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Institute & Faculty of Actuaries examinations - Guidance for new learners


The Core Principles subjects (made up of the Actuarial Statistics (CS), Actuarial Mathematics (CM), and Core Business (CB) modules) in the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' (IFoA's) professional exams provide an initial grounding in many of the key principles and concepts required in actuarial work. These principles and concepts are developed in the later IFoA exams.

It is a requirement that students pass or obtain exemptions from all of the Core Principles subjects on the way to qualifying as an Associate or Fellow of the IFoA.

The Core Principles exams can be attempted in any order, and there is no requirement to pass any exam before sitting another. However it can be useful for students to pass certain Core Principles exams before others. Further information on an appropriate order for students to sit the Core Principles exams is provided within this document.

CS1 – Actuarial Statistics 1

This subject provides a grounding in the basics of statistical techniques that are of particular relevance to actuarial work, including features of statistical distributions, data analysis, statistical inference, regression theory and applications, and Bayesian statistics.

CS2 – Actuarial Statistics 2

This subject provides a grounding in statistical modelling techniques that are of particular relevance to actuarial work, including using statistical distributions for risk modelling, time series models, stochastic processes, survival models and machine learning.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CS1 before studying CS2, as this subject assumes competence with the basic statistical techniques covered in CS1.

CM1 – Actuarial Mathematics 1

This subject provides a grounding in the principles of mathematics and modelling as applied to actuarial work, focusing particularly on deterministic models which can be used to model and value known cashflows as well as those which are dependent on death, survival, or other uncertain risks.  It introduces the theory of interest rates, the basic types of life and health insurance contracts and the concepts of pricing and reserving.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CS1 before studying CM1, as this introduces techniques that are drawn upon and used in this subject.

CM2 – Actuarial Mathematics 2

This subject provides a further grounding in the principles of mathematics and modelling as applied to actuarial work, focusing on stochastic asset-liability models and the valuation of financial derivatives.  It also includes theories on the behaviour of financial markets and different measures of investment risk.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subjects CS1, CS2, CM1 and CB2 before studying CM2, as these introduce techniques that are drawn upon and used in this subject.

CB1 – Business Finance

This subject provides a basic understanding of corporate finance, including a knowledge of the instruments used by companies to raise finance and manage financial risk.  It also provides the ability to interpret the accounts and financial statements of companies and financial institutions.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CM1 before studying CB1, in order to obtain a basic understanding of interest rates.

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB2 and CB3.

CB2 – Business Economics

This subject provides an introduction to the core economic principles and how these can be used in a business environment to help decision making and behaviour.  It provides a grounding in the fundamental concepts of microeconomics that explain how economic agents make decisions and how these decisions interact.  It also provides a grounding in the principles underlying macroeconomics that explain how the economic system works, where it fails and how decisions taken by economic agents affect the economic system. 

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB1 and CB3.

CB3 – Business Management

This subject provides an understanding of the wider business content in which actuaries operate, including consideration of relevant case studies.  It includes consideration of business strategy, competition, culture, values and behaviour, change management, leadership and team-working.

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB1 and CB2

Later IFoA Exams

The relationship between the Core Principles exams and the other IFoA exams is briefly set out below.

The Core Practice (CP) subjects assume knowledge and understanding across all the Core Principles (CS, CM, CB) subjects, as they build upon the principles and concepts developed there.

The Specialist Principles (SP) subjects and the Specialist Advanced (SA) subjects use the concepts developed in the CS, CM, CB and CP subjects to solve complex problems, to produce coherent advice and to make recommendations in specific practice areas.

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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.

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Events calendar

  • Asia Conference Webinar Series

    7 September 2020 - 25 September 2020

    Spaces available

    There will be a prestigious line-up of international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia.  The conference will take place throughout September via an online platform. The webinars consist of plenary speaking sessions and a series of workshop sessions including Life, GI, Data Science, Sustainability, Risk Management and Investment.

    This will be the perfect opportunity for you to discover,ask questions and be at the forefront of current and developing actuarial/financial topics and trends in Asia.


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    This free 90 minute webinar is designed to support the IFoA CPD Co-ordinators, and others, involved in supporting our members to achieve their CPD requirements. 

    The programme will include an overview of the new CPD Scheme; specifically sharing with you key messages to support you implement and embrace the new CPD Scheme for our members within your organisation and regional community; how to arrange a reflective practice discussion; and an interactive reflective practice discussion learning exercise.  In addition, delegates will gain information about accessing, and making the most of the IFoA event Toolkits which you can make use of to run your own in-house events and events for regional communities. 

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    16.00-17.00 GMT+8

    Consumer expectations are changing Insurance. The Royal Commission in Australia, Design Obligations in the UK, the insurtech ecosystem, and digital-first consumers demanding personalised solutions will all revolutionise how insurance looks like in the future.

  • Spaces available

    12.00-13.00 GMT+8

    This presenter / panel workshop hybrid will be anchored by two presentations examining the socioeconomic, medical and technological factors that will have a significant impact on mortality and our pricing over the next 20 years and beyond. It will also discuss whether significant mortality improvement will continue in Asia or whether varying experience of low improvements or deterioration. 

  • Spaces available

    12.00-13.00 GMT+8

    This presentation aims to provides an overview of the reformation of current Chinese regulatory solvency regime, how industry coping with the new normal after pandemic time and how the reformation of the regulation could help the insurance industry gets back on its feet as well as coming back to the “protection” core value for the policyholders. The presentation would include:

  • Spaces available

    16.00-17.00 (GMT+8) | 09.00-10.00 (BST)

    The basic data of China’s 2nd Critical Illness Mortality Table covers 2000+ products in Chinese market, including about 340 million insurance policies and 5.1 million claimants. Presenter will give the audience a general understanding including but not limited to the following contents:

  • Autumn Lecture 2020: Professor Elroy Dimson

    Online webinar
    14 October 2020

    Spaces available

    Many individuals and institutions have a long-term focus, and invest funds for the benefit of future generations. Their strategy should reflect their long horizon. University endowments are one of the oldest classes of institutional investor, and I will present the first study of the management of these endowments over the very long term.

  • GIRO Conference 2020 Webinar Series

    Available to watch globally in November.
    02-13 November 2020
    Spaces available

    This year's GIRO has been re-designed as a virtual conference to offer members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the general insurance field via online webinars. All sessions will be recorded and made available to purchase and re-watch post-event on the IFoA's GI Online Learning Resource area.

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    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

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