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CAS Board Approves Changes to Basic Education Structure

03/17/2008 —

NOTE: This report is posted for historical context. Please view the current Syllabus of Basic Education for the most up-to-date information.
Posted 17 March 2008. Updates posted 31 July 2009 and 21 January 2010

After years of study and discussion, the CAS Board of Directors approved changes to the CAS basic education structure that will affect current Exams 5-9. It is expected that these changes will take several years to implement, with implementation occurring no sooner than 2011.

The groundwork for the revisions was laid through the White Paper on CAS Education Strategy, which was widely circulated for comment in late 2006-early 2007. The White Paper explained the Board’s proposals for a new education strategy. Based on feedback to the White Paper received from members, candidates, employers of actuaries and other key stakeholders, several subsequent iterations of the strategy were developed, and additional input was sought from the CAS Syllabus Committee. The final proposal for changes to the education structure was reviewed and unanimously endorsed by the Board during its meeting held March 10-11, 2008.

The attached chart provides a high-level overview of the approved changes. Highlights of the changes include:

  • Consistent with favorable feedback received in response to the White Paper, material that should only be tested at the familiarity level will be separated from the remaining material and moved to a self-paced Internet-based course.
  • The remaining upper-level material will be restructured in 5 units, consisting of three 3-hour exams and two 4-hour exams.
  • Material on advanced reserving topics, for example, stochastic reserve models and reserve ranges, will be added to the syllabus. Financial Economics material that was previously moved from Exam 8 to Exams 2-3 will no longer be included in the upper-level syllabus. Otherwise, no significant additions or deletions are being made to the syllabus topics.
  • Basic ratemaking and basic reserving material from current Exams 5 and 6 will be grouped onto one exam to provide a better educational experience given the natural linkage of this material.
  • Pre-Fellowship tracks and a mandatory capstone seminar, ideas included in the White Paper, will not be pursued at this time. While the Board felt that these changes could improve the basic education process, the Board ultimately agreed with stakeholder input that the associated risks could outweigh the potential benefits of implementing these requirements.
  • The approved revisions presume that the ACAS and FCAS classes of membership will continue; the difference between the ACAS and FCAS requirements would be three 3-hour exams. The Board had been discussing the possibility of discontinuing conferment of the ACAS credential and agreed to table that discussion until the CAS education strategy was finalized. With its decision on changes to the basic education system, the Board plans to resume deliberation on the ACAS credential during its meeting in June 2008.


  • In January 2010, the Executive Council approved the draft syllabi for new Exams 5-9 and topics for the two Modules that will be implemented in 2011. The drafts were released so that candidates and educators would have a sense of the learning objectives and readings. The final 2011 Syllabus of Basic Education will be posted in November 2010.
  • At its July 2009 meeting, the Executive Council declared that the proposed transition rules for the new basic education system as published in March 2008 are designated as final.
  • At its July 2009 meeting, the Executive Council approved the following schedule of exams for 2011 and 2012:

    Spring Examinations

    • New Exam 5: Basic Ratemaking and Reserving*
      New Exam 7: Advanced Reserving, Reinsurance, and ERM
      New Exam 9: Investments and Rate of Return

    Fall Examinations

    • New Exam 6-Canada: Regulation and Financial Reporting
      New Exam 6-United States: Regulation and Financial Reporting
      New Exam 8: Advanced Ratemaking

      *Exam 5 will be offered as a four-hour exam. In a two-year transition period (i.e., 2011 and 2012), Exam 5 will also be offered in two-hour half-exams which will cover only the ratemaking or only the reserving sections. Only candidates who have transition credit for the other half will be permitted to sit for the half-exam (i.e., those who passed either current Exam 5 or current Exam 6, but not both, as of December 31, 2010). Test centers will secure separate rooms for the administration of (1) the four-hour full version of Exam 5 and (2) the two-hour half exams.

  • At its September 2008 meeting, the Board of Directors voted to ratify “the existing classes of membership, maintaining both an Associateship and a Fellowship designation, each of which meets and will continue to meet the minimum educational requirement of the IAA.”

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