Author Archive

SOA 149

January 8th, 2010

The SOA sample problems are now up to 146 problems. I’ve added video solutions for the new problems, and here are links to the PDF files for the questions and answers. (Edit: there are now 149).


Syllabus changes for January

December 3rd, 2009

Beginning with the January 2010 sitting, the syllabus has been changed slightly in that Pareto, Weibull, lognormal, Beta, and Chi-square distributions are no longer listed on the list of continuous distributions that you need to know. Despite this, some people have said that they still have seen questions on these distributions. In particular, this change doesn’t mean that those distributions can no longer be tested, but instead should mean that they cannot ask questions that require you to have memorized specific facts about those distributions. Other than the Chi-square distribution, I have never thought it was important to memorize anything on these distributions, so as a result, I don’t expect this to change the exam very much. There are a few Chi-square questions in the question bank that I think should be removed, but that doesn’t sound like it has happened, and there a couple lognormal questions that need to be either rephrased.

Of these 5 distributions, the Pareto and Weibull distributions are by far the most commonly tested, but the exam questions have always either given you the density (for a Pareto) or described the distribution as a transformation of an exponential (for a Weibull). In particular, the words Pareto and Weibull have never appeared on 1/P, and those questions are probably going to remain unchanged. The lognormal distribution usually comes up as a transformation of a normal, and again that is still testable as both normal distributions and transformations are testable. Finding the mean and variance of a lognormal only requires knowing the mgf of a normal, so that is still potentially testable but I think unlikely to appear. I think it is still worth watching the lognormal lesson in the seminar to see in practice how these transformations work. Likewise, the Beta distribution has almost always been tested by looking at order statistics of uniform random variables, and knowing about it can still provide you with some useful shortcuts there.


New sample exams

July 4th, 2009

I’ve added two more sample exams and have drafted a 3rd that should be up early next week. I know that the exam date is coming up quickly and am sorry that I’m adding these somewhat at the last minute, but I figured it is better to do it now than two weeks from now.

I am going to hold online office hours Tuesday, 7/7 at 1 pm Eastern using a webinar in an experiment that we are trying. If you would like to attend, let me know and I will give you login information. Space is limited, so you should let me know relatively soon.


Chi-square distribution

June 26th, 2009

I’ve added a lesson to Section C.6 about the Chi-square distribution. It doesn’t come up very often on the exam, but is something that they are starting to ask about more frequently (basically going from 0 questions per exam to about 0.3 questions per exam over the past year).

I am also working on drafts of 3 more practice exams. I am hoping to get 2 of them posted next week (one earlier in the week, one later) and then the 3rd one early the following week.


More practice problems

June 15th, 2009

I’ve added a handful more practice problems to the problems for A.1 and A.2, along with a link to the video solutions to the problems (which you can also find at ) I haven’t yet recorded video solutions to the new problems, but will update the solutions file with the new problems when I do so.


Website changes

February 15th, 2009

As you have probably noticed, we have added a few new features to the website. It now displays for you which lessons you have viewed and not viewed, which should make it easier to keep track of where you are. It will also show you what lessons have been added or updated. If the changes aren’t self-explanatory, you can watch a video explaining them that is linked on most pages, and is also at If you have comments and suggestions about the new look, please let me know.

One brief comment about the new look is that it only tracks the videos that you have seen since the change (i.e., since 2/15). This means that videos that you viewed earlier will say that they are unviewed. The easiest solution to this is to not care very much, but if you want to have the check marks and an accurate count of the fraction of the lessons that you have viewed, then you can trick the system by opening the videos and close the window as soon as the video starts.

Admin, Tech

Exam tables

February 15th, 2009

In addition to the SOA sample problems, you should also look at the table that comes with the exam. You can view the table at and also see it “in action” by looking at the sample CBT tutorial available at


Expanded SOA sample problems

January 13th, 2009

The SOA has slowly been increasing the number of available sample problems. They made a new update on January 6, increasing the number of problems to 140. See here for the questions and solutions for the new versions.


Schedules for February exam

December 4th, 2007

I’ve updated the study schedules for the February exam.  I’ve left a few breaks around Christmas and New Years, but obviously you should move those around for whenever you take breaks.  I am going to be around at Christmas, but will be far, far away from a computer from January 11th-17th (duly noted on the calendar in perhaps more detail than you want).  The new calendars will be up on the main page soon, but I’ll stick them here for the time being as well  Here is the standard schedule as well as a condensed schedule  that is shortened by 2 weeks.


Free subscription extensions

December 4th, 2007

While everyone has different tests now that 1/P is computer based, one thing that remains the same is that it is a hard test.  Usually less than 40% of the people pass, and that is sometimes closer to 30%.  If you fail the exam, try to remember that it is a hard test.  Also, we are happy to give free subscription renewals for people who fail and want to reuse the seminar for a second shot at the exam.  If you need one, please send an e-mail to customer service.  We may ask for proof that you are taking the exam again, but that is it.

Exam results, Frequently asked questions