ASA Curriculum Changes & Micro-Credentials FAQs

Changes to ASA Pathway FAQs

Why are you making these curriculum changes to the pathway to ASA?

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) delivers actuarial education that anticipates stakeholders’ changing expectations, so it is our job to make changes to the curriculum to meet employer and market demand for actuarial training as we have done throughout our history and will continue to do so in the future.

In particular, these changes recognize the need for additional analytics education at the ASA level, as well as the introduction of education to support training in adaptability and change, AQ (or Adaptability Quotient), and emotional intelligence, EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), earlier in the pathway. The curriculum changes also de-emphasize content on some topics that are less relevant for aspiring actuaries.

How will this affect the time it takes me to earn my ASA? Will this increase my travel time to ASA?

Our intent is for your travel time to decrease or stay the same. Making necessary changes while not increasing travel time was a primary directive in the design of these vital changes. For a visualization of these changes demonstrating how the pathway will not increase your travel time go to the ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules. Below is a brief list of the ASA curriculum changes and how they will affect travel time:

  • Exam P and FM will require less preparation (material that is outdated and not needed for later exams will be removed).
  • One exam (IFM) will be eliminated and one exam, Advanced Topics in Predictive Analytics (ATPA) added.
  • Exams LTAM and STAM will be replaced with the following new exams, which will have fewer exam hours in total:
    • Fundamentals of Actuarial Mathematics (FAM)
    • Choice of either Advanced Long-Term Actuarial Mathematics (ALTAM) or Advanced Short-Term Actuarial Mathematics (ASTAM)
  • Two new e-Learning modules (offering an increasing emphasis on AQ/EQ topics) and a shorter, streamlined FAP course (one less module overall).

VEE requirements, Exam SRM, Exam PA, and APC seminar remain unchanged.

What is the effective date for the ASA curriculum changes?

The various components will be available at separate times. Consult the ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules for details including dates for new and retiring pathway components.

Can I get credit from previously completing certain exams?

Yes. See the transition rules page for complete details.

Is there a deadline for earning the FSA before needing to pass the new ASA curriculum components?

  • The previous ASA pathway updates had a provision that ASAs who did not earn an FSA by a certain date would have an extra exam (PA) to pass. Candidates can meet the requirements for ASA using either the current or new pathway elements.

Why was IFM eliminated?

The SOA continuously works to ensure the exam process fits the needs of future actuaries. As part of this process and to modernize the requirements for ASA, we conducted a job analysis to look at the knowledge and skills actuaries will need in the future. There was a clear message received that emphasis should switch from finance to analytics. That doesn’t mean finance topics are unimportant. Instead, there should be less emphasis on them at this point in the qualification pathway.

Many of the IFM topics will appear and be reinforced elsewhere, particularly in FAP. Fellowship tracks that rely on extensive finance coverage will still incorporate needed finance material.

What should I do if I have not passed IFM?

Candidates who have not yet passed IFM will have a choice regarding IFM or ATPA. That choice may depend on which subject matter is more appealing and how much IFM preparation has already been done.

Why can either ATPA or IFM be counted toward an ASA?

To be fair to candidates who have invested time and effort in the current pathway. Those who passed or are about to pass IFM will be recognized for their accomplishment and effort. Although we are moving finance components to other places, those who have passed IFM can retain credit for this exam. During the period when both IFM and ATPA are available, candidates will have the option of choosing the topic on which to be tested. https://www.soa.org/globalassets/assets/files/edu/asa-pathway-changes.pdf

What should I do if I have not passed either LTAM OR STAM?

Candidates with neither LTAM nor STAM passed have two options:

  • First, they might elect to wait for the introduction of FAM and the choice of ALTAM/ASTAM. There will be fewer exam hours and some short-term or long-term topics will not need to be studied. Such candidates may look to complete other exams while waiting.
  • Second, a candidate may wish to attempt LTAM or STAM in the hope of acquiring credit for one-half of FAM and all of the corresponding advanced exam. This option would likely be more efficient for a candidate who has already started preparing for LTAM or STAM.

What should I do if I pass both LTAM and STAM before the transition?

Credit for both LTAM and STAM will grant transition credit for FAM, ALTAM and ASTAM, fulfilling those requirements for ASA.

Can I choose to write only the long-term half or the short-term half of FAM if I don’t have either LTAM or STAM credit?

