Syllabus of Basic Education
Examination Rules - The Examination
The examinations for admission to the Casualty Actuarial Society are designed to establish the qualifications of candidates. The Examination Committee creates exams that follow guidelines developed by the Syllabus Committee. Complete coverage of all readings listed in the Syllabus is not practical for every exam every year. The goal is to produce exams that contain representative, high-quality questions that test candidates' knowledge of topics that are presented in the learning objectives. Thus, the candidate should expect that each exam will cover a large proportion of the learning objectives and associated knowledge statements and syllabus readings, and that all of these will be tested at least once over the course of a few years.
The exam questions will be based on the published learning objectives and supporting knowledge statements. It is intended that the readings, in conjunction with the material on the lower numbered examinations, will provide sufficient resources to allow the candidate to perform the learning objectives. The exams will test not only candidates' knowledge of the subject matter, but also candidates' ability to apply that knowledge.
The Institutes create exams for the online courses that follow the learning objectives contained in the individual courses.
Order of Examinations and VEE Topics
In the development of the syllabus readings and exam questions, it is generally assumed that candidates for ACAS Exams 5 and 6 are familiar with material covered on the preliminary examinations (i.e., Exams 1-4); FCAS Exams 7-9 generally assume familiarity with material on the ACAS exams. There are, however, circumstances when another order might be more appropriate. For example, a candidate may wish to study an exam that is closely related to his or her current work.
VEE topics are not prerequisites to taking actuarial exams and may be fulfilled independently of the exam process (i.e., prior to or concurrent with taking actuarial exams). The following insights on VEE topics, however, may be helpful. VEE-Applied Statistical Methods will help strengthen candidates' statistical skills and completing it prior to taking Exams 3 and 4 will make these exams easier to understand. VEE-Economics and VEE-Corporate Finance will help strengthen candidates' understanding of managerial decision making and completing these topics prior to taking Exam 9 will make this exam easier to understand.
To help candidates decide which exam to take, the following chart indicates which exams assume knowledge of material found on prior exams. Most candidates will find it easiest to study for an exam after studying for all of the exams listed in the "prior knowledge" column.
|Exam or VEE Topic||Assumes Prior Knowledge from the Following Exam(s)|
|VEE-Applied Statistical Methods||None|
|Online Course 1/CA1||None|
|Online Course 2/CA2||None|
|Exam 3F/MFE||Exams 1/P and 2/FM|
|Exam 3L||Exam 1/P|
|Exam 4/C||Exam 1/P|
|Exam 5||Exams 1/P and 2/FM|
|Exam 6||Exams 1/P and 5 and Online Course 2|
|Exam 7||Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 4/C, and 5|
|Exam 8||Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3, 4/C, and 5|
|Exam 9||Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3, 4/C, and 5|
- Exams 3F/MFE, 3L, 4/C, and 8 make extensive use of Exam 1/P material. Exams 5 and 9 assume an understanding of Exam 1/P material.
- Some candidates may find it helpful to take Exam C/4 closer to Exam 3L and Exam 1/P as the statistical concepts in those three exams are related. Similarly, candidates may find it helpful to take Exams 2/FM and 3F/MFE close together.
- Exam 5 is approachable without detailed knowledge of the material on Exam 2/FM. A candidate who has studied this material, however, may gain a deeper understanding of the material on Exam 5 and its foundations.
- Many candidates find it easier to study for the more mathematical Exams 1-4 when they are not too far removed from college math.
- Exam 4/C covers the theory of credibility. Credibility theory is applied in Exam 5. Candidates who have mastered credibility theory in Exam 4/C may find its application more intuitive on Exam 5. On the other hand, candidates who have experience applying credibility on Exam 5 may find the theory on Exam 4/C easier to understand.
- There is a great deal of thematic overlap among Exams 6, 8, and 9. Candidates may find their understanding of whichever one they study last enhanced by the material learned on the other two.
