tips on actuarial exam/profession

I’m a college junior with about two and a half years left before graduating with a computer science degree. Computer science really isn’t my thing, though I have no plans to change my major - I’ve taken quite a liking to economics and, more recently, mathematics.

I should like to know what sort of preparation would be necessary for me to take - and pass - the first actuarial exam. Courses in multivariate calculus and linear algebra are given (a long summer it’s been with that latter, too). Will spending lots of spare time working out problems be helpful? Anything in particular I should(n’t) focus on?

What about probability? I’ve taken two stats classes, and in the spring will be able to take a first formal probability course. Will that be sufficient? Should I plan to take more courses before I’d be able to pass the first test, or can I learn from books?

I’d appreciate any tips at all, really, concerning the first two exams and where to go to find some meatier info about the profession. doesn’t seem to give all the facts, and is very … propagandistic.

I’m not an actuary but work in the actuarial department of a property/casualty insurance company. I asked one of our actuarial students to address your questions. Here’s what she has to say.

I graduated in 1993 with a BS in Statistics and Actuarial Science. I passed the 1st exam: Calculus and Linear Algebra. I decide that studying for and taking exams wasn’t something I wanted to do for the next 10 - 15 years of my life so changed careers. I remember that the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society published study guides for each exam. I stronglt reconmmend getting a hold of these. Secondly, study courses for the exams are also offered in many areas. I’m not sure where you live but if you’re near any cities, they should be easy to find. Find out the location of where the tests are administered near you. Course information should be available there. But most importantly, study, study, study!

The Society of Actuaries should have all the stuff, including syllabi (?) and materials. So the books that the tests are based on, etc., should be available on that site. Please note that there appears to be some sort of syllabus change starting in 2005 that you may want to know about.

Probably the best thing, if you haven’t done this already, is to talk to whomever is the advisor to the actuarial program at your school. If you don’t know, the SOA should have a listing of school contacts.

I agree with what has already been said. The Society of Actuaries site will have lots of information on the various syllabuses and examinations. I’d recommend that you get in touch with them. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you and provide you with copies of previous years’ exam papers so that you can judge which subject you should attempt first.

Good luck Cheese Monster. I am sure that you will find the actuarial profession a stimulating and rewarding career, as indeed have I.

Oh, yes indeed. One should be able to download them right from the site, IIRC.

I just wanted to correct an error of mine: The syllabi (?) will list the books, I don’t know if it offers them for sale.