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Some Thoughts After Passing The P/1

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  • Some Thoughts After Passing The P/1

    Thankfully, I passed the P/1 exam yesterday. Here's some info on what I did to prepare. I wanted to add my own preparation experience to the body of knowledge we already have collected on these forums to give other test takers more data on what they can expect in their studies.

    Total Prep Time: I didn't track my study time very well, but a (very) rough estimate would be about 60 - 75 hours.

    Study Materials: Samuel Broverman's ACTEX Study Manual for the P/1 Exam (Purchased online. 2009 Edition); SOA 153 Sample Questions and Answers.

    Study Pattern: Erratic, to say the least, from October of 2011 to December 31st, 2011. I did much of my studying by cramming during the month of January before my test date (not advised, obviously. Bad college habits die hard).

    Exam Date: January 30th, 2012 (the last possible date for the January 2012 Administration).

    I completed all the Chapter Review questions in the ACTEX Study Manual and the first 7 of the 8 Practice Exams. I also completed a few random problems (about 40) from the 153 SOA questions, mainly joint distribution questions I wanted to brush up on.

    I majored in management science in college, so I had a strong background in probability and statistics that helped me a lot. The ACTEX Practice Exams were, in my opinion, MUCH harder than the actual exam. It is good preparation, but the night before the exam, as I graded my seventh test at a 12 out of 30, it was nerve-wracking. Broverman's manual explains its solutions well almost always, and I attribute much of my performance to it.

    Some advice:
    - When in doubt, draw a picture. Whether a graph, a Venn diagram, or a list of outcomes that meet a certain criteria (e.g. for coin flipping, TTTH, THTH, HTTH, TTHH, etc.), pictures help clarify your thinking and can reveal what the problem is really asking.

    - Do as many practice problems as you can, and review their proposed solutions. Especially pay attention to alternative solutions that are fast. Time is of the essence on the P/1.

    - Learn calculus shortcuts very well. For example, the integral of xe^(-ax), the sum of a geometric series, the sum of nx^(n-1) for n = 0 to infinity, etc. The P/1 assumes you know the material from courses Calc I and Calc II very well.

    - Take the exam as late as possible during your administration time period, if you can. As you begin to cram during the last few days before your exam, the extra time could help a lot if your practice tests reveal that you're scoring much lower than you had hoped, as mine did.

    Good luck in your studies!

  • #2
    Hey congratulations! I am planning on taking the exam in May.
    I am reviewing the Actex manual.
    After done reviewing, I will study the SOA questions.
    I hope I pass. Did time pressure you? How long did it take you to go through the exam the first time?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ronaldy27 View Post
      Hey congratulations! I am planning on taking the exam in May.
      I am reviewing the Actex manual.
      After done reviewing, I will study the SOA questions.
      I hope I pass. Did time pressure you? How long did it take you to go through the exam the first time?
      I did all of my practice exams hyper-realistically, trying to pace myself as if my time really was limited to 3 hours. This paid off, as I finished the actual exam on Test Day about 40 minutes early. I NEVER finished early during my practice tests; on the contrary, I was always going crazy trying to finish as many problems as possible before time ran out.

      Turns out ACTEX exams were a lot harder (for me at least), and the actual exam felt "easy," I am thankful to say.

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      • #4
        This is an encouraging thread. And congrats!

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