Help and Advice

Common Queries

This page contains general queries commonly raised by students about the actuarial exams. More detailed help and advice for students is also available.

Click on a section title to see the answers for each section:

Subject specific questions

What textbooks do I need to study Subjects CB2, SP6 and SP9?

Please see our CB2, SP6 and SP9 advice.

What is CB3?

CB3 is the Business Management Module. Please refer to the IFoA's website for more IFoA's website.

Can I study CP1 over two sessions?

Yes you can study CP1 over two sessions. Please refer to the CP1 help and advice page for more details.

What advice can you give me for Subject CP2?

Please refer to the CP2 help and advice page for more details.

What advice can you give me for Subject CP3?

Please refer to the CP3 help and advice page for more details.

What can I do if I am struggling with the assumed knowledge for Subject CS1?

To download a free chapter covering graphical representation of data; measures of location, spread and symmetry; probability and random variables please click To download a free chapter covering graphical representation of data; measures of location, spread and symmetry; probability and random variables please click here.

Core Reading and Syllabuses

Does the Core Reading change between the April and September/October exams each year?

No. The Core Reading does not change between the April and September/October exams. However it does change between the September and April exams and students should read the help and advice for students retaking a subject.

Can I buy a copy of the Formulae and Tables from ActEd?

No. You will need to order your copy of the Formulae and Tables from the IFoA's Publications Unit.


Sitting the CS1 or CM1 exam as a non-member

If you are sitting Subject CS1 or CM1 as a non-member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, please click here.

Can I check my exam entry with ActEd?

No. The IFoA is responsible for all aspects of the examination system.

Which calculator can I use?

The IFoA issues a list of calculators that can be used. Please refer to their Instructions for candidates sitting an exam for more information.

Can ActEd arrange exam counselling?

No. The IFoA is responsible for all aspects of the examination system.

Do I qualify for exemptions?

The IFoA is responsible for awarding exemptions.

What if I have a special educational need or health condition?

Students with special educational need or health condition who may require special facilities in the exam room should contact the IFoA at ActEd also provides help and support for students with a special educational need or health condition.

Study material

What study material is best for me?

We recommend that all students start with a Combined materials Pack. We have produced a short guide to help you choose other products and services.

What's the difference between the ASET and the Examiners' Report?

The ASET contains hints on exam technique, references to the course material and alternative solutions. It is also updated each year for changes to the syllabus and Core Reading.

Why is there no ASET for some subjects?

Only a relatively small number of students take out courses for these subjects. Based on sales of other materials for these subjects, we don't think that there would be sufficient demand for ASET to make it cost effective to produce and maintain. However, if the number of students buying other course material in these subjects increases significantly, then we will of course consider introducing ASET.

Does ActEd provide additional reading lists?

Further Readings lists, where they exist, can be found in the relevant Study Guide.

Ordering materials and shipping

Can I pass my material onto a friend or share them with a colleague?

No. Material is copyright and sold for your own exclusive use.

Can I order on behalf of another student?

Yes. You must use the details of the student that the material is being ordered for. You can however pay using your own credit card.

I have made an order, when will I receive my material?

Study materials are sent directly from our printers by courier. In most cases study material arrives within 5-10 working days of ordering, assuming the relevant availability date has passed. However, delivery may take slightly longer during busy times, particularly the 2-3 weeks after each set of exams and exam results. Items sent overseas may take considerably longer, so we recommend that you order as early as possible.

How will my material be sent?

Material deliveries will be sent by courier and the delivery will require a signature.

Where can I find PBOR?

PBOR is accessed through our VLE.


When and how will I receive my eBook token or code?

Once your order has been received and processed, you will be sent 2 emails. The first one details what we have ordered for you and the second one will contain your unique eBook 'token' or 'code'. These are generally sent 2-3 working days after you place your order.

Does the eBook come in PDF format?

No. eBooks can only be accessed using Vital Source Bookshelf using your unique token or code. You will be required to create an account before activating the token or code.

Can I print the eBook?

Yes, however bear in mind that eBooks are not designed to be printed in full. Printing is enabled to allow you to print, for example, chapter summaries or to work offline on a small sample of pages.

