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Thread: Actuary Exams by self study

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Actuary Exams by self study

    Hello,

    I am changing careers and plan on taking an exam or two in May and would like to achieve this by putting myself through a self-study course. I was wondering if there are people out there who have successfully done so and if you would recommend that or not? It has been a while since I have taken calculus so my plan is to focus on the FM exam, pass that, and then worry about the calculus/probability portion. Is this doable? Please respond, thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by scine20
    Hello,

    I am changing careers and plan on taking an exam or two in May and would like to achieve this by putting myself through a self-study course. I was wondering if there are people out there who have successfully done so and if you would recommend that or not? It has been a while since I have taken calculus so my plan is to focus on the FM exam, pass that, and then worry about the calculus/probability portion. Is this doable? Please respond, thanks
    Aside from Course 1 (which is most like Exam P), I did not have any classes or review seminars to help me out with exams. I passed Courses 2, 4 and Exam M without additional classes relating to the information (although, I did take a microecon class prior to Course 2, which accounted for about 1/4 of Course 2).

    It's very possible to self-study for these exams - you just have to have the commitment and the determination to get through these exams.

  3. #3
    You spam? I ban! Irish Blues's Avatar
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    I self-studied 1 and 2 under the old system. With 2 being just interest theory now, I think it's easier to self-study for 2 now. 1 is pure probability, IMO if you've had a solid class in intro probability you should have most everything you need - you'll just need to add a few of the distributions that aren't usually taught. Get those, you should be set.

    In theory, you could self-study for every exam, but with 3/C and 4/M it gets *much* more difficult. Having some exposure to these concepts in live work is a big help, then when you read about losses limited to $100K and why Pareto distributions have means greater than the median, it's not just a bunch of words in a book.

  4. #4
    Author, Instuctor and Seminar Provider krzysio's Avatar
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    Commitment

    Quote Originally Posted by wat
    It's very possible to self-study for these exams - you just have to have the commitment and the determination to get through these exams.
    I agree. But commitment is the key. If you study on your own, you must have a study plan, study routine, and make certain that you do at least the following:
    - Cover all of the material on the test,
    - Devote at least 300 hours to P, 250 hours to FM, 400 hours to M and 400 hours to C,
    - Take practice tests in a real-exam-like setting.

    Commitment. The difference between commitment and involvement is shown in the difference in attitudes of the chicken and the pig to your meal when you have ham and eggs for breakfast. The chicken was involved in your meal, while the pig was truly committed to it.

    But then again, some of us study for you (we really ought to be committed, I mean that in every possible way) and prepare study manuals, seminars, etc., so that you will not have to do so much work.

    Yours,
    Krzys'
    Want to know how to pass actuarial exams? Go to: smartURL.it/pass

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by krzysio
    <snip>
    - Cover all of the material on the test,
    - Devote at least 300 hours to P, 250 hours to FM, 400 hours to M and 400 hours to C,
    <snip>
    Yours,
    Krzys'
    What is included in the hours and what is not included?

    I understand that solving problems for exercise is included. What about the time spent on refreshing theory? University courses?

    I spent about 70-80 hours this summer on probability exercises. At first solved 1-2 problems per day. Can do them now, but it takes about 15 to 20 minutes per problem.

    I took exam, to see what is it, but had no time even to read all problems. Wrote answers for 16 questions, browsed a couple of other questions without attempting to solve them, but did not even glance on the other 12. I received 2, so, probably did not answer right even to all the 16 questions.

    Looks as I simply have to exercise 220-230 hours more to pick up speed.

    I also spent something like 50 hours on reading theory this summer. 120-130 hours total. Still have fighting chances to pick up the speed after another 170-180 hours of exercises.

    However, I had 2 semesters of probability in university, plus semester of theory of queues. According to my transcript, 72+64+72=208 hours. If these 200+ hours ought to be included in the 300 hours total, probably it would better for me to do something more simple.

    I graduated in 1973, and seldom used probability since. Never used it during the last 10 years.
    Last edited by yurakm; November 21st 2005 at 08:47 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by yurakm
    What is included in the hours and what is not included?

    I understand that solving problems for exercise is included. What about the time spent on refreshing theory? University courses?

    I spent about 70-80 hours this summer on probability exercises. At first solved 1-2 problems per day. Can do them now, but it takes about 15 to 20 minutes per problem.

    I took exam, to see what is it, but had no time even to read all problems. Wrote answers for 16 questions, browsed a couple of other questions without attempting to solve them, but did not even glance on the other 12. I received 2, so, probably did not answer right even to all the 16 questions.

    Looks as I simply have to exercise 220-230 hours more to pick up speed.

    I also spent something like 50 hours on reading theory this summer. 120-130 hours total. Still have fighting chances to pick up the speed after another 170-180 hours of exercises.

    However, I had 2 semesters of probability in university, plus semester of theory of queues. According to my transcript, 72+64+72=208 hours. If these 200+ hours ought to be included in the 300 hours total, probably it would better for me to do something more simple.

