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Guide to Waterloo Actuarial Science

A photo of plaidboy plaidboy
I'm confused on how to get into the Waterloo Actuarial Science program. I understand it's low 80s to get in, but what do you need to have in 1st year to make the cut? Also, what kind of things can you major in along with it, and what jobs will those double majors lead to? I just want to know some backups if I don't succeed in becoming an actuary. It would also help if anyone knows what average I should aim to end of with for my top 6 to make it
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A photo of greygoose greygoose

@plaidboy wrote
I'm confused on how to get into the Waterloo Actuarial Science program. I understand it's low 80s to get in, but what do you need to have in 1st year to make the cut? Also, what kind of things can you major in along with it, and what jobs will those double majors lead to? I just want to know some backups if I don't succeed in becoming an actuary. It would also help if anyone knows what average I should aim to end of with for my top 6 to make it



Actuarial science is a second-year declaration program, meaning that you don't join it until, at minimum, your 2A term. You need to maintain an above 70 average in order to get into the program officially, but I believe the actual cutoff is higher than that because there is a limited number of spots. You will also have to have taken all of the required courses for actsci (see http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/current-undergrads/new-students/courses/chart_2a.html ), namely ECON 101, 102, possibly ENGL 119, and MTHEL 131 (it's not yet mandatory for entrance into the plan, but they want to make it mandatory).

You will also be taking your actuarial exams throughout the course of your degree. This will involve a lot of extra studying on your own time. I believe there are 10+ exams in total you'll have to take to become an actuary.

I know of people double majoring with a lot of things in Actsci... in particular, Statistics, FARM (more financial math), and even Computer Science. All of these majors, with the exception of CS, lead to jobs in the financial industry.

Actsci is a bit of an overcrowded program. It is a branch of applied statistics, that mainly applies to the financial industry. There is currently an over-abundance of actsci grads/hopefuls, which is why the program is so competitive. If you're just interested in the major for financial security, it would not be my recommended first choice. But if it's your dream, know going into it that you will have to maintain very high marks in university.
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A photo of plaidboy plaidboy

@greygoose wrote

@plaidboy wrote
I'm confused on how to get into the Waterloo Actuarial Science program. I understand it's low 80s to get in, but what do you need to have in 1st year to make the cut? Also, what kind of things can you major in along with it, and what jobs will those double majors lead to? I just want to know some backups if I don't succeed in becoming an actuary. It would also help if anyone knows what average I should aim to end of with for my top 6 to make it



Actuarial science is a second-year declaration program, meaning that you don't join it until, at minimum, your 2A term. You need to maintain an above 70 average in order to get into the program officially, but I believe the actual cutoff is higher than that because there is a limited number of spots. You will also have to have taken all of the required courses for actsci (see http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/current-undergrads/new-students/courses/chart_2a.html ), namely ECON 101, 102, possibly ENGL 119, and MTHEL 131 (it's not yet mandatory for entrance into the plan, but they want to make it mandatory).

You will also be taking your actuarial exams throughout the course of your degree. This will involve a lot of extra studying on your own time. I believe there are 10+ exams in total you'll have to take to become an actuary.

I know of people double majoring with a lot of things in Actsci... in particular, Statistics, FARM (more financial math), and even Computer Science. All of these majors, with the exception of CS, lead to jobs in the financial industry.

Actsci is a bit of an overcrowded program. It is a branch of applied statistics, that mainly applies to the financial industry. There is currently an over-abundance of actsci grads/hopefuls, which is why the program is so competitive. If you're just interested in the major for financial security, it would not be my recommended first choice. But if it's your dream, know going into it that you will have to maintain very high marks in university.



Great thanks, lot of help!! I know it's a hard program, but i didn't know you have to compete for it. So your saying you can't just get in by maintaining the 70 average? How do you think a person with 94 in adv. functions and aiming for 94 in calculus, would do in actuarial science? I think our tests are fair, they're not too hard except for thinking so they're not too easy either. How's the job market for actuarial science? I understand it's competitive but I'm talking about after completing the exams. And all the double majors like computer science, FARM, etc. would that land me in comp sci, FARM jobs or something with a bit of both? Also, I wouldn't mind having your opinion in doing a double degree with computer science or FARM. Will it lead to a future stable career? Do you think it's safe to do 2 majors in terms of getting a job and high, stable pay? Also, if I do a double major in one of those choices, do I get co-op jobs in that stream as well? When can I start choosing courses to major in something else?
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A photo of TotoSmith TotoSmith

@greygoose wrote

@plaidboy wrote
I'm confused on how to get into the Waterloo Actuarial Science program. I understand it's low 80s to get in, but what do you need to have in 1st year to make the cut? Also, what kind of things can you major in along with it, and what jobs will those double majors lead to? I just want to know some backups if I don't succeed in becoming an actuary. It would also help if anyone knows what average I should aim to end of with for my top 6 to make it



Actuarial science is a second-year declaration program, meaning that you don't join it until, at minimum, your 2A term. You need to maintain an above 70 average in order to get into the program officially, but I believe the actual cutoff is higher than that because there is a limited number of spots. You will also have to have taken all of the required courses for actsci (see http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/current-undergrads/new-students/courses/chart_2a.html ), namely ECON 101, 102, possibly ENGL 119, and MTHEL 131 (it's not yet mandatory for entrance into the plan, but they want to make it mandatory).

