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Thread: advice please

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Question advice please

    hi guys, i'm a guy who very interest in math since i was little. i recently decided to pursuit a career in acturial indutry. as a very beginner for acturial study i start from the very beginning from the long path challenge. exam P will be my first step of this long journey. i've done some research on internet by myself and have some basic ideas about the process that i will be going thru as i move on towards my destination. i would like all you experts here to provide me some kindly advices to help me get this started in the most efficient way. here are some textbooks recommanded by www.soa.org :

    * A First Course in Probability (Sixth Edition), 2001, by Ross, S.M., Chapters 1–8.
    * Fundamentals of Probability (Third Edition), 2005, by Ghahramani, S., Chapters 1–11.
    * John E. Freund’s Mathematical Statistics with Applications (Seventh Edition), 2004, by Miller, I., Miller, M., Chapters 1-8.
    * Mathematical Statistics with Applications (Sixth Edition), 2002, by Wackerly, D., Mendenhall III, W. Scheaffer, R., Chapters 1-7.
    * Probability for Risk Management, 1999, by Hassett, M. and Stewart, D., Chapters 1–11.
    * Probability: The Science of Uncertainty with Applications to Investments, Insurance and Engineering 2001, by Bean, M.A., Chapters 1–9.

    and i have found every single of them on amazon.com. as soa.org suggested that no single book from above will cover the exam thuroughly and more variety of reading is encouraged. now the question to me is what is the best combination of reading that can maximize the coverage of exam and minimize the chance having too many books with duplicated stuff (all those books are not cheap $$$). also besides those books are there any materials i would be helpful to me. i have a BA degree on Business and Economics. i did not have too many math in college. i had entry level algebra, calculas and stats as requirement for my major and i did well at all of them. i'm not afraid of math at all, in fact, i enjoy the process solving math problems. what i'm trying to say is that i don't have problems to teach myself some math i did not learn beforce if i have a good textbook on my hand.

    if any experts here can give me some helps regarding my issue i would really appreciate it.

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Nicky,

    A few thoughts in no particular order-

    1) You definitely do NOT need all the texts recommended by the SOA. I would say one of those books plus a decent study manual like Actex/Temple should be sufficient.

    2) What exactly is your math background in terms of specific courses in college? Did you have a 3 semester calculus sequence? How abt a calculus based probability classwhich covers discrete distributions (Binomial, Poisson, Negative Binomial) and continuous distributions (Uniform, exponential, gamma, normal, lognormal etc).

    3) Do you understand the difficulty level of these exams? Most of the students appearing for the exam are very serious math majors, yet only 35-40% pass every sitting. You might fail more often than you imagine! Good luck in your studies.
    Last edited by magic; June 17th 2005 at 02:56 PM.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=magic]
    2) What exactly is your math background in terms of specific courses in college? Did you have a 3 semester calculus sequence? How abt a calculus based probability classwhich covers discrete distributions (Binomial, Poisson, Negative Binomial) and continuous distributions (Uniform, exponential, gamma, normal, lognormal etc).
    [QUOTE]

    as far as my math background, i only had entry level calculus which is a one-semester period course. we may consider that as calculus 1. i did not take calculus 2, 3 nor nothing further. so to what you have mentioned as discrete distribution, frankly speaking, i don't have any knowledge about them. well, you may start laughing at me since i don't have a strong math background and dreaming about passing acturial exams. but i well prepared myself for this challenge and ready to study all this from every scrath. i believe that the problem with me right now is lack of basic. are all those books that recommanded by SOA.org assuming the reader have full knowlege of discrete distribution or they do teach us from the basic formula? please give me some advice regarding where should i start from and thx for your reply.

  4. #4
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    Nicky,

    I like your determination. Just to clarify, I dont believe in "laughing" at others. A few more thoughts for ya-

    1) Its hard to say how much math you need. I've seen math majors in their senior year failing this test and econ majors with just a single semester of calculus passing it. It can be done. I hope you know that they've taken calculus off the test. Personally, I think what you need is "mathematical maturity" and the quickest way to develop it is the calculus sequence.

    2) The courses I mentioned (calculus based probability) will give you a huge advantage if you've taken them already; but that does not mean you cannot self study. Again, teaching yourself the material is a function of your intelligence, determination and mathematical maturity.

    3) For what its worth, I'm a non math major and had to learn the material from scratch. Fortunately, I had a great instructor. See if you can audit a class at your local university. You'll learn much faster that way.

    4) Well, most books recommended by the SOA start off on an advanced level. The only exception is Hassett and Stewart. This starts at a very basic level. The one problem with this text is that the problems are way too easy (compared to actual SOA problems).

