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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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CT1 for non-members

In April 2009, 53 of the candidates who sat the CT1 financial mathematics course were a little bit different from the usual actuarial students: not one of them was a student member of the Faculty or the Institute.

These 53 students took the course as part of a scheme set up by the Profession to allow people considering a career as an actuary to test the water before committing themselves to the rigorous training and examination all actuarial students undergo.

Richard Chalk, who passed the exam, said: “My academic background is in mathematics, and I had been considering a possible change in career direction. I wanted to take the course to get a taste for whether studying to be an actuary would suit me.”

Colin Dobbie, another successful candidate, echoed this: “The course was a cost-effective way to sample the exams and was an opportunity of showing potential employers that I was capable of passing them.”

A survey of the students carried out by the Profession showed that most entrants took the course as a trial run. Some of the candidates surveyed found the exam more difficult than they had expected, and the 41.5% pass rate was proof that studying to be an actuary demands the highest intellectual standards.

Mr Dobbie agreed, saying that the course gave a good account of the knowledge required to be a trainee actuary. Yet the high standards required have not put off some of the students. Mr Chalk commented: “It has given me an appetite for actuarial study, and I am now looking to enter the Profession.”

It is hoped that the scheme will be attractive to employers as well, with firms realising the benefit of encouraging employees to take part. Mr Dobbie agreed, highlighting that potential employers had been impressed with his performance in the exam.

Trevor Watkins, head of learning at the Profession, said: “The course was an important part of our response to Unleashing Aspirations, Alan Milburn’s recent investigation into social mobility. Offering this course demonstrates the Profession’s commitment to increased accessibility.”

Mr Watkins added that, as entry levels surpassed expectations, the Profession would be offering the course again in the September diet of examinations. Tuition material is available from ActEd at www.acted.co.uk, and Leicester University at www2.le.ac.uk/departments/mathematics/luft/ct1 as an introduction to their MSc in Actuarial Science course.

The first cohort of students is already recommending the course to colleagues and, if the pilot continues to be a success, the Profession will consider extending the scheme next year with further subjects available and making it accessible to overseas students.