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

education.services@actuaries.org.uk

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.

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Events calendar

  • SIAS Event: Navigating Organisational Politics Positively

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The term 'office politics' usually has a lot of negative connotations and indeed an inability to be able to navigate an organisation's formal processes and interact effectively with others at work can have far reaching adverse consequences.

  • Spaces available

    Public scrutiny of what investment funds deliver for consumers continues to be high profile, with the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study requiring fund managers to make (and publish) an annual assessment of value for authorised funds from the end of 2019.

  • Reimagining ageing

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7Q
    14 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Reimagining ageing, hosted by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, in partnership with the ILC

  • Spaces available

    Increasing global concern over the impact of climate change has recently led to public scrutiny over the adequacy of existing risk management practices by insurance firms and pension schemes in dealing with these challenges, that potentially impact both individual actuaries and the IFOA generally.

     

  • Pensions Conference 2019

    Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre, 2 Lower Castle Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS1 3AD
    18-19 June 2019
    Spaces available

    Covering current topics and industry trends, the conference also includes a pre-conference evening dinner (18 June) giving you the opportunity to develop your network. 

  • KSS event – FinTech and The Actuarial Profession

    EY, Atria One, 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk from FinTech Scotland's CEO will explore the mission to create an integrated Fintech ecosystem through provision of funding, support, infrastructure and talent that recognises and responds to the needs of all stakeholders - and the overarching aim for Scotland to be one of the top 5 Fintech global leaders by 2020.

    To book your place, please email Barry_Shannon@standardlife.com 

  • Current Issues in General Insurance (CIGI) 2019

    Inmarsat, 99 City Road, London, EC1Y 1BJ
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    CIGI is a well-established one-day seminar designed to increase awareness and encourage discussion on a variety of topical issues across the general insurance industry. 

    There will be an excellent and diverse line-up of speakers to provide a variety of perspectives and challenge covering technical and professional areas. 

  • Cass Event – New Thinking about Deferred Annuities

    Cass Business School, Executive Education Facilities 200 Aldersgate St, London EC1A 4HD
    21 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Our motivation for discussing this important subject comes from some exciting recent research which has analysed the impact of behavioural factors on the decision to purchase an annuity. This work has shown that behavioural factors can explain the well-known low demand for immediate annuities but this research also identifies an important opportunity in relation to deferred annuities (DA). The research suggests that these factors lead to positive incentives to purchase a DA and that, for longer deferred periods, a DA could be an attractive product for both consumers and insurers.

  • IFoA/SAS Joint Professional Skills Training – Singapore

    Room 903, NTUC Centre, Level 9, One Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018989
    25 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Singapore. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • AGM and Presidential Address 2019 + Volunteer and Member Drinks Reception

    The Hub  Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Notice is hereby given that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the INSTITUTE AND FACULTY OF ACTUARIES will be held at The Hub, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 16.30 (Preceded by tea from 16.00) and followed by a PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS given by John Taylor.

  • IFAM event - Actuarial Teachers’ & Researchers’ Conference 2019

    Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics Department of Mathematical  Sciences The University of Liverpool Mathematical Sciences Building Peach Street Liverpool, L69 7ZL
    27 June 2019 - 29 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (IFAM) at the University of Liverpool is pleased to host the 2019 Actuarial Teachers’ and Researchers’ Conference from 27-28 June 2019. This annual two-day event has been running annually now for many years, each time hosted by a different university, and provides all those interested in actuarial research and education a great opportunity to share their ideas and catch up on the latest developments.

  • IFoA/ASM Joint Professional Skills Training – Kuala Lumpur

    Menara AIA, Auditorium, 99 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur
    28 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Kuala Lumpur. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS: The Impact of Air Pollution on Health and Life Expectancy

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Air pollution has gained increasing attention lately. Nicola Oliver, head of longevity and mortality research for Medical Intelligence, will discuss not only the impacts of air pollution on health and life expectancy but also how as an industry we should be addressing it.

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year.