Sunday, May 6, 2012


Howdy, folks. Long time, no see. I think most peeps already know, but I've been busy lately with my exam. Exam CSP-GH (Corporate Sponsor Perspective - Group & Health) is the very last actuarial exam I need to pass and I gave it one h@!# of an effort on April 27th.

I'd like to give you a 'brief' intro of what this exam is like. It is a 6.5 hour essay exam covering 2550 pages of material. The exam requires complete mastery of every detail covered in the syllabus as well as memorization of every single list within the text. For instance, if the author expounds on a concept by saying "some difficulties in disease management could be regression to the mean, specific vs. general populations, outliers..." you've got to memorize every random item the author states. Multiply that by 2550 pages, add in all of the math and higher-level thought, and you've got this exam.

I took two pictures of my materials...

This picture has two important elements. See that wall of books and printed paper? That's most of the syllabus for this exam (a few items were at home during this shot. The three stacks of flashcards in front are the various lists that I needed to memorize for the exam. I read every single page of the material, went through the blue flashcards at least 15 times, and the white stacks twice.

This picture is the study manual. It contains a detailed outline of the full syllabus, a condensed outline of the syllabus, a list of formulas, 120 sample problems, the past 3 exams, and the case study used during the exam. That's a full 4-inch binder plus an additional 500 pages. I read and annotated every single page MANY times.

That's 500 hours of studying in 6 months. Just short of the recommended 600 hours. For the past two months my brain has been full of flashcards and nothing else.

I felt very pleased with my efforts on the exam. I studied until the marginal return was zero; no further studying would have helped. That's not to say that I'll pass - I give myself a 50% chance. As the exam has a 40% pass rate, that's better than average. Results will be posted in mid-July.

It takes a lot of sacrifice to sit for one of these exams - not just on my part, but many others as well. And so, I offer the following thanks:

Thanks to my employer for allowing me 120 hours of paid study time, paying for the $1050 exam, and paying the instructor fee for my seminar in Chicago.

Thanks to Mark Bird (a former colleague) at MATE Seminars for putting on the best darn seminars anywhere.

Thanks to Chase Bank for financing the rest of my seminar fees (room, food, plane tickets) at zero interest until 2013.

Thanks to my wife for being the most patient, hard-working, loving spouse on the planet. It amazes me that she can take care of all three kids without seeing her husband during the week and still not uttering complaints. Best. Woman. Ever!

Thanks to my kids for remembering my face and being patient for Daddy to show up at their soccer games.

Thanks to our local library, McDonald's, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and Starbucks for giving me places to study well into the evening and never questioning who that creepy guy in the corner was.

Thanks to Adele, Norah Jones, and every classical composer I've ever known. They provided the music that kept me sane while studying during 10 hour sessions.

Lastly, thanks to everyone for putting up with a very forgetful and air-brained Peter. Not to mention, not making fun of me for the extra 15 pounds I put on during study time.

And finally...I did a little something to celebrate the end of the's what I look like now...

mock it while you can, it will probably be gone in two weeks. Reason? Because no one likes it. :(


  1. I like it! =)

    Congrats on your exam - it sounds like even TAKING it is a major feat in itself.

  2. I LIKE IT!! It was a bit of a shock to see my brother with facial hair, but I honestly do like it a lot!!

    Congratulations on your huge accomplishments, can't wait to hear the results in July! (Sheesh, that's a long time!)