The print quality from printing your own eBooks is unlikely to be as high as a printed hard copy from ActEd. If you require a clean, high-quality printed copy then we recommend you order a hard copy in addition to, or instead of, an eBook.

Printing has limitations:

  • You may print up to 100% of the pages from Bookshelf.
  • There is a restriction in Bookshelf that limits the number of pages that can be printed each day.
  • Bookshelf will overlay each page with a watermark and copyright statement.

Before you print, please ensure that:

  • a working printer is connected to your device and
  • there is ample paper and toner in the printer
Failing to make these checks may result in a print failure and the software may not allow you to reprint again. You will lose your right to print a copy. Print gradually. Do not send the entire eBook to the printer in one job. Once you have used your print allowance, printing will not be possible and you will need to purchase a hard copy from ActEd.

I have more questions about ebooks. Is there further information?

The Bookshelf instructions sheet provides more details about how to access your ActEd eBooks using Bookshelf.


Can I cancel any unused Marking Vouchers?

Please read the marking voucher section for more details.

I have last year's assignments, can I submit these?

No, we only accept the most up to date assignments. If you are now ordering marking and you have ordered assignments before in the same subject, we can send the current assignments to you free of charge. You can either make a note on the estore or just send us an email.

I have last year's Mock, can I submit this?

No. If you are looking to submit a mock for marking, we only accept the most up-to-date version.

Study hours

How many study hours will I need for each subject?

Guidelines on the amount of study time needed, can be found on the IFoA's website.


Can I book onto a tutorial which is showing as full?

Yes, you may still apply for a course that is full to express your preference. You can then also select a 2nd and 3rd choice. If all of your chosen tutorials are full, your name will be added to the waiting list for your first choice course. You may get a place on your first choice tutorial if a space becomes available, eg if a student cancels. Please let us know if you wish to be removed from a waiting list. Otherwise, cancellation charges will apply if you are subsequently allocated a place on that tutorial and you cancel after the finalisation date.

We will endeavour to add extra groups at finalisation for students still on a waiting list at that time. This will depend on the number of students waiting and the resources available.

What is the Finalisation Date and can I still book a place on a tutorial after the finalisation date?

The Finalisation Date is the cut-off date for applications considered when we decide whether a course will run as scheduled. All tutorials are initially advertised as provisional and are only confirmed if we receive a sufficient number of applications by the finalisation date (this is normally around 8 applications but depends on demand for other courses). If your provisional course is cancelled then we will endeavour to offer you a place on an alternative course. This makes it important for you to provide a second and third choice tutorial where possible. The finalisation process can take a little while and so you will not usually receive your confirmed tutorial place until 2-3 working days after the relevant finalisation date. We will not be able to confirm a place until this time and we ask for your patience in the days immediately following the finalisation date. You can apply to book a place on a course after the finalisation date but many courses are likely to be full. To maximise your chances of getting a place on your chosen course, you should apply as early as possible and well before the relevant finalisation date. Full details of the application process can be found Full details of the application process can be found here.

Could we have tutorials in Liverpool / York / Norwich / Southampton / Belfast / Reigate / St Albans / Brighton ... ?

ActEd is always happy to run tutorials in any location provided that there is sufficient demand. We will set the provisional timetable based on the demand experienced in previous years and on the feedback we received from the recent student survey. However, if we haven't advertised the course you want then please don't give up. Simply submit your request using our online estore or by submitting a Tutorial Application form, by the relevant finalisation date, stating your preference. Perhaps hassle your colleagues to do the same. If you don't state your preference and assume that you won't get what you want then the system won't work.

You've got nothing to lose in ticking the relevant box. At finalisation, we regularly add new courses to meet student demand. Similar comments apply for residential tutorials. Unfortunately, the introduction of more optional subjects (at the specialist levels) will make it harder for us to run tutorials in some locations. However, we will continue to try to run tutorials in a range of locations where possible.

I can't attend one day of my tutorial, can I attend one day of another course?

Yes, we allow one "swap" per course but this is subject to space being available on the course you wish to attend. Please contact us us for more details. If you are asking to swap into a course that has not been finalised then your request will be held in a file to look at when the course has been confirmed.

Can I cancel my place on a tutorial?

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for details of our refund policy.

Can I cancel my place on a tutorial if I did not get the results I expected in an exam?

