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Spring 2009 Overview and Study Materials

FAP Overview

 

As part of the SOA's Education Redesign, more than 150 volunteers participated in the development of the web–based Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) course.

What is FAP?

FAP is a self–paced, e–Learning course where candidates acquire and use knowledge that is distributed and facilitated by electronic means. This course teaches candidates about the business environment and exposes them to real–world situations before reaching the ASA level by using the Control Cycle as a framework. Simply stated, the Control Cycle is a practical problem–solving framework that an actuary uses to perform work.

FAP is a body of knowledge (concepts and problems) in an actuarial context–blending actuarial areas of practice and functional areas. FAP includes online and offline readings and activities, practical examples, case studies, embedded activities, search functions, a glossary, resource library, a discussion forum, end–of–module tests, and end–of–module exercises. The online environment is intended to make the material more engaging and interactive for candidates.

FAP also includes a computer–based Interim Assessment at the end of Module 5 covering Modules 1–5, and a computer–based Final Assessment at the end of Module 8 covering Modules 6–8.

Who is FAP for?

Individuals who desire to be admitted as Associates of the Society of Actuaries represent the primary FAP target audience. However, the FAP course is appropriate for any individual engaged in the actuarial profession at some level.

What are the prerequisites?

Candidates starting FAP may have passed one or more of the Preliminary Education examinations (P, FM, MLC, MFE, C), but this is not a requirement. We expect however, that many candidates will have passed the four Preliminary Education exams prior to beginning FAP Module 5.

What are the eight FAP modules?

FAP is comprised of eight modules completed in sequence as content in later modules builds upon the content of earlier modules.

  • Module 1: Introduction/Role of the Professional Actuary
  • Module 2: Core External Forces
  • Module 3: Risk in Actuarial Problems
  • Module 4: Actuarial Solutions
  • Module 5: Design and Pricing of an Actuarial Solution
  • Module 6: Model Selection and Solution Design
  • Module 7: Selection of Initial Assumptions
  • Module 8: Monitoring Results Control Cycle

Module 1: Introduction/The Role of the Professional Actuary

The focus of this module is to provide an overview of the basic framework for actuarial work and functions using the Control Cycle as the model. Additionally, the module provides candidates with an overview of the actuarial profession, the major areas of practice and the skills required of actuaries.

Module 2: Core External Forces

The focus of this module is to describe and demonstrate how external forces (outside of the actuarial sphere) effect and integrate into actuarial work; how they interrelate and change.

Module 3: Risk in Actuarial Problems

The focus of this module is to enable candidates to learn how to identify and define problems in various practice areas. This module creates the foundation for understanding risk in actuarial problems and the commonalities that exist among problems so that they can be effectively addressed regardless of area of actuarial practice.

Module 4: Actuarial Solutions

This module builds upon Module 3. The primary goal of the module is to create a foundation for candidates to understand actuarial problems across practice areas and demonstrate how the entire Control Cycle is applied. Candidates will gain practical experience with key concepts related to traditional actuarial solutions and understand how actuaries provide value to their employers and/or clients.

Module 5: Design and Pricing of an Actuarial Solution

The focus of this module is to introduce fundamental concepts behind the tools used to solve common actuarial problems. Using various models, the module introduces candidates to coverages and benefit/policy design components of several actuarial solutions.

Module 6: Model Selection and Solution Design

The focus of Module 6 is to provide candidates with an overview of model selection and model building and how these processes fit within the context of the Control Cycle. The module creates the foundation for candidates to understand how to select an appropriate model for a given problem and design a solution.

Module 7: Selection of Initial Assumptions

This module builds upon previous modules focused on helping you learn how to identify and define problems and design solutions. The goal of this module is to introduce the methods and tools actuaries use to identify, select and quantify assumptions. Candidates will understand how the identification, selection and quantification of assumptions finalizes the "design solution" element of the Control Cycle and transitions actuarial work to that of monitoring results.

Module 8: Monitoring Results Control Cycle

The final module of the FAP course focuses on the purposes of monitoring experience and the techniques used by actuaries. The "monitor experience" element of the Control Cycle is dependent upon the objectives and definition of the problem addressed and the solution designed by the actuary. Candidates learn how monitoring results provides feedback to the other Control Cycle elements and how the feedback loop, in context with the work of the actuary, completes the Control Cycle.

Candidates will complete the modules in sequence, as content in later modules builds upon the content of earlier modules.

