Actuarial Science Personal Statement

Beh Le Hao is currently a first year undergraduate reading BSc Actuarial Science at London School of Economics and Political Science. This personal statement was part of his successful application to LSE and City University of London for Actuarial Science, UCL for Mathematics and Statistics and University of Warwick for MORSE.


How do professional sports gambling syndicates use multiple regression analyses to predict outcomes reliably to earn income? Why are they so confident that the risks taken will be rewarded? I am intrigued by these questions and my interest prompted me to do some independent research into statistics. I was fascinated by how Bayes’ Theorem applies conditional probability to sports betting in order to make predictions. I am curious about how models are used to combine qualitative and quantitative data with such precision, even with the large number of random variables that affects results. M. Lewis’ ‘The Moneyball’ illustrates how the Oakland Baseball team won by assembling a group of undervalued players that matched the skills needed to succeed. What really fascinates me was how they established a new method of statistical analysis using varied key performance data points to evaluate players. I am frequently amazed by the power of statistics and how it can completely change people’s perspectives and views of traditional games. It is clear to me that such modelling can have similar impacts on organisational change in business too.  My desire to broaden my knowledge is what drives me to apply for a course in Maths and Statistics.

Statistics is particularly useful when discussing the 2008 financial crisis. The housing bubble, created from the sheer volume of unrepayable loans, could have been avoided if banks had reacted to the increased rate of default and statistical uncertainty. I feel they did not recognise the importance of statistics: banks had the knowledge they needed about their loanees, and knew they were taking huge risks, but approved loans anyway in pursuit of profit. However, I am also aware that the exponential increases in the amount of data available can also develop overconfidence, leading to predictive inaccuracies. I am really interested in how actuaries apply their knowledge to risk minimisation, which is such an essential feature of today’s world.

Reading ‘The Great Mathematical Problems’ by I. Stewart, I encountered problems that have puzzled mathematicians for centuries, while also learning about the fundamental equations that shape our understanding of the world. My particular fascination with the randomness of prime numbers led me to explore more challenging and stimulating concepts, such as Goldbach’s Conjecture and Riemann Hypothesis. It is intriguing how the unproven Riemann zeta function, by proving all non-trivial zeros lie along the critical line, provides a way to encode the prime number theorem. In Statistics, I enjoy applying hypothesis testing to determine data’s reliability. In Decision Maths, I am drawn towards the intuitive nature of dynamic programming. I was left intrigued by how an algorithm can work backwards to reach an optimal solution; I had never thought in that way before.

My internship at a corporate finance company reinforced my interest in statistical analysis in the field of investment banking. I learned how analysing historical data helps evaluate the profitability of transactions. Their use of spreadsheets and presentations in order to value companies and track changing trends in a volatile industry was impressive. I had to independently conduct my own research, looking for patterns and links within data, which taught me a great deal.

I have learnt programming languages, such as C++, independently from a young age. I enjoy participating in Maths competitions including the Olympiad, ICAS and Kangaroo Maths. I play the piano to Grade 6; this requires focus and persistence, and has greatly improved my memorisation skills. As School Basketball Captain and a School Prefect, I have developed my leadership, communication and teamwork skills.

As a curious, open-minded and committed student, I am excited about furthering my passion for Maths and Statistics at a first class UK university, driven by the prospect of furthering my knowledge of the world around me as an undergraduate.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

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Actuarial Science/ Maths & Stats/ MORSE Personal Statement

Cedric Teoh is currently a first year undergraduate reading BSc in Actuarial Science at The London School of Economics and Political Science. This personal statement was part of his successful application to The LSE (Actuarial Science), City University London (Actuarial Science), Imperial College London (Maths & Stats) and the University of Warwick (MORSE).


I enjoy analytical subjects that require me to think creatively. I like how Mathematics involves logical chains of thought and I find it exciting to use fundamental skills to solve complex questions. Applying mathematical rules, while pushing for a creative outcome, is a challenge I relish.  I enjoy finding alternative routes to a solution and solving more challenging questions, such as those in the STEP papers. My enthusiasm for the subject stems from its wide range of applications, giving me the option to apply my knowledge in a myriad of fields. Statistics is the field of mathematics for which I have the greatest affinity.

