Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Math Project Due Tomorrow

At the very moment of this writing, I am in the process of procrastinating and waiting until the very last minute until I complete my calc project. I must say, these past couple of weeks have been pretty draining on me. Term paper after term paper, exam after exam, traffic jams after traffic jams, scorching hot days after scorching hot days, etc.... But I've survived through all that thus far. Now, I'm on my last legs in this long marathon of my academic year. For this project, I have to write a paper about how I would operate my business. I have to incorporate 3 mathematical concepts/equations into my paper. I have chosen to incorporate price elasticity, definite integrals, and some form of probability into my paper. The paper is a minimum of 5 pages, single-spaced. I think I'll take a nap now and hopefully when I wake up I'll be able to perform during the strech run.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Probability Covered in my Business Calculus Class

So, we have finally reached the probabilities section in my Business Calculus class. I checked the textbook and found out that there are only two sections about probability. Obviously, that is not going to help me out for Exam P at all, but it's better than nothing. Before taking this course, the only thing I knew about probability was figuring out the odds of rolling a 3 on a 6 side dice. At least now I can delve deeper into the subject. The first section, 5.4, deals with fairly basic concepts of probability. It basically talks about the Probability Density Function and the rules that make up the function. We also learned how to construct a Probability Density Function and use it to solve certain problems.

In 5.5 we learned about the Expected Value of a function. We delved a little deeper into the subject by learning how to calculate the mean, variance, and standard deviation. I vaguely remember learning about this in a Statistics class I took during high school. But whatever I learned in that class has certainly gone by the wayside.

We also learned about the Normal Distribution in section 5.5. Overall, the concepts of probability we learned in this class seems pretty simple. Based on what I have seen so far in the ASM manual, this is the most basic of basic probability concepts. But since I was not all that familiar with probability in the first place, this is a great start for me. At least now I am more familiar with looking at probability notations that I have never previously seen before.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I was intending on declaring a math minor today. But it turns out that I'm missing one class that would allow me to declare: precalculus. PRECALCULUS! I'm already taking a business calculus course and now they said that the business calc course is different from their regular calc course, therefore I need to fulfill the precalc prerequisite. That is extremely frustrating. Now I'm debating whether I should take a precalc class over the summer or I should just self-study my way through the Actuarial exams. Without a math minor, I won't be able to take a lot of the classes that will help be become more familiar to the material on the exams. What a bummer.

Edit: I've just realized that I can take a placement test in order to become exempt from taking that class. I am definitely going to sit for that exam.

Friday, April 18, 2008

First Impressions of ASM Exam P Manual

I must admit, when I first started reviewing the ASM manual, I was slightly overwhelmed. I was unfamiliar with many of the subjects covered in the manual. Among the things that I did manage to recongize were the basic probability properties and double integrals. Needless to say I was intimidated and began having second thoughts about taking the test anytime soon. But I thought about it and realized that if I self study hard enough, I can pass it. I remember before I ever took a calculus class my perception of that subject was that it was the type of math I would most likely fail in should I ever enroll in the course. I enrolled in a Business Calculus course this past semester and I am on track to getting a B+ or A- grade range. That thought sort of eased my mind a bit.

Since I now know the type of studying I need to do, I may decide to take Exam P next May instead of this coming November. That may put a damper on my chances at landing an internship next summer but throwing away 175 dollars because I wasn't ready is not an appealing thought. Plus, many folks on the actuarial forums have said that they landed internships and even entry level jobs without passing an exam. But I'll deal with the internship thing a few months down the road. Right now I need to concentrate on brushing up my math and finishing out this semester strong in order to raise my gpa.

I found an online textbook about probabilities online in pdf format(legally I should add). Although this textbook won't be the key for me to pass Exam P, it will have me familiarize myself with probabilities. Currently, I only know a few concepts of Calculus-based probabilities. But since my calc class only covered probabilities in 2 sections, I'll need to study this textbook in order to learn more detailed concepts. I also found an online statistics textbook online(once again, legally). I won't be using this book quite as much as the first one but I'll definitely take a look at it once in a while as a supplement. I'm currently in the process of developing a study plan for the probabilities online textbook. There are 12 chapters with 3 sections in each chapter. I plan on reviewing 2 sections and complete their exercise questions per week during the summer. Hopefully I can stay on this schedule as I plan on taking 2 summer school classes as well as getting a summer job(maybe 2 jobs since I'm trying to land an apartment for fall semester).
Once my summer ends in August, I have around 2.5-3 months to study the ASM manual if I decide to sit for Exam P in November.

