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Effective studying habits to ace the actuarial exams

In this blog, Chloe Hung, Amazon best-selling author describes some of the challenges students face when prepping for exams and gives tips on how to overcome them. 

Did you know that studying hard is one of the worst studying habits that you can employ when it comes to your actuarial exams? As a student, you may think that the key towards passing your exams is to study real hard for it by doing more practice problems. You believe that solving more complex and difficult questions before the actual exam will increase your chances of passing it. Plus, you need to memorize all the formulas in the textbook.

In reality, studying hard will just leave you feeling burnt out and de-motivated in the long run. The trick towards passing the actuarial exams is to study smart. Give yourself ample time to prepare for the exam by starting your exam preparations early. Don’t waste your time trying to solve as many practice problems as you can or attempting questions that are extremely difficult. Instead, analyze each practice problem that you do and determine areas in which you are weak at or are struggling with.

Your goal in the actual exam is to solve each question accurately and efficiently. Therefore, try to determine what the most efficient approach is to solve each particular problem during your exam preparations.

Familiarise yourself with all the shortcuts. Most importantly, use your calculator to automate your calculations whenever possible. This will help reduce careless mistakes and save time during the actual exam. 

Also, use good study aids that will prepare you well for the exam. Students usually start by taking courses in university that will help them prepare for the actuarial exams. Remember to check the IFoA website for a list of recommended study materials by the IFoA before you attempt a particular exam. This is the best place for you to determine which study aid will help you best in your exam preparations.

It is also normal for you to experience some levels of stress in the midst of preparing for a particular actuarial exam. As an actuarial student myself, I used to fear the actuarial exams. The thought of studying for the actuarial exams still stresses me out till now. This exam stress can leave you feeling less productive, anxious, tense and unhappy over the long run. Studying for the exams becomes much harder and you find yourself feeling demotivated really quickly as time passes in your actuarial journey.

The key to surviving this is to take care of your mood and mental well-being. Take ample study breaks to reduce your stress levels and build up your motivation. Remember, the key towards passing these exams is to study smart and not hard. Taking breaks is one of the studying smart strategies that you need to employ. Do not exhaust yourself by studying for more than four hours in a day or bulldozing your way through countless exam problems every day.

Eat healthy food and try to avoid stress-eating. Desserts and junk food can be very tempting at times of stress. But trust me, overindulging in those is just going to cause you more stress in the long run. Instead of stress-eating, do some moderate physical activity like jogging, swimming etc. Exercising makes you feel happier, healthier and motivated because it increases your energy levels, memory power and concentration. Studying becomes much easier when you exercise on a frequent basis.

Try to sleep well and avoid burning the midnight oil because that is going to leave you in an irritable state the next day. If you are unhappy, voice out your troubles with your friends or family or lecturers. Laugh frequently and surround yourself with people who uplift you. This will make your actuarial journey much more enjoyable.

Preparing for the actuarial exams does not need to be dreadful or stressful if you study smart. If things are not going according to plan, learn to adapt. Do not fret over the little things. This is life. Learn the art of accepting the inevitable and you’ll find the actuarial exams much more bearable in the long run.