Requirements for Admission to Examination Center
To be admitted into an examination center, each candidate must present a positive identification with a signature and a photograph (e.g., driver's license, passport, etc.). If a photo ID is not available, the candidate must present two forms of identification with a signature, with at least one form containing a physical description (height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc.). Each candidate will be required to sign in at the examination center. A candidate who does not present positive identification or who refuses or is unable to provide a matching signature will not be permitted to write the examination.
For examinations offered by computer-based testing, each candidate must present a valid government-issued photo identification that includes the candidate's signature (details are available under Identification and Calculators in the Exam Rules section of the Be An Actuary website—and on The Institutes website for exams for the two online courses). For the paper-and-pencil administrations of Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3F/MFE, and 4/C, candidates also must present a valid letter of admission that will be sent by Preliminary Actuarial Examinations/SOA.
Candidates should arrive at the examination center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time. Candidates may not leave until two hours after the start of the examination. For Exams 3L and 5-9, candidates may not leave during the last 15 minutes of the examination.
Conduct of Examinations
The examinations are recorded exclusively in writing (except for exams that are administered by computer-based testing). Except as is noted in the following paragraphs, no books, papers, typewriters, slide rules, laptops, or electronic or mechanical aids for computation of any kind may be brought into the examination room by candidates, nor may any candidate communicate with, or obtain any assistance from, any other candidate during the examination. Candidates must respond to constructed response (essay) questions in English unless advance notice is given (see Languages Other than English under Examination Rules—Registration). Examination answer sheets are not returned to candidates.
For Exams 3L and 5-9, a candidate wishing to obtain his or her own examination booklet and scrap paper subsequent to the examination must bring a self-addressed stamped envelope to the examination center. The recommended minimum postage is $2.87 for domestic mail in the U.S. For Exams 3L and 5-9, approximately one week after all exams have been completed, the exam will be posted on the Exams page of the CAS website.
Electronic calculators will be allowed in the examination room for all examinations. Only the calculators listed below may be brought into the examination room. Books, papers, computers, or other electronic devices may not be brought into the examination room. Candidates may use the battery- or solar-powered models of the following Texas Instruments calculators:
- BA II Plus
- TI-30X II (IIS solar or IIB battery)
- BA II Plus Professional
- TI-30XS MultiView (or XB battery)
Candidates may use more than one of the approved calculators during the examination. For those using the BA II Plus, BA II Plus Professional, TI-30X II (IIS solar or IIB battery) or TI-30XS MultiView (or XB battery) models, candidates will be required to show examination proctors that the memory has been cleared prior to the start of the examination. For the BA II Plus and BA II Plus Professional, clearing will reset the calculator to the factory default settings.
Calculator instructions cannot be brought into the examination room. During the examination, the calculator must be removed from its carrying case so the proctor can confirm it is an approved model. Any unauthorized calculator brought to the examination center will be confiscated for the duration of the examination. Candidates using a calculator other than the approved models will be subject to examination disqualification and other disciplinary action.
Candidates may purchase calculators from stores or directly from Texas Instruments:
Telephone: (800) 842-2737;
It is the candidate's responsibility to see that the calculator used during the examination is in good working order. For CAS Exams 3L and 5-9, supervisors will have a spare approved calculator available for a candidate whose calculator malfunctions. It is not to be distributed to a candidate without a calculator or whose unauthorized calculator has been confiscated.
Simple foam earplugs are allowed and must be checked in with the supervisor upon entrance to the exam. The ability to hear all verbal instructions, including exam start and stop times is the responsibility of the candidates, regardless of the use of earplugs.
Candidates must not give or receive assistance of any kind during the examination. Any cheating, attempt to cheat, assisting others to cheat, participating therein, or engaging in such improper conduct as listed below is a serious violation and will result in the CAS disqualifying the candidate's paper and other disciplinary action as may be deemed appropriate. Candidates have agreed in their applications for examination to be bound by the rules and regulations governing the examinations.
Examples of improper conduct include but are not limited to:
- Gaining access to examination questions before the examination or aiding someone else to do so.
- Using an unauthorized calculator (as defined in the Syllabus) or other mechanical aid that is not permitted.
