Some lessons from exam counselling sessions

In this article, Education Actuary, Helen Gregson summarises some of the general advice which we have given to SA6 students during exam counselling sessions and typical recommendations for improving performance in the SA6 exam

The pass criterion for all of our exams is fitness to proceed and assume professional responsibilities. So, for the Specialist Application level, you can expect to be asked to consider realistic situations, viewing problems from the client’s perspective and the pass standard set is appropriate to a newly qualified actuary.

In the SA6 exam, each question will put you in the role of an investment manager or adviser, and will require you to summarise the analysis and advice you would deliver in each scenario

You will need to consider the question and draw out the key issues, applying your knowledge appropriately to the specifics of the situation and focusing your answer on the recipient of your advice.

There are plenty of sample questions, possible solutions and comments from the examiners available to help you prepare for the exam on the SA6 Past papers, reports and syllabus page

Investment is an ever changing subject and it is important to keep up to date. This means keeping abreast of new investment products, current economic influences and the topical concerns of clients.

For the latter, working in the investment area is an advantage, but no one has experience across all areas of an SA subject and so discussing current client issues with colleagues is necessary. If you can attend client meetings, this is to be encouraged - but reading your company’s reports and its newsletters, together with relevant published papers and magazines, will all help. The material on the SA6 resources page also contains very useful information.

The above covers the key skills which are needed to be successful in SA6 - but don’t overlook the basic skills.

There are many basic skills which candidates also need to work on

These include:

  • Answering the question which has been set - far too many candidates are misreading and misinterpreting questions. You need to look at the question very carefully as a whole before you start it, so that you have the right focus and also so that you can use the question as much as possible to plan your answer. Avoid giving a general ‘bookwork’ answer which is not applied to the specifics of the situation.
  • Planning your answer well before starting, with a brainstorm of ideas sorted into a logical list of key points, plus some subsidiary issues, is generally the best way to score well. This will help ensure that you cover all relevant areas in sufficient detail.

Finally, it can be very helpful to view a question as you would a meeting with a client, identifying and prioritising the important points of discussion for the specific circumstances. It is well worth trying this approach as it encompasses many of the above elements.

Contact Details

Education Services Team

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, 1st Floor, Park Central, 40/41 Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1JD

+44 01865 268207

We aim to respond to all enquiries within two working days.