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CBT sample exams

July 10th, 2010

We have added a CBT format to the sample exams. This means that you now have the choice of printing out the practice exams and taking them as a traditional paper and pencil exam, or you can take it on your computer in a format that is very similar to what you will see on the exam day. There are a few differences between our CBT version and the SOA’s version, but we think it is close enough that it will be good practice. In particular, you can get used to using the online exam tables.

For a demo of how to use the sample exams, we have a sample videos that you can watch in either QuickTime or WMP format. When you take a CBT sample exam, the exam will end whenever time runs out or if you click the “End” button on the review screen. At that point, your exam will be automatically scored. Note that closing the exam window will exit the exam without saving your progress or grading anything.

One feature that you should experiment with is the ability to mark questions for review. At any point during the exam, you can click the “Review” button on the bottom of the screen and that will give you the option to review either all of the exam problems, only those problems that you have marked for review, or only those problems that you haven’t answered. For example, one possible exam strategy is to make a first pass through the exam working all of the problems that you can do quickly, marking problems that you think you can do but will take a long time, and skipping problems that you don’t know how to do. Then when you are done with your first pass, you can select “Review Marked” and do the longer problems that you know how to do. After finishing that, you can review the unanswered problems that you didn’t initially know how to do and either guess or take a second stab at them.

As the CBT format is a new feature, we welcome any comments and suggestions that you may have for it. In particular, if you have taken the official exam and can let us know about some format changes that we need to make we would really appreciate it. There will always be some differences since we have to deal with different browsers and screen sizes, but we would like to minimize them. Known differences are:

  • On the official CBT exam, if the problem is long enough that you need to scroll down to see all of the answer choices, you must scroll down before selecting your answer. We do not force you to do so.
  • The sample CBT exam on www.beanactuary.com has the exam tables in a different order than the table on the SOA webpage. We are currently using the SOA webpage’s order, but are not sure which way you will see it.

Dave Uncategorized

  1. Abraham Ndabian
    July 23rd, 2010 at 13:50 | #1

    Where is located the CBT sample exams?
    I cannot locate it, I have beem a member for more than six months and would like to take the sample exams on the CBT format.

  2. July 23rd, 2010 at 14:16 | #2

    To get to the sample exams, go to one of the sample exam pages (e.g., http://www.theinfiniteactuary.com/?page=exams&id=50 for exams 1-4. You can also find that link either by using the “Related Courses” balloon or going to your “My Stuff” page). On one of the sample exam pages, expand the relevant exam, then expand “Questions” and then you will see the first line is named “Exam x CBT Version” with an icon of a pencil instead of a download or video icon. Clicking on the pencil will start the exam.

  3. Carl
    September 21st, 2010 at 18:05 | #3

    How similar do you feel the sample exams are to the actual test (i.e. level of difficulty, number of questions per topic)? Also, about how many questions do I need to get correct in order to pass the exam? This will help me get a better idea of how prepared I am. Thanks for your help.

  4. September 22nd, 2010 at 04:58 | #4

    Most students have said that my sample exams are similar in difficulty to the original test (maybe slightly harder as I tend to have fewer very easy questions, but that is evened out by whatever exam stress you have). The goal was to have a similar distribution of questions to the real exam, but the random nature of CBT testing means that each student will have a slightly different mix of questions on the real exam. A few people think that the first 4 sample exams have fewer tricky problems than the last 3 and that those are closer to the current exam. Usually around 62-66% is passing, so you want at least 19 or 20/30, ideally higher to have some sort of cushion. (On the actual exam, some questions are “pilot” questions being tested for future exams and don’t count, but you should ignore that in terms of your strategy.)

  5. John
    March 12th, 2012 at 12:30 | #5

    So if I understand correctly, if during the real exam we get stuck on a question, we will be able to save it for later and come back to it if time allows?

