Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I obtain study and syllabus materials?
The CAS Syllabus of Examinations provides details for obtaining materials listed for examinations. Many articles and papers are included in the CAS Study Kits that are available for purchase through the Online Store.
Other material, especially books, may be purchased from the publisher, your local bookstore, or bookstores listed in the Syllabus. There generally are a limited number of copies available to be borrowed for thirty days from the CAS Library. Written requests should be faxed (703-276-3108), mailed to the CAS Library, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CAS Notice of Examinations and Future Fellows newsletter also provide listings of independent vendors who provide review seminars for CAS examinations and supplemental materials. (The vendors are listed as a service to CAS candidates but the CAS takes no responsibility for the seminars or materials.)
Why don't CAS Study Kits include all of the syllabus readings?
The CAS Study Kits include study notes that were written under the direction of the CAS Syllabus Committee and materials copyrighted by the CAS. To include other materials the CAS must obtain copyright permission. Generally, permission can be obtained for articles from periodicals. Sometimes permission will be granted for a short selection from a book. however, publishers are in the business of selling books. A request to reprint a significant portion of a book is generally denied.
How can I participate in the e-mail study groups?
Does the CAS have study groups?
E-mail study groups are available for candidates preparing for CAS examinations. Study Groups can be joined through the CAS website. All messages from the e-mail study groups are archived. Contact the CAS Office with any questions.
Syllabus of Examinations
Is there a print version of the Syllabus?
No. The syllabus will be made available online exclusively as PDF files. The Syllabus of Examinations can be accessed through the Admissions/Exams Section of the CAS Web Site.
What process does the CAS use to put together a quality examination?
The Examination Committee organizes, manages, administers, and grades the CAS Examinations. The committee also establishes the standards to be achieved by successful candidates.
The chairperson supervises the committee and is responsible for the overall administration of the CAS Examinations. The chairperson is assisted by several senior committee officers referred to as general officers. The committee is subdivided into examination part committees, each headed by a part chairperson. The responsibility for each CAS Examination is assigned to a part committee that writes, grades, and maintains the standards for that examination. Each part committee is assisted by two examination consultants who are CAS members and are experts on the material covered by that examination. The part committees are also assisted by a proofreader who concentrates on uniformity and grammar. In addition, some part committees are assisted by academic consultants who are independent experts from the academic community.
Each examination is drafted by the responsible part committee to test candidates. knowledge of the items listed in the Syllabus of Examinations. The individual part committee, examination consultants, one of the Examination Committee general officers, the Examination Committee chairperson, and, in some cases, academic consultants review each examination to assure its quality.
Every effort is made to ensure that the questions fall within the scope of the Syllabus materials. Complete coverage of all material is not practical for every examination every year. The goal is to produce examinations that contain representative, high-quality questions that test candidates. knowledge of the material. Trick questions are deliberately avoided, and the wording of each question is considered carefully to eliminate possible ambiguities. Preliminary versions of each examination are thoroughly reviewed in relation to all of these factors before the final examination is approved.
How does the CAS set passing scores for each exam?
The overriding goal in setting the examination pass marks is to pass all those candidates who have in the opinion of the CAS demonstrated by their exam responses a sufficient grasp of the syllabus material and to fail those candidates who have not.
The CAS strives to maintain consistent standards of qualification for membership. Because the level of difficulty for each exam varies from year to year, each Part Committee collects extensive data to ascertain the level of difficulty of its examination. The Part Committee compares the performance of the present year. s candidates to the performance of candidates from prior years. Appropriate recognition is given to any peculiarities that may appear in connection with the answers to any question on an examination despite all the care taken in setting the examination questions. After this, the pass mark is set to achieve the desired consistency. The examination part chairperson presents the recommended pass mark with the supporting data to the general officer who oversees that examination part, the Examination Committee chairperson, and the Vice President-Admissions. The final decision on the pass mark is the responsibility of the Vice President-Admissions. The pass mark for CAS Exams 5-9 is provided to candidates after the appeals process has been completed.