    I graduated in 1973, and seldom used probability since. Never used it during the last 10 years.
    Don't get disheartened. These hours don't apply to everybody. Think of people who take these exams multiple times and put in the 100 hours per hour of exam each time they take the exam. However, they didn't give up, and they do pass the exam. Just because it may have taken a little longer to understand this exam for you (and I'm not sure all 200 hours of class is applicable to Exam P), doesn't mean you won't be able to handle the later exam material.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wat
    Don't get disheartened. These hours don't apply to everybody. Think of people who take these exams multiple times and put in the 100 hours per hour of exam each time they take the exam. However, they didn't give up, and they do pass the exam. Just because it may have taken a little longer to understand this exam for you (and I'm not sure all 200 hours of class is applicable to Exam P), doesn't mean you won't be able to handle the later exam material.
    1. You answered my question. If "exam retakers" put in the 100 hours per hour of exam each time they take the exam, university courses taken 33 years ago do not count. Thank you very much!

    2. Concerning not sure all 200 hours of class is applicable to Exam P:

    Theory of queues, most likely, is not applicabble. It had almost nothing common with exam P.

    The 136 hours of probability theory definitely are applicable. As well as I remember after the 33 years, the curriculum differs from the requirements of exam P only in three aspects:

    - Calculators were not available in 1971-72. The Stirling formula was used instead for calculations involving factorials, combinations, etc.

    - Moment generation functions were not taught. Or at least were not emphasised - I cannot be sure after the 33 years. Instead of them we used characteristic functions. Fourier transforms instead of two-sided Laplace transforms, if you prefer.

    - Some distributions, e.g. Weibull, were not taught. Or I do not remember them to be taught.

    3. Concerning Don't get disheartened. ... Just because it may have taken a little longer to understand this exam for you ... doesn't mean you won't be able to handle the later exam material.

    Thank you for encouragement!

    I am 54. After graduating in 1973, i.e. 32 years ago aleady, I mostly worked as a scientific programmer.,

    I understand that I can improve my speed by doing enough exercises, and that it is necessary to pass the exam. I am not sure, though, that to proceed with actuarial self-study would be the best investment of time, given my age and the alternative professional opportunities...
    Last edited by yurakm; November 24th 2005 at 09:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    I try not to discourage anyone from entering the field - I may be turning away someone that may impact/revolutionize the field, and that would be a disservice to the profession.

    Quote Originally Posted by yurakm
    I am 54. After graduating in 1973, i.e. 32 years ago aleady, I mostly worked as a scientific programmer.,

    I understand that I can improve my speed by doing enough exercises, and that it is necessary to pass the exam. I am not sure, though, that to proceed with actuarial self-study would be the best investment of time, given my age and the alternative professional opportunities...
    By all means, I wish you luck through the exams, but I'd also have to say that sometimes, these exams take a while. A good estimate would probably be from 4-8 years.

    It is ultimately your decision as to whether you will be able to work in an entry-level type position for that period of time, since that is usually the type of work a person with your experience may do.

    Especially considering your extensive expertise and experience in a virtually unrelated field, I don't know that starting an actuarial career is the best thing. But, and this is the main point, if you feel you can do it, I wish you nothing but the best of luck. I can sit here and tell you the exams are challenging, but why not try one or two and see how it goes from there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wat
    I can ... tell you the exams are challenging, but why not try one or two and see how it goes from there.
    Refreshing theory of probability would be useful in my current line of work too, so it is a win/win decision.

    considering your extensive expertise and experience in a virtually unrelated field, I don't know that starting an actuarial career is the best thing.
    I like tinkering with combinations of hard mathematics and softer sciences like economics. This is why I became interested in your profession after learning this spring about it.

    I am not sure, either, that all my experience is in virtually unrelated field. For 5.5. years I did data processing for epidemiology, followed by 8 years of data processing supporting researches in economics. For 8 years I was a scientific researcher in economics and/or in mathematical methods in economics. Developed models, numerical techniques to solve models, and the relevant computer codes. My MS is in mathematics, and PhD is in economics.

    I never worked in industry, however, only in academia. Must be a huge difference in reliability. With a single exception, I worked with deterministic models only. And, most important, it looks as the barriers to entry in the actuarial field are too high, after taking my age in account.

    these exams take a while. A good estimate would probably be from 4-8 years.

    It is ultimately your decision as to whether you will be able to work in an entry-level type position for that period of time, since that is usually the type of work a person with your experience may do.
    The problem is not so much in working in an entry-level type position 4-8 years, as in what happens next. I will be 60 or so. It looks like not enough productive time will be left to accomplish anything substantial.

    It is a pity, though, that I did not learn about actuarial profession years ago.

  10. #10
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    I have a question

    I have a question. It is my first time to take the exam; I want to take the first one. But I don't know which study guide to buy and from where? Can someone recommend to me any specific guide?

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