What is a Passing Score on Exam FM

What is a Passing Score on Exam FM

Exam FM from the Society of Actuaries is one of the three preliminary professional actual exams. The exam takes three hours. It is a multiple-choice test with a total of 35 questions. Each question has five answer choices, A, B, C, D, and E. It is largely administered as a computer-based test. If you are preparing to take your GMAT, you probably know what to expect. An essential part of your preparation process is knowing what you need to score in your test, in order to pass the Exam FM. This raises the question, “How many questions must you score right, or what percentage of the questions must you get right in order to obtain a passing score on exam FM?” 

A passing score on exam fm: How is the exam scored?

The exams are scored on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being the lowest possible score and 10 being the highest. A score of zero means you scored less than 50% of the grade needed in order to pass, while a score of 10 means you reached at least 140% of the grade needed to pass. 

To pass an exam, you need to achieve a score of 6 or higher. Does this mean that you only need to get 60% of the questions right? It is a little bit more complex than that. 

For Exam FM, the pass mark is often set based on the performance of all the candidates who sat for that particular exam. If the exam was relatively difficult and most students scored lowly, the pass mark could be set at, say, 51%. This means that as a candidate, you only need to score 51% of the questions correctly in order to pass. In this case, 51% will be assigned a score of 6 on a scale of 0 – 10. 

Assuming that the pass mark is 51%, the scores will be assigned as follows: 

  • If you achieve 100% – 110% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 6.
  • If you achieve 110% – 120% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 7.
  • If you achieve 120% – 130% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 8.
  • If you achieve 130% – 140% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 9.
  • If you achieve 140% or higher of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 10.

Note that it may be impossible to achieve a score of 10 or even 9, depending on the pass mark.

For scores below 6:

Assuming that the pass mark is 51%, the scores will be assigned as follows: 

  • If you achieve 90% – 99% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 5.
  • If you achieve 80% – 90% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 4.
  • If you achieve 70% – 80% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 3.
  • If you achieve 60% – 70% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 2.
  • If you achieve 50% – 60% of the pass mark, you will receive a score of 1.
  • If you achieve a score less than 50% of the pass mark you will receive a score of 0.

Pass mark for Exam FM 

Having understood how the scoring works and how it relates to the passing mark, the next question will probably be, “So, what then is a passing score on exam fm?” And as per what we have seen above, there is no simple answer to that question. However, looking at historical pass marks, between February 2014 to June 2022, the pass marks for Exam FM have been about 70%. So if you are registered to do the exam now then it is advisable that you score at least 70% of the questions correctly to be certain that you pass your Exam FM. This means that you need to score at least 24 of the 35 questions correctly. But is it really that simple? Let us take a closer look. 

Pilot questions 

The SOA adds “pilot” questions to your exams. These pilot questions do not count toward your final score. Pilot questions are used by the SOA to test the difficulty level and suitability of the questions before they are used on a real exam. So basically, every candidate taking the SOA Exam FM is a test subject for future exams. 

You will not know beforehand which questions are pilot questions and which ones are not. You will not even know the number of pilot questions in your exam. This is to ensure that you treat the pilot questions like any other question in your exam, allocate them just as much time, and treat them just as seriously. The pilot questions are scrambled randomly within your exam. 

Note that pilot questions do not count toward your final score. For example, if there are two pilot questions in your exam, then your final score is based only on 33 of the 35 questions. You will need to get 70% of 33 correct, which translates to 23 questions. Remember that the number of pilot questions could be more or less than three in any given exam. 

Different sets of questions 

Another thing to take into consideration is that Exam FM is a Computer Based Test, and the SOA creates different sets of 35 questions. Candidates sitting the same exam will not be answering the same set of questions. The passing score for each set of questions will not be the same, it will depend on the difficulty level of each set of questions. For example, if a candidate gets questions set A, which happens to be a difficult set of questions, while another candidate gets set B, which is an easier set of questions, then maybe the pass mark for set A will be 66%, and the pass mark for set B will be 78%. The overall average passing score may be 70 %, but the student who got questions set A will not need to score 70% to pass the exam.

Taking into consideration all these variables, a score of 26/35 or 27/35 is almost guaranteed to pass, but it is also possible to pass with fewer questions answered correctly. Generally, anything above 24 is fairly safe. 

Exam FM pass rate

The current pass rate for Exam FM is 48%. Sometimes it is higher, and other times it is lower. The effective pass rate is 54.3%. This percentage only takes into consideration those candidates who scored at least 50% of the pass mark. The highest pass rate ever is 68.1%, and the lowest pass rate ever was 41.0%. 

Study to pass SOA Exam FM

Now that we are fairly clear on the passing score on Exam FM, as a candidate, how should you prepare so that you can pass Exam FM? 

Most candidates, after making the decision to register for the exam, start studying without making a plan. It should take about 300 hours of study to prepare for the SOA exam FM. However,  having a good study strategy is what will determine how much time it will take you to be ready, and how effective your study time will be. Here is what you should do in the period leading to your scheduled exam:

Have a study schedule 

When you have a study schedule you will know exactly what you need to accomplish every day in order to be ready by exam day. If you simply study whenever you have the time, you may scramble to cover too much in the last few weeks before your exam date, and you will end up rushing through the curriculum and most likely failing your exam. 

Get guidance 

Having guidance from someone who has already passed Exam FM will be a major advantage for you when you are preparing for the same exam. The person can make suggestions and recommendations on how you can proceed at each stage of your journey. Another alternative is to have a tutor or join an online class. You could also join a community such as the Actuary Accelerator Community. The bottom line is, a little help could go a long way. 

Have accountability 

Have someone check on you regularly to make sure you are keeping up with your schedule. It is easy to get too busy with work, school, or life in general. Having someone checking on you will encourage you to fit in studying even on a busy day. This is much easier when you have a regular tutor or study group. 

More Advice to help you pass Exam FM

  • Get yourself a good study manual that is complete and up to date. There are many different companies that create manuals, find what works for you and make full use of it during your journey. 
  • Start preparing at least 16 weeks before the exam. This should allow you a comfortable 20 hours of study a week.
  • Try to understand everything or as much as you can the first time around. This will give you a strong foundation and help you make connections. 
  • Think about the things you have studied when you are not looking at a book, for example, when you are taking a walk or going about your other daily activities. You will be surprised at how much better you remember them.
  • Keep track of all problems that you had difficulty handling so that you can redo them at the end of the manual.
  • Try to finish the manual with at least four weeks left for the exam. Spend a couple of weeks reviewing the manual and redoing difficult problems. 
  • In the last four to six weeks, take as many practice exams as you can. 
  • Be prepared to take the exam at least one week before the exam. You should not be scrambling to cover new content at this time.
  • Have enough sleep and rest the last few days before the exam. Take at least an afternoon off and relax before the exam. 


The passing score on exam FM is not fixed on a given number of questions you must answer correctly in your exam. There are several factors that come into play when determining the pass mark. That having been said, generally, anything above 24 is ok, but with 26 or 27, you are almost guaranteed to pass. Meanwhile, adequate preparation matters if you’d like to go beyond the threshold mark Are you planning to register for exam FM soon? Get FM prep materials from AnalystPrep for quality study time as you prepare to take the final test.