The same cancellation policy applies as it does for cancelling a place normally (see above).

Online Classroom and Live Online Tutorials

What is the difference between an Online Classroom and a Live Online Tutorial?

The Online Classroom is an asynchronous product, ie the tutorials are delivered online but are pre-recorded. The Online Classroom aims to replicate as closely as possible the experience you would face on a typical face-to-face tutorial, covering the majority of the course.

The Live Online Tutorials provide you with the traditional structure and support of classroom learning, but with the convenience of attending classes wherever you are - delivered live online. This means you can interact with the tutor.

Help For Students Who Need Additional Support

If you have a special educational need or health condition that affects your ability to study, ActEd would like to help.

Did you know that you may be eligible for special arrangements when taking the actuarial exams?

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is happy to make special facilities available to students with special educational need or health condition such as RSI, dyslexia, sight impairment, long-term injury etc.

If you do require special facilities, you need to apply with medical evidence in good time to the examinations team.

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Tel: +44 (0) 207 632 2100
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 268211

How can ActEd help?

On our study application forms, we ask you to let us know if you have a special educational need or health condition. If you do so, we will contact you to find out how we can best help.

Suggestions of how we can help include:

  • We can offer our study material on coloured paper.
  • We can provide our tutorial handouts to you in advance of tutorials.
  • We can enlarge tutorial handouts (but please let us know in advance).
  • We can avoid using certain equipment in tutorials if this causes you difficulty (but please let us know in advance).
  • We can arrange the seating in tutorials to help you.
  • We are happy to wear a radio microphone in tutorials provided by you.
  • We are happy to come and recap on any of the tutorial content individually to you in the tutorial breaks and for you to ask us questions.
  • We can advise on our different types of study materials and tutorials, and on our tutorial venues.

ActEd also work with BPP to provide learning support services. Please see this Mini Guide for the services and support on offer and contact us if you would like more information.


If you are eligible for extra time in the exam or think you might be, then you should also allow yourself this extra time in doing assignments and mock exams. When you submit the assignments/mock exams for marking, it would help our markers if you could indicate that you get extra time somwhere on the front page of the script. You do not have to give the reason for getting the extra time just that you get it. This will stop our markers marking you down for it or making adverse comments on the time taken.

You can contact us by email or by telephone:
E-mail: Admin Team
Telephone: +44(0) 1235 550005

We would also appreciate learning from you!

ActEd is always interested in improving its services to students. If you're unhappy with anything related to our provision for students, please tell us.

Will the information I give you be treated as confidential?

Yes, only those staff involved in providing you with tuition and related administrative services will have access to your details.


ActEd materials as well as the recommended textbooks for Subjects CB2, SP6 and SP9 are available as eBooks through VitalSource Bookshelf.

The eBooks are:

  • Portable - enabling you to study on the move
  • Space saving
  • Easy to navigate - for example you can search an eBook for words or phrases
  • Easy to annotate with your own comments.

They may also appeal to those who live outside the UK, where paper CMP despatch costs are higher and delivery times longer.

eBooks can be ordered separately or as an addition to the paper copy.

VitalSource Bookshelf

ActEd eBooks are accessed using VitalSource Bookshelf. The detail below applies to ActEd Materials and not any third party textbooks in Subjects CB2, SP6 and SP9. For example, printing may be much more restrictive than the 100 pages mentioned below.

Although Bookshelf enables you to access your eBooks online through a browser, we would strongly recommend that you instead download the Bookshelf app to your laptop (PC or Apple Mac) and/or mobile devices (up-to-date versions of iOS, Android or Amazon Kindle Fire). Please visit the following site for information on downloading the app: Download Bookshelf - VitalSource Support

You can access a Bookshelf eBook on up to 4 authorised devices (2 laptops / PCs + 2 mobile devices, for example your work computer, your personal computer, a mobile phone and an iPad).

If using a company computer or device, check you have permission to install the required application.

Please note that if you wish to print your eBook from Bookshelf, there is a limit of 100 pages that can be printed each time you log into your account. The print quality from printing your own eBooks is unlikely to be as high as a printed hard copy from ActEd. If you require a clean, high-quality printed copy then we recommend you order a hard copy in addition to, or instead of, an eBook.

