Spring 2021 CAS Exam 9 Thread

Starting a thread for the spring sitting. Who else will be writing with me?

If I passed Exam 6, I’d have to choose between taking 7 and 9 next sitting and Exam 9 is more relevant to my work so I’d probably go with that.

I’ll look through the posts here since I’m sure it’s been posted already, but if anyone wants to give their recommended study materials I think that would be helpful to more than just me.

I got both Rising Fellow and Crystal Clear. CC has paper summaries, which RF does not, and I definitely need those. But RF had lots of good practice problems in its problem pack. I emailed CC a few times, and she always responded (after a few days lag).

I mainly used Crystal Clear and liked it.
Also used the RF Cookbook, which as usual was helpful but not really essential if budget is an issue. And I read most of the source material.

I used Crystal Clear and Rising Fellow. Overall had positive experiences from both. I had traditionally exclusively relied on TIA but did not particularly enjoy my Exam 6 TIA experience, so since it is the same instructor for 9, I went a different route.

However I do now hear Casual Fellow and Rising Fellow is offering a new combined seminar from Exam 9. I used that same combined seminar for Exam 7 and it was easily my best experience with study material of any exam.

The primary benefit probably being the clarity of how the exam material is presented in the CF manual. RF has great explicit examples to go along with it in the formula driven cookbook, so it really does have a perfect chemistry to go together. I also would imagine CF would offer flashcards, something I did not get from my CC/RF combination this past sitting, and is probably one of the primary benefits of using TIA.

So overall would recommend CF/RF combo due to my Exam 7 experience; if you’re understandably afraid of relying on a new manual that’s being released for the first time, I did enjoy the CC/RF combo and would recommend that over TIA. Using these need to be combined with source material too, obviously.

What do you guys recommend regarding the source material? Do you just do a read through of it and then rely on the study guides, or do you do something more? I haven’t written an upper exam before and I want to make sure I prepare as efficiently as possible.

Upper levels are very challenging often manuals and the source aren’t enough. You need to gain a level of mastery beyond them in my opinion.


Personally, I use any textbook or monograph source materials as primary and study guides for secondary explanation (and practice problems).

For articles, depending on how readable they are for someone who isn’t familiar with the context of other articles published at the time (9 definitely isn’t the worst offender here, thankfully), I often swap that and only skim the article unless I’m confused by a particular part.

Of course, you have to find what works for you.

1 Like

Well that’s terrifying.

I would always go through a first pass of reading the source material with my study manual side by side. I would then add notes from the source material to my study guide to fill in any gaps I felt were missing (this is a pretty thorough read for me), and then really only rely on the source material again if I had an additional question I needed to reference down the line.

Personally I feel that the study guides do a very good job of providing the comprehensive material needed to pass, but there were always a few points from each section missing that felt necessary to add or go into further detail for.

Especially in the case for Exam 9, the source material is a must. And fortunately most of it is very well-written and easy to understand on its own. With BKM specifically, I would say reading the source by itself is probably the most important step of understanding.

1 Like

Cautiously optimistically in for this… knock on wood


I want to recommend some study materials and give some thoughts on the exam, in case those starting to study find it helpful. I passed in 2019 after failing the 2018 sitting.

In comparison to other exams, this one is a little unique:

  • I found the source material the most readable since Exam 5’s ratemaking text. This is the only upper level where I read every source paper and I don’t think it was a waste; I probably picked up some points on some tricky questions in 2019 directly from the source. This actually probably set me on a bad path thinking it would be the same for 7/8, but IMO those exams have source materials that are practically unreadable. Robbin is perhaps the only paper I would not recommend reading but everything else is worth reading at least once IMO.

  • I think the pass ratio is 100% driven by the candidate pool. Any differences in difficulty from other FCAS exams is probably candidate-specific. I found this more theoretical and less technical than 7, which I’m studying now. The closer I get to the finish line for 7 the more I feel like the material is easier to learn for 9, but easier to pass for 7.

I would recommend Crystal Clear and the Rising Fellow Cookbook:

  • Crystal Clear has original problems which really help you learn the material. She has a teaching background and it’s clear her exercises are meant to help you learn the material. I also think they did a good job conceptualizing how less tested topics (especially from Section D) could be asked. I’ve heard some people liking that TIA has all the exam questions arranged but know that she provides this, too.

  • Rising Fellow’s cookbook was also really great and like his other exams, helped me learn to solve problems quickly. He also had some good recipes for less tested material that were different than CC’s original questions, so they balanced each other nicely.

  • Both their practice exams were top notch, CC’s especially. I think I recall two questions from 2019 that CC had original questions for that made them super easy during the exam.

Hope people find this helpful, just wanted to lay my thoughts out there.


Really helpful, thanks for your thoughts!

Yeah Skol, exam 9 is a beast of a test. They passed a lot of candidates historically. Crystal Clear and Rising Fellow are good learning manuals with great examples. However, the exam is a beast and very hard.

Exam 7 is more straightforward in my opinion.

I agree with this. I also read all source material and found it helpful and readable. I wouldn’t skip Robbin unless you are really short on time, although I always read source material while giving myself grace not to understand every word.

I also had TIA and the videos were helpful as a first pass through the material, I also appreciated the additional original practice exams but if you are not in a position to get all three TIA is the one I would skip. RF practice exams were a little easy and CC were a little hard so TIA was more in the middle. Also, all of the old CAS exams have been converted to excel by TIA and I didn’t see that option with any other study package.

I see that CF/RF will have a joint seminar this time and I liked them for exam 7 (the only exam I did not use TIA for), so that is what I would recommend plus buying Crystal Clear on your own which is affordable.

Crystal Clear is a very challenging manual, I do think it is helpful once you have been through the material at least once and have a baseline understanding. I’m not sure that I would recommend trying to learn from this manual on your first pass through.

I narrowly failed in 2019 and felt much better prepared for 2020 but obviously don’t know my results yet.

Just curious what specifically do all of you dislike about TIA for exam 9 (and 7 for that matter)? I agree not having past problems converted to excel yet is a bit annoying, but I just screenshotted the problems and pasted them in excel when I was working them. I used solely TIA + past exams/examiners reports and felt very well prepared. I agree the instructors aren’t quite as good as Josh who does 5 and 8, but that’s a very high bar to be compared to.

Do you use the videos to study? Curious if I should be at all reluctant to get TIA if I’d just be using the study guide itself. Kind of gave up on video lessons after using them for 6 and falling asleep (at increased video speed!)

I mostly relied on the study guide after I use the videos to get the basics down. I initially watch all the videos without doing any problems to get an overview of all the material. Then I go back through the videos and after each section spend time doing problems until I feel like I know the topic pretty well. After that passthrough, then I just read the manual and basically memorize it front to back while drilling more problems.

That seems tempting, particularly since you seem to need to try tripling up next.

From about 6 on I’ve found success in basically writing my own detailed notes off of the study guides and then going back through the syllabus repeatedly rewriting my notes in briefer and briefer versions, with each pass including an increasing amount of actual exam problems.

I must say though about a month before 7 I felt a little bit like I should do a bit less note rewriting and more problems so shifted gears a bit but I think that timing worked out.

Yeah, I think cycling through the material again and again is really good for solidifying everything. Another thing I do that helps me a ton is make tons of flashcards. Whenever I use a formula in a problem or have to have a list/concept memorized for a problem I would make a flashcard of it. Towards the last month before my sittings of 7 and 9 I would have 2 days a week where the only studying I would do is flip through my entire flashcard stack. Even after I was confident I knew everything on the flashcards I would keep flipping through them every couple days just to get a brief overview/review of everything on the syllabus.