A New Study Approach for Exam Success.

More insights from Roy Ju and Mike Jennings, authors of Actuarial Exam Tactics. Learn More, Study Less. 

Learn how to set the foundation for exam success by becoming as effective as possible with our holistic approach. 

In order to find effective study techniques, we must understand the goal of the study process: to develop a holistic understanding of the exam topic. To illustrate this holistic understanding more concretely, think of a knowledge tree, borrowing from Elon Musk’s analogy: “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree —make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”



For example, the knowledge tree may look like the following diagram for Exam FM.

The trunk of this tree is the main topic of the exam—Financial Mathematics. The branches consist of the fundamental concepts and learning objectives from the syllabus, while the leaves would be the details, definitions, and formulas related to each learning objective. Your goal is to build this knowledge tree as you study.

Many students ignore this hierarchy; they work through the details without connecting them back to the overarching topic—I was guilty of this myself for my first several preliminary exams. You can still manage to pass by memorizing formulas and facts, but there are two main drawbacks: you forget the material soon after the exam since there is no foundation holding it together, and it takes significantly longer to study by trying to memorize isolated formulas instead of forming an intuitive understanding.

The study approach outlined in this section shows you how to intentionally build this holistic understanding throughout your study process. We will offer tools to build your initial foundation during your first read-through of the material, but you should not expect to fully grasp the concepts on the first attempt. You may miss a few leaves (details) here and there, or they may fall off over the time it takes to work through the high volume of study material. Thus, the second part of this section will focus on the most effective methods to review and reinforce the concepts from your initial read-through.

Through this process of understanding and reviewing fundamental concepts, you will build comprehensive understanding and set the foundation for your future exam success.

Stay tuned for information tools and strategies will help you to (1) identify the fundamental concepts, (2) build an initial understanding, and (3) make connections between concepts.

For a free digital copy of Actuarial Exam Tactics visit ACTEX Learning https://www.actexlearning.com/career-and-study-guides