The percentage of candidates passing will vary from year to year; however, those candidates demonstrating the required level of competence with the material will pass.
After the passing mark is finalized, each candidate is assigned a score. Scores of 0 to 5 are assigned to candidates who do not pass. On this scale, each interval is 10 percent of the pass mark. For example, a grade of 5 means failing with a mark of at least 90 percent, but less than 100 percent, of the pass mark. A grade of 0 means that the candidate. s score is less than 50 percent of the pass mark. Candidates at or above the passing mark receive a Pass.
What is the process the CAS uses to ensure that the grading process is fair and accurate?
Multiple-choice and true/false answers: Answers to multiple-choice and true/false questions are read by optical scanning equipment and scored by computer. This process is done twice and the output data are compared to ensure proper reading. Then a statistical analysis is prepared for each question; if this information indicates there might be a problem, the question is carefully examined. Any multiple-choice or true/false question found to be defective is carefully examined to determine the most reasonable way to correct the situation. In some cases, the question is discarded, leaving scores and rankings as they would have been if the defective question had not been asked. In other cases, more than one answer for a multiple-choice question is given credit for being correct.
Essay Responses: Every effort is made to grade answers to essay questions according to completely objective standards. The anonymity of the candidates is fully preserved; committee members see only candidate numbers when grading an examination, not candidate names.
A model answer is developed for each question prior to grading, including the recommended numerical value for each sub-point in the answer. Each question is assigned to two graders who separately and independently grade photocopies of the candidates. answers using the model answer as a guide. After grading a sufficient number of papers, each grader evaluates the model answer in light of the responses. If either grader believes that the model answer or the values assigned for sub-points should be revised, the two graders confer and revise the model answer, if necessary. Then both graders restart the grading process. After all papers have been graded, the two graders compare the scores assigned to each candidate for that question and reconcile differences.
After all questions have been graded, the multiple-choice scores and essay scores are combined, and candidates are ranked in order by score. A preliminary pass mark is established, and the answers given by candidates near the mark are re-graded. The candidates are re-ranked after the re-grading, and a final pass mark is determined.
Why aren't all of the exams given twice a year?
Except for academic consultants and a proofreader, the CAS Examination Committee is made up of volunteers. More than 10% of the CAS Fellows currently are serving on the Examination Committee. It takes hundreds of hours to create and grade an examination. The CAS would not have the resources to create full examinations twice a year. Another important reason is that the CAS publishes its past examinations thereby preventing good questions from being used again on the next examination. Thus, each examination must be created "from scratch."
What can I do if I think the pass/fail score for my exam is wrong?
For CAS Exams 5-9, obtain a copy of the examination and the published answers. (The multiple-choice and true/false answers are available on the CAS Web Site the week following examinations; the sample essay solutions are available at the end of July for Spring exams and the end of January for Fall exams.)
Failing candidates will automatically receive an analysis of their examination upon grade notification. Other unsuccessful candidates for Exams 5-9 may obtain an analysis of their examination by writing to the CAS Office before the stated deadline (see question 15). The analysis of an examination is computer-generated. Actual points received for multiple-choice and true/false questions will be displayed. For essay questions, ranges will be given for both the actual score and how the actual score relates to the mean of all candidates. This information is intended to provide the educational guidance that most candidates desire.
Once candidates have reviewed the examination with published answers and their analyses, they may appeal their grade. Only candidates with valid appeals will be considered.
There are two types of valid appeals. The first type is an administrative check of the candidate. s short answer card to verify that the card reader scanned the card correctly and that the output file reflected this data. The second type of appeal is for an incorrect answer key or sample essay answer. If the candidate believes that the answer key or sample answer is incorrect or there is an alternative correct solution, the candidate must provide specific information on why his or her solution is correct. An example of a non-valid appeal would be the following: "I am appealing my score of 5 on Exam 9, please re-check my examination." Another example of a non-valid appeal would be: "On question number 2, I believe I should get full credit because I answered the following . . ." [See previous answer on grading essay questions.]