    5) Good luck.
    Last edited by magic; June 17th 2005 at 05:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Author, Instuctor and Seminar Provider krzysio's Avatar
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    ASM Manual

    Dear Nickye:

    If you get the ASM manual I wrote: www.studymanuals.com/exam1.htm
    and study it thoroughly, you will learn everything that can be on the exam,
    and everything is explained in it, you can actually treat it as your textbook,
    it does not assume anything but calculus. But I am a bit worried about your
    calculus background -- you will struggle with some things, especially
    multivariate distributions. You do need to study all of calculus.

    I offer an intensive review with a practice exam for Course P:
    http://www.math.ilstu.edu/actuary/prepcourses.html
    and if you come to it, you can bring all of your questions. You will
    get a pretty challenging practice exam in it.

    Yours,
    Krzys' Ostaszewski


    [QUOTE=nickye][QUOTE=magic]
    2) What exactly is your math background in terms of specific courses in college? Did you have a 3 semester calculus sequence? How abt a calculus based probability classwhich covers discrete distributions (Binomial, Poisson, Negative Binomial) and continuous distributions (Uniform, exponential, gamma, normal, lognormal etc).

    as far as my math background, i only had entry level calculus which is a one-semester period course. we may consider that as calculus 1. i did not take calculus 2, 3 nor nothing further. so to what you have mentioned as discrete distribution, frankly speaking, i don't have any knowledge about them. well, you may start laughing at me since i don't have a strong math background and dreaming about passing acturial exams. but i well prepared myself for this challenge and ready to study all this from every scrath. i believe that the problem with me right now is lack of basic. are all those books that recommanded by SOA.org assuming the reader have full knowlege of discrete distribution or they do teach us from the basic formula? please give me some advice regarding where should i start from and thx for your reply.
    Want to know how to pass actuarial exams? Go to: smartURL.it/pass

  6. #6
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    first, great thanks to you all.
    i just pick up some probability book and went thru couple of chapters. i do realize that the lack of calculus background hurt me a lot on understanding probability theories. for right now, i think it's better for me just put probability aside and get thru the calculus part thuroughly first. i just dig out couple of math book from my old college book packs and review them from the very beginnig. i think this is something i can not rush for and i'll just take my time to do it step by step... well, i really appreciate all your helps.. at least now i know where i should start from...hopefully i can crack it math thing down in a month or two...

  7. #7
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    Arrow I am in Nick's Shoes as well

    Hi,

    I am also like Nick in the fact that I am studying from scratch for the exam this September. I have put the probability books aside and have begun to go through the calculus I missed in college. I was told by someone that a good and thorough understanding of these following calculus concepts were needed to understand the probability problems that involve calculus on the first exam.

    Limits
    Continuity
    Differentiation
    Integrals

    Is there anything I am missing? How much understanding of Integrals will I need?
    Do I need to know differentiation and integration techniques for Trigonometric functions?

    I have about 250 hours of study time before this exam? Do you all think that will be enough?

    One point in closing….

    If there are any working actuaries who read this, how much calculus do you use on your job? Is it worth my while to finish the calculus sequence by taking college courses?

    Thanks for everybody who takes the time to read and respond to this. I appreciate it.

    -JohnB

  8. #8
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    Well here's my input ...

    As far as college courses go, I was a Computer Science major but you just wouldn't believe the math they make you take ^ ^ I had three semesters of calculus and I had a probability/statistics course.

    Honestly, I believe that the material that's covered on Exam P can be mastered if you:

    A. Have had calculus courses that cover up to integration (usually this is two semesters - the third isn't necessary IMHO).

    B. Have had a course in probability (either intro or, preferably, calculus based)

    As for what to use for study material, I totally recommend the BPP text. www.bpptraining.com But again, that's just my opinion

    And honestly, this is how I did it, but I haven't gotten my exam results back yet (we get them today) so who knows if this will work or not.

  9. #9
    Actuary.com - Level III Poster
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    If you need a calc textbook or a stats book, I can sell you mine for a lot cheaper than what you'd pay on amazon. Just let me know if I can help you out.
    -Calculus, Early Transcendentals 4th Edition, James Stewart (used this book for Calc I, II, and Multivariate)
    -A First Course In Probability, Sixth Edition (Covers most of Exam P material)

    philipn@student.umass.edu

  10. #10
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Science requirement

    Hi everyone, I have a quick question to ask about the science requirements. My college makes us take 6 credits of science. I was told it was recommended that I take physics with calculus. Will I need it for the first exam, if at all?? Is it enough if I just do calc 1 - 3 and statistics? Is Differential Eq's required for the first exam? Is it okay if I just take any other science just to complete the 6 credits if I can't take the physics with calculus? Does it matter which science I take?

    Thanks!

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