Well, that's that. Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My ASM Manual Just Arrived

Finally, the ASM Manual I ordered about a week ago has arrived. It doesn't look as thick as I expected it to be, but do not judge a book by its cover. There are tons of material in this manual I'll have to go over before the November testing period. It's a good thing I have so much time before testing because I anticipate a lot of potential distractions stemming from school, friends, family, work, etc.... Too bad they didn't make the manual spiral bound or else I wouldn't have to go out and get a binder or some loose rings to keep the manual together. Well, whatever the case, my studying period for Exam P has officially begun.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Future Plans

There are many things I have to take care of before I can become a full-time actuary. Right now I am honing my mathematical skills by taking math classes. In order to continue honing my math skills, I have decided to declare a minor in math (I am a finance major). Also, I will hopefully fulfill my VEE credits before I graduate since attaining a B- in a class is easier that taking exams. For those of you that do not know, SOA/CAS requires members to fulfill VEE credits in Economics, Applied Statistics, and Finance. The easiest way to get those credits is to take the classes at your university that is approved by SOA/CAS. The list of VEE approved courses is linked below.

I am planning on taking ExamP/1 in November 2008. Even though the 175 dollar fee is very pricey, I am willing to pay it. After getting opinions from posters on and, taking this test allow me to become more comfortable with the exam process. Plus, I have experience in calculus and with enough studying, I can definitely pass. As I have posted before, I have already ordered the ASM manual and it should be arriving at my home in a few days.

As far as the exam process as a whole, my personal goal is to complete at least 2-3 exams before I graduate sometime in 2010. If I fail Exam P in November, I can take it again in 2009 and I'm almost certain that I'll pass P before the end of 2009. Then Exam FM, from what I have heard, should not be a big problem, especially for a finance major like myself. I still have to study but it won't be as math heavy as Exam P.

During my remaining tenure in college, I'll be looking for extracurricular activities that will help gain a better understanding of the insurance/risk/actuarial industry. The newest chapter of the Gamma Iota Sigma fraternity has just formed at my school. Hopefully, enough student interest in the frat will exist in order to keep the frat around till next semester. I'll be looking into that frat since they can offer me amazing networking opportunities with industry leaders and students in the same field. I may also consider joining the Finance Association in order to gain a better understanding in the field of finance as a whole. These extracurricular activities will not only improve my resume, they will also improve me as a person and professional.

As far as internships go, I am gearing towards getting one for the summer of 2009. Hopefully by then, I can get 1, maybe even 2, exams under my belt. I've been reading around in forums about internships and many candidates that were accepted had only 1 and sometimes 0 exams under their belt. Thus, I hope that I can pass an exam or 2 in order to put myself in a better position in receiving an internship offer.

Once I graduate sometime in 2010, I may take a couple weeks off in order to rejuvenate myself and celebrate the end of my undergraduate academic career. I do not forsee myself attending graduate school. Once those two weeks are up, I'll be applying to different companies in search for an entry level job. Hopefully by then, I'll have 2-3 exams under my belt. I know this is kind of far into the future and many things can happen in two years. But imho, having goals will help keep myself more organized and motivated to accomplish what I need in order to become an actuary.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Actuarial Healing

Found a funny video on Youtube called "Actuarial Healing." Gotta love it when the actuary profession is being promoted.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Just Ordered the ASM Manual

I just ordered the ASM manual for Exam P a few minutes ago. It costs 84 dollars, which imho is quite pricey. I'm still deciding on whether or not I should take it later in the year or take it next year after I have taken a Probabilities class. I asked for some suggestions on and and the responses were mixed. Some believe that I should take it while others believe that I am still 1 year away from being ready for the test. Once the ASM book arrives I'll take a look at the material inside. At that point I will be in a better position to decide when I should take Exam P. Below is the link to where I purchased the ASM manual.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Math, Math, Some More Math

In the previous post I mentioned that I will be minoring in Mathematics. Currently, I am taking a course in Business Calculus. That course is a core requirement for the Business Department. Two of the core classes that a math minor at my university must take are Math 150A and Math 150B. The first class is basically Analytic Geometry while the second is a regular Calculus class. I believe that my current calc class can substitute for one of those classes. I'll have to check up on that with one of the math advisors. If I am able to skip one of those classes, I'll probably skip Math 150A. I've never been a big fan of geometry. Plus, it can't hurt to get some extra review in for Calculus right?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

No Actuarial Science Program? No Problem... I think

I was looking at all the majors that my university offered and voila, no Actuarial Science. But there is a "Actuary Program" offered by the Finance Department. The program basically suggests which classes to take. They also offer workshops that help you prepare for Exam P(CAS Exam 1) and a class that supposedly covers the topics from Exam FM(CAS Exam 2). My school's Actuary Program website recommended that students who are pursuing a career in Actuarial Science should either major in Mathematics or Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Mathematics minor. I have already declared my major as Business Administration and since I'm too lazy to switch majors, I'll just stick with that and declare a Finance concentration and Mathematics minor. Plus, even though I like math, I don't like it THAT much. Somehow the thought of taking a bunch of classes on math theory does not seem very appealing to me.

