May 2021 EA-2L Extra Tricky?

Did anyone else take the May 2021 sitting? I walked into the exam and out of it feeling extremely confident. There were only two questions I felt unsure on.

Now I have found out I didn’t pass, and I feel defeated. I’ve never had a shock like that. My instinct on whether or not I have passed has always been spot on.

While I’m not holding my breath, I’m still holding on to a sliver of hope that enough answers will be revised and I’ll end up with a pass.

So, did I just make a bunch of silly mistakes, or was the exam actually extra tricky? I have yet to go through it again, but I’m curious to hear what others thought.

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It looks like only 76 people passed this sitting. If we use the historical average number of sittings per exam (~247), that would put the pass rate at 31%. I’m assuming the counts would be close to 200 (or 38%) but that still seems like they swung the pendulum WAY too far back from last sittings effective pass rate of 70%. Certainly seems like this will be one of, if not the lowest passing rate for this exam.

I noticed the low number of people passing as well. I wasn’t sure if that was due to an exceptionally low number of takers or not. I’m curious to see the percentages when they’re published.

I suppose that likely means I have lots of company.

Pass rate was low, but it looks like since the pass rate was so high last sitting, there were fewer people sitting this time around. (166 sat in May, 76 passed).

I think the pass rate was also high in 2019 when I passed it, but 2020 might have been higher.

Going to vent for a quick second. How can the SOA administer exams with passing rates that fluctuate this wildly and not be doing so purposefully?

EA2L passing rates:
May 2019 58.0%
May 2020 68.9% (+10.9%)
May 2021 45.8% (-23.1%) - (6.4% below average pass rate across 9 sittings)

EA2F passing rates:
Nov 2018 68.5%
Nov 2019 66.1% (-2.4%)
Nov 2020 44.5% (-21.6%) - (9.2% below average pass rate across 8 sittings)

Did the SOA get to summer 2020 and think, “too many people are passing these EA exams, we need to stop that”?

From the early 2000’s for EA-2B (now EA-2L)…

year pass mark percentage who passed
2002 47 32.6%
2003 55 36.2%
2004 56 34.0%
2005 61 35.5%
2006 54 37.6%
2007 59 39.2%
2008 63 37.2%
2009 68 59.1%

I believe that pass mark was out of 100. I gave up on this exam after taking it for several years up to the 2007 sitting. Came back to it in 2019 and was shocked at how easy the questions were in recent years since it was far more difficult back then, close to downright impossible to pass unless you were a good guesser. So, it was crazier back then than even the dip in 2021 and was so for years.

but in looking at the past decade, a few stand out. 2017, 2019 and 2020 had high pass rates, but several other years were more in line with this year’s pass rate.

year pass mark percentage who passed
2010 69 43.7%
2011 63 39.2%
2012 65 40.0%
2013 72 58.7%
2014 70 47.2%
2015 70 45.5%
2016 61 44.7%
2017 70 59.2%
2018 68 44.9%

Yeah, much more in line with the historical passing percentages. I’m just complaining as someone who just missed passing and saw a huge drop in the pass rate then thought…well I’m definitely in that 23.1% (and that 6.4% below the average).

Fingers crossed that this was an overcorrection and not the new (or return to the old) normal for these exams.

With such low passing rates, are the study materials deficient in any way?

The material doesn’t change THAT much from year to year. So it’s not like the study manuals need to be completely revised every year or two.

Do people who work with DB plans have inflated egos and think they know it all and breeze thru the study material?

I think that the exam questions DO change that much from year to year, at least compared to EA-2B from the early 00’s when it was really difficult to pass. When I took it again in 2019, I noticed that the more recent questions were far easier. It’s not the material. It’s the questions. When you have an entire law book, they can look for some pretty esoteric stuff to test if they want to. The 2019 and 2020 exams were easier than others, but later exams in general were easier than the earlier ones in the early 00’s when this exam first became a thing.