How to Pass Actuarial Exams

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Actuaries typically begin taking actuarial exams while they are still in college, and the examination process may take up to a decade to complete. Read on to learn about these exams and the best strategies to pass them.

Strategies to Ace Your Actuarial Exams

Whether you are preparing for your first, final, or any other actuarial exam, you will put yourself on the path to passing it by:

  • Planning sufficient time to study and prep for the exam.
  • Fully understanding the content and structure of your test.
  • Utilizing the variety of prep resources available to you.

Passing Actuarial Exams Step One: Plan Your Prep Time

Typical actuarial test takers spend roughly 100 hours studying for each hour of the test they plan to take. Since exams are typically three hours or more, you should plan to spend 300 to 400 hours studying, depending on which exam you are taking. While, mathematically, this amount of prep time equates to about 12 to 16 full days, keep in mind the complexity of the exam's content and the need to fully grasp all concepts, which you won't be able to do if you cram. To properly plan and make the best use of your time, make sure you put together an effective study guide before you begin, and brush up on both your study habits and time management skills. For help, check out these short lessons on:

Passing Actuarial Exams Step Two: Know the Content

To pass your actuarial exams, you should start by accessing the detailed description available for each test by both the Casualty Actuary Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) - the two organizations that administer actuarial exams. You will find a syllabus for your exam, along with an outline of the length of the test, how many questions you will have to answer, the types of questions, and information about registration and testing centers. Exam descriptions may be downloaded on the websites of the CAS ( and the SOA (

Passing Actuarial Exams Step Three: Use Resources Appropriately

Find prep resources available to suit your specific study style. Depending on the test you are preparing for, these may include email study groups, seminars, in-person workshops, study kits or online courses. Whatever study aids are best for you, you should also the download sample tests offered on the CAS and SOA websites. Practice taking these exams throughout your preparation process to help you gauge your progress and practice completing exams within the time constraints you'll face on test day. Because many actuarial exams have multiple-choice formats, it is helpful to also review and practice your test-taking skills. For guidance, see this short lesson on Strategies for Multiple Choice Questions.

Resources To Help You Review Concepts

Because many actuarial exams are based on fundamental skills you learned in school, your class notes, textbooks, and online courses in these subjects are additional resources for refreshing and improving your knowledge of key concepts. Depending on the test you plan to take, these online courses, each featuring short, easy-to-follow video lessons and practice quizzes, can help you master entire subjects or certain topics with which you are having difficulty:

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