What is Actuarial Science?

Actuarial science is a discipline that assesses financial risks in the insurance and finance fields, using mathematical and statistical methods. Actuarial science applies the mathematics of probability and statistics to define, analyze, and solve the financial implications of uncertain future events. Actuaries primarily work in quantitative business roles related to risk management, insurance, consulting, analytics, and finance.

“Risk comes in many forms. Everybody and every organization faces risk. 

Actuary is who measure and managing risk"

Got Skills?

Actuaries bring a special set of skills to their work:

  • Specialized math knowledge

    • Calculus, statistics, probability

  • Keen analytical, project management, and problem-solving skills

  • Good business sense

    • Finance, accounting, economics

  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills

  • Strong computer skills

    • Formulating spreadsheets, statistical analysis programs, database manipulation, programming languages

    • Recommended Programming Languages: SQL, Excel VBA, R, SAS, Python/C++


Actuaries are talented professionals, with personal characteristics such as:

  • Self-motivation

  • Creativity

  • Independence

  • Ambition

  • A solution-oriented and goal-oriented person

  • A detail-oriented person

  • Ability to work hard and face challenges

  • Ability to work in team

  • Strong work ethic

Exam Prep

  • Actuarial exams are a series of tests outside of college or university curriculum, aimed at aspiring actuaries. As an actuary, these exams bring you to speed with your expected role in the profession – remember it?

  • The actuarial credentialing and exam process usually requires passing a rigorous series of professional examinations, often taking several years, before one can become recognized as a credentialed actuary.

  • Actuarial exams are not easy, these tests are the toughest you’ll ever meet. The percentage of people who pass is usually less than 50%. So, buckle up.

  • Passing the actuary exams requires many hours of dedicated study time with the right resources for your learning style. For first-time actuarial exam takers, preparing can be very challenging. In case you fail, you still have a chance of attempting a particular exam over and over until you attain the required pass mark. You can start attempting these exams while still in college. You’ll have a higher likelihood of landing an internship and full-time job that way.

These preliminary exams are the common foundation for becoming an actuary. 

  1. Probability Exam (SOA Exam P or CAS Exam 1). The exam consists of three hours of multiple-choice questions. The purpose of this exam is to develop knowledge of probability. The application of these tools to problems encountered by actuaries is emphasized. A thorough command of calculus and probability topics is assumed. Additionally, a very basic knowledge of insurance and risk management is assumed.

  2. Financial Mathematics Exam (SOA Exam FM or CAS Exam 2). The exam consists of three hours of multiple-choice questions. This exam covers interest theory (discrete and continuous) and an introduction to derivative securities. It assumes a basic knowledge of calculus and probability.

  3. Investment and Financial Markets (SOA Exam IFM or CAS Exam 3F). The exam consists of three hours of multiple-choice questions. The syllabus for Exam IFM develops the candidate's knowledge of the theoretical basis of corporate finance and financial models and the application of those models to insurance and other financial risks. A thorough knowledge of calculus, probability (as covered in Exam P), basic corporate finance (as covered in VEE Accounting and Corporate Finance), and interest theory (as covered in Exam FM) is assumed.

Society of Actuaries vs. Casualty Actuarial Society 

Helpful Links

Actuarial Societies

Requirements of professional societies

Exam Preparation

  • The Infinite Actuary (TIA): online seminar – videos for each lesson; instructors can answer your questions; includes lots of practice problems.

  • Coaching Actuaries: online seminar – videos for each lesson; instructors can answer your questions; include ADAPT for practice problems.

  • ACTEX: study manual – it goes in-depth into all the necessary Exam P topics; its got a calculus and algebra review at the beginning; its budget friendly; it’s got lots of practice problems and is clearly written.

  • ASM: study manual - it’s best for people with more background knowledge of the syllabus; it’s probably the quickest study guide to get through; clear and concise; it’s got lots of practice problems.

  • Actuarial Outpost - forum to share materials, experiences and exam discussion.

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