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Is there a guaranteed way to pass the SOA exam?

I am studying to be an actuary but I have heard and read that to be an actuary requires one to undertake this very difficult test called the SOA exam. Does it mean that one can’t be an actuary without taking these difficult exams? Is there a mock exam that one can take in order to prepare themselves for these exams? Where can I get test answers for these exams on the web and how long does it take to finish all these tests?

Curtis Rhodes

in Exams and Tests

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Heather Maxwell on July 18, 2018

As you are aware, Actuarial Science is one of the most difficult professions to successfully complete, not just in the US but everywhere else in the world. Actuaries are risk professionals, managing, measuring and predicting risk wherever there are complex financial operations. They are also some of the most financially rewarded employees in the world, and if you successfully complete your course and all those difficult exams you were talking about, you’ll be glad you took that route.

Unfortunately, as you may well know it is also one of the most difficult fields to take up.
Highly regulated in the United States by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), being a certified Actuary requires several professional exams to undertake successfully. Professional exams are part and parcel of being an actuary, and you can’t avoid them. Can you cheat on these exams? Probably no. You have to put in thousands of hours of practice, studying and training to become an actuary and if you don’t, you’re probably just a statistician or another mathematician. The SOA examinations are the main part of being an actuary. There’s literally no way around it.

There are probability exams, financial mathematics exams, and financial economics exams, and others. You’ll typically need to do six exams for the SOA. The problems that you will encounter during these exams are highly complex, and you’ll need to be able to solve them in the shortest time possible. As someone who is starting out in the discipline, I have to warn you that your commitment to time and study will be severely tested when you start out with the course. It will get progressively harder as you go along and you need to be ready to take a real hit to your social and even family life.

There are online mock exams that you can take to try and simulate the real exam experience, but these will never be as intense. The SOA itself offers past exams that you can use to study while others may provide the papers that they have done. However, all actuaries know that it takes 120% effort to be able to face any of those exams. The answers to tests you’ll get online will only be as good as your ability to solve problems. 

Leigh Mann8 months ago

You have to study with complete determination to pass the SOA exam. There’s no shortcut to it. There’s no cheating on these exams, and there’s no the halfway point or effort. You simply have to study and master your content. Math, statistics, complex calculus and logical tests will be just some of the papers you’ll have to complete to go to the next level. You need enough class time and even more study time to successfully be called an actuary. As one person puts it, to pass an actuarial science exam that requires 500 hours of studying, you’ll need to study for 550 hours. There are past papers online and other study resources that you can use to test yourself and get better at solving the problems. But these will never be the same as the actual exams. Master your content, commit yourself to years of intense study and see results.  


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