Coordinating the Actuarial Exam Process
Michael Chen

Coordinating the Actuarial Exam Process

Michael Chen December 13, 2018 Posted in: Blog Posts, General, Community Involvement

I recently had the good fortune to become Exam Coordinator for Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. At Pinnacle, the Exam Coordinator is part administrator, part mentor and part cheerleader. In this role, I have the opportunity to be involved with 30 of my exam-taking colleagues as they navigate their way toward becoming credentialed actuaries.

In my head, I feel like I’m not that far removed from taking actuarial exams. But having passed my last one in the fall of 2008, I realize those days are well behind me. As I think back on the exam process, I actually have fond memories. The years I spent studying for and taking exams were the best time I never want to have again. Few experiences in life compare to the sense of accomplishment in passing an exam for which you have spent 350+ hours studying. Taking actuarial exams can be intense, monotonous, frustrating, humbling and rewarding all at once.

As Pinnacle’s Exam Coordinator, I’ve had to learn/relearn a few things about the actuarial examination process:

  1. There are a lot of exams, with all sorts of new names. While they are similar to the ones I took, between their frequency, online availability, the changes in study materials and how results are released, it definitely doesn’t feel like we’re in Kansas anymore.
  2. Historically, approximately 40% of exam-takers pass an exam in any one sitting. While as a company, we strive to better the historical passing average, statistically, the exam process can be a proverbial gut punch for students.
  3. Balancing work, family, friends, life and studying remains extremely difficult. With the joy of every marriage, new baby and move comes the realization of having yet another ball in the air. Taking actuarial exams is a true commitment, and I am fortunate to work with so many dedicated colleagues.   

Pinnacle recently had the privilege to witness two analysts become newly-credentialed actuaries. I was fortunate to spend a little time with both of our new Associates, Christina Negley and Jordan Paszek, in Las Vegas, where they were recognized at the 2018 Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Annual Meeting. As a firm, we endeavor to provide students the correct tools (study time, materials, space and exam incentives) for successful exam sittings. Nevertheless, we recognize it’s the students who do the actual studying, and becoming a credentialed actuary is a major accomplishment!

Michael Chen is a Consulting Actuary with Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa and has 14 years of actuarial experience in the property/casualty insurance industry. He has considerable experience in predictive analytics, ratemaking for private passenger automobile, homeowners and commercial insurance, as well as reserving, reinsurance pricing and catastrophe modeling. Michael currently serves as a member of the CAS Examination Committee and the Committee on Professionalism Education. He is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society, a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries and a Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics.

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