In what order should you take the Associateship exams and modules of the SOA ?

If you have not already done so, take a look at the following SOA’s webpage, which is pretty instructive:

My first advice is to start the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) e-learning course as soon as possible. The eight modules of the FAP course come with a lot of activities to perform: lots of things to read, lots of spreadsheets to play with, six end-of-module reports to write, an interim assessment, and a final assessment. It can take quite a while (one year or more) before you complete it plus it is very time consuming while you are doing it, so I really recommend that you start with it as soon as possible.

My second recommendation is to start preparing for the probability exam P at the same time you enroll in the FAP course. What you learn when preparing for exam P will be useful for all subsequent exams, so prepare for it well. Actuarial science, and finance for a large part, is built on probability theory. The next exam to take after exam P is the Financial Mathematics exam FM. Preparing for this exam will allow you to master the passage of money backward and forward in time. This discounting / compounding process is also critical to actuarial science and a key tool to master before considering taking the MLC/LTAM, C/STAM, and MFE/IFM exams.

About one year has passed and you have typically completed – or are nearing completion of – the FAP course and exams P and FM. Your second year of distance learning should be devoted to starting the preparation for the MLC/LTAM, C/STAM, MFE/IFM plus SRM and PA exams.

In what order should you take these exams? There is no unequivocal answer to this question. All exams are hard and cover mostly distinct topics (except SRM and PA, which go together and make use of the R software). The best idea is perhaps to start with the exam that best matches your current fields of competence. Indeed, there is a huge gap in difficulty between exams P and FM on the one hand and the next exams on the other hand. Therefore, it may be wiser to gradually advance by degree of difficulty. What is the common feature between these exams? As already hinted at, they are extremely hard. You should prepare them one at a time and devote a substantial amount of time and energy to prepare for each of them.

A few words about VEEs. In case your university credits do not give you the three VEEs, you should consider taking additional exams or certifications to achieve them. If you are interested in finance, the best idea is probably to take and pass the first two levels of the CFA program, which allow you to achieve the three VEEs at the same time.

Once you have achieved the three VEEs, passed all the FAP requirements, and have obtained a mark superior or equal to six for each of the ASA exams; congratulations. Now you only need to complete the Associateship Professionalism Course. This is a (little bit less than) one-day seminar in which case studies and ethics considerations are put forward. On completion of this seminar, you are now an Associate of the Society of Actuaries.