received from our Spring students
I wouldn't have passed this exam without your help considering all the syllabus changes. The practice questions and solutions/videos/documents on your website were so helpful. Again, can't thank you enough!

Komal Rizvi

HUGE thanks to Steve at XP Actuarial. SDM is a beast of an exam and I firmly believe that his dedication as an instructor pushed me over the hump. It was definitely my competitive advantage this sitting. Steve provided so much one-on-one support in the form of weekly progress check-ins and written answer feedback. In addition, Steve did an amazing job in covering the new syllabus objectives by providing extra accounting and DMD problems from their respective source textbooks. Steve's practice exams also did a great job at anticipating the type of questions you may see on exam day. There were one or two questions this sitting I would've whiffed without having looked through Steve's practice exams. XP was an unbelievable deal given the sticker price. Can't sing his praises enough!

Actuarial Outpost legend: 110PercentWahoo

After passing two CFE exams, I figured that I would take the same approach with SDM. This did not work out for me. I'm so glad that I decided to go with XP Actuarial for my second attempt. Steve's course was incredibly helpful and he highlighted all of the elements that make SDM unlike any previous exam. You can tell how much he truly cares about his students as he consistently reached out to me helping to make sure that I was on the right track. He scheduled regular review sessions with me where we had very helpful conversations about the material. I was especially impressed with the care and thought that he put into his practice exams. They were unlike any practice exam that I took in the past. Furthermore, the personalized feedback that he gave me on the practice exams was invaluable. The feedback really helped me hone my approach towards this exam. On exam day, I found the actual exam to be very much in line with my expectations and I felt that I definitely had all the tools to succeed. I was thrilled to see my number on the passing candidates list. Thanks Steve!

An XP student who wanted to get SDM done so he could spend time with his family and new child

I found out I passed; thanks for all you did! Your materials and especially the videos were very helpful!

Adam Berlinski

1 week before the exam:
Your exams and feedback are also amazing and helped me get a deeper understanding of the material. I really appreciate all your help on this. I see you’re very busy, but still able to provide feedback in a timely manner which is amazing.

After results:
Thanks again for everything Steve, it was a tough exam and you truly are the reason why I was able to pass!

Rahat Jain

- The study manual was exactly what I was looking for. I thought the organization made sense with the Key Points listed first before each reading with your commentary about what’s important. The instructor comments during the readings was a key advantage, as it forced me to stop and think a little bit about what I was reading and how it might connect to other ideas.
- Having suggested practice problems for DMD and Accounting were useful.
- Practice exams were much more helpful than the other company's practice exams. They felt much closer to actual SOA exams. Working with you on feedback to ensure I was on the right track was great.
- Like I mentioned, I plan to recommend XP for SDM to coworkers.


You are about to invest 300 hours+ into this exam - if you want a major competitive advantage over the other students, we can offer you that.


one more recent testimonial …

Originally Posted by jamesdurden View Post
For SDM, I sat twice and used two study services. I can say, without hesitation, that Steve at XP provides a level of service and care unlike anything I have experienced. We had several detailed discussions on his feedback on my practice exams, helping me to refine my approach, style of writing, and the way I read and understand questions. It is this level of service that I am certain took me across the finish line to pass my final actuarial exam.
I help students pass SDM

XP premium package SDM pass rate in Spring 2019 was 91.7%!

Using anything less is clearly a very poor strategic decision

Last edited by XP-SteveScoles; 07-20-2019 at 09:08 PM.. Reason: adding more testimonials as they come in!
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:48 PM
ggwolverines ggwolverines is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Favorite beer: Oberon
Posts: 252

If anyone is on the fence about which material to use, here is my experience. I used PAK for both ERM and CFE and thought their material was really good for in depth knowledge. I used their material again for SDM the first 2 times I attempted the exam. After my second fail I switched to XP out of my own pocket. I definitely wish I had used them to begin with. The way the material is presented is extremely useful and practical. Steve makes great connections to the syllabus and other study material. It's great that when you are learning one part of the material everything else is being reinforced. He is also really good at pulling in outside examples to reinforce key topics. Having new illustrations, especially current examples, helps solidify topics.

Steve also is fully committed to your individual success. He reached out multiple times to see how things were going and if there was anything he could do, including phone calls, to help me. Having both great material and personalized help is a tremendous resource for such a difficult exam. You don't just learn the material but how to pass the exam. I highly recommend XP Actuarial.
And boom goes the dynamite.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:36 PM
aaggh2003 aaggh2003 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2016
Studying for SDM
College: University of Wisconsin - Madison - Alumni
Favorite beer: Yebisu
Posts: 91

I passed ERM and CFE using PAK and when I read about Exam SDM, I know it's something totally different from the previous two. Now I passed with my first attempt and I am so glad that I purchased XP; Steve is the best instructor that you can ever imagine to help you exam-prep.

Study Manual: Unlike PAK, Steve tried to point out key concepts in his own words and sometimes use funny examples that help you understand the big picture. It will be the best for people who need some background information to better understand and better apply the knowledge, which I think is a key skill to have to pass SDM.

Study Tips videos: Those were definitely useful. All candidates are intelligent to make this far, but having the knowledge to read/answer questions well gives you the biggest advantage. Like what ggwolverines said above, you learn HOW to pass the exam with XP.

Practice Exams: Steve doesn't just throw you exams that you can answer by flipping to the page of the study manual/source material. His exams are well-organized, trying to cover everything that's important, and definitely challenging your ability to apply what you learnt. I attempted all those practice exams under exam-like environment and sent my solutions to Steve, which brings up my next point.

Steve is there to help when you're willing to dedicate time and effort. We spoke on the phone multiple times regarding what he found from my PE answers that can be improved, things I'd done well (this is a great confidence booster when it comes to a week or two before the exam), and any little concepts that I wasn't comfortable with. With this, what else can you ask from a study package instructor?

Again, if you are willing to invest the time and effort, Steve is there, trying his best to greatly increase your chance of passing.
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