Announcement: SOA releases October 2019 Exam STAM passing candidate numbers.

Education and Examination System

Spring 2007 Basic EducationCatalog

Education and Examination System




Organizational Structure of the Educationand Examination Commitee

The Education and Examination (E&E)Steering and Coordinating Committee oversees the basic educationprogram of the SOA. Within this overall committee, two separatecommittees operate. The Education Committee is responsible for theselection and development of the study material for the SOA basiceducational programs. The Examination Committee is responsible forthe development and grading of the examinations. Both of thesecommittees report to the General Chairperson. Each of thesecommittees has its own Chairperson and several General Officers.The E&E Committee operates under guidelines set by the SOAE&E Management Committee.

The Education Committee is responsible fordetermining the content of the Course of Reading and learningobjectives. Input and suggestions for improvements may come frommany sources, including the SOA Staff Fellows, the individualexamination committees, Education Committee members, Sections andPractice Areas, the general SOA membership, academics, andcandidates.

The Examination Committee consists of severalindividual examination committees, each responsible for specifiedexaminations. Each examination committee develops and isresponsible for the initial review of all of the questions to beincluded in its examinations. The committee recommends the passmarks for its examinations.

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Review and Development of Course ofReading

The Course of Reading is reviewed regularly bymembers of the Education Committee. Both short-term and long-termgoals for improvement are developed. Textbooks and articles may beselected or Study Notes (SNs) developed to be included in theCourse of Reading. From time to time, new textbooks are written forthe specific purpose of inclusion in the Course of Reading.

If new study material needs to be developed, orexisting material needs to be revised, authors and reviewers whoare experts in the area are recruited. Every effort is made todevelop material that is appropriate, relevant, up-to-date, conciseand well written. Suggestions for improvement are always welcomeand should be sent to the Education and Examinations Department ofthe SOA office in care of the Ombudsperson.

Every effort is made to present educationalmaterial clearly and unambiguously. Occasionally, however, errorsdo occur. Candidates who believe that they have found an error inany study material should write to the Education and ExaminationsDepartment at the SOA office in care of the Ombudsperson so thatany necessary corrective action may be taken.

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Development of Examinations

Each examination is developed by theappropriate committee to test candidates' knowledge of the subjectmatter as defined in the Courses of Reading. The officers of theindividual examination committee, one or more General Officers, andwhere applicable, representatives of jointly administeringorganizations, review each examination to assure its quality.

Every effort is made to ensure that thequestions fall within the scope of the Course of Reading, and thateach question can be answered in the allocated time. Completecoverage of all parts of the Course of Reading is not practical forevery examination every year, but the goal is to developwell-rounded examinations containing representative, high-qualityquestions that test the candidates' knowledge and ability to makeuse of material from many parts of the Course of Reading. Trickquestions are avoided, and the wording of each question iscarefully considered to eliminate possible ambiguities. Preliminaryversions of each examination are thoroughly reviewed in relation toall of these factors before the final examination is set.

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Grading Process

Multiple-choice questions are scored byoptical-scanning equipment. As a check, several papers for eachexamination are scored by hand. Only the answer sheet determinesthe score. No credit, partial or full, is given for anythingwritten in the multiple-choice examination book, except asindicated in the next paragraph and as described in the LostExaminations section.

A multiple-choice question found to bedefective may be discarded, leaving scores and rankings as theywould have been if the defective question had not been asked. Inthis situation, the individual examination chairperson may examinethe examination books of candidates with the highest failing scoresto see if credit should be granted for work on the defectivequestion. See the Defective Questions section for information. Forall multiple-choice examinations, no guessing adjustment is made tocandidates' scores. Therefore, candidates will maximize theirscores by answering every question, even if some of those answersare pure guesses. When there is no guessing adjustment, there isnever an advantage to be gained by omitting a question.

For written-answer questions, every effort ismade to grade the answers according to completely objectivestandards. The anonymity of the candidates is fully preserved;committee members see only a candidate number when grading awritten-answer examination. Each examination committee has the samegrading process adjusted for the number of papers to be graded. Acommittee with a relatively small number of papers to grade mightwork as follows. A single committee member is assigned to gradeeach written-answer question. The grader starts with a gradingoutline that lists possible items that are directly relevant to thequestion with numerical values set according to each item'simportance. All answers are measured against the same gradingoutline to ensure that the same standards are applied to allcandidates. Written-answer scores are then combined withmultiple-choice scores.

Approximately one-third to one-half of thecandidates-those with scores fairly near the expected passmark-will have their written-answer papers regraded at a centralgrading session. The papers of the other candidates will not beregraded, since their scores would not change sufficiently to movefrom pass to fail or vice versa.

At the central grading session, a differentcommittee member using the same grading outline independentlygrades each paper. If the second grader's score on a questionvaries from the first grader's score by more than a small definedtolerance, the two graders discuss the paper in detail and settleupon a score.

For an examination with a relatively largenumber of candidates, two or more graders will be assigned to eachquestion at the beginning and procedures modified accordingly.

Papers are retained for six months in casequestions or problems arise that would warrant special action.After this, the papers are destroyed.

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Determination of the Pass Mark

The objective of the examinations is toidentify those candidates who, as a prerequisite for qualifying forAssociateship and/or Fellowship, demonstrate adequate knowledge ofthe Course of Reading based on standards that are formulated andapplied consistently from year to year.

There is no preconceived notion of the passingpercentage. With the use of content-based pass marks, fluctuationin pass rate from session to session is expected. The finaldecision is reached by consultation among the Chairperson andVice-Chairpersons of the individual examination committee andOfficers of the E&E Committee and any co-administrators.

These procedures are somewhat different,however, for EA-1, EA-2, A and EA-2, B, which are jointlyadministered by ASPPA, the Joint Board for the Enrollment ofActuaries, and the SOA. For the purposes of EA credit, the JointBoard sets the pass mark. Each of the sponsoring organizations hasthe right to set its own pass mark for credit towards its owneducational requirements. While a common pass mark is anticipated,it is possible for the SOA pass mark to differ from the pass marksof the other sponsoring organizations.

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