My early encounters with statistics came from watching football. Sports analysts use statistics to reduce the occurrence of injuries and to transforms players’ traits into data, allowing comparisons to be made. Bookmakers also rely on statistical methods to set their odds. After reading Goldman Sachs’ paper on the recent FIFA World Cup, I found it interesting that through regression analysis they could convert many variables, such as home advantage, into statistical parameters. These were then used to carry out Monte-Carlo simulations to predict the outcome of matches. Their model predicting Brazil would win the trophy turned out to be wrong. I think they overplayed the advantage of being the hosts, as statistically host nations had more than a 50% win rate in the past, provided they were a top football nation. However, we can observe that host nations have not won the World Cup since 1998 and 3 of the last 4 winners were not even from the home continent.The applicability of confidence intervals appeals to me as they are widely used in various industries, accounting for natural variations in research. Actuarial science, a field I wish to explore further, uses it extensively in risk analysis. As actuarial scientists estimate the potential losses of company investments, confidence intervals are used to render the value at risk with greater certainty. This helps prevent crises, such as banks failing during the Great Depression, from happening. I am amused by how simple topics we learnt can greatly impact the financial sector.

‘The Great Mathematical Problems’ by I. Stewart introduced me to many theorems and conjectures.  When reading about Goldbach’s Conjectures and Euclid’s propositions on prime numbers it seemed that this was a very theoretical area which lacked applications. So I was amazed when I discovered their significance in public-key cryptography, which is widely used in internet security. Mathematicians essentially exploited the lack of an effective algorithm in finding the prime factors of composite numbers to create a trapdoor function for cryptography. Discovering applications of theoretical mathematics makes it practical and interesting.

Mathematics competitions help stimulate my creative thinking. I won a Gold certificate in the UKMT Mathematics Challenge, ranking 2nd amongst my peers. At a local university’s Engineering Competition, the team that I was leading finished 2nd. Despite early disappointments we persisted in making a model car of the desired quality. I honed my problem solving skills as we managed to develop a way to improve the explosiveness of the nozzle which allowed our model car to move much further.

As Vice President of the Mathematics Club, I help to prepare my juniors for competitions and to develop more interesting quizzes. I have volunteered to be a personal tutor, developing my ability to communicate and to simplify technical problems. As a prefect I built my leadership skills and learnt to be dedicated, spending time mentoring my juniors. Working as a sales assistant at Apple’s premium retailer had improved my interpersonal skills greatly.  I also represented my boarding house in basketball competitions.

I am excited about seizing the opportunities the Central Bank of Malaysia scholarship has given me and about learning in a stimulating environment in the UK.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Actuarial Science Personal Statement

This Personal Statement contributed to his successful application to read Actuarial Science at London School of Economics, University of Manchester, City University London, University of Warwick and Heriot-Watt University


Growing up to be a son of a lecturer, I have always been able to attain answers for all my questions but there is one question my father refused to answer, which is “What am I going to pursue in the future ?”. Instead he replied calmly that the question is based on my heart’s true desire and is also one that I need to figure out by myself. During the festive season, the game of cards is far from an uncommon sight. As I have an inquisitive mind, it was then that I discovered the beauty of mathematics precisely statistical probabilities. That keen interest back in those days had presently transformed into a mature passion towards the scope of statistics. Thus, it has been my goal and desire to pursue Actuarial Science degree from a renowned university overseas. The core principle of this subject is generally simple; solving problems by assessing risk in a particular field.

In line with the complexity of the world, I firmly trust versatility and flexibility are the key to enhance my knowledge, developing my personality and also strive for success. The Chaos Theory and Stochastic Financial Models studies have become one of my deepest interest as it is very realistic and useful. Therefore, I decided to enlighten myself  by reaching out to various resources such as reading Actuaries’ Survival Guide book by Fred E.Szabo which explains the attitudes an actuary should acquire. Besides, visiting websites like Wolfram Alpha and viewing actuaries blogs helps me in terms of probability analysis and even explanation of statistical theories. Moreover, I attended YEALS, a talk given by the top successful entrepreneurs of Malaysia such as CEO of Tune Talks, Jason Lo.

My main priority in schools and college is always to maintain a balanced lifestyle between academic and co-curricular activities whilst gearing myself with leadership qualities as well as reaching out to the community. To begin with, I was elected the President of  Interact Club where I developed my professional and leadership skills. Our main goals are to emphasize respect for the rights of others, promote ethical standards and provide opportunities for young people to address the concerns of our community and the world. Teamwork and understanding between delegates are essential during conferences or group meetings to voice out all opinions and reaping a decision regarding a particular issue.