How long will it take to complete a module?

The estimate is that each module will require approximately 30–50 hours to complete. Many candidates will maintain a pace to complete approximately one module per month. Candidates are encouraged to continue to progress through the modules and complete the course within a timely basis, as the FAP course is designed to be completed in 24 months.

Candidates may stop and start their work on a module at any time. Candidates may resume study at any time after entering their login ID and password.

How much does the FAP course cost?

FAP includes Modules 1–8, the Interim Assessment and the Final Assessment.

  • Modules 1–8                  $300
  • Interim Assessment     $600
  • Final Assessment         $1200
  • Retake of the Interim Assessment or the Final Assessment $500

Candidates may register for one FAP component at a time.

Interested parties may register for the FAP course on a noncredit basis for a one–year subscription fee of $100. Interested parties might include college students, academics, FSAs who mentor and coach FAP candidates, pre–2006 ASAs and others in the actuarial or nonactuarial community. Access is provided to all modules and functionality with the exception of the end–of–module exercises and the FAP discussion forums.

Candidates currently in progress who have not yet purchased each of the three components of the total course (Modules, Interim Assessment and Final Assessment) are subject to a different fee schedule. A detailed fee structure can be found in the FAP FAQs   . Questions about fees may be directed to customerservice@soa.org.Candidates will complete their application and submit the appropriate fee to receive access to the modules. Applications may be faxed to the number indicated on the application form. Candidates retaking either the Interim Assessment or Final Assessment must submit an application in order to receive the $500 retake rate. This rate is not available through online registration.

Note to candidates with credit for current Course 5 or Course 7: Candidates with credit for Course 5 will receive credit for Modules 1 through 5 and the Interim Assessment. Candidates with credit for Course 7 will receive credit for Modules 6 through 8, the FAP Final Assessment and the FSA capstone module. Conversion candidates pay $300 for Modules 1–5 or 6–8, but will receive access to all 8 modules.

How do candidates register for the FAP Modules?

There is no FAP registration deadline–registration is ongoing. Candidates registering for the FAP Modules will receive their login and password information via email within 10 working days of receipt of their applications and fees. It is recommended that candidates provide a valid e–mail address that is clearly indicated on the FAP Modules application in order to ensure registration materials are received.

Registration Steps:

Step 1. Read the FAP Terms and Conditions Statement   .

Step 2. Complete the FAP Modules 1–8 application form   and fax or mail it to the SOA with payment. Candidates can also register online.

What happens after candidates submit their applications and fees?

  1. The SOA does not provide the required textbooks. Candidates are responsible for purchasing the books required for FAP. Please see the FAP Book List   for complete details. The SOA does provide a list of FAP book distributors.

    Modules 1–5 in particular include readings from most, if not all, of the seven FAP books. There is less emphasis on book readings for Modules 6–8.

  2. Candidates check that their computers meet the FAP system and software requirements:

    • System requirements
      • PC with minimum 300Mhz Pentium II or greater processor
      • Windows XP, Vista or 2000 operating system
      • Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater
      • JavaScript and Cookies enabled on browser
    • Required software
      • Microsoft Excel 2000 or greater
      • Adobe Acrobat Reader 5 or greater
      • Flash Player 6 or greater
      • Screen resolution of 1,024 x 768 or greater recommended
      • Microsoft Word 2000 or greater

    Note that most FAP features will work on Firefox browsers, as well as Macintosh Safari. However, these platforms will not be supported by FAP technical support.

  3. The SOA will email FAP login information to the email address indicated by the candidate on the FAP registration form. However, due to unavoidable technical difficulties that may occur beyond our control such as personal and company spam filters, some candidates may not be able to receive their login information via email. We encourage you to contact us at fap@soa.org if you do not receive your registration information via email after ten working days of application processing.
  4.  

    If you would like to change your FAP email address, you may do so within the online e–Learning system by clicking "Profile" on the red toolbar.

