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The work and study handle

In this blog, Khushil Modi talks about his experience on work and study balance, including his tips on how best to prepare for any upcoming exams. 

It’s no easy feat, and still something I feel like I am improving in with each sitting. The biggest change that I’ve found is that at University, you’re usually studying 9-5. When you’re a student actuary, however, you’re working 9-5 whilst trying to fit in the same amount of studying you did previously! My top tips are:

Start early: There’s about 6 months between each exam sitting, and as a procrastinator I used to find it difficult at university to start studying in time. For example, with the April sitting, it might seem sensible to start after Christmas – but a lot of companies have their busy seasons around January and February so it would definitely be worth getting through a chunk of the material beforehand. It might be difficult to get back into the swing of studying each time round but once you do you’ll thank yourself nearer exam time! I have personally found the marked assignments useful – it’s a massive chore at times, but it forces me to keep up to date with content on a weekly basis.

Maximise your productivity: Most companies offer 35-45 days of study leave a year, which seems like an incredible amount – though this can still not be enough nearer exam time. Therefore, you really need to stay on track and focussed when you do get time to study. Come up with a plan of attack well in advance, such as aiming to finish Chapter X during a certain study day, or to make sure to start past papers on a certain date. Speak to others who have sat your exams to find out what worked for them.

Ultimately it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination – it doesn’t matter much how clever you are, you really have to be committed to the cause and willing to motivate yourself even after a long day or week at work, but the end goal definitely makes it all worth it.

I’m a big believer in hard work over natural intelligence – but this also meant a lot of sacrifice. An early example is from A-Levels, where I had to teach myself further maths on top of 4 AS Levels in school. It meant a lot of sacrificed weekends and time after school, and a lot of that sacrifice is still seen while studying to be an Actuary. Friends might struggle to understand that you can’t see them for the weeks leading up to exams, and having the impending weight of ‘I should be studying’ while out socialising doesn’t help!

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, email: blogs@actuaries.org.uk