How to [Correctly] Fix the CAS Exam Process

Let’s accept that “the current exam process does not work correctly” - anyone who wants to make the argument that it does work correctly needs to mount that argument - and figure out what it should be for “the actuary of the future.”

Goals of the process, how to ask questions, open/closed book, timed or untimed, proctored / unproctored, at home / in-office / at a testing center, should there be occasional testing of credentialed actuaries to make sure they [still] understand prior / current material … whatever. It’s all on the table.

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I’m not a CAS member nor likely to be

[and yeah, the SOA is gonna take over the world]

in the past, I have tried to help CAS candidates get together complaints, and tried talking to CAS exam folks to let them know how the SOA worked through their operational troubles…

…anyway, I have one recommendation:



Well, I think there are a bunch of problems with the exams but if you’re talking about what happened with the pearson failure I would think we can accept the possibility of disruption so long as the CAS tries to make things right with the candidates.

Even tests like the SAT which have massive resources backing them run into issues like emergency closures and things like that. But with test windows being plentiful, the students can reschedule.

I can’t imagine this to have been the only time an emergency has disrupted a CAS test so presumably the CAS would have some kind of backup plan. Saying “sorry, we messed up but we’ll execute the backup plan” is enough for me as long as it can be done in a timely and effective manner.

But…isn’t that the point?

There does not seem to be any real “backup plan”.

So you get uncertainty and loss of confidence in the exam system.


As a candidate, I would like to see some consistency with the questions asked and with regard to the syllabus.

For example, on MAS1 credibility used to make up almost half of the exam weight and then it was taken off of the syllabus completely. How can it be something that was so important that it was half an exam is all of a sudden so irrelevant that we are not testing it anymore?

Similarly, the scope of questions should have some consistency from one sitting to the next. I understand that there should be some fringe topics each sitting but to see 3 questions worth close to 10 points from topic A on one sitting and see it not get asked on the next seems inconsistent. This could be me as a candidate complaining so please call me out on this if you disagree.

Agreed. On a similar note, when they rolled out MAS 2 50% of the exam was focused on Bayesian analysis and after 2 years (or so) of testing they sent out an email stating Bayesian is not necessary to actuaries and totally scrapped that content.

How can you just willy nilly add a topic to an exam, heavily weight the topic, and after years of testing just decide it’s not even important?

I feel like they focus a majority of their efforts on changing accreditation structure every year instead of the exam and content quality.