  5. Candidates follow this process for Modules 1–4 and Modules 6–7:
    • Candidate completes a module (readings, activities)
    • Candidate takes an end–of–module test to determine readiness to proceed to the end–of–module exercise
    • Candidate completes end–of–module exercise (or series of exercises) and submits it to the SOA
    • Candidate receives an illustrative solution to the exercise
    • Candidate completes the module exercise self–assessment and submits it to the SOA

    Note: The SOA will review candidate self–assessments and determine whether performance on the end–of–module exercise meets the minimum requirements. All candidate exercises will be subject to an administrative review by SOA staff. Some candidate exercises will also be subject to a thorough content review by the FAP Review Committee comprised of SOA member volunteers. The SOA and the FAP Review Committee reserve the right to identify which candidate exercises will undergo content review in addition to administrative review. Please allow approximately 7 weeks for exercise reviews. If the exercise meets minimum requirements, the candidate Profile will reflect such.

  6. Candidates may fill out the registration forms for the Interim Assessment and the Final Assessment on the SOA Web site or by registering online.

Note: Candidates retaking either the Interim Assessment or Final Assessment must submit an application in order to receive the $500 retake rate. The retake rate is not available through online registration.

What is the format of the Interim Assessment?

The FAP Interim Assessment is in the format of a comprehensive exercise available at the end of Module 5 to candidates who complete all required modules. The assessment covers material in Modules 1–5. Candidates will have access to the Interim Assessment once they complete Module 5 and download the assessment to their computer.

The Interim Assessment will assess candidates understanding of content, achievement of learning outcomes and ability to apply key concepts presented in Modules 1–5. The Interim Assessment will be designed to build upon the End–of–Module Exercises in Modules 1–4 and will help candidates prepare successfully for the Final Assessment.

Candidates will complete the Interim Assessment under controlled conditions with formal grading (i.e., every Interim Assessment will be formally graded). Candidates will have one month to complete the Interim Assessment. A one–month personal assessment clock will start when candidates download the Interim Assessment. Candidates must submit (upload) assessment files before the clock expires. If the clock expires, the assessment will receive an automatic grade of "does not meet minimum requirements" and the SOA will be unable to reverse the decision. NO exceptions will be made.

While a supervisor is required, candidates will NOT need to identify a supervisor for purposes of the Interim Assessment.

Grading will be completed within approximately seven weeks of submission. Grade notification will be sent via email. If a candidate does not meet minimum requirements on the Interim Assessment, the candidate will receive feedback in the "grade" email. Such candidates will need to reregister to take the Interim Assessment.

The Interim Assessment MUST be successfully completed (meets minimum requirements) in order to be eligible to take the Final Assessment.

What is the format of the Final Assessment?

The FAP Final Assessment is in the format of a comprehensive exercise available at the end of Module 8 to candidates who complete all required modules. The Assessment covers material in Modules 6–8. Candidates will have access to the Final Assessment once they complete Module 8 and download the Assessment to their computer.

The Final Assessment is available on–demand. There is no registration deadline; candidates may take it at their own discretion once qualifications have been met. Candidates will have access to it after completing the required modules and exercises.

Any candidate registering for the Final Assessment must secure his/her own supervisor. Preferably, the supervisor must be an FSA (in good standing). If an FSA is not available, other acceptable designations would be: FCAS, FCIA, FFA, FIA, FIAA, FSPA. Supervisor change requests may be submitted to customerservice@soa.org.

In order to access the FAP Final Assessment, you will need a login ID and Password. This unique ID/Password (different from your course login) will be sent to you via e–mail. You should expect to receive your e–mail within ten days of submitting your registration form and payment. Please contact fap@soa.org if you do not receive your information within that time frame.

Candidates have 96 hours to complete and submit their Assessment. The 96–hour timeframe will begin as soon as candidates click and download Final Assessment materials. Candidates may login to the Final Assessment and read the instructions and FAQs without starting their assessment clock. The assessment clock will not begin until a candidate reaches the download page, and candidates will be warned several times in advance of this happening. The Final Assessment is designed for a level of candidate effort of approximately 25 hours.

Each candidate's submissions will be formally graded against predefined grading criteria for "meets minimum expectations" and "does not meet minimum expectations." If the grader determines the submission meet minimum requirements, the candidate will pass the assessment. If the grader determines the submission does not meet minimum requirements, the submission will be graded independently by an additional grader (i.e., the additional grader will be unaware that the previous grader assigned a grade of "does not meet minimum requirements"). If the secondary grader determines the submission meets minimum requirements (i.e., different grade than the primary grader), the submission will go to a third and final grader for resolution.

The Interim Assessment must be taken before sitting for or passing the Final Assessment. Modules 1–8 must be completed prior to accessing the Final Assessment.

Who do I contact if I have questions about FAP?

Send an email to fap@soa.org