    Also, have you heard of the “Coaching Actuaries” website? What that does is give you a test and then measures your earned level, or in other words your chances of passing the exam, based on what questions you got right and how hard they were. I have an earned level of about 5.14, meaning that my chances of passing are almost 75%. However, when I took the second and third of the sample exams on “the infinite actuary”, I only got around 14 correct out of the 30 total questions.

    My point is, the coaching actuaries website seems to be telling me that I have a good chance of passing the exam, but the “the infinite actuary” exams seem to be telling me that my odds of passing are not so high. How can I tell then if I am really prepared?

    Thanks so much!

  6. John
    March 12th, 2012 at 13:02 | #6

    Oh and I had another question. Do you know how soon after the actual test we will be given our scores and whether or not we passed the exam?

  7. March 13th, 2012 at 06:42 | #7

    Yes, you can come back to questions later if time allows.

    A large number of people have told me that my practice exams are similar in difficulty to the actual exam, with some thinking that mine are harder and some finding the actual exam harder. My exams have slightly fewer “gimme” problems that are very easy, and are slightly harder computationally, while the actual exam sometimes has some oddly worded questions. The most important thing to do is to focus on learning from the problems that you missed so that you can get similar questions on the actual exam correct.

    With regards to the coaching actuaries earned level, their claim is that 73% of people surveyed reaching an earned of 5 or higher pass. That is not the same thing as saying that a 5.14 earned level has a 73% chance of passing, as they are also including people with an earned level of 7, 8, 9, etc. in their 73%. The number is also based on surveys, and it is fairly common for survey results to be biased high as people who pass are more likely to respond. Surveys that I have seen on the Actuarial Outpost and other discussion boards about actual exam results often result in a pass rate that is higher than the true pass rate by double digits.

  8. March 13th, 2012 at 06:45 | #8

    You are given unofficial results immediately after the exam, and then official results about 8 weeks later. The unofficial results are essentially guaranteed to match the official results — only 1 person in over 40,000 examinees has gotten the wrong response, and they have fixed the problem that caused that.

  9. Roy
    April 15th, 2012 at 09:48 | #9

    the exams 2-7 don’t work, there is no where to click like the first exam

  10. April 16th, 2012 at 05:58 | #10

    You have to be logged in to view exams 2-7, or to use the CBT version. Try again after logging in.

  11. Roy
    April 16th, 2012 at 18:12 | #11

    it worked thanks a lot @Dave

  12. Roy
    April 17th, 2012 at 12:56 | #12

    for exam 1 question 30, where did the 3 come from in the denominator? and what score do i need to pass? thanks again!

  13. John
    April 30th, 2012 at 09:24 | #13

    I was wondering if the sample exams 5-7 are at all sold separately on “the infinite actuary” website. Do I have to purchase the entire training course for $395 (or $195 if I got a student discount) in order to gain access to sample exams 5-7?

  14. April 30th, 2012 at 11:17 | #14

    No, exams 5-7 are only available to people who are enrolled in the full seminar.

  15. Cole
    March 23rd, 2015 at 21:58 | #15

    Hi Dave!

    Please do you have any idea how many questions (of the 30 questions) are pilot questions.


  16. March 24th, 2015 at 07:02 | #16

    There is no official answer to this. My understanding is that it can vary between students, and as of a few years ago was often 4-6 questions, but that doesn’t mean that is still the case.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter as there is no way to tell which questions are pilot vs. live, and so from a strategy point of view you should treat all questions as if they count.

  17. Cole
    March 24th, 2015 at 20:58 | #17

    Thanks Dave.

    Finally I got 21,20,21,21 on the 4 exams. I’m I suppose to be bothered? At this point I thought I would to be getting 25 above. Exam is on the 28th

  18. March 26th, 2015 at 11:43 | #18

    You certainly would like to be higher, but plenty of people pass from where you are right now. You want to be sure to review the problems that you missed and learn from your mistakes.

    This isn’t the best way to ask questions. If you look on our discussion forums at http://www.theinfiniteactuary.com/mb/index.php you can find more useful information about other people’s experiences.

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