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The Students' Newsletter is aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at actuarial students. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily those of the organisation, the profession or the authors.

Please find previous Student Newsletters here

 

Student Newsletter March 2013 

Welcome to the first student newsletter for 2013.
The New Year has ignited a number of changes and innovations within the Actuarial Society and the Student Liaison Committee (SLC) would like to share these with you.

CONTENTS

Relevant to the exams

• Computer-based F1 & F2 Exams: 2014
• Ordering of Study Notes
• Requirement for a Liability-based F100 Subject
• Normative Education: 2014
• Exam Counselling: Subject A402 (Model Documentation, Analysis and Reporting)
• Subject F102 Pass Rates
• Exam Preparation Session Fellowship Application Subjects (F201 - F205)

For your information:

• New Academic Qualifiers
• New Actuarial Society of SA Website
• NQF levels for CERA, AMASSA and FASSA
• Friendly Reminders
• Further Information

Computer-based F1 & F2 Exams: 2014

In the November 2012 exam sitting The Actuarial Society introduced the option of electronic examinations for Fellowship subjects (F2 series). After evaluating and taking into consideration the feedback received from those students who elected to write their exams electronically, the Actuarial Society has decided to continue providing students with the option of writing their exams electronically for the upcoming 2013 exam sittings, specifically for subjects F101 – F105 and F201 – F205.

Should you have registered for either one of these subjects for the first session in 2013, you should already have received an email from the Actuarial Society Education office asking if you would like to write your exam electronically.  If you did not receive this email then please kindly contact the BOE Administrator at boe_admin@actuarialsociety.org.za with your query.

Feedback has been requested from those students who attempted the computer-based version of these exams in the 2nd semester of 2012. This feedback, along with the feedback that will be requested from those who write in 2013 will be taken into consideration before possibly transitioning completely to computer-based exams in 2014.

One of the welcome advantages of the electronic exam is that it will be easier for students to construct and rearrange their answers. One of the disadvantages may be that it takes longer to write equations using the latest equation editor in MS Word compared to writing equations by hand. Although the idea of such a change naturally discourages many people, it is important to be cognisant of the positive aspects of computer-based examinations. As mentioned before, feedback from students will be carefully considered and evaluated before completely transitioning to computer-based exams in future.

Ordering of Study Notes

Students need to take note that as of January 2013 study notes for all subjects, except A402 (i.e. CA2) and A401 (i.e. CT9) will need to be ordered through ActEd under the South African Notes section http://www.acted.co.uk/Html/south_africa.htm

Study notes for subject A402 are ordered and distributed via the Actuarial Society’s education office and the A401 notes are available via a web-based login after students have registered for the subject.

Requirement for a Liability-based F100 Subject

As you are already aware there is currently a compulsory requirement to pass a liability-based Fellowship Principles subject (F101 – F104) in order to qualify as a Fellow of the Actuarial Society. However, at present a proposal is being considered which will instead allow students to choose any two F1 Subjects (including F106 i.e. ST9) offered by the Actuarial Society.

In order to have your opinions heard around this topic all members of the Actuarial Society, including you, are encouraged to participate in an online forum that has been set-up to discuss this proposal. The online forum can be accessed as follows:
Open the link www.actuarialsociety.freeforums.org and use the password “actsoc231”.

For further information you can also visit:
http://www.actuarialsociety.org.za/StudentZone/Educationalrequirements/Curriculum.aspx

Over and above that, those of you interested in following a career in banking will be pleased to hear that there are plans to introduce a new Banking and Finance Fellowship Applications subject in the near future. The F105 (i.e. ST5) and F106 study material will form part of the pre-requisite study preparation material for this subject.

Normative Education: 2014

The Actuarial Society will continue to bring greater focus to the non-technical or softer skills training that is required to be an effective actuary. The normative education training aims to prepare actuaries to meet the professional standards expected from a qualified actuary. Concepts such as life skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, business awareness, professionalism and ethical considerations will be covered in this training.

Students who start working in 2014 will have a new integrated Professional Practice subject as part of their curriculum. This will not be an additional subject as it will replace the following subjects and modules: A401 (i.e. CT9), A402 (i.e. CA2), Work-Based Skills and the Professionalism Course. It is likely that this integrated subject will be spread over a 2-year period, however the study and exam requirements will be comparable to the overall requirements of the subjects that will be replaced.

The curriculum outlay and study material for this subject is currently being developed by the Business Enterprises division at the University of Pretoria.

Transitional arrangements for students who have already completed some of the credits and more clarity regarding this change will be communicated later in the year.

Exam Counselling: Subject A402 (Model Documentation, Analysis and Reporting)

The intention of exam counselling is to give personal feedback and relevant guidance to a student who previously failed an A402 exam in order to help this individual identify, understand and resolve the specific shortcomings of his / her previous exam attempt.

