View Full Version : High School Student Seeking Help on Examinations

October 11th 2006, 11:02 PM
Hey actuary.com posters,
I am a high school junior interested in an actuarial career, and was wondering how feasible it would be for a high school student to take the examinations. I have a few questions:

1. If I take a probability class (calculus based), do well, and study past problems for the examination, would I be well prepared for the Spring examination (if i take a spring class which would be done by then)?

2. Around how many questions is a "pass" (usually)?

3. How many high school students generally take the examinations?

4. Is it HORRIBLE if I finnish all the exams by the end of college? I heard its tougher to get a job. If I can finish all the requirements to be an associate or fellow, should I wait until I am experienced?

5.are there any internship opportunities for high school students interested in being actuaries? If so, where?

Irish Blues
October 12th 2006, 07:48 AM
In order ...

1. It's possible if you're getting a calculus-based probability class.
2. No idea. The "Rule of 60" says if you get 60% correct, you stand a decent chance of passing. I'd say shoot high.
3. Again, no idea. I'm sure there's a handful, but I wouldn't put the number over 100.

4. Here's why passing all the exams can be a bad thing: as an FSA/FCAS, you're expected not just to know how to do certain things, but to have had real practice. Projecting loss development, Reserving, handling reinsurance, ratemaking and the implications of changing various assumptions, understanding how changes in the insurance industry today affect reserving and pricing going forward, ... there's many things you're expected to know how to do as an FSA/FCAS, not to mention that you'll be able to sign off on an actuarial analysis.

If you have little (if any) idea when to apply the Berquist-Sherman reserving technique to a set of data as opposed to simply looking at a different set of data and doing straightforward ultimate projections, or don't realize that a small change in a law in Texas could drive your company's costs up 15% in that state going forward because of all the other things that could change as a result, then your designation isn't doing you or anyone else any good.

On the other hand ... all you need is 1 employer to say, "OK - I'll hire you as an FSA/FCAS with no experience." If you think you can find one, then by all means - go for it. It's very likely you won't get paid as an FSA/FCAS until you gain experience, but I suppose it's possible to get hired with all your exams passed and no experience. (For the record, I've never seen nor heard of anyone pulling this off; I've heard of one (1) person achieving ASA without experience ... IIRC, it took that person nearly 3 years to get a job after getting his ASA.)

If you want to get hired quickly instead of waiting for months and months on end, get 2-4 exams and get some experience before you plug through the rest of the exams. After the first 4, they get A LOT harder.

5. Doubtful, since many employers require at least a year (some require 2) of college. Again, all you need is one company to say, "OK" - but I'm not immediately aware of any one. Your best bet is to look locally at a small actuarial company (even if it's a 1-person thing).

October 12th 2006, 11:51 PM
I think Irish Blues did a great job of addressing your questions. Basically you're not an ideal candidate if you go in over-qualified but under-experienced. And most employers are interested in hiring interns who are about a year from wanting full-time employment.

So I agree that for now you should focus on the first four exams and/or competencies. And don't forget that mathematical skill and exam passing is only part of the package. Take advantage of opportunities that highlight your ability to communicate both in writing and in person. Get involved in activities that show your dedication or commitment to achieving goals. All that good stuff.

It also doesn't hurt to think outside the box. Is there an actuarial program at a university that's near enough for you to visit? Go network. Talk to advisors/professors, ask for referrals for current students or recently hired students who would be willing to discuss the actuarial career with you. Is there any possibility that you could job-shadow an actuarial analyst for half a day? You may find that the answers are no, or 'not at the moment'. And if you should be really lucky and get an opportunity to talk to somebody, be prepared! If someone is going to make the time to talk to you, make sure you make it worth their time. Prepare, do your research, and have some good questions.
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