The actuarial syllabus is reviewed and updated every year. The syllabus and examinations described below cover the full range of study required up to Fellowship.

1. Core Technical Stage

The Core Technical Stage is comprised of nine subjects, designed to give students a solid grounding in the key actuarial techniques. CT1-8 are examined by a three hour examination containing short answer questions and longer problem-solving questions.

CT9 is an online exam that involves some preparation work, a business game and an online test. All aspects of CT9 are taken online and can be completed from anywhere in the world.

To qualify as either an Associate or a Fellow all nine CT subjects need to be completed.

  Core Technical Stage
CT1 Financial Mathematics
CT2 Finance and Financial Reporting
CT3 Probability and Mathematical Statistics
CT4 Models
CT5 Contingencies
CT6 Statistical Methods
CT7 Business Economics
CT8 Financial Economics
CT9 Business Awareness


2. Core Applications Stage

The aim of the Core Applications Stage is to teach actuarial concepts across a range of applications. It has been designed to encourage thought about how these concepts can be applied, in both familiar and unfamiliar situations. There are three subjects within this stage, and they are:

  • CA1 – Actuarial Risk Management. This subject enables candidates to understand strategic concepts in the management of the business activities of financial institutions and programmes, including the processes for management of the various types of risk faced. They should be able to analyse the issues and formulate, justify and present plausible and appropriate solutions to business problems.
  • CA2 – Model Documentation, Analysis and Reporting. This subject aims to ensure that a candidate has data analysis skills and can communicate the results to a technical audience. The CA2 exam consists of two three-hour papers and is sat online over two consecutive days.
  • CA3 – Communications. This is a two day online examination which involves a written communications exam and a presentation. The aim of the communications paper is to ensure that candidates can communicate with a non-technical audience. CA3 will be replaced by CP3 in September 2017 in advance of the new curriculum launching in 2019.

To qualify as either an Associate or a Fellow all three CA subjects need to be completed.


  Core Application Stage
CA1 Actuarial risk management
CA2 Model documentation, analysis & reporting
CA3 Communications


3. Specialist Technical Stage

Building on from the Core Applications Stage, this stage introduces individual specialisms. Each Specialist Technical subject, which is non-country specific, is assessed by one three hour examination.

There are eight Specialist Technical (ST) subjects to choose from, of which two need to be completed to qualify as a Fellow. No ST subjects need to be completed to qualify as an Associate. Alternatively, ST0 is also offered if you have a postgraduate or professional qualification and are eligible for an exemption from this subject.

  Specialist Technical Stage
ST1 Health and Care
ST2 Life Insurance
ST4 Pensions and Other Benefits
ST5 Finance and Investment (A)
ST6 Finance and Investment (B)
ST7 General Insurance – Reserving and Capital Modelling
ST8 General Insurance – Pricing
ST9 Enterprise Risk Management


4. Specialist Applications Stage

The final stage of the examinations is one specialist subject chosen from the list below.

There is no requirement to have passed the corresponding Specialist Technical subject, however, the Specialist Applications subjects will typically assume knowledge of the corresponding Specialist Technical subject.
There are six Specialist Applications (SA) subjects to choose from, of which one needs to be completed to qualify as a Fellow. No SA subjects need to be completed to qualify as an Associate.

Alternatively, SA0 is also offered if you wish to undertake some original research to an MPhil or research degree level.

UK Practice Modules, which correspond with the Specialist Applications stage, are available for those who wish to work in a regulatory role in the UK. There are six UK Practice Modules to choose from and these are optional, not compulsory.

  Specialist Applications Stage
SA1 Health and Care
SA2 Life Insurance
SA3 General Insurance
SA4 Pensions and Other Benefits
SA5 Finance
SA6 Investment


Work based skills

The aim of the work-based skills requirement is to help students demonstrate that they have put into practice the actuarial theory they gained through taking the exams.

Students will be required to maintain a logbook of work undertaken, of courses attended and other learning activities undertaken as part of the development of their work-based skills. This includes some technical actuarial skills as well as more general business and management skills.

Work-based skills will be replaced by PPD (Personal and Professional Development) in 2017 in advance of the new curriculum launching in 2019.

Professional skills

Professional Skills is mandatory for all members of the IFoA and is a key part of students training and ongoing development. It is comprised of three stages: the Online Professional Awareness Test (OPAT), Professional Skills Course (PSC) and Professional Skills for Experienced Members.

Exemptions and exams

University exemptions for students reaching the agreed standard are available for all stages except the Specialist Applications Stage. Candidates may also gain an exemption from one Specialist Technical paper if they have a relevant professional qualification recognised by the IFoA.

All examinations, except the CT9 Business Awareness exam are held in twice yearly sessions. Students, in consultation with their employer, can determine the optimal pace of study through the subjects.

Tuition opportunities

The Institute has prepared an extended version of the syllabus termed Core Reading. The syllabus and Core Reading provide a guide to tutors preparing tuition material for students working towards the examinations. Examinations are based on the extended syllabus, so students can prepare for them in any way they choose. As the key route, the IFoA has an agreement with a tuition provider, The Actuarial Education Company (ActEd), for a series of distance-learning texts which cover the syllabus.

A series of units have been written for each subject covering the core learning and the objectives of the syllabus and containing a number of self-assessment questions and solutions. The material is presented in loose-leaf form and is updated year-on-year where necessary. Assignments are included which can be used independently or in conjunction with a marking service.

We will be launching a new curriculum in 2019, find out what this means for you here.

Back to Top