Monday, September 14, 2009

Where you'll find me

AKA, why I think I'm insane.

I haven't been around here much lately. Sorry if you've missed me. I've been at the library hanging out with my best buddies, the flashcards. Me and my flashcards, we're inseparable. I read them everyday, I memorize their every line, and in return they give me a guarantee that all my willpower will be completely sucked out of me.

Most of you know that I am working through my actuarial designations right now. It involves a LONG series of exams that I've been working on for five years now. Every six months, I have an exam to prepare for. Now that I've reached the associate level, the exams get more difficult. My current exam, on October 29th, will be an essay exam six hours long.

Many people have asked me what it's like to prepare for these exams. Well, I'll tell you. The exam is only about 20 problems long, but each problem has somewhere around 3-6 parts. The material for the exam is 2500 pages from various textbooks that discuss many different principles of designing and pricing health insurance. Yes, 2500 pages. And anything can be asked from anywhere in those 2500 pages. Therefore, you must memorize every page.

How is this accomplished? With my buddies, the flashcards. I tote them around everywhere I go now. Here's a typical flashcard...the front says "Potential Medicare Reforms Where the Public Tends to Interject Their Opinion" And here's the back of the card:

This card is about the average length, but some lists are 16 items long. As you can see, I tried using mnemonics to aid my memorization, but I gave that up about a month ago - it took too long. "Well, that's not so bad" you say to yourself, "I could memorize several of these in 6 months...what's the big deal?" Here's the big deal...

There are about 620 bloomin' cards! Even if you are blessed with a photographic memory and can remember every item on every card, you're only 2/3 of the way through the material. Not included in the flashcards are the math problem type questions from the syllabus. All in all, it's recommended that you study about 600 hours for the six months...with a full-time job...and a family...and church duties...etc. No wonder the pass rate is only 40%, including repeat takers. If I do pass, I'll have one more exam to take in May - and it's just like this one.

So I haven't been on the blog much and probably won't be until at least November. Though, if the public health insurance option picks up support, it will probably be much longer as I'll be looking for a job that won't go extinct.

I'll be at the library if anyone needs me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Good luck with that. If you pass this one and then the next one, is that the end of your tests? Let's hope so.