The April 2012 CT exam pass lists were released on 28th June. Congratulations to all who passed. The qualification process is notoriously difficult so all exam passes are worthy of praise and celebration.
The numbers released with the lists though, do make for interesting reading. The numbers reveal how many people entered each exam and how many passed, and it gives potential insight into the differences in the exams.
The pass rates range from 50% to 74%, as you can see from the chart above. CT6, Statistical Methods, and CT8, Financial Economics, both had the lowest pass rate of 50%, while 74% of entrants who sat the CT7, Business Economics, passed. This seems, comparatively, very high. So what is the reason?
CT7 used to be Economics, but in 2010 the syllabus changed and it was renamed Business Economics. The course was changed to focus less on economic theory and more on marketing, advertising, industrial policy and other business related topics. In their post on an ActEd forum prior to the changes, ActEd admitted "the new topics are easier to understand, [but] there will be a lot more to learn" (Anna Walklate, ActEd Tutor, May 2009).
Actuaries are generally adept at learning large volumes of information, having spent a large amount of time focusing on education and being rigorously examined. So it is logical that they would find learning and memorising the relatively less technical topics of marketing and advertising fairly straightforward. Comments on ActEd forums support this, with contributors noting that learning CT7 takes a lot of reading, but the information itself is not as complex as in some other courses.
Conversely, search for comments about CT8 on the forums and you will find that it is commonly described as the most difficult:
"CT8 is the hardest CT subject"
In this session of exams it had the joint lowest pass rate at 50%, but in the September 2011 session it was even lower, at 41%. Prior to that, for the April 2011 session, it was 52%. For all of 3 sessions it had the lowest pass rate.
Comments on the reasons for this vary, with some saying that the course itself is no more or less difficult than others but say that the exam is "tough", with "curveballs", while others consider aspects of CT8, such as stochastic calculus, to be very hard.
Top tips from our Senior Consultant, Carolina Emmanuel (who has just qualified!) for helping with CT8 are:
- There is around 40% bookwork on some papers – so learn/memorise the book work!
- Really try to understand the foundations of the stochastic calculus – questions vary year on year so it’s important to understand the principles to apply to all scenarios. Question styles are not always repeated.
- Don’t skip chapters and make sure you cover all material. “Easier” questions on one of the more challenging topics = easy marks!
ActEd have an online testing tool so you can get some feedback on your studying, called MyTest. Watch this video for more information
Or go to http://www.acted.co.uk/html/electronic_mytest.htm