Most candidates for Associateship in the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society pass a series of examinations and complete approved college classes and online courses.  The Society of Actuaries currently administers a series of  5 Preliminary Exams, which are presented in the table below.  (Changes that are coming in 2018 are included in this discussion.)  You can use SoA exams P, FM, MFE and C to meet the exam part of the Casualty Actuarial Society‘s Basic Education Requirements, so there is no pressure to make an early decision on which route (SoA or CAS) you wish to follow.  If you choose to go the CAS route, you will pass 3 additional exams, including an exam on Statistics and Probabilistic Models (Exam S), en route to Associateship.  

See our VEE Courses page for more information on the classes you should try to take at UNC in order to fulfill the Validation by Educational Experience requirement.

Typically you would not complete the online courses until after you graduate, so they are not addressed here.  These courses involve written assessments or computer-based tests.

Try to pass a couple of exams before you graduate.  They can be taken multiple times.  Exam calendars are available on the SoA and CAS websites.  CASO has a limited supply of study manuals that it lends to students in preparation for exams.  See our Study Materials page for more information.


SoA Preliminary ExamsCAS Basic Education Exams
Probability Exam (Exam P)Probability Exam (Exam 1)
Financial Mathematics (Exam FM)Financial Mathematics (Exam 2)
Actuarial Models - Financial Economics (MFE)Models for Financial Economics (3F)
Actuarial Models - Life Contingencies (MLC)Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (Exam 4)
Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (Exam C)

The Society of Actuaries has approved curriculum changes that will take effect in 2018.  They include the addition of two exams devoted to predictive analytics education.  Exam SRM (Statistics for Risk Modeling) will provide the transition from mathematical statistics to predictive analytics and its applications.  On a Predictive Analytics Exam, candidates will use computer packages to analyze data sets and communicate their findings.  For information on transition rules, see the Society of Actuaries’ Curriculum Changes Transition Rules.


Probability Exam (SOA Exam P)

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. ~ BeAnActuary.org

This is often the first exam taken by prospective actuaries.  It is a 3-hour computer-based exam with a fee of $225.  STOR 435 provides a great background for this exam, though we recommend that students also study for the exam outside of class.  This exam is offered six times a year.

Financial Mathematics Exam (SOA Exam FM)

The exam consists of three hours of multiple-choice questions. The goal is to provide an understanding of the fundamental concepts of financial mathematics and how those concepts are applied in calculating present and accumulated values for various streams of cash flows.   It assumes a basic knowledge of calculus and probability.  

This is often the second exam taken by prospective actuaries.  Some of the material covered by this exam is included in STOR 471.  This exam is offered six times a year.

Further Exams 

Many students wish to take more than two actuarial exams before graduating; most of these students take either MLC or MFE as their third exam, though Exam C and CAS Exam S are also options.  Descriptions of these exams can be found at BeAnActuary.org.  Note that the MLC exam now includes a written answer portion.  As a part of the Society of Actuaries’ 2018 curriculum changes, Exam MFE will be replaced by an Investments and Financial Markets Exam, Exam MLC  by a Long-Term Actuarial Models Exam, and Exam C by a Short-Term Actuarial Models Exam.

Registering for Exams

Registration for the SoA exams can now be done online at SOA.org.  The closest testing centers to Chapel Hill are in Raleigh (~27 miles) and Greensboro (~44 miles).  Because many students take exams around the same time, we have set up a Google Doc that students can use to coordinate study groups.

Exam Fee Reimbursement/Reductions

Diversity students – African American, Hispanic, or Native North American – who pass the Probability exam and/or the Financial Mathematics exam will be reimbursed for the fees for the passed exams.  Reduced examination fees are also available to eligible candidates of qualified countries.  Here is more information on the Diversity Exam Reimbursement Program and on the International Exam Fee Discount Program.

For undergraduate MDS majors who pass Exam P but do not qualify as a Diversity student, the UNC Statistics and Operations Research Department will reimburse your exam fee in the amount of $150.  Students must bring proof of passing (official pass slip or an SOA transcript), copy of receipt of payment of exam and complete a STOR Dept form.  Please contact the STOR Department Manager Samantha Radel (radel@email.unc.edu) Hanes 318 to receive the form, provide the other documentation and for any questions.

Nervous about taking your first actuarial exam?  Read this helpful article: How to Best Prepare for Your First Actuarial Exam