When you order an ActEd eBook you will receive an electronic code which will enable you to access your eBook.

Online access to your eBook will last for up to 3 years but offline access does not expire and eBooks will be available to read offline using your Bookshelf account for as long as the Bookshelf App is available.

You may have previously accessed your eBooks using Adobe Digital Editions. It is not possible to choose which platform you use. It is not possible to transfer an eBook between Bookshelf and ADE or vice versa.


In most cases the price of an eBook is the same as the printed product except that VAT is added for orders of eBooks from within the EU and South Africa. The price of the CMP eBook in Subjects CB2, SP6 and SP9 is slightly lower than the price of the printed CMP.

However, in most cases if the eBook is ordered as an addition to the same version of the paper product in a subject in the same academic year, the additional charge for the eBook much lower. Please refer to our prices page for more details.


Once you have purchased your eBook and we have processed your order you will then receive two emails: one confirming your order and a second containing your electronic code enabling you to access and download your eBook. These emails should be sent within 24 hours, assuming the relevant eBook is available. This may be slightly longer during our busy periods.

You will be required to create a Bookshelf account before accessing your eBook. Full instructions will be provided in the emails.

Before you redeem the code you will have to have an online Bookshelf account, which you can create at

Once you have an account you can download the PC application or mobile app and sign in with the same credentials to access your eBook across multiple devices.

The Bookshelf instructions sheet provides more details about how to access your ActEd eBooks using Bookshelf.

Using the Bookshelf app

The following video provides an introduction to using the Bookshelf app, once it has been installed. It includes: the different ways to display or view the eBook pages and how to move backwards and forwards through them. It also covers using the contents panel, search function, highlighting, annotation and bookmark features, before finally touching on the printing and reading aloud options.

The main shortcut keys referred to in the video are as follows:

  • Page back = Alt-LeftArrow (Windows & Mac)
  • Page forward = Alt-RightArrow (Windows & Mac)
  • Increase text size = F5 (Windows), Command-plus (Mac)
  • Decrease text size = F4 (Windows), Command-minus (Mac)
  • Go to page # = Ctrl-G (Windows), Alt-command-G (Mac)
  • Contents pane open / close = Ctrl-Y (Windows)
  • Search box = Ctrl-F (Windows), Command-F (Mac)
  • Bookmarks list open / close = Ctrl-M (Windows)
  • Add bookmark = Alt-M (Windows)
  • Highlight = Ctrl-D (Windows), Command-D (Mac)
  • Note = Ctrl-N (Windows), Command-N (Mac)
  • Print = Ctrl-P (Windows), Command-P (Mac)

More detailed lists of shortcut keys can be found here:

More information from VitalSource on using Bookshelf can be found here:

Short Guide To Choosing Study Materials


We've produced a short guide to choosing and using your study materials for the actuarial exams.

The guide helps with questions that many students have about which combination of study materials to choose and how best to use them to maximise their chances of exam success.

If you're about to consider some revision materials, then you may find the sections on exam revision and rehearsal particularly useful.

More detailed help and advice for students is also available.

Download the 2024 ActEd Student Brochure

Electronic Products

As well as products in paper format, ActEd also provides the following electronic study products:

Advice For Students Retaking A Subject


Special retaker discounts are available for students who have previously purchased similar material at the full price from ActEd.

In most subjects we are likely to produce a CMP Upgrade which you can use to find out how the Syllabus and Core Reading have changed from 2023 to 2024. Where available, recent CMP Upgrades can be downloaded free of charge.

Whatever subject you're retaking, we recommend that you buy the Mock Exam or the Additional Mock Pack and/or the Flashcards (if available and you haven't purchased them before).


If you have not used marking before, then we recommend that you consider using Series X Marking (and Series Y Marking in the CM and CS Subjects). You might also wish to get the Mock Exam marked this time. Results of a previous survey suggest that attempting the assignments and mock exam and having them marked improves your chances of passing the exam.


If you haven't already attended tutorials, you'll find a Regular Tutorial, a Block Tutorial, or the Online Classroom very useful.

Tutor Talk - Exam Results

In this video we'll discuss what to do when you get your exam results, in particular if you have failed an exam.

