A Behind-the-Scenes Look at R.A.C.E.
The idea for R.A.C.E. came from a simple realization. Many actuarial candidates are math oriented, and strength in one area can lead to weakness in another. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but often-times people who are inherently math-oriented are not as skilled in constructing well-written or concise essay answers. This presents a problem when exams start becoming as much as a quarter to even 70% short-answer questions. So the challenge was there. How do we help candidates answer in words, when they are so accustomed to numbers?
What is R.A.C.E.?
R.A.C.E. breaks down past CAS exam questions into 4 steps: Read, Assess, Choose, and Execute. R.A.C.E. is not a fun trick to help you remember content. It is a structured way to tackle short answer questions quickly and fully. This process is a type of active learning which helps retain information better than simply watching a video. To get accustomed to the process, try working the questions along with the video for the first couple weeks, then move on to solving the questions on your own and watching the videos to compare your process and solutions.
The process of R.A.C.E. is simple. The ‘Read’ step comes with another part which is to underline keywords. This helps you focus on the correct subjects. For example, in Exam 6, many of the Porter chapters discuss a wide variety of court cases and decisions. It’s not only easy, but also very common for candidates to mix these cases up when answering questions. It is also common for a candidate to provide the wrong number of responses, or omit parts of the question altogether. Our ‘Assess’ step helps with that. The ‘Choose’ and ‘Execute’ steps are really dependent on you. When you identify your keywords in the beginning, though, you’ll have a better chance of recalling the specific article the question references, and you can Execute from there. By this point in the process, you will have mapped out how to respond, so all you have to do is lay down everything you can remember into the framework you’ve constructed.
There are many advantages to organizing things for yourself, but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. The whole point of R.A.C.E. is to respond to short-answer question in a timely and efficient manner. We recommend following our R.A.C.E. videos weekly, and practicing each question so that by exam time you’ve practiced the process enough that it will have become second nature. You should also try to come up with things that will help you along the way. For example, count the keywords you underline and write the number above question. That way it doesn’t get mixed up with any numbers you may use in your response and you can refer back to it to remember that you need that many responses.
A quick intro to R.A.C.E.
Behind the Scenes
Selecting the questions became a fun and interesting task. ALL 10 has a huge database of every question that has ever appeared on these exams, and we track different traits in the question, such as point value, Blooms Taxonomy level, question type (short answer, computation, conceptual, etc.), and many others. Viewing large sets of data is something I’ve always found enjoyable. We share much of this information with you in the e-Learning Center, in the ‘content examined’ and ‘points’ sections. Some of the questions we come across are short and easy for any candidate to answer. We tried not to R.A.C.E. any of these unless they were sub-parts of a larger question. The release of the videos coincides with our Review Course Schedule.
Selecting questions was fun, but probably what we had the most fun doing was picking colors. A lot more consideration went into color selection than was probably necessary. We chose to do each step with a different highlight color, and wanted to make sure none of the colors were hard on the eyes. Associating each step with a certain color helps us keep things organized.
The Technology Behind RACE
After choosing questions and colors came the hard part; the technical stuff. We primarily use a screen capture program to capture video and edit most everything. We set up our information and narrate the process along the way using a couple of Blue Snowball microphones. When we need a little more power, we turn to applications like Adobe Premiere and After Effects. To animate the logo, I put the design into After Effects and did a few quick animations. Most of our introductory videos (the ones where Rich explains the products) were shot with a couple cameras, a simple light set-up, and a small green screen. We’ll take the raw video, key out the backgrounds in After Effects, and place graphics around Rich. With all the tools, and all the planning complete, it was only a few more months of work before RACE for exams 5 and 6 were born.
Prepare to Pass
This year we will have R.A.C.E. sessions for each exam. Exams 7 and 9 will be all new sessions, and in the Fall, Exam 8 will get the same treatment. Look for R.A.C.E. to begin on January 5th this Spring, available to all customers who purchase our Online Review Course.