On a side note, I just found out that my school, California State University, Fullerton(CSUF for short), just formed the newest chapter of the Gamma Iota Sigma fraternity. This fraternity serves students who are interested in the insurance industry, risk management, actuarial science, etc.... If this frat survives till the next semester, I will definetely check them out. It would provide me a great avenue in networking with people in the actuarial field and fellow students who are pursuing an actuarial career.

Friday, April 4, 2008

So...What is an Actuary?

In the previous entry I mentioned that when family and friends come up to me and ask me what an actuary is, I often have trouble giving them a good answer. In order to prevent that from happening again, why not get the definition straight from the horse's mouth?

According to the SOA(Society of Actuaries),:
An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those of concern to insurance and pension programs. They evaluate the likelihood of those events, design creative ways to reduce the likelihood and decrease the impact of adverse events that actually do occur.

Actuaries are an important part of the management team of the companies that employ them. Their work requires a combination of strong analytical skills, business knowledge and understanding of human behavior to design and manage programs that control risk.

SOA members work in life insurance, retirement systems, health benefit systems, financial and investment management and other emerging areas of practice. The majority of actuaries work within the insurance industry, although a growing number of actuaries work in other fields.

Hmmm... that actually is a very cool sounding definition. Unfortunately I can't copy/paste definitions when I'm talking to someone in real life. I highlighted that part of the description because I currently plan on working in the health or pension system. Therefore, a future in the SOA is certainly very possible.

According to the CAS(Casualty Actuary Society):
Actuaries evaluate the financial impact of current economic, legal, and social trends on future events. The accurate and responsible matching of risk to price is the foundation upon which the financial integrity of the actuary's company or client rests. For these reasons, actuaries are known for their scientific approach and demanding standards.

Because human events and their financial implications occur over long periods of time, an actuary is a researcher, a planner, and a decision maker. He or she is a specialist in the business world, and may be knowledgeable as well in a number of other disciplines, such as economics, law, health, and finance.

The Casualty Actuarial Society is a professional organization whose purpose is the advancement of the body of knowledge of actuarial science applied to property, casualty, and similar risk exposures. This is accomplished through communicating with the publics affected by insurance as well as presenting and discussing papers, attending seminars and workshops, conducting research, and maintaining a comprehensive library collection.

The CAS obviously offers a similar definition to the SOA. The bolded area highlights the type of fields the CAS covers. Currently I do not see myself having an interest in property or casualty fields, most namely casualty.
Below is a video that tries to explain what an actuary is

So, to sum it all up, an actuary is a professional who uses mathematic applications, statistics, and analytic skills in order to forecast future events for insurance, pension, and other business entities. Hope that little snippet of a definition is accurate.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

First Entry

This blog was created in order to keep me organized and focused as I start the process of becoming an actuary. I'll be making entries about the schoolwork/exams/studies that relate to me working towards my goal of becoming an actuary. Sometimes I may blab on about random stuff because I'm bored. Other students who are also working towards an actuarial career can hopefully gain or share some information from this blog. Any current or retired actuaries who read this site and maybe give pointers in the comments section will be greatly appreciated. So, a little bit about myself. I am currently a sophmore in college and thus I am a true newbie in the actuarial field. To be honest I do not know too much about this profession other than some basic facts. When friends and family ask me what I plan on doing for a living after I graduate from college, I always have a hard time explaining to them what an actuary is. I normally just say that actuaries analyzes risk and often work in the insurance industry. A common response to that would be " so kind of like an accountant right?" Since I'm too lazy to say anything else, I tell them that they are correct. One of these days I am definetely going to have to find a better definition of an actuary in order to better answer other people's inquiries about my future plans.

So, why do I want to be an actuary. Well, from the top of my head, there are a couple of reasons why I chose to pursue this profession:
1. I do not want to be stuck in a job that makes me miserable, regardless of the monetary rewards. I used to never understand the old saying "money does not equal to happiness." I used to think that if I was filthy rich it would wash away all my problems and I would become the happiest man alive. Well, all that came crashing down when I got my first job as an Administrative Assistant for a small corporation that teaches students in multiple academic subjects from SAT I/II to third grade writing classes.(yes there are male Administrative Assistants, and no I am not gay). I thought the job only consisted of grading paper, taking attendance, and calling parents if their child was absent. I was right, sort of. Just add to that dealing with difficult/anal teachers, rude parents, horrible and spoiled children, some fiesty coworkers, and a boss that is constantly on your case. The money wasn't all that great either as it was just above the minimum wage. Now I understand that all jobs have their stressors and that there are no such things as "easy" jobs, but if I get to have a stressful job but do something I do not hate, then I'd be content. I've always been quite fond of mathematics. Academically, for me, there is nothing greater than solving a challenging math problem(sounds nerdy, huh). Plus many job surveys done by the likes of Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report have ranked actuary quite high in terms of the best jobs.
2. One of my goals in life is to attain financial independence by age 40.Now I know I said money is not the most important thing in life, but it sure is ONE of the most important. Imagine being content/happy with your job AND being paid a nice salary for it. In the words of Kanye West, "Welcome to the good life."