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  • Undergrad in search of advice

    I will be graduating next semester with a BA in math. For awhile, I was focused on teaching high school math. After months of soul searching I have decided to pursue a career as an actuary. This decision came late in my academic career, however I believe it is the right one. I have always had a strong passion for math and would love to have a career problem solving in a business environment. My concern is that I have a general math background with not very much emphasis on the probability courses. I know many universities now offer the actuary option that I assume prepares you with the business courses needed to pass the exams. I dont have that background but after reading many posts this doesnt seem to be a problem.
    My concern is what route I should take to best prepare me to pass this exam. I know how difficult this test will be and I am prepared to sacrafice months maybe even years to achieve this goal. One idea i had was applying to grad school so that I can take the necessary courses needed to prepare me for the exam. Is this a smart decision? Most people feel that an employeer could supply the training needed to get through the exams. However, how does one even get an entry level position with a firm without successful passing of an exam? Should i search a company that might be hiring candidates with only a BA in math and have yet to take the exam? It seems that most employeers dont bother with people in my position..What is the best route I should take in preparing for the exam? How realistic is it to be self taught? Wouldnt grad level courses be better prep?

  • #2
    Other than possibly the first exam, there are no grad courses that cover the exams. All actuaries are self taught - it's a self study exam system. Since the first exam is now computer based and offered more than twice per year I suggest you study on your own and take the test. After you pass the first exam, you can get an entry level job that will give you more experience and paid study time. Get a study guide, a good probability book, study past exam problems and you should be fine. Good luck.

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    • #3
      A BA in math is fine. It shows that you have the capacity to tackle the technical aspect of the profession and the exams. A few courses in statistics and probability would be helpful, though all you really need is a VERY firm grasp in calculus. This can apply to other advanced technical degrees as well such as physics, engineering etc.

      The exams will be difficult, especially without the statistics background. Preparing will be comparable to a semester of college or a full time job for a few months . Don't let this deter you, most of us with actuarial and statistics degrees are forced to self study a large chunk (especially exams 3+) ourselves. Keep in mind there are now VEE requirements which I am unfamiliar with, but that you should be concerned about.

      As for finding a job, I would suggest that if you do not have a direct contact in the industry (i.e. an excellent contact through a school job fair/internship or something similar) to take and PASS the first exam. This will open up many new doors. Passing another exam or two will further open that door.

      Goodluck.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by chillendope
        I will be graduating next semester with a BA in math. For awhile, I was focused on teaching high school math. After months of soul searching I have decided to pursue a career as an actuary. This decision came late in my academic career, however I believe it is the right one.

        I know how difficult this test will be and I am prepared to sacrafice months maybe even years to achieve this goal.
        This is my college story, except that I had to take statistics as part of my degree program in math and I liked it enough that when I realized I wanted out of education and into the actuary field, the only thing I was missing was the econ and finance part.

        Get the first exam down - even if that means going back and snagging a class in statistics and probability. It will be really helpful. Most companies want you to have an exam passed, they want to believe you're going to stick with the exams and get the FSA/FCAS designation. To a degree, it's not what you've done - it's what you're going to do that's important. Getting an exam passed on your own is a good sign that you've got the committment needed.
        "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

        http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blogger_ar...blogger_id=174 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.

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        • #5
          Depaul and Roosevelt University in Chicago

          Well I spoke to both directors at these institutions and they do offer a grad school program geared toward preperation of the first four exams. According to the Math chair at Depaul ALL of her students are well prepared and go on to pass the first two exams. I have a hard time believing that and feel she is doing a great sales job on me. Any thoughts?
          I just want the best route to prepare me for the exam. I no doubt am going to put in the necessary hours but before I do go gung ho i just want to be positive the route i am taking is the best..

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          • #6
            We have classes at Michigan that teach the material of P, FM, and M, but these aren't grad level classes or anything like that. A lot of people in the field teach themselves from the text books and study manuals.
            Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.

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            • #7
              An undergraduate actuarial program will prepare you past the first two exams. Whether you pass them depends on how much time and effort you put in.

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              • #8
                Exam passing by students

                I direct the Actuarial Program at Illinois State University, and we post the names of our students who passed (unless a student objects, although names of passing candidates are public information) on our web site. We do not post anything about people who failed, for obvious reasons. You might want to ask for such information at various places where you apply, and there is, of course, public information at www.beanactuary.org.

                Ask more, please, if you need to. I am not sure if I am really answering you. But you should plan your study, devote an appropriate number of study hours (100 per exam hour) and do a lot of practice exercises. And I personally strongly advocate against trying to study minimum needed to pass, I urge you to overstudy, as these exams are quite volatile in their levels of difficulty, and you want to be overprepared so that if a hard exam hits you on a bad day, you still make it. You should always go to an exam prepated to pass it, hey, not just pass it, annihilate it! That's what I believe.

                All the best.

                Yours,
                Krzys'


                Originally posted by chillendope
                Well I spoke to both directors at these institutions and they do offer a grad school program geared toward preperation of the first four exams. According to the Math chair at Depaul ALL of her students are well prepared and go on to pass the first two exams. I have a hard time believing that and feel she is doing a great sales job on me. Any thoughts?
                I just want the best route to prepare me for the exam. I no doubt am going to put in the necessary hours but before I do go gung ho i just want to be positive the route i am taking is the best..
                Want to know how to pass actuarial exams? Go to: smartURL.it/pass

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