Today was a monumental day in the life of Jeff Pierro. Eight months ago I made the committment to pursue a career in the actuarial field. The first step in this process was to take Exam P/1, or the Probability Exam. This exam is a 30 question multiple choice 3 hour exam that takes months of studying to prepare for. I first attempted it in September of last year, and it was definitely a wake up call for me. I was way underprepared, not having put the time required into it and not utilizing nearly enough resources. This was a test far beyond the difficulty of any test I had ever taken in my entire life. I managed just a 3 on a 10 point scale.
After taking a break following my first attempt, I had to make a decision and lay out a plan for how I would attack this monster the second time around. I was able to acquire a professional study manual from one of my professors, and also learned about some online resources I could utilize as well. I gave myself 4 months preparation time instead of two, and spent more than double the hours studying the second time around. However, despite a vast improvement, it didn’t look like it was going to be enough to get over the hump.
Saturday, March 16 at 9:00 AM I walked into the test center in Cumberland, RI ready to give the exam another shot. It started off well, with the first five questions being relatively easy. As I got towards the middle of the test things started getting tougher, and I had to start marking questions I didn’t know so I could come back to them. The last third was pretty much the same way as well. When I got through all of the questions the first time, I had answers for 17 and marked 13. Knowing I needed at least 19 or 20 and that I probably had a couple of the ones I answered wrong, I had an hour still to go back and give the problems a second try. There were four or five that I had to end up guessing on, four or five that I got answers for but wasn’t very confident, and two or three that I was able to solve and get right.
As I finished the exam, I knew it was going to be very close as to whether or not I passed or failed. Having never done better than a 17/30 on any of the practice exams I took, I wasn’t very confident that I actually had enough to get it done. As my heart was pounding, I clicked through all of the questions asking about my testing experience without even answering them because I just wanted to know the final result.
“Congratulations! A preliminary analysis of your test results shows that you were successful in achieving the passing score established by the SOA/CAS/CIA for Exam P/1 (Probability).”
210 hours, $400, and months of preparation and hard work had all paid off. It still hasn’t sunk in at this point, but I would not hesitate to rate this as one of my top three accomplishments in my entire life. It took every ounce of brainpower and willpower I had to conquer this exam, and I have never been more satisfied with an accomplishment.
One down, nine to go.
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