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Exam P by Eric Menendez, English 448 Writing Intern

April 1, 2017

Jacob Andrews, a 17-year old KAMS student, has passed Exam P at the Prometric Testing Center in Topeka, Kansas. The P in the exam stands for probability, which the test covers with univariate and multivariate probability distributions. Other content covered in the test includes general probability concepts such as conditional probability, Bayes Theorem, independent events and mutually exclusive events. In fact, "Most of the concepts covered in statistics class appeared on the exam," Andrews says.

With content like that, it's no surprise that the pass rate is a mere 41%. Most of the students taking Exam P are juniors in college, making Andrews's performance all the more impressive. "I think that the reason the exam doesn't have a high pass rate is because most students aren't prepared for how difficult it is and the amount of material covered," Andrews notes. The pass rate has always been low, as the exam reflects the difficult nature of an actuary's job. "The Society of Actuaries is ensuring that only qualified candidates are being certified," assures Andrews. Actuarial science majors must take and pass this exam in order to become a certified actuary in the future, even if the exam isn't a class requirement. Andrews says "it is kind of a college opportunity in the sense that taking Mathematical Statistics here at Fort Hays State University gave me the tools I needed to pass the exam," Andrews says.

Andrews recalls his own difficulties with the test: "The hardest part for me was teaching myself the concepts that weren't covered in my statistics class." For example, the class did not cover the uses of moment generation functions in as much depth as required for the exam. The exam questions don't cover basic concepts but instead go for in-depth knowledge of probability. "They give you 3 hours for 30 questions for a reason." In addition, Andrews was not comfortable using a primitive calculator for the test. The testing center has different models available, but they are all considered primitive because they can only be used for adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, exponents and logarithms. Using a primitive calculator meant that even the concepts originally covered in class proved difficult. For example, Andrews had to memorize all of the probability mass/density functions and associated information like the mean, standard deviation and moment generation functions.

Which part of the exam was especially challenging for Andrews-and which part was the easiest? The multivariate distribution functions were the most difficult for Andrews in comparison to the other parts. Andrews found univariate probability distributions and conditional probability to be the easiest.

Andrews calculates that he studied for at least 50 hours. "I was overwhelmed with relief when I submitted my test and the screen informed me that I had passed," Andrews says. While he did not know anyone who took the test with him, he does know two fellow KAMS classmates and actuarial science majors, Rahasya Bharaniah and Samantha Schmitz, who will take the exam in the future. For them, and the rest of the students that are planning to take the exam, he recommends that they need a deep understanding of Exam P's material. "There is no such thing as overstudying," Andrews notes.


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