Appeals must reach the CAS Office prior to the published deadlines (see question 15). When a valid appeal is received, it is reviewed by the part chairperson who makes a recommendation to the Examination Committee chairperson. The Examination Committee chairperson will respond based on the recommendation by the part chairperson.
When will my exam results be available?
Examination results are available approximately eight weeks after the examination. The CAS staff places a list of passing candidate numbers in the Exams Section of the CAS Web Site on the day that grades arrive at the CAS Office. Within 24 hours, the grades are printed and mailed to candidates. The CAS does not hold grades for one exam until the results of all exams have been received; the grades for each exam are released as they become available.
An article describing the timetable is provided in the Exams Section under "Looking at the CAS Examination Process."
Why does it take so long to grade an exam that is all multiple choice?
Even for examinations that do not have essay answers, there are reasons that may prevent grades from being released earlier than they are. An important reason is the existence of comments on ambiguous or defective questions or any unusual situations related to the administration of the exam. All letters received on possible ambiguous or defective questions are reviewed thoroughly. Even if no letters are received, the Examination Committee analyzes the results of each question for any potential problems. The CAS also receives letters on any unusual situations with specific test sites. Each of these letters is reviewed for any potential influence on the results of the affected candidate(s).
The part chair recommends a pass score to the general officer of the exam series and the chair of the Examination Committee. The final pass score then must be approved by the Vice President-Admissions. The length of this approval process can vary for an individual exam if anyone disagrees with the recommended pass score or if additional information is requested in support of the recommended pass score.
Why doesn't the CAS provide a grade when you pass?
Some examinations (e.g., Scholastic Aptitude Test) are designed to provide scores that compare individual results. The purpose of the CAS examinations is different. These examinations are a means to achieve membership within the Society where membership certifies that the individual is qualified to practice and has met the minimum requirements of a rather rigorous examination process.
The CAS provides the passing score. Why won't the CAS give me my raw score for my exam?
A goal of the Examination Committee is to produce examinations that contain representative, high-quality questions that test candidates. knowledge of the Syllabus material. All details cannot be tested in one examination. Questions are a sampling of the material that candidates should have mastered. The candidate's focus should be to understand and be able to apply the material rather than trying to meet the minimal pass mark. Candidates who have mastered the material will pass the examination.
The CAS publishes information that has educational value. for example, the CAS provides past examinations with answers and the pass mark (after the appeal process has been completed), and an individual examination analysis for failing candidates. However, the CAS does not publish raw score because it provides no educational value. In addition, the publication of the pass score and raw scores could result in a flood of invalid appeals that would significantly hinder the Examination Committee's ability to respond to appeals that may be meritorious.
On average, how many years does it take to pass all the exams?
According to the 2007 Travel Time Report, it took approximately eight and a half to ten years to become a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society from time of first employment in the industry.
General Admissions Questions
What are the important deadlines?
See the Syllabus of Examinations Key Deadlines at http://www.casact.org/admissions/syllabus/index.cfm?fa=deadlines
The CAS implemented a new education and examination structure in 2000. What were the transition rules?
The CAS Board of Directors approved transition rules for the education and examination system that the CAS implemented with the Spring 2000 Examinations.
In 2008, the CAS announced further changes to the Basic Education Structure to be implemented no sooner the 2011. Where can I find more information on this?
Information and further details are available online.
What is CASNET? How can I join CASNET?
CASNET is an Internet mailing list on casualty actuarial topics. Subscribers are free to discuss any topic that might be of interest to people who have casualty actuarial science in common. Topics could include research topics, CAS exams, exam passing techniques, CAS business, or actuarial jokes.
To subscribe to CASNET, send an e-mail to the CAS Office with the following information in the body of the message:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Type of Subsciption (Standard or Digest)
- Email Address You Wish CASNET to Be Sent to
After sending this email, a confirmation e-mail will be returned, along with a set of instructions and guidelines. For more information please go to http://www.casact.org/discuss/index.cfm?fa=casnet
Updated: 30 August 2007