Furthermore, I have served as the Scout Troop Leader, English Club treasurer, and also the secretary of my sports house. During this period, I realized being a leader isn’t about ordering others, but it is about recognizing  how to leverage on the individual’s strengths in achieving a greater result. Besides that, I consider myself as an individual who enjoys mental stimulation. As my passion for Mathematics requires regular revisions and exercise, I have actively engaged in mathematical competitions and quizzes such as Mathematics Olympiad, MSU & PTPL explorace and also successfully becoming champion in the Mathematics explorace district-level twice in a row. By learning Further Mathematics, stumbling upon complex problems is imminent. Despite that fact, performing multiple attempts until the problem is solved is satisfying as I reckon it to be a sound pedagogy.

The opportunity of lightening my parents burden financially has added to my eagerness in applying for the esteemed Maybank Scholarship that fully funds the higher education of young Malaysians. To be selected as one of the 22 award recipients has act as a catalyst in achieving my dreams to further my studies in the UK. Thus, it would be a great honour to be offered a chance to study an Actuarial Science degree course in the UK. As an individual who strives to improve, I will constantly drive to excellence to reform the society as a whole and apply my skills in real life situations. The opportunity of getting educated in UK would convert my devoted desire in these fields into palpable contributions back to the university and society.


DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KIND. UCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

My Journey to the States

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read about Syaza’s Journey to the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hello 🙂 My name is Syaza Nazura, and I am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Class of 2017. I’m a student under the MARA loan and am currently pursuing Actuarial Science (and probably a second major in Risk Management and Insurance). Before you start asking me about how I got here, let me share the story of how I came to the land of the free (or so they called it).

I sat for my SPM in 2011 in Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ), Mantin. In January 2012, I started my A-Levels (partly sponsored by KTJ). Back then, I only had one aim: to get into a good UK university. I only had a few choices, since there weren’t many UK universities that offer Actuarial Science. These were the usual choices: LSE, Kent, Southampton, Warwick and Heriot-Watt. (Well, that was a couple of years ago. I don’t know if anything has changed since).

I was pretty enthusiastic about starting my A-Levels. To be honest, I was psyched. I mean, I love studying, it’s fun. Three months into the A-Levels and I was really enjoying it. Then came results day at the end of March, and I received 9A+ for my SPM – Alhamdulillah. I applied for various scholarships, but there were limited scholarships available for Actuarial Science.

I was rejected by almost all the scholarships I applied for, including Bank Negara Malaysia and Yayasan Khazanah. I only made it to the second stage of the Securities Commission scholarship, since they don’t really offer Actuarial Science but were interested in my intention to pursue MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics) at the University of Warwick.

Needless to say, I was, of course, devastated. I no longer had the enthusiasm to study anything, but I held my head up high and moved on. In May, I sat for five modules for my Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level Maths exam, and received 4A’s and 1C (A’s for C1, C2, C3 and S1, and a C for M1. These modules are for Edexcel A-Level Maths http://www.edexcel.com/migrationdocuments/GCE%20New%20GCE/UA035243_GCE_Lin_Maths_Issue_3.pdf). I applied for the MARA loan for Actuarial Science in the US, but didn’t really put much hope into it (since I didn’t really want to go to the US in the first place).

When MARA began calling students for interviews, I was shocked that I was called as well since I didn’t really fill up the form. I took it up as a challenge, and went to the interview to try my luck. I wasn’t chosen in the first batch of students, which didn’t really come as a surprise, knowing that I didn’t write the essay they asked for during the application and everything. But I tried appealing, this time for the Economics program in the US, and somehow a miracle happened and I managed to get a placement.

Then came the hardest task I had ever faced at that time: convincing my parents to allow me to leave A Levels, start over with a completely new pre-u program and go to the US. My parents weren’t convinced at first, but somehow they came through and allowed me to move to UiTM’s International Education Centre (INTEC), Shah Alam to start my one-year American Degree Foundation Programme (ADFP) program.

During my year in INTEC, I received a CGPA of 3.62. I sat for my SAT Reasoning Test twice, once in October 2012 and December 2012. I also took up the SAT Subject Tests for Physics and Math 2, since I wanted to apply to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn’s College of Arts and Sciences requires applicants to take two SAT Subject Tests). I also sat for my TOEFL in December, and received a score of 109/120 for my Internet-Based Test (iBT).

I applied to four universities, and was accepted to three of them. I was rejected by my first choice, the University of Pennsylvania, and had to choose between these three universities – University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Iowa and Purdue University.

I ended up choosing the University of Wisconsin-Madison for several reasons:

  1. It is one of the Centers of Actuarial Excellence as stated by the Society of Actuaries, USA.
  2. It is a pretty place with lakes all around (I like lakes, and rivers, and beaches).

(Lol, okay, to be honest, I have no idea why I chose UWM over the others. I guess it was pretty much my guts, I think?)

