Advanced Actuarial Practice (A-4) Examination

A-4 Syllabus (Not available at this time)
Examination Details
Examination Fees
Required Reading 
Recommended Reading
Exam and Publication References & Errata
Continuing Education (CE) Credits
Additional Information


The FSPA is ASPPA/ACOPA’s advanced Fellowship designation. It represents the highest achievement within ACOPA for an actuary, and the actuary who achieves this designation has shown a level of knowledge and understanding of the private pension system significantly beyond what is tested on the Enrolled Actuary examinations.

New! The FSPA credential can be obtained through the examination or experience nomination path. To learn more about the experience nomination path please visit the FSPA webpage.

To earn the FSPA credential via the examination path, candidates build upon a foundation of knowledge acquired by:

Finally, because ASPPA members are required to comply with ASPPA’s Code of Professional Conduct, the topic of ethical performance in one’s professional capacity forms an important part of the A-4 course of study, and ethics questions will be a part of the examinations.

All required and suggested reading material, in addition to learning objectives and topic weightings, can be found in the A-4 examination syllabus.

Examination Details

The purpose of this examination is to test the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the private pension system at an advanced level, beyond what is tested on the Enrolled Actuary examinations. In addition to the required reading there are recommended readings to complement the candidate's knowledge. There is a written examination, as well as an oral presentation that relates to the written examination.

To pass the A-4 exam, a candidate must obtain a passing score on the written exam and pass the oral presentation. If a candidate receives a “pass” on the oral presentation but receives a “fail” on the written exam, the “pass” on the oral presentation will stand to give the candidate an opportunity to pass the written exam within the next 12 months.

Written Examination
The written examination will be held during the spring window (date coming soon) and during the fall window (date coming soon), and candidates will be responsible for obtaining and scheduling a proctor to sit for the written component of the exam.

The A-4 exam is a 4 hour examination, consisting of eight questions from two sections (A topics and B topics). Candidates must answer all five questions from A topics and three of the four questions from B topics:

A Topics B Topics
•  Actuarial cost methods
•  Form 5500 Schedule SB completion
•  Actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs)
•  The Code of Professional Conduct
•  Plan qualification requirements
•  Plan design
•  Financial accounting standard (FAS) requirements
•  Actuarial report completion
•  Plan termination issues
•  Fiduciary liability
•  Distributions
•  Controlled group/affiliated service groups
•  Plan designs
•  Valuation of post-retirement medical benefits
•  Forecasting
•  Expert witness services
•  Nonqualified plans
•  Multiple employer plans
•  Defined benefit plan investments

Oral Examination
Because successfully communicating with clients is a critical part of an actuary’s work, the A-4 course includes an oral presentation requirement. The oral presentation relates to one of the questions from the written examination. Candidates will be asked to identify three questions (from A or B topics) that they are willing to use as the basis for their oral presentation. A panel will decide which one of the three candidate-selected questions will be asked on the oral exam.

Within a month of the written examination, contact will be made with the candidate to schedule an hour for the oral presentation via a conference call (travel is not required). Two weeks before the scheduled presentation, the candidate will be sent a copy of the question and his/her written answer. The time allowed for the oral presentation is 60 minutes.

Exam Registration
Candidates may register online or download the Exam Registration Form and follow the directions on the form to fax or mail your registration. The 2017 A-4 exam will be held on June 14 during the spring exam window and November 15 during the fall exam window.

A-4 exam candidates will receive an email with confirmation of the exam registration and instructions to locate a proctor and examination site. Proctors should be ASPPA or ACOPA credentialed members. If an ASPPA or ACOPA member is not available in your area, Enrolled Actuaries who are SOA or AAA members are acceptable proctors. ASPPA also permits training coordinators, tenured faculty members or examination administrators in a University/College setting to proctor examinations. Exams are administered in North America. A candidate who does not receive a registration confirmation email two weeks prior to any ASPPA examination should immediately contact ASPPA to request a copy. It must be understood that ASPPA and any jointly administering or sponsoring organizations will not be held responsible for difficulties caused by holidays or other delays in postal service or for the consequences of failing to receive correspondence as a result of inadequate postage or incorrect email address.

A-4 examination results will be mailed to candidates approximately 10-12 weeks after the examination date. The use of a calculator will be permitted if it conforms to the required specifications. Calculators must be silent, solar or battery-operated and nonprogrammable (without paper tape-printing capabilities or alphabetic keypads).

2017 Examination Fees

The registration fee is non-refundable.

  • To qualify for early registration, registration forms accompanied by the early registration fee of $334 for members and $361 for non-members must reach the ASPPA office no later than March 31 for the spring window and September 15 for the fall window.
  • To qualify for final registration, registration forms accompanied by the final registration fee of $415 for members and $443 for non-members must reach the ASPPA office no later than May 26 for the spring window and October 27 for the fall window.

For more information visit the Exam Schedule & Fees page.

Required Reading

We recommend the following text, which is available in the ASPPA bookstore or via the Publications Order Form

A-4 Compendium of Readings: Advanced Actuarial Practice, 2nd Edition. Arlington, VA: ASPPA, 2010. 

Recommended Reading

For a complete list of Recommended Readings see the A-4 Examination syllabus.

Exam and Publication References and Errata

For updates to ASPPA’s publications and examinations please click here. Stop by regularly as new updates are posted.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Candidates who have successfully completed an ASPPA proctored examination can earn up to 20 ARA CE credits depending on the score received. Credits will be applied to the CE cycle in which the score is issued. For more information on ARA examination CE credit click here.

20 ERPA credits for successful completion of the A-4 exam may be awarded.
IRS ERPA Credit Program Number: CZTXU-Q-00015-12-S

The final decision as to the number of ERPA credits rests solely with the Internal Revenue Service.

Additional Information

All candidates are encouraged to visit ASPPA’s Candidate Corner for additional information. It is the candidate’s responsibility to check the ASPPA Web site for the most current information on examinations and publications. The Candidate Corner includes exam windows and dates, study tips, current information on regulatory limits and other helpful information. You may also contact ASPPA with questions at