Study Skills And Personal Study Plans

This page gives you specific advice on how to develop an overall study plan, including drawing up your own personal study plan. We also give guidance on the study sessions themselves, how to order your studies, and techniques that will help you to study actively.

Overall study plan

Develop a realistic study plan, build in time for relaxation and allow some time for contingencies. Once you have set your plan, be determined to stick to it. (You don't have to be too prescriptive at this stage about what precisely you do on each study day. The main thing is to be clear that you will cover all the important activities in an appropriate manner.)

Manage your study to allow plenty of time for the concepts you meet in the course to "bed down" in your mind. Most successful students will leave at least a month for revision. You should aim to complete the course by the end of July if you are studying for the September exams and by the end of February for the April exams. By finishing the course as quickly as possible, you will have a much clearer view of the big picture. It will also allow you to structure your revision so that you can concentrate on the important and difficult areas of the course. How often do you think "I'm just getting the hang of this, I wish the exam was two weeks later"?

Study Sessions

Only do activities that will increase your chance of passing. Don't include activities for the sake of it and don't spend time reviewing material that you already understand. You will only improve your chances of passing the exam by getting on top of the material that you currently find difficult.

Each study session should have a specific purpose and be based on a specific task, eg "Finish reading Chapter 3 and attempt Questions 3.1 to 3.4 from the Practice Questions" not a specific amount of time, eg "Three hours studying the material in Chapter 3".

Study somewhere quiet and free from distractions (eg a library or a desk at home dedicated to study). Find out when you operate at your peak, and endeavour to study at those times of the day. This might be between 8am and 10am or could be in the evening. Take short breaks during your study to remain focused - it's definitely time for a short break if you find that your brain is tired and that your concentration has started to drift from the information in front of you.

Order of study

You should work through each of the chapters in turn. To get the maximum benefit from each chapter you should proceed in the following order:

  • Read the Syllabus Objectives. These are set out in the box on Page 1 of each chapter.
  • Read the Chapter Summary at the end of each chapter. This will give you a useful overview of the material that you are about to study and help you to appreciate the context of the ideas that you meet.
  • Study the Course Notes in detail, annotating the ActEd Notes, possibly making your own notes. Try the short self-assessment questions as you come to them. Our suggested solutions are at the end of each chapter. As you study, pay particular attention to the listing of the Syllabus items and to the Core Reading.
  • Read the Chapter Summary again carefully. If there are any ideas that you can't remember covering in the Notes, read the relevant section of the Notes again to refresh your memory.

Attempt some of the Practice Questions when you have completed a chapter. It's a good idea to annotate the questions with details of when you attempted each one. This makes it easier to ensure that you try all of the questions as part of your revision without repeating any that you got right first time.

Once you've read the relevant part of the Notes and tried a selection of Practice Questions, you should attempt the corresponding assignment. If you submit your assignment for marking, spend some time looking through it carefully when it is returned. It can seem a bit depressing to analyse the errors you made, but you can increase your chances of passing the exam by learning from your mistakes. The markers will try their best to provide practical comments to help you to improve.

It's a fact that people are more likely to remember something if they review it from time to time. So, do look over the chapters you have studied so far from time to time. It is useful to re-read the chapter summaries or to try the self-assessment questions again a few days after reading the chapter itself.

To be really prepared for the exam, you should not only know and understand the Core Reading but also be aware of what the examiners will expect. Your revision programme should include plenty of question practice so that you are aware of the typical style, content and marking structure of exam questions. You should attempt as many questions as you can from the Practice Questions at the end of each chapter and past exam papers.

Active study

Here are some techniques that will help you to study actively:

