AINS™ 101 Difficulty 

In this blog, we will break down the AINS™ 101 difficulty. We will detail exactly what you should focus on when studying to pass this exam.

The information in this blog post comes directly from our AINS™ 101 Online Course.

AINS™ 101 – Difficulty

Here’s the good news. The AINS™ 101 is not a difficult exam in terms of content. In terms of ranking, I would say this exam is easier than the CPCU® and ARM™ exams.

The course is only six chapters long, one of the shortest exams published by The Institutes, and the content and topics of this exam are likely familiar and easy for you to comprehend. The AINS™ 101 exam is all about insurance, in particular, focusing on risk management, insurance distribution (agents, brokers, direct, etc…), insurer profitability (loss ratio), and insurance departments (claims, underwriting, producer). If you have experience in the insurance industry, you will have no problem recognizing these topics and comprehending the content required to pass this exam. In fact, I found that this exam is very similar to the CPCU® 520 (in terms of topics covered).

Here’s the bad news. Even though the content is familiar, this is still a VERY DIFFICULT exam. Especially if this is your first time taking an exam published by The Institutes. Here’s why this exam is difficult:

1) Content – If you are new to the industry, then this exam will be difficult. The content will be new to you. It’s great for improving your on-the-job performance, but you will have a lot to learn. This exam goes deep into the interworking of an insurance company. You will essentially learn how an insurance company operates through distribution channels, marketing channels, underwriting strategies, claims strategies, profitability strategies, and finances (including balance sheets, and income statements, along with calculating loss ratio, combined ratio, and expense ratios).

2) Exam Questions – Even if you have been in the industry for years and are familiar with the content of this exam, the AINS™ 101 will still pose some difficulty. Especially if this is your first AINS™ exam or the first exam published by The Institutes. The questions on these AINS™ exams will be much different than what you may have experienced on a typical exam that you took in high school or college. These questions require you to fully understand and apply every minor detail of each main topic. When I say you must be able to apply your knowledge from these topics, I mean these questions will put you in the shoes of an insurance professional and it will be your job to analyze each question in order to select the best answer for the given scenario. You will NOT be simply repeating a definition. You must fully understand each topic, DO NOT simply memorize definitions and think you will be able to pass, trust me, I’ve been there. Here’s more information about these difficult exam questions.

3) Memorization – Again, even if you are familiar with the content, the AINS™ exams are difficult because there is a lot of content to memorize for these exams. What we often hear from students about the AINS™ 101 is “This is a comprehensive exam”. And that is a true statement! This exam is very comprehensive in nature, covering nearly every topic to operating an insurance company. The content varies widely, covering everything relating to insurance from government insurance programs to constructing insurance company-specific balance sheets, to actuarial ratemaking factors. This makes the exam difficult because the content varies so widely that you will see questions on your exam based on completely different and unrelated topics. There is a lot for you to read, comprehend, and memorize.

AINS™ 101 (The Most Difficult Part)

If I had to summarize and tell you about the AINS™ 101 difficulty, I would say the hardest part will be memorizing every topic.

There is A TON of information to digest and comprehend. Not only do you need to understand and memorize each topic, but you must comprehend the content to a high enough degree that you can apply the concepts in a real-life scenario.

These exam questions are tricky. They are designed to trick you. You will see these concepts formatted as scenario questions on your exam. You must memorize each concept AND be able to apply the concept in a real-life scenario on your exam.

So, even if you know the concepts and definitions, you will still find this to be a difficult exam. Don’t simply memorize, instead, learn how to apply these concepts in a real-life scenario as an insurance professional.

Luckily we know exactly which topics and minor details you need to know. You can click here to download the list of AINS™ 101 topics that you need to memorize (we’ll also include a free practice exam with the download).

Download: Free Practice Exam (CPCU® | ARM™ | AINS™ | API™)

AINS™ 101 – Pass Rate

Unfortunately, The Institutes no longer publicly publishes the pass rates of each exam. They used to publish these for all exams including the ARM™ documented here and CPCU® documented here.

Here’s what we do know. According to The Institutes, the average pass rate of all exams that they publish is around 72.5%. We also know that this exam is similar, in terms of content, to the CPCU® 520 and the old ARM™ 56 (now the ARM™ 402). The last documented CPCU® 520 pass rate was 70% and the last documented ARM™ 56 pass rate was 80%.

We also recall, in our time reviewing these pass rates, that the old AINS™ 21 exam (now the AINS™ 101) typically had a pass rate ranging between 75% and 80%. BUT, the exams have changed since then.

So, my best guess after talking to those in the industry that have taken the new updated version of this exam, is that the pass rate of the AINS™ 101 is likely around 75%. This means, out of everyone that attempts the AINS™ 101 exam, one out of four will fail.

Please note. This is our best guess for informational purposes only based on our 10+ years of taking these exams and writing these courses. AssociatePI is not affiliated with The Institutes. This resource is intended for informational purposes only, to inform students about the likely national pass rates of the AINS™. This information is not the choice, nor does it involve the input, of AssociatePI. This information is sourced from industry publications detailing the pass rates of AINS™ exams.

AINS™ 101 –Study Tip

A lot of students fail the AINS™ 101 because there is just too much content on the exam. It is too much information to memorize all at one time. Here are our three biggest tips for passing the AINS™ 101 exam:

  • 1) Fully read the online course or attend an AINS™ class. This is by far the most important tip. These AINS™ exams are tricky and the exam questions will relate to very minute details from your AINS™ course. Skimming through the course will not cut it, you must read EVERYTHING. Even reading it just once will help you recall the information on your exam
  • 2) Take notes. This doesn’t mean you should rewrite every single word from the AINS™ 101 Course. Use shorthand and bullet points to quickly jot down the most important topics. This will help you better retain the information for easier recall on the test and will give you a “study guide” to refer back to (rather than rereading the full course!)
  • 3) Practice, practice, practice. Take as many practice exams and quizzes as you possibly can. This will help you familiarize yourself with the AINS™ question format and help you determine which topics you need to re-study. Once you go through a few practice quizzes and exams, return to your notes from step 2 and review any section that you failed to comprehend on the practice exam.

Free Practice Exam

Ready to get started studying? We’re here to help (for free). Download our free AINS™ 101 practice exam (comes with a study guide and coverage guide) to get a feel for the type of questions you will see on the exam.

Download: Free Practice Exam (CPCU® | ARM™ | AINS™ | API™)


More Information

For more information about the AINS™ 101 exam, check out some of our other free resources:


Remember, every CPCU®, ARM™, and AINS™ exam is different. No single exam is the same. Be sure to study ALL topics (not just our recommendation). This resource is intended to provide you with a general idea of where your focus should be. Make sure to thoroughly study every topic of this exam.

Difficulty rank, importance rank, and the advice provided in this resource are solely the opinion of AssociatePI. This resource is intended to provide you with a general idea of where your focus should be. Each exam administered by The Institutes is different. AssociatePI is not affiliated with The Institutes or involved in the exam writing process. Please be sure to thoroughly study every chapter and every topic of this course.

CPCU®, ARM™, and AINS™ exams are administered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI does not administer the actual exams, we are an independent resource of free content, advice, and study material for professional insurance education. This blog is intended for informational purposes only, to inform prospective students of the benefit of the CPCU® designation.

CPCU®, ARM™, AINS™, and API are trademarks of the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI LLC is not affiliated with, associated with, endorsed by or otherwise supported or recognized by The Institutes in any way. AssociatePI LLC is not authorized by The Institutes to offer courses, practice examinations, or any other resources related to the Institutes’ designations or other programs.

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