And so, after finishing up my ADFP in June 2013, it was time to head to the States. Once I reached Madison with my parents in mid-August, I really did not regret choosing Madison over the others. The place is super-duper beautiful (in my eyes), and I fell in love instantly. The wound of being rejected by UPenn was healed, as I managed to visit UPenn during my winter break.

All in all, it was a bumpy roller-coaster ride. I certainly did not regret taking up A-Levels, even if it was only for 6 months, since I met so many awesome people from my batch in KTJ. I also certainly did not regret starting over in INTEC, since now I know how much I adore the US education system over anything else.

My advice to you is: If you’ve started on your journey, but somehow feel like it’s not the one for you, don’t be afraid to stop and start all over. Sure, people will say that you’re weak and stuff for not making it through the end, but it’s your life. Would you rather put up with something that is not what you like and regret it in the end, or would you rather start over with something you love and enjoy what life brings you afterwards?

Think, and make your decisions based on what you want.


Links you might find helpful:

  1. MORSE at University of Warwick http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/courses/morse/
  2. About the TOEFL iBT Test http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about

Syaza Nazura copy

Syaza Nazura is a business student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. While not entertaining the thoughts of whether or not Actuarial Science is the best path for her, she stuffs herself full of chocolate and blogs at http://syazanazura.com. This MARA scholar plays basketball and is in love with anime and manga.

How to write application essays to get into Actuarial Science programs in US?

Q:

I am a corporate scholar currently doing ADP (1+4 program) in Taylor’s University. I am doing Actuarial Science and I plan to apply to UPenn (The Wharton School) and University of Wisconsin-Madison. May I know what is the best approach to the admission essays in order for me to get into these school?

This reader wishes to pursue Actuarial Science at UPenn (Wharton) or University of Wisconsin.

This reader wishes to pursue Actuarial Science at UPenn (Wharton) or University of Wisconsin.

A:

Hello! It seems that we share a pretty similar Pre-U background. First of all, it’s quite difficult for me to give you good advice on how to approach the essay without knowing the question. Why don’t you come back to us when the questions or prompts are released?

Secondly, essays are not all there is to your application. Don’t forget about SAT 1 and 2, because your scores in these tests matter a lot too, especially if you’re applying to competitive universities like the Ivy Leagues. And It’s not just the Ivy Leagues, there are a lot of stuff you have to pay attention to in order to get into any school: SAT 1 and 2 scores, TOEFL/IELTS scores, the essay and the interview. Without a decent score for SAT 1 or TOEFL, your admissions chances will be dented even if you have a good essay. By the way, your sponsoring body will not allow you to go abroad if you do not get the CGPA (in ADP) required if I am not mistaken. If you have already sat for TOEFL, SAT 1 and 2, and you are happy with your scores, I don’t mind finding current students from UPenn (Wharton) to help you with applications! I’ll be very happy to help another Malaysian student get accepted.

I am very pleased to know that the University of Wisconsin-Madison is in your list of schools too. My big advice on this school is to apply as early as possible because there are lots of applicants and admissions might not have the time to read yours. This incident happened to me and my friend. Most of their admitted students have SAT scores between 1810-2000. Furthermore, SAT 2 is not a requirement for Wisconsin! How awesome is that?

Oh! And are University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Pennsylvania State University – University Park and University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign in your list? These public schools have excellent actuarial science programs too. Do update us if you have any more questions!

Answered by: A corporate scholar who is currently pursuing a degree in Actuarial Science at Pennsylvania State University after completing the ADP (1+4 track) at Taylor’s University.


Hi. I just wanted to add that your intended major might not matter as much as your passion, personality and opinions (collectively known as “who you are”) when writing your college essays. Speaking from my experience applying to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s Actuarial Mathematics major (I eventually got admitted), I didn’t even touch on my intended major in any of my essays. I wrote 3 essays for UMich, and they are the Commonapp essay that is sent to every school you apply to via Commonapp, and 2 more essays just for UMich. The Commonapp questions are very personal and don’t explicitly ask why you chose your major. For example, last year they asked applicants to write about their failures or a defining event in their lives, among others. The prompts should remain the same this year. The UMich questions were about my identity and the standard “Why our college?” What I mean to say is, don’t worry too much about your major when writing your essay, and just be yourself, no matter how cliched that sounds.

Answered by: Yeong Wern Yeen, a JPA scholar, will be going to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) this fall. She just finished Cambridge A Level at Taylor’s College Subang Jaya.


Syaza Nazura, an Actuarial Science student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, also wrote an article on how to approach the US application essays, in response to this reader’s question.