You will also be taking your actuarial exams throughout the course of your degree. This will involve a lot of extra studying on your own time. I believe there are 10+ exams in total you'll have to take to become an actuary.

I know of people double majoring with a lot of things in Actsci... in particular, Statistics, FARM (more financial math), and even Computer Science. All of these majors, with the exception of CS, lead to jobs in the financial industry.

Actsci is a bit of an overcrowded program. It is a branch of applied statistics, that mainly applies to the financial industry. There is currently an over-abundance of actsci grads/hopefuls, which is why the program is so competitive. If you're just interested in the major for financial security, it would not be my recommended first choice. But if it's your dream, know going into it that you will have to maintain very high marks in university.



I also have a few questions.
I thought it was 8 exams that you have to complete?

I have heard some people say that it is safer to major in something like statistics rather than actsci because you are still qualified to write the exams but you also have different career options if actsci doesn't work out? Is this necessarily true?

Do most students generally enter the actsci program after one year (because most of the people I personally know do)? Or do most declare this major after second year?

Also, when do students usually begin writing the actsci exams? Do they begin as early as first year?

Lastly, I have also heard that UW exempts some students from a couple of the exams depending on academic performance in school? Is this correct? If so, what exams are exempted?

I'm really sorry that I have so many questions haha but I would really appreciate any help!!! :)
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A photo of greygoose greygoose
I will qualify all these answers with the fact that *I am not in Actsci*. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information, but I am trying to give you the best idea that I can. (Don't take my word for the gospel or anything.)


@plaidboy wrote
Great thanks, lot of help!! I know it's a hard program, but i didn't know you have to compete for it. So your saying you can't just get in by maintaining the 70 average? How do you think a person with 94 in adv. functions and aiming for 94 in calculus, would do in actuarial science? I think our tests are fair, they're not too hard except for thinking so they're not too easy either. How's the job market for actuarial science? I understand it's competitive but I'm talking about after completing the exams.



I am unsure what the exact entrance requirements for Actsci are. You can ask an actsci advisor if you're interested (list of academic advisors is http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/navigation/Current/advisors.shtml and the actsci advisors' email is ACTSCadv@uwaterloo.ca).

High school marks are not correlated with university performance, unless you have high 90s (97-100). So your high school marks aren't really indicative of anything. There are people that do very well with low marks, mediocre marks, and high marks, and people that do poorly with high marks alike.

The job market for actsci is very competitive, particularly for co-ops. I imagine it would be very competitive after graduation as well, seeing as there are far more actuarial science graduates than there are actuary jobs.


@plaidboy wrote
And all the double majors like computer science, FARM, etc. would that land me in comp sci, FARM jobs or something with a bit of both? Also, I wouldn't mind having your opinion in doing a double degree with computer science or FARM. Will it lead to a future stable career? Do you think it's safe to do 2 majors in terms of getting a job and high, stable pay? Also, if I do a double major in one of those choices, do I get co-op jobs in that stream as well?



Often with a double major, you will find jobs with aspects of both your majors, or jobs solely related to one major. It depends on what you apply to, obviously.

In my opinion, I think that a computer science degree is the safest in terms of job security, particularly if you excel at the field. I think finance is a more volatile industry where too many people are graduating with degrees in the area compared to the number of job openings. HOWEVER, no degree will guarantee you a secure job or high pay. That depends solely on you. Two majors is not necessarily going to get you a job simply because you did two majors; it's more likely that you'd get a better job because you happen to be a more motivated, hard-working person (which allowed you to complete the two majors in the first place).

For the programs you've listed, co-op streams are fixed regardless of your choice of major, and you get to choose your co-op stream this summer. You can get whatever jobs whenever your co-op terms are.


@plaidboy wrote
When can I start choosing courses to major in something else?



This is usually something you consider in your 1B term. Particularly for CS and actsci, which don't admit students that are not actsci/CS majors into their courses.
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A photo of greygoose greygoose

@TotoSmith wrote
I also have a few questions.
I thought it was 8 exams that you have to complete?



Maybe. I don't know the exact number. The point I was trying to illustrate is that it is more than one or two.


@TotoSmith wrote
I have heard some people say that it is safer to major in something like statistics rather than actsci because you are still qualified to write the exams but you also have different career options if actsci doesn't work out? Is this necessarily true?



