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RevGreg
July 11th 2006, 10:39 AM
Hi. :)

I'm currently studying Math (Statistics) at the University of Alabama. I'm interested in becoming an actuary, but I can't seem to find a concise and clear description of the path that must be followed to become an actuary.

I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with:

1. How many exams are there and what do they focus on? I can only find information on the first 2.
2. How many exams must be passed before an individual can be employed as an actuary.
3. Is there required coursework involved with taking the exams or can the exams be taken without any formal classwork?
4. Is there a waiting period between tests or can they all be taken at the same time?
5. If I plan to graduate with my statistics degree in May 2007, do I have time to take the necessary exams to be employed by the time I graduate?

I can't seem to find a website that makes these questions clear. Any help that you can provide would be beneficial. Thank you very much.

Greg Michaelson

Trojan_Horse
July 11th 2006, 12:02 PM
1. There are four preliminary exams and then a series of online modules that include two more exams that must be passed before attaining the first actuarial designation of Associate. To become a Fellow, there are more modules and a couple more exams and a project. Since you are just beginning, just focus on the first four preliminary exams first, the rest of the process may change a bit (as it often does).
2. You must become an Associate before you are really an actuary but you can get a job as an actuarial student with only one exam passed. Once you have a position like this, most companies will give you paid study time and will pay for your books and exam fees as you progress along the path.
3. Each exam has suggested readings and several companies publish study guides to help but there is no required coursework with the exception of VEE. VEE stands for Verified by Educational Experience. There are VEE requirements for Economics, Statistics, and Corporate Finance. These requirements are easiest to fulfill if you take the necessary courses while still in school. See http://www.soa.org/ccm/content/exams-education-jobs/education-redesign/process-for-validation-by-educational-experience/ for more info on VEE.
4. Most people take one test at a time and they are offered about every 6 months. You are permitted to take as many as you like however.
5. Yes, you can register for Exam P by 9/15/06 to take it on 11/28-12/1. You can register for Exam FM by 9/24/06 to take it on 11/8. Check out http://www.soa.org/ccm/content/?categoryID=214009 and www.beanactuary.org for more info.

Good luck!

wat
July 11th 2006, 03:17 PM
I like Trojan_Horse's answers and will second just about everything he's said, but there were a couple things I wanted to add:


1. There are four preliminary exams and then a series of online modules that include two more exams that must be passed before attaining the first actuarial designation of Associate. To become a Fellow, there are more modules and a couple more exams and a project. Since you are just beginning, just focus on the first four preliminary exams first, the rest of the process may change a bit (as it often does).

To get your FSA, you no longer need to do a project, per se. They are lengthening the FAC to two days, where discussion/presentations will be facilitated (I think), but that's about the extent of a project. If you're referring to the FSA Capstone Module, you may be right - it might be a project, but none of us know that yet.

T_H described the SOA examination system, which focuses on life, health and pensions. If you'd like to get into property and casualty, the CAS has a different examination system, but most of the preliminary exams are the same between the SOA and the CAS.


4. Most people take one test at a time and they are offered about every 6 months. You are permitted to take as many as you like however.

These exams are not easy - I wish you nothing but the best of luck in attempting more than one exam at a time. There are many others out there studying for just one of these exams, and these are some of the brighter individuals from colleges across the nation (and the world).

I attempted two exams in the same sitting just once. I was completely burned out by the end of it, but thankfully, I got lucky once results came out. I don't think I'd be able to do it again - the amount of effort to study for two different exams was taxing and just too much.

But good luck - and you can take any of the exams at any time. Follow the link in Trojan_Horse's post and you should be good to go.

RevGreg
July 11th 2006, 03:39 PM
Is VEE a substitute for the exams? I'm not clear on what that is?

If I get a BS in Math -- with a concentration in statistics, will I be well prepared to take these 4 exams?

wat
July 11th 2006, 04:13 PM
Is VEE a substitute for the exams? I'm not clear on what that is?

Here's some more information about the VEE (Validation by Educational Experience) process: http://www.soa.org/ccm/content/exams-education-jobs/education-redesign/process-for-validation-by-educational-experience/

Essentially there are 3 topics that are considered important for an actuary to know, but they are not considered to be vital enough to be included explicitly in the actuarial exams. Thus, you may satisfy the requirements of this by

1) taking relevant and appropriate classes
2) taking a few smaller exams
3) attend seminars or satisfy the requirement in some other fashion.


If I get a BS in Math -- with a concentration in statistics, will I be well prepared to take these 4 exams?

Assuming that the concentration in statistics implies that you've taken a calculus-based probability class, you should be okay with Exam P (probability) and Exam FM.

However, unless you're taking classes that actually relate to actuarial science, it's very likely that you'll have to study on your own for the other exams. I was a math major in college. I'd only heard about the actuarial profession in the Spring of my junior year (6th semester). The only exam(s) I've taken classes for are Course 1 and some parts of Course 2. Other than that, all the exams I've studied for have been on a self-study basis. I read the books, I read through the manual(s), I do practice problems and I try my best to understand the material.

So, if you do graduate with a math major, it will be a benefit to be comfortable working with numbers and formulaic expressions, but it won't be a cakewalk just because you're a math major. You will have to put in a significant amount of study time to understand the topics specific to actuarial science (or at very least, risk analysis).