  • Don't believe everything you read! Good students tend to question everything that they read. They will ask "why, how, what for, when?" when confronted with a new concept, and they will apply their own judgement. This contrasts with those who unquestioningly believe what they are told, learn it thoroughly, and reproduce it (unquestioningly?) in response to exam questions. Another useful technique is to think of possible questions that the examiners could ask, as you read the Course Notes. This will help you to understand the examiners' point of view and should mean that there are fewer nasty surprises in the exam!
  • Annotate your Notes with your own ideas and questions. This will make your study more active and will help when you come to review and revise the material. Do not simply copy out the Notes without thinking about the issues.
  • Attempt the questions in the Notes as you work through the course. Write down your answer before you check against the solution.
  • Attempt other questions and assignments on a similar basis, ie write down your answer before looking at the solution provided. Attempting the assignments under exam conditions has some particular benefits:
    1. It forces you to think and act in a way that is similar to how you will behave in the exam.
    2. When you have your assignments marked it is much more useful if the marker's comments can show you how to improve your performance under exam conditions than your performance when you have access to the Notes and are under no time pressure.
    3. The knowledge that you are going to do an assignment under exam conditions and then submit it (however good or bad) for marking can act as a powerful incentive to make you study each part as well as possible.
    4. It is also quicker than trying to write perfect answers.
  • Apply for an Online Classroom (where available). The Online Classroom is equivalent to a typical face-to-face tutorial run in the UK. Being online, it's an excellent choice for students without easy access to face-to-face classes.
  • Sit a Mock Exam a few weeks before the real exam to identify your weaknesses and work to improve them. You could use one of the mock exams written by ActEd or a past exam paper.

Sitting Online Exams

We have produced a video guide to sitting online exams.

The guide has some tips and suggestions for sitting online open-book exams.

Remember to stay up-to-date with the latest information from the IFoA.

Advice For Students Waiting For Exam Results

We do not advise you to adopt a study strategy that might require you to cease studying partway through a session. We recommend that you choose to study subjects at the beginning of the session with the expectation that you will sit those exams. If you cannot judge how well you did in the last set of exams, don't start to study too many subjects in the next session - it is much better to take on an extra subject if you are ahead of schedule than it is to drop subjects midway through the session and switch back to a previous subject.

If you might need to change your plans in the light of your exam results, then we'd recommend that you apply for a Block Tutorial or a late-starting Regular Tutorial rather than Regular Tutorials and that you choose Marking Vouchers rather than Series Marking. This will give you much more flexibility should your plans change.

Tutor Talk

Tutor Talk is a series of videos discussing various areas of studying for the actuarial exams that students might find useful during their progress through the exams. You will also find the videos linked on the relevant page of the ActEd website and on our YouTube channel.

New students

An introduction to ActEd and the actuarial exams.

Tutorial Options

This video explains some of the options available for our Tutorials.


In this edition we discuss some of the revision materials you might find useful when revising for the IFoA's exams.


In this video we talk about the apprenticeships scheme and the support offered by ActEd.

Exam Results

In this video we'll discuss what to do when you get your exam results, in particular if you have failed an exam.

Objective Based Assessment (CB1 and CB2)

In this video we talk about the proposed changes to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries CB1 and CB2 exam structure, and the recent delay to those proposals. This video covers the impact for the September 2023 exam sitting.

Online Classroom

In this video we discuss ActEd's Online Classroom.

Assignments, Mock Exams and Marking

In this video we talk about assignments, mocks and marking.
Important links covered in the video:

  • ActEd marking
  • The Hub

Exam Wellbeing

In this video we talk about exam wellbeing.

Tutorials process

This video explains the process around booking tutorials.

Marking process

This video discusses the marking process including how to submit your script and how it will be returned to you.

ActEd Tutor Talk - Revision (Early Subjects)

Paper B Subjects

Tutor Talk - Later Subjects

Tutor Talk - Revision (Later subjects)

Tutor Talk - SA exams

Tutor Talk - Using Word for later exams

Tutor Talk - CS2 Risk Modelling and Survival Analysis

Tutor Talk - Using Word for early subjects

Tutor Talk - E-materials and environmental impact

Information For Employers


From here you can find information on topics, which should be of use to employers and study mentors. You can view the latest Employer Update which is sent periodically to employer contacts (if you wish to add your name to our mailing list, please email

We also have information on Induction Courses for your new students.

Our website provides detailed information of ActEd's paper products, electronic products, marking, public tutorials and online tutorials. We also provide information about how to organise in-house tutorials.

We'd be pleased to hear suggestions from employers about what information you would like to see on our website. Please send your comments to

Employer Updates

Here are the latest Employer Updates, which are periodically sent to employer contacts:

April 2024

November 2023
October 2023 webinar
May 2023

May 2022
February 2022

The Employer Updates are in Adobe Acrobat format, and you will need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print it. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.

Download Acrobat