Well, you won't be nearly as well-prepared for the exams if you just take general statistics. Statistics is a more general field than the narrow field of actsci, but I imagine it pays less. By the way, at Waterloo, actsci majors basically get a statistics major for free, which is why very few people major in stats alone.


@TotoSmith wrote
Do most students generally enter the actsci program after one year (because most of the people I personally know do)? Or do most declare this major after second year?



I don't believe it is possible to declare your actsci major after your second year, because then you would not be able to take the second year actsci courses (which I believe have restricted enrollment).


@TotoSmith wrote
Also, when do students usually begin writing the actsci exams? Do they begin as early as first year?



Yes, I know of people who began writing their exams at the end of their first year, beginning of second year.


@TotoSmith wrote
Lastly, I have also heard that UW exempts some students from a couple of the exams depending on academic performance in school? Is this correct? If so, what exams are exempted?



I have never heard about this and don't believe it is true. UW does not administer the actuarial exams. They are administered by the Society of Actuaries and I don't think you can be exempted from any of them in order to get your actuary professional designation.
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A photo of plaidboy plaidboy

@greygoose wrote
I will qualify all these answers with the fact that *I am not in Actsci*. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information, but I am trying to give you the best idea that I can. (Don't take my word for the gospel or anything.)


@plaidboy wrote
Great thanks, lot of help!! I know it's a hard program, but i didn't know you have to compete for it. So your saying you can't just get in by maintaining the 70 average? How do you think a person with 94 in adv. functions and aiming for 94 in calculus, would do in actuarial science? I think our tests are fair, they're not too hard except for thinking so they're not too easy either. How's the job market for actuarial science? I understand it's competitive but I'm talking about after completing the exams.



I am unsure what the exact entrance requirements for Actsci are. You can ask an actsci advisor if you're interested (list of academic advisors is http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/navigation/Current/advisors.shtml and the actsci advisors' email is ACTSCadv@uwaterloo.ca).

High school marks are not correlated with university performance, unless you have high 90s (97-100). So your high school marks aren't really indicative of anything. There are people that do very well with low marks, mediocre marks, and high marks, and people that do poorly with high marks alike.

The job market for actsci is very competitive, particularly for co-ops. I imagine it would be very competitive after graduation as well, seeing as there are far more actuarial science graduates than there are actuary jobs.


@plaidboy wrote
And all the double majors like computer science, FARM, etc. would that land me in comp sci, FARM jobs or something with a bit of both? Also, I wouldn't mind having your opinion in doing a double degree with computer science or FARM. Will it lead to a future stable career? Do you think it's safe to do 2 majors in terms of getting a job and high, stable pay? Also, if I do a double major in one of those choices, do I get co-op jobs in that stream as well?



Often with a double major, you will find jobs with aspects of both your majors, or jobs solely related to one major. It depends on what you apply to, obviously.

In my opinion, I think that a computer science degree is the safest in terms of job security, particularly if you excel at the field. I think finance is a more volatile industry where too many people are graduating with degrees in the area compared to the number of job openings. HOWEVER, no degree will guarantee you a secure job or high pay. That depends solely on you. Two majors is not necessarily going to get you a job simply because you did two majors; it's more likely that you'd get a better job because you happen to be a more motivated, hard-working person (which allowed you to complete the two majors in the first place).

For the programs you've listed, co-op streams are fixed regardless of your choice of major, and you get to choose your co-op stream this summer. You can get whatever jobs whenever your co-op terms are.


@plaidboy wrote
When can I start choosing courses to major in something else?



This is usually something you consider in your 1B term. Particularly for CS and actsci, which don't admit students that are not actsci/CS majors into their courses.





thanks again, and you're right math marks in high school are different from university, but I thought a high mark would help us. I plan on writing the EUCLID though, do you know how much percent that would add on my AIF based on previous experiences, friends, etc? Also, how's the difficulty of Waterloo computer courses? Is it easy to pick up on if I start taking comp sci courses 1st year? And do you think i could ever find a comp. sci co-op job if I enrolled in math?
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A photo of greygoose greygoose

@plaidboy wrote
thanks again, and you're right math marks in high school are different from university, but I thought a high mark would help us. I plan on writing the EUCLID though, do you know how much percent that would add on my AIF based on previous experiences, friends, etc? Also, how's the difficulty of Waterloo computer courses? Is it easy to pick up on if I start taking comp sci courses 1st year? And do you think i could ever find a comp. sci co-op job if I enrolled in math?



Profs have stated many times that there is no correlation between high school marks and university marks, somewhat interestingly.

Just writing the Euclid contest gives a small boost to your admissions score. Getting a very high score on it will almost certainly land you a scholarship.

The Waterloo CS courses are designed for people with no prior experience, and indeed, often people without prior experience do better in them than people who have had experience. All math majors must take at least two computer science courses, so they are designed for the right level of difficulty for that.

Many non-CS math students find CS-related jobs for their co-ops.
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