Obviously, the primary objective of the examination process is to ensure a high
level of competency within the actuarial profession. Given the difficulty of
passing the examinations, this objective is clearly being met. The question is
whether the process also being used to restict entry, either advertently or
inadvertently. The potential certainly exists; there is no fixed exam pass mark
so entry into the profession is ultimately based upon relative performance.
Grading on the curve can benefit students by removing the exam difficulty bias.
Grading on the curve can also penalize students when the population competency
level increases (which is certainly happening during the exam transition
period). We must trust the examination committee to be responsible stewards of
this process, but not naively assume that the process will always be perfectly
equitable. Many student concerns about the current process would be assuaged by
publishing some basic statistics...
number of candidates sitting
number of candidates passing
number of candidates with zeroes
number of candidates having taken exam before
number of candidates passing on first attempt
Giving the student body more insight and oversight of the process would improve
the equity of the current system without impairing the authority of the exam
committee. Setting a fixed pass mark as advocated by some students would create
even more dependence upon the exam committee's stewardship (i.e. consistency of
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