Quick Video Message from Nemo

Actuarial Journey: Guide to Your Actuarial Exams and Career

Hello There! Nemo Ashong here and thank you so much for letting me be a part of your Actuarial Journey.

My goal is to help aspiring actuaries like you pass your exams and achieve success in your career while still having the TIME to enjoy the things that matter most to them.

I want to take this chance to let you know a bit more about me, what lead to the creation of Actuarial Journey, and the what you can expect from Actuarial Journey going forward.

I actually laid out a bunch of this in the inaugural episode of the Actuarial Journey podcast, so if you’d prefer to hear the story, please listen in here:

Destination of this Journey

It took me years to figure out how to pass my exams while still living my life, and I’m passionate about helping other aspiring actuaries find this balance in their life even earlier in their careers.

Through all of this, I learned that there was way more to becoming an actuary than just “being good at math”. In fact, that seemed like table stakes overall.

Consider this: with exam rates at about 50%, out of 1,000 people, only 32 are expected to pass each of their first five exams on the first try. And only 4 would pass 10 in a row the first time. The other 996 of us will take somewhere between 6-10 years to obtain our fellowship, the standard timing according to BeAnActuary.org.

So here at Actuarial Journey, we’re focused on the missing part of the puzzle:  given that you’re good at math, how can you pass your exams, excel at work, and still have TIME for the important things in your life?

Our Purpose:

To help aspiring actuaries (aka Journeyers) maximize their studying so they can achieve success in their career and have more time for the things that matter to them.

Our Promise:

To continuously explore better ways to help them study smarter more effectively with less time. Our goal is to help Journeyers like you reduce the number of hours you need to study while improving your chances of passing, so you can have the TIME for the things that matter most to you.

Our Position:

We believe in you and are here to help you pass your exams by focusing on four distinct paths : Community. Effectiveness. Mindset. Balance.

So what started us on this journey?

Before I share that – I have a question for you. Are you ready to embark on a journey? Let’s do this!

Milestone 1: Every Journey Starts with the 1st Step

At the end of my sophomore year at Cornell University, I made the decision to become an actuary.

It was an easy choice – All signs pointed in my direction:

  1. I was really good with math;
  2. I was comfortable studying on my own;
  3. I was better at taking tests than most people.

To me, that was a slam dunk. I’d be on the fast lane to my fellowship in no time.

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, that fast lane sprint turned out to be more of a cross-country marathon.

But that’s why we’re here isn’t it – the actuarial journey is a challenging one but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be as rewarding.

What I found out that year was that studying for actuarial exams was nothing like studying for classes.

I didn’t have a professor teaching me what I needed to know, homework to keep me moving forward, tests/ prelims/ mid-terms to keep motivate me, or classmates to help share notes or answer questions.

If you’ve taken actuarial exams or are planning on taking them, you can likely relate.

It’s a different ball game when you have to manage your studying on your own. When do you start? What materials should you use? When do you say no to friends and yes to studying? Is it worth all this studying in the end?

And since, I didn’t know any other actuaries and actuarial science wasn’t even a major at my school, I felt like I needed to figure out my path to fellowship alone.

That was the first time it occurred to me that it would take more than being good at math to be successful as an actuary.

Milestone 2: – Crossroads: Working, life, and NYC!

After college, I went to work as a pension actuarial consultant in New York City, where I’ve lived since 2008. This was an interesting transition as the challenges I had in college seemed to multiply in the “real-world”. I had way more freedom than I did even in college (especially being in NYC!) but also lots more responsibility, and still more exams to take.

Work

If you’re like me, you take your work seriously and take pride in excelling on your projects and in your career. The challenge for me quickly became having the motivation to study for few more hours after a long day at work.

Friends/Family

For starters, all of my college friends were done with studying once they graduated and couldn’t understand why I kept skipping happy hours and such to put in more exam study time. There wasn’t any one who understood what I was doing or could provide additional accountability and support to help me crush my exams.

Social

I started singing a cappella in college and have been fortunate enough to continue doing that in NYC with an amazing barbershop chorus, Voices of Gotham. With weekly rehearsals, travelling gigs, and extra social activities, it became important to me to keep this social outlet in my life all while still passing exams.

I have to ask: What are some of the major pillars of your life that you balance while taking exams? 

Milestone 3: The Road Less Traveled – Helping Aspiring Actuaries

The major turning point in my exam studying came after I passed Exam 4/C.

The moment I clicked Submit, thoughts came up in close succession:

  1. Finally!
  2. Sheesh – If I knew how to study back when I started exams like I do now, I would be a Fellow right now.

Over the years, I had taken several exams, had my share of failed exams, retakes, and missed major social events (it’s a reason why Halloween is such a big deal to me -> there’s an exam that weekend each year!).

And right after I saw that “Preliminary Pass” show up on my screen, I knew that I could have gone about studying differently these past years and had the time for all of those things.

After years of studying, I had discovered how to structure my study time, how to approach problem sets and practice exams, how to build confidence so that nerves didn’t get the better of me, and most importantly, how to balance work, life, and studying effectively.

That’s what led me to start Actuarial Journey.

This platform is here to bring aspiring actuaries together and share insights and lessons learned to help one another achieve their designation faster than if we went at it alone.

Here’s to your continued success – Journey on!

Want more help with your journey?
  1. Create a study plan you’ll actually stick to!: This free video series will show you the step-by-step process to create you own Personalized Study Roadmap and design your Study Lifestyle
  2. Actuarial Job Course: a completely free full-length course with videos, worksheets, tools, and community all geared to help your get your entry-level actuarial job and start your actuarial career.
  3. Actuarial Journey Podcast: Get more insights and lessons learned 4 days a week sent directly to your phone!
  4. Actuarial Community: Feeling alone on your journey? Become a part of the Actuarial Journey Community!
  5. Time-Saving Exam Smartcuts Guide: Free downloadable guide sharing exam strategies that are not only focused on shaving off study hours, but saving you months and years of studying all together

Note: What you’ll find here are my opinions and what I’ve found to work through my experiences. You’ll also get insight into the stories, lessons, and recommendations of others based on their journeys. Please note, this is a resource of personal opinions aggregated into one convenient package. The opinions found here are that of individuals and not necessarily representative of their employers, employees, or organizations. We’d like you to have success on your journey, but do not guarantee any results or specific outcomes. You’ll have to take each step of your Actuarial Journey – we’re just glad that we can help along the way.