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Thread: Math and stats

  1. #1
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    Math and stats

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the site, but have been interested in the actuarial field for some time now. I currently work in finance, on Wall Street, and don't really like the atmosphere (even before the economy tanked and all my friends got fired). I am only 24, so I'm fairly young. I don't have much formal math background above Calculus 2 and intro statistics, both of which I took in high school and only remember vaguely. I'm good at math and statistics intuitively, but I have little formal knowledge and don't even know many of the key terms, notation, etc.

    My plan is to self-study for exam I, and in the process I'll get a pretty good idea whether I like the material enough to make the switch to a new career.

    Here's my question: I've read the stickies, visited the beanactuary website, and looked over the sample exams. I can figure out some of the problems, but I'm sure that formally studying the material covered on each exam will help me to be able to tackle the more difficult questions. My problem is, I don't really know where to start. I followed the links on the site because it said there are online "Web Notes", and I got to this page:

    http://www.soa.org/education/exam-re...-p-detail.aspx

    There's nothing really there, though, except a syllabus that lists the major topics covered by the exam. There is a list of about 10 textbooks, but it says that none of them is geared specifically towards the actuarial exam so there may be some topics not covered, and there are things in the books that are not on the exam. Since I have a full time job, I'd like to be as efficient as possible with my preparation, so I can;t really afford to read an entire textbook that isn't necessary. Can someone suggest a good way to prepare for exam I (and maybe II) for someone in my situation? In other words: assuming no formal knowledge of advanced math or statistics, how should one prepare for the first actuarial exams?

    Thanks, and apologies for the newbie question - I honestly have looked for the answer on my own.

    Luke

  2. #2
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    While reading all of those things, did you happen to find the suggestions of seminars and study manuals?

  3. #3
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    I found the suggestion for study manuals, and when I followed the links specified on the "official" site I just came to the page I linked to, which gives a basic framework for topics covered, but nothing in terms of a specific plan or detailed study notes. Seminars are not a practical option for me at this point since I still work a full time (read: very long hours) job.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by luke77 View Post
    I found the suggestion for study manuals, and when I followed the links specified on the "official" site I just came to the page I linked to, which gives a basic framework for topics covered, but nothing in terms of a specific plan or detailed study notes. Seminars are not a practical option for me at this point since I still work a full time (read: very long hours) job.
    Right, study manuals are NOT the official way to study for exams. It is entirely possible for the exam to have a question over a topic that your study manual either skimmed over or did not cover at all and SOA/CAS will not care. However if a topic appears that was not covered in the suggested readings, you can appeal for that question to be thrown out and that HAS been done in the past. You however asked for alternative for the suggested readings (i.e. textbooks) which would be study manuals and seminars. If you work long hours, I would be cautious about studying for these exams. Although P and FM can be passed with not too much effort, the latter exams are hard (read: you need roughly 100 hours per hour of exam to pass it). So unless you think you will find a job with 1-2 exams, you might want to skim posts by people who have that many or more exams and are currently unemployed OR you are exceptionally good at interviewing and/or passing exams... you might run into some trouble. Good luck to ya.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses. I'm sorry, I don't think I was very clear conveying what my goals are; let me try to clarify. I recognize that the exams are very tough, so initially my goal is just to pass P and FM (or maybe even just P). At that point, I think I'll have a better idea of whether the actuarial path is right for me, and I'll have to make a decision: either quit my job and move to an "actuary path" position, or stay where I am. I work at a large financial company the employs actuaries in a different department, and I've been told that if I pass exam P I'd have no problem in transferring to an in house position, since this is actually considered a step down from where I am now.

    So, I guess what I'm after is a "guide" to studying for exam P - something that I can study for a few hours a day and then take the exam. To use an analogy, if I wanted to pass the AP Calculus exam, I'd get an AP calculus study guide and work through it - I'd be pretty lost if I knew nothing about calculus and was just presented with a list of topics that are on the exam and a sample exam. I'm looking for a basic study guide for exam P, and all I've been able to find is a basic list of topics on the exam and a sample exam.

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by luke77 View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I'm sorry, I don't think I was very clear conveying what my goals are; let me try to clarify. I recognize that the exams are very tough, so initially my goal is just to pass P and FM (or maybe even just P). At that point, I think I'll have a better idea of whether the actuarial path is right for me, and I'll have to make a decision: either quit my job and move to an "actuary path" position, or stay where I am. I work at a large financial company the employs actuaries in a different department, and I've been told that if I pass exam P I'd have no problem in transferring to an in house position, since this is actually considered a step down from where I am now.

    So, I guess what I'm after is a "guide" to studying for exam P - something that I can study for a few hours a day and then take the exam. To use an analogy, if I wanted to pass the AP Calculus exam, I'd get an AP calculus study guide and work through it - I'd be pretty lost if I knew nothing about calculus and was just presented with a list of topics that are on the exam and a sample exam. I'm looking for a basic study guide for exam P, and all I've been able to find is a basic list of topics on the exam and a sample exam.

    Thanks again.
    If you have a solid foundation in calculus, ASM manual by Dr. O seems to be the popular one. He also posts on here and will answer questions by e-mail. If you are completely new to all things calculus and need a refresher in that, you might look into some TIA materials as they review a lot of that stuff.

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