There has been a welcome improvement in the proportion of students passing subject A402 in 2012 compared to 2010 and 2011. Fifty-six percent (i.e. 56%) of those students who attempted the 2012 exam series passed.

The current policy for A402 requires that all students who have obtained a Fail B or lower for their exam attempt either need to redo the entire course (1 day course and 1 day exam) or receive exam counselling in order to become eligible to register for  the retake-only exam (1 day exam).

It has been noted that there have been a number of requests to waive the requirement for exam counselling. In an analysis, carried out by an A402 Course Coordinator, it showed that of all the students who failed and subsequently received exam counseling more than 75% have since passed the subject and that counselling is thus recognised as one of the reasons for the improved pass rates.

In fact, feedback received from students who had a Fail A grade was encouraging. Almost all of them have passed the exam since receiving counselling and these students have highly recommended the benefits of counselling.

Subject F102 Pass Rates

There have been a number of students that have queried the low Actuarial Society pass rates for the Life Insurance Principles subject (F102) in recent exam sittings compared to the higher Institute pass rates for ST2. Students have argued that the Actuarial Society’s exams are either more difficult or the marking is more strict. Students have also queried why the study support system is not as good and comprehensive as that of the Institute.

In response to these concerns the Society Education powers that be had the following reply:

“The South African exam setting and marking processes involve examiners from South Africa and the UK. Borderline candidates’ papers are marked at least twice and both the pass marks and the pass rates are consistent with UK standards. The UK oversight examiners get personally involved in marking papers and in discussing pass marks and pass rates.

In every subject there is specific confirmation from Principal Examiners in the UK that the standards are appropriate and consistent with the UK and that the marking is neither stricter nor more lenient.

The review and further development of learning material is receiving enhanced attention and is one of the strategic objectives set for 2013.”

Exam Preparation Sessions – Fellowship Application Subjects (F201 – F205)

A very important focus of the education initiative for the introduction of the local RSA qualification is to support our fellowship candidates in preparation for their final examinations. The exam preparation sessions will focus on the process, techniques and study tips in preparing for the examination.
The below dates and venues have been confirmed for the exam preparation session and the Actuarial Society urges all students whom have registered to write these exams in the upcoming exam session to attend.  An Actuarial Society wide email will be circulated to all students with additional information.
Johannesburg:
Date:                                Friday, 19 April 2013 16h30 – 18h00
Venue:                             Old Mutual, Grayston Road – Auditorium

Cape Town:
Date:                                Thursday, 25 April 2013 16h30 – 18h00
Venue:                              Old Mutual, Jan Smuts Avenue, Pinelands – Auditorium

New Academic Qualifiers

Congratulations to our colleagues who completed the exams required for Fellowship and who were officially announced in the Actuarial Society broadcast emails sent on 28 January 2013 and 27th March 2013.

New Actuarial Society of SA Website

The objective of the new website is to improve the overall structure and layout of information; to make it user-friendly to navigate around the website and to improve the overall effectiveness of the website as a communication tool.  We look forward to your feedback and concerns, which will be taken into consideration and used for continuous improvement.

The new Actuarial Society website contains a dedicated Student Zone page. This page will allow for, amongst other functionalities, the display of notices, running of student polls and the attachment of student newsletters. This is the section where you will be able to find any and all information applicable to you as a student.

NQF levels for CERA, AMASSA and FASSA

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act No 67 of 2008 requires professional bodies and professional designations to be registered on the NQF. The Actuarial Society of SA has been registered as a professional body. In layman’s terms a professional body represents and / or regulates a recognised community of expert practitioners.

The Actuarial Society of SA awards the designations of CERA, AMASSA and FASSA to students who meet the qualifying criteria. Note that the Actuarial Society does not award qualifications (like universities do) so there is no formal NQF-level linked to designations.

Students are also reminded of the Mutual Recognition Agreements (see website for details) that exist between the Actuarial Society and overseas countries e.g. the UK, Ireland and Australia and also of the recognition of the Actuarial Society designations with the International Actuarial Association (IAA).

Friendly Reminders

• Please participate in all upcoming student polls as this is an effective way for your opinion to be heard and considered
• The 2013 Student Handbook contains the current information regarding the policies and procedures applicable to student members of the Actuarial Society

Further Information

Any comments and queries may be emailed to slc@actuarialsociety.org.za. The inbox is administered by the members of the Student Liaison Committee (SLC). The SLC is the primary link between the Actuarial Society and its student members.

All the best for your upcoming exams!
 

Regards

Neels Maritz (FASSA)
On behalf of the Actuarial Society SLC

March 2013