Huntington, Ind.—Kevin Keller, a senior at Huntington University, passed his actuarial exam in the spring of 2007 with a score of nine out of 10.
The test has an emphasis on calculus, mathematical statistics and probability. With a score of nine, Keller, a mathematics major from Strasburg, Pa., exceeded the minimum passing score of six. The Society of Actuaries allows only 30-40 percent of test takers to pass to keep the demand for actuaries high.
An actuary is a businessperson who uses mathematics and statistics to study the likelihood of uncertain events, as well as how to reduce the risk of those future events. A majority of actuaries work in the insurance industry.
Keller prepared for the exam through math courses he took at Huntington, as well as an independent study sponsored by Dr. Francis Jones, professor of mathematical sciences. Using the ACTEX study manual, Jones and Keller met one to two times a week to work through practice problems. A major part of the preparation was solving the problems in actuarial time.
“I studied 10-15 hours a week for the exam, about 175 hours give or take a few. I probably could have studied a little less, but I did not want to fail, and I did not know what to expect,” said Keller. “Dr. Jones was very able to help me in my preparation. I would meet with him, typically with two or three problems I could not figure out, and we would work through them. We wouldn't always make actuarial exam time -- they often took 45 minutes -- but we always figured them out, which was so helpful.”
Keller has passed the first exam in a series of nine. All actuaries must pass the first test; however, with more exams passed, the more actuaries can move up in their careers. Passing seven exams gives an actuary the title of associate.
As a senior, Keller hopes that this will help him in obtaining a job this spring after graduation. While an impressive score is beneficial for his résumé, most companies are just looking for someone to pass, Keller said. But with a second exam passed, he is almost guaranteed a job, based on the high demand for actuaries, he explained.
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