Actuary Exam P-What To Consider When Choosing Study Materials

Actuary Exam P-What To Consider When Choosing Study Materials

Passing the actuary exam P is usually not easy. It is the first SOA exam which is usually underestimated by most candidates. It requires dedicating a lot of time to studying and selecting the best study materials. Study materials are excellent tools in supplementing the applicable syllabus provided for exam P. Choosing study materials is an essential part of preparing for these exams. There are plenty of online vendors offering study materials. This leads to confusion and frustration for a candidate when looking online for study materials. Oftentimes they may need assistance in what to look for when picking study materials that will suit their needs.

Here is a guide on what an individual should consider when selecting exam P studying materials.

Exam P Contents

Before we look at the factors, let us see what Exam P entails. It tests a candidate’s understanding of probability concepts and how they apply to actuarial science. A candidate needs to exhibit their understanding of calculus, insurance, and risk management. It is a three-hour exam administered as a Computer-based test (CBT). There are thirty multiple-choice questions in the test. It examines the following topics:

I. General probability (23-30%)

II. Univariate Random Variables (44-50%)

III. Multivariate random variables (23-30%)

Good study materials should cover the above topics compressed from different books provided for reading. This makes a candidate’s learning and revision easier.

Your Studying Style

The first thing to consider is the studying method that you prefer. Some individuals learn better by reading while others prefer instruction-explained learning. Once you know your style you can comfortably select a suitable study material that is available in the market. This enables a person to have time to understand the materials to be covered in the exams. It also ensures that you utilize the resources to their full value to avoid being underprepared for exam P.

If you study better by reading, you should invest in a good study manual. The best study manuals in the market so far are ASM, ACTEX, and Coaching Actuaries. They both have nice formats and they even include practice problems in the manuals. They also have a variety of math concepts compressed into manageable packages from different textbooks recommended for reading in college courses. The choice of either of the two depends on the mode of writing that you prefer.

If you learn better by instruction- explained method, you should take online seminars and tutorial videos. These are provided by TIA, Coaching Actuaries, and Actuary Accelerator Community. They provide well-done videos explaining concepts, and an instructor who answers questions, and, the videos can be downloaded into any of your electronic devices.

The choice of any of the above providers depends on whether you prefer their teaching and presentation style.

You can always use both studying styles for better results according to your preference.

Your Budget

Your budget is a major factor to consider when selecting study materials. Exam P study materials price range is from 70$ to 500$. It is advisable to select materials that fit your budget if you have one. Generally, online study seminars are way more expensive than study manuals. However, this does not mean that they are better than study manuals. If you are working within an extremely low budget, you can always utilize the free study guides provided free online.

It is advisable to purchase study materials as the free ones provided online may not have accurate and up-to-date content.


Before settling for a particular study material, it is good to check its reviews. Most times, reviews from people who have tried the study guides reflect on their quality. You do not want to pick a guide with plenty of bad reviews or one that does not have reviews at all. This usually means that the material does not meet the SOA standards of syllabus revision and testing. Always make sure that other candidates have used the material and were happy with the results.

Duration of the Existence of the Study Materials

The Society Of Actuaries is constantly changing and updating the exam P syllabus. Selecting a very old study material may lead to you studying plenty of outdated content. This most likely will not appear in the examinations. However, you do not want to be the very first person to use a very new study manual. Always go for the ones that have been there for quite some time and are known for updating their content after every exam season. This shows that are consistent in providing good materials for candidates each time.

Study Tips

Now that you have tips on how to pick study materials, let us go through how you can utilize them effectively. Here are a few studying tips that you can use to prepare completely for exam P. 

  1. Prepare adequately. It is advisable to start preparing at least eight weeks before the exams. Do not underestimate the importance of study time. Avoid last-minute cramming as it prevents you from covering the content well.
  2. Download and go through the syllabus from the SOA website. This allows you to understand the examiner’s expectations for the exams and what they want you to study.
  3. Prepare a timetable to assist you in managing your time well. This ensures that you give yourself breaks in between to rest and internalize the revised content.
  4. Consistency is key when preparing to enhance memorability. Always hold yourself accountable and make sure you complete the tasks that you have laid out for yourself each day.
  5. Do practice exams frequently to enable you to sharpen your test-taking skills. There are practice exams and past papers provided on the SOA website available for candidates.
  6. Practice using the calculator that you will use on the exam day. This ensures that you’ll be comfortable and acclimated with it when taking the test.
  7. Time yourself and practice taking the revision questions under pressure which will be similar to the test-taking environment.
  8. Make sure that you have registered for your examinations and that you are a listed candidate.

Applying these study tips increases your pass rate. They enable you to enhance your confidence and preparedness for your first SOA exam. 

Now that you know what to expect, how to select study materials, and how to study, you can comfortably prepare for the exams. There is always free information about study material vendors on the SOA website that a candidate can take advantage of. This is an important SOA exam with a high pass rate. It is usually advised to take exam P before FM and not to take them at the same time.