- Looking in the examination book before the instruction to begin is given.
- Marking or otherwise writing on the examination book or answer sheet before the instruction to begin is given.
- Making any changes, additions, deletions, or otherwise marking, erasing, or writing on the examination book or answer sheet after the time for the examination has expired.
- Having access to or consulting notes or books during the examination.
- Looking at or copying from another candidate's paper.
- Enabling another candidate to copy from one's paper.
- Talking or otherwise communicating with another candidate during the examination.
- Disturbing other candidates during the examination.
- Consulting other persons outside the examination room during the examination.
- Copying questions, answers, or answer choices to take from the examination room.
- Taking an examination book from the examination room.
- Taking an examination for another candidate.
- Arranging to have another person take an examination for the candidate.
- Threatening or physically or verbally abusing a supervisor or proctor responsible for curbing or reporting improper conduct.
- Disclosing the contents of an examination to any other person prior to the examination's release. (For CAS Exams 3L and 5-9, this would generally apply to the day when the examination is administered.)
- Presenting false information on an examination application.
- Failing to remain in the examination room for a minimum of two hours during the examination [for examinations with this requirement].
- Failing to follow other examination instructions.
- Accessing or using a communication device (PDA, cell phone, etc.) during the exam or while at the exam site.
The CAS Examination Committee, or its designee, will investigate any irregularity or suspected violation of the rules involving the examination process, and a determination will be made regarding the matter. Where there is a determination to invoke a penalty, the candidate is advised by letter. In the case of a candidate who is a member of the CAS, the candidate's conduct will be reported to the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD) or to the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) if the final penalty invoked is more than disqualification of the examination.
Candidates for the CAS Examinations are expected to follow the rules and procedures included in this Syllabus, the Instructions to Candidates printed on their examination booklets, and announcements made by the supervisors at the examination locations. All candidates, on their applications for examinations, are required to read and sign the following statement: "I have read the rules and regulations concerning the examination(s) for which I am applying and agree to be bound by them. I also agree that the results of any examination(s) which I take, and any action taken as a result of my conduct may, at the sole discretion of the Casualty Actuarial Society [and/or the Society of Actuaries for jointly administered exams], be disclosed to any other bona fide actuarial organization that has a legitimate interest in such results and/or actions."
The CAS may, at its sole discretion, disclose to any other bona fide actuarial organization having a legitimate interest, information on the identity of candidates determined to have committed a serious examination violation (those for which the penalty is greater than the simple disqualification/nullification of the examination), and the specific penalties imposed on those candidates.
If an actuarial organization with which the CAS has a working relationship (such as the Society of Actuaries) invokes a penalty against a candidate for improper conduct during an examination for which the CAS is not a joint sponsor, the CAS will invoke the same penalty for all CAS-sponsored examinations. If the CAS takes any disciplinary action, it will notify the other actuarial organizations of that action. These standards may seem stricter than those which candidates are accustomed to in other examination environments. The CAS maintains these strict standards because the examinations are such a significant part of a candidate's career. Therefore, the equitable administration of the examinations and enforcement of the highest standards of conduct cannot be emphasized too strongly.
Candidates may obtain a copy of the full CAS Policy on Examination Discipline by sending a written request to the CAS Office.
The Policy on Examination Discipline is the same for those taking exams by computer-based testing or in the traditional paper-and-pencil format. There are some unique rules for the CBT administration that are available on the Confidentiality and Discipline page of the Be An Actuary website for Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3F/MFE, and 4/C; and on The Institutes website for Online Courses 1/CA1 and 2/CA2. If there is a discrepancy between specific rules for the traditional paper-and-pencil exam administration and computer-based testing, the computer-based testing rules will govern.
Exams 1-4 consist entirely of multiple-choice questions; other CAS examinations may have a section of multiple-choice questions. Each multiple-choice problem includes five answer choices identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E, only one of which is correct. For examinations administered by computer-based testing, candidates should click on the appropriate answer. For all other exams, a separate answer sheet provides a row of five ovals for each problem, identified with the letters A, B, C, D, and E, corresponding to the five answer choices. After deciding which answer is correct, candidates should blacken the oval that has the same letter as the appropriate answer. Since the answer sheets are scored by optical scanning equipment, a Number 2 pencil must be used to blacken the ovals. It is important that only one oval be blackened for each question.