No. FAM will only be offered as a complete exam. The long-term and short-term halves of FAM are available only for candidates who because of the transition need either the long-term or short-term half to complete the FAM requirement.

What form will the new FAM, ALTAM, and ASTAM exams take?

Exam FAM will be a multiple-choice exam. ALTAM and ASTAM will be written-answer exams with questions modeled after those currently used on the written-answer portion of LTAM.

Which exam should I select, ALTAM or ASTAM?

This is a personal choice based on which set of topics is most likely to enhance your actuarial career. Generally, if your plan is to pursue the Individual Life and Annuities track or the Retirement Benefits track, the ALTAM exam will be more relevant, while ASTAM will be more relevant for the Group and Health and General Insurance tracks. The choice of exam does not restrict which fellowship track can be attempted. However, for example, the Group and Health track may assume some topics that are on ASTAM. Candidates who passed ALTAM would need to review those topics (but not have to pass an exam on them).

When will the changes take effect for P and FM?

The date on which the revised learning objectives will go into effect is to be determined. We want to maintain the availability of instant (unofficial) results for these exams, which requires coordination with the exam committees and Prometric.

Are there any changes for Exams SRM and PA?

There will be no changes for these exams other than regular updates as is done for all SOA exams.

E-Learning Modules

Why are you adding Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning modules?

The modules address two needs in an evolving pathway.

  • First, the SOA has repeatedly received feedback from employers regarding the need for improved skills and earlier development of skills related to Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) and Adaptability Quotient (AQ). Inserting elements throughout the pathway is the most effective way to address this feedback.
  • Second, the micro-credentials are intended to represent demonstrated knowledge and skills. Module assessments represent opportunities for our candidates to apply their technical knowledge and AQ/EQ skills in realistic scenarios and help them retain what they have learned.

What is the purpose of the new Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning modules?

A key part of modernizing the ASA pathway is to introduce more Adaptability Quotient (AQ) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) topics. While these are present to some extent in the current FAP modules, much more will be added to the new modules.

Those wanting to earn Pre-Actuarial Foundations or Actuarial Science Foundations micro-credentials must complete the e-Learning modules to ensure these skills are acquired.

What EQ/AQ skills will be included in the Pre-Actuarial Foundations e-Learning module?

The Pre-Actuarial Foundations e-Learning module will have an emphasis on communication skills.

What EQ/AQ skills will be included in the Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning module?

The Actuarial Science e-Learning module will have an emphasis on dealing with subjective questions.

What form will the e-Learning modules take?

The two new modules will be administered via the SOA’s e-Learning platform as is used for the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) modules. Each module will be a single module with a take-home assessment at the end, similar to the current FAP End of Module Assessments. There will be a fixed period of time from when the assessment is downloaded until when it is submitted.

Can I skip the e-Learning modules if I do not want the micro-credentials?

Candidates who are interested in earning an ASA without the micro-credentials can complete the current FAP modules, provided it is done by December 31, 2024. Go to ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules for more detail.

What is required in order to register the Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning modules?

Candidates must have Exam P and FM credit to register for the Pre-Actuarial Foundations Module. Candidates must have Exam P, FM, SRM, and FAM credit to register for the Actuarial Science Foundations Module.

Are VEE credits prerequisites for taking the Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations e-learning modules?

No, they are not prerequisites for taking those e-Learning modules. However, VEE credits are required to earn the Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations micro-credentials.

The Data Science for Actuaries micro-credential does not require VEE credits.

Will credit for FAP modules provide credit for Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning modules? What credit do I get for completing those e-Learning modules?

Credit for FAP modules does not provide credit for the new e-Learning modules. The material being added is considered essential for those earning the associated micro-credentials.

For the Pre-Actuarial Foundations module, you receive credit for FAP Modules 1 and 2, and for the Actuarial Science Foundations module, you get credit for FAP Module 4.

Why do I get credit for two FAP modules for the Pre-Actuarial Foundations e-Learning module and credit for only one FAP module for the Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning module?

Transition credit is meant to represent the knowledge and skills gained by our candidates as well as minimize redundancy in a candidate’s studies. Given that the Pre-Actuarial Foundations e-Learning module addresses content across multiple existing FAP Modules, it is fairer to grant transition credit for those FAP modules than to require that candidates complete the e-Learning module and then repeat the material later in FAP. Candidates will still be expected to be familiar with the content from those modules, without the need to prepare for the associated End-of-Module Assessments.