Exams for the two online courses will consist entirely of multiple-choice questions. Each multiple-choice problem includes four answer choices identified by the letters A, B, C, and D, only one of which is correct. For exams administered by computer-based testing, candidates should click on the appropriate answer. For all other exams, a separate answer sheet provides a row of four ovals for each problem, identified with the letters A, B, C, and D, corresponding to the four answer choices. After deciding which answer is correct, candidates should blacken the oval that has the same letter as the appropriate answer. Since the answer sheets are scored by optical scanning equipment, a Number 2 pencil must be used to blacken the ovals. It is important that only one oval be blackened for each question.
For Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3F/MFE, and 4/C, as well as the exams for Online Courses 1/CA1 and 2/CA2, no guessing adjustment is made to candidates' scores. Therefore, candidates will maximize their scores on these examinations by answering every question. On Exams 3L and 5-9, multiple-choice questions are scored in such a way that there is no advantage or disadvantage to be anticipated from guessing answers in a purely random fashion as compared with omitting the answers entirely. No additional points will be given for multiple-choice questions left blank, but one-quarter of the point value for each question will be deducted for each incorrect answer.
Constructed Response Test Items
The admissions process is intended to identify candidates that have demonstrated sufficient mastery of the learning objectives to be admitted as members of the CAS. Examinations that provide a means for better prepared candidates to demonstrate that mastery are critical to meeting that objective. Educators often refer to a tool called Bloom's Taxonomy to classify questions into six cognitive levels. Bloom's levels range from Level 1, broadly characterized as knowledge, to Level 6, characterized as evaluation. Lower levels of the taxonomy stress recall of facts and an understanding of main ideas; higher levels within the taxonomy stress synthesis, comparison, and subtlety of understanding.
Bloom's levels are as follows:
Level 1: Knowledge—tests the ability of the candidate to recall or remember knowledge or facts
Level 2: Comprehension—requires the candidate to demonstrate comprehension of central concepts through explanation of those concepts
Level 3: Application—measures the candidate's ability to apply ideas and concepts to new situations
Level 4: Analysis—requires the candidate to analyze information by separating material into component parts, including identification of facts and development of inferences with respect to a situation
Level 5: Synthesis—tests the ability of a candidate to synthesize, or combine, concepts or ideas and develop and defend the position resulting from that combination
Level 6: Evaluation—requires the candidate to support conclusions by evaluating the validity of ideas and concepts
The test specifications for each upper-level examination include the long-term target range of points for each Bloom's cognitive level. A thorough review of the learning objectives in the Bloom's context described above will help the candidate to assess the level of mastery that the CAS expects successful candidates to demonstrate.
Generally, questions at higher Bloom's levels will have higher associated point values. As a result, examinations with higher synthesis and evaluation targets will contain fewer questions which may result in less syllabus coverage on a particular exam.
The CAS—or its designee—is not responsible for lost or destroyed examinations. In the case where an examination is lost or destroyed, the examination fee will be refunded. The CAS and other organizations that jointly administer and/or jointly sponsor CAS Examinations will assume no other obligation and candidates must take the examinations with this knowledge. The only exception to this policy is for the paper-and-pencil version of multiple-choice Exams 1/P, 2/FM, 3F/MFE, and 4/C. Whenever reasonably possible, Preliminary Actuarial Examinations/SOA will make use of a candidate's examination book to reconstruct the answers selected by the candidate. Therefore, candidates may wish to circle or otherwise clearly indicate their answer choices in the examination books. However, additional time in the examination period will not be given for candidates to do this. If a candidate receives a passing grade as a result of the review of the examination book, the examination fee will not be refunded. For Online Courses 1/CA1 and 2/CA2 that are administered by The Institutes, the policy of The Institutes will apply.