The Actuarial Science Foundations e-Learning module will address content only from a single FAP module, so it is appropriate to grant transition credit for that module.

Micro-credential FAQs

Why are you adding new micro-credentials to the ASA pathway?

The three new micro-credentials, Pre-Actuarial Foundations, Actuarial Science Foundations, and Data Science for Actuaries recognize your significant accomplishments with SOA exams on your journey to earn your ASA. Micro-credentials provide recognition your skill set upon completing certain requirements. Further, these will allow you to demonstrate to employers your level of knowledge and AQ/EQ skills vital to your success. Just like passing exams, you can add these micro-credentials to your resume and social profiles. For more detail on the micro-credentials and requirements, go to the ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules.

All candidates are unique, and each of you experience life and career choices along the way that impact how you interact with the ASA exam pathway. Should you need to pause or take a break during your journey to ASA for any reason, or if you decide to take another career path, the micro-credentials illustrate the knowledge and skills you have attained during the examination process.

Currently the ASA and FSA designations are recognized by governing bodies as providing certain levels of signing authority. Do these micro-credentials lead to any signing authority?

These micro-credentials do not make you a qualified or “signing” actuary; that work is reserved for those who earn the ASA and FSA designations and have them recognized by your local governing body. However, they do provide critical marks of your progress through the system and signal to employers the knowledge you’ve gained. We will conduct an outreach program to employers to build awareness and support for the micro-credentials over the coming months.

How is a micro-credential different than an SOA exam?

Exams are part of the pathway to the ASA and FSA designations. The new micro-credentials serve as a group of components that represent distinct knowledge and skills to demonstrate the level of achievement candidates earned to employers, co-workers and their professional network. The micro-credentials are recognition of a candidate’s knowledge and skills earned along the pathway to ASA. Candidates can use these as stand-alone micro-credentials if they decide to exit the pathway.

Should the micro-credentials influence the order in which I take exams?

If one of the micro-credentials will have value to you, you may choose to concentrate on its components.

Do I need to apply to get the micro-credentials?

Details about obtaining the micro-credentials will be released at a later date.

How long are the micro-credentials good for?

Once earned, the micro-credentials do not have an expiration date. Like a university degree or certification, once earned it does not expire, require dues or continuing education.

Am I eligible to apply for a micro-credential with credit from exams I passed several years ago?

All of the components of each micro-credential must be completed. In addition to passing exams (as long as credit to current exams has been earned), you must also pass the e-Learning module assessment associated with the micro-credential.

Can I get credit for any of the new exams from the University-Earned Credit (UEC) program?

To be determined. The final list of UEC eligible exams will be made available in August 2021. Visit the UEC FAQ for more on which universities may participate in the program and other important information.

Which micro-credentials are eligible for University-Earned Credit (UEC)?

UEC relates to exams and not to micro-credentials. Any exams that become part of the UEC program can be earned via that program at participating universities. The final list of UEC eligible exams will be made available in August 2021. Visit the UEC FAQ for more information.

How do I qualify for the Pre-Actuarial Foundations micro-credential?

All of the exam and VEE components of the Pre-Actuarial Foundations micro-credential are based on current offerings. Candidates will be able to complete the requirements for Pre-Actuarial Foundations after the Pre-Actuarial Foundations e-Learning module is released. For more information on timing go to ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules.

How do I qualify for the Actuarial Science Foundations micro-credential?

The Actuarial Science Foundations micro-credential incorporates the new FAM exam requirement. Those with transition credit for FAM can apply it to this micro-credential. For a breakdown of requirements go to ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules.

How do I qualify for the Data Science for Actuaries micro-credential?

The Data Science for Actuaries micro-credential incorporates the new Advanced Topics in Predictive Analytics exam, for which no transition credit is available. For a breakdown of requirements go to ASA Curriculum Changes and Micro-credentials Transition Rules.

Do the micro-credentials require VEE?

Pre-Actuarial Foundations and Actuarial Science Foundations require VEE credits. VEE credits must be claimed before earning those micro-credentials.

Will my employer acknowledge the new micro-credentials?

It is up to each employer to decide how they will acknowledge the new micro-credentials. We will conduct an outreach program to employers to build awareness and support for the micro-credentials over the coming months.

Once I earn a micro-credential, is there a fee to obtain or retain the micro-credential?

There is no application or processing fee once you have earned the micro-credential.