Have you ever been in a situation where you were unsure of the possible outcomes and still had to make an important decision?

Ever wondered whether to take your phone on an adventure trip or vacation, afraid that you might lose it? Ever questioned how risky it is to fly? Or how worried you should be about sharks when you’re swimming at the beach?

Successfully navigating the path of life requires managing risks of all shapes and sizes. As scary as taking risks may be, they are a crucial part of success. In every career, you will be challenged to make decisions that have some level of risk. Understanding and analyzing those risks can be the key to your success.

Enter the Actuarial Process. Developed by leading actuaries across multiple industries, the Actuarial Process is a tool that leverages your mathematical and scientific knowledge to identify, characterize, and manage risk in any aspect of your life.

Similar to the scientific method, the Actuarial Process provides a framework upon which you can step through how to analyze any risky situation. It is a practical tool to have when it comes time to make the decision of how to manage those risks. If students understand the Actuarial Process, they can leverage what they already know about mathematics and the scientific method, and apply it to data analysis and risk management throughout their lives.


How is the Actuarial Process Similar to The Scientific Method?

If you already understand basic scientific and mathematical concepts in statistics and probability, you will find the Actuarial Process easy to master. Its structure is similar to The Scientific Method, providing an organized flow of how to conduct an analytical project that can be used to make mathematically-sound, real-world recommendations on how to manage risks. The graphic below helps demonstrate the similarities between the two processes.

The scientific method includes:

  1. Observing a problem and asking questions about it.
  2. Creating a hypothesis or prediction of what the outcome will be of your experiment.
  3. Experimenting to test your hypothesis.
  4. Using the data from your experiment to come to a conclusion.

The steps of the Actuarial Process extend the scientific method into the world of data analysis and risk management, relying more upon statistics and probability than the scientific method highlights; however, the fundamental structures behind both processes are very similar.

The five steps to the Actuarial Process include:

  1. Defining the project by identifying an area of potential risk.
  2. Analyzing the data you already have.
  3. Creating a model to better understand the problem and collect more data.
  4. Analyzing the risks using the results from the model.
  5. Making an educated recommendation based on the data

In both cases, students are asking probing questions to guide their actions. They are also testing what they think and trying to prove their point. Finally, in each case, students are making a conclusion based on data. But, the best part of the Actuarial Process that sets it apart is that students get the opportunity to solve real-world problems using hands-on modeling, data science, and risk analysis to help them make real-world, mathematically informed decisions.


Why is the Actuarial Process so important?

The Actuarial Process is a crucial tool student can use to thrive in the real world.

In school and at home, students often have their entire path mapped out for them. They don’t usually have to stop and think about their next move, let alone analyze the risk involved.

When students learn the Actuarial Process, they learn to make big, risky decisions in the smartest way possible. They learn the three major methods to mitigate and manage risks. And they learn how to think critically about any situation, using mathematics to analyze the best solutions. By learning the Actuarial Process, students are setting themselves up for success in college, their career, and life.

It is essential to understand; successful people don’t get that way by avoiding all risks. They become successful by carefully analyzing the risks in front of them and making an educated decision on what to do next.


Where can you use The Actuarial Process? 

Risk shows up in all areas of our lives at different and unexpected times. Those that know how to handle these situations when they arise and make educated decisions will thrive and grow into the impactful humans they are destined to be.

While the Actuarial Process can be used in any area of life, one of the best ways to master it is to participate in the Modeling the Future Challenge.


Modeling the Future Challenge

The Modeling the Future Challenge combines real-world math modeling and data science to teach high school students how to manage risks and make mathematically sound decisions. Learn more about the Challenge and the Actuarial Process by downloading the Actuarial Process Guide!


Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge get the opportunity to solve real problems in the world today. They solve these problems using the science and math skills they already have along with the new skills they learn through the Actuarial Process to find real data and drive their recommendations.

The Modeling the Future Challenge winners walk away with scholarships worth $55,000, but everyone walks away learning patience, determination, and grit. Best of all, students learn the skills to use the Actuarial Process in real-life scenarios to help drive smart decisions throughout their lives.

Additionally, the Modeling the Future Challenge gives students the job skills and experience of working with a team to solve a problem. They will also be presenting their polished ideas to a panel of professionals in their field. This life experience will help them grow academically and professionally. The 2020-21 Modeling the Future Challenge opens registration for teams of high school students on September 14th. You can check out registration information for The Modeling the Future Challenge here.

The Actuarial Process is a life skill that you will fall back on time and time again. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn this incredible tool that will be useful throughout your life.

After its first two years, the race is heating up in crowning the country’s young actuarial champions. Actuaries are at the front lines of major business decisions analyzing data to help project future trends, identify risks and provide recommendations to business leaders about how to best adapt to the expected changes. The Modeling the Future Challenge (MTF) trains high school students in applying their mathematical skills to project future trends and solve real-world problems. However, this challenge is not easy.

Typical math modeling competitions focus on learning how to model systems – what we consider Level 1 modeling competitions. The MTF Challenge takes this two steps further asking students to not only be able to model a system, but to understand how the system will change over time (Level 2), and to understand what that means for people affected by the change and to recommend how they can adapt to it (Level 3).

To be crowned a Modeling the Future Champion, students have to first qualify for the main competition by responding to a set of scenario response topics in the fall semester. Qualified teams are then invited to the main competition in the spring semester where they are matched with an actuary mentor and create their own mathematical model using real-world data to project future change. As the final piece of their project, teams must also present recommendations for how affected organizations should adapt to that change.

Get Resources for the 2019-20 MTF Challenge!

In the competition’s first year, 2017-18, 140 students competed on 52 teams to be crowned Modeling the Future Champions. In the 2018-19 challenge that concluded this past April, 873 students competed on 191 teams for the championship. The table below provides a summary of how the results played out each year.


Only being two years into the challenge, it’s hard to identify trends in which schools, or states are standing out in the hunt to crown America’s top young actuarial scholars; however, there are some interesting insights in looking at who made it to the finals these first two years. First of all, California students have led the pack in the sheer number of awards - taking 2nd place and one finalist spot in the first year, and pulling in the top award and another finalist spot in the second year. Not only were these teams from California, but all four of them were from the San Francisco Bay area. This is by far the strongest showing of any metropolitan region in the competition. The next best performing state was Iowa having a 4th place and finalist team finishing each year.

Examining the school level, we can see that there are a few high schools of note. These schools have made an impression in just two years of the competition:


North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics

Even though they did not place in the finals during the second year of the challenge, we cannot discount the ability of the students at this Durham, North Carolina school to take on the actuarial competition and win. Taking first place in the 2017-18 challenge certainly showed their prowess in understanding math modeling and being able to analyze the associated risks from their projections. We look forward to seeing how NCSSM bounces back in the 2019-20 Challenge.


Los Altos High School

Like NCSSM, Los Altos High School students, from Los Altos, California, have demonstrated their ability to come out on top of the actuarial challenge. In the first year of the MTF Challenge in 2018, Los Altos High School was not yet participating in the competition. Could their win in 2019 be the start to a multi-year run for the championship?


Waukee APEX

This high school from Waukee, Iowa was the only school to have a team reach the finals in both years. Not only did their teams reach the finals, but both years Waukee APEX had a team finish on the podium taking 4th place. Given their strong performance over the first two years of the MTF Challenge, we can certainly expect Waukee APEX to be a contender to look out for in future years.


Maggie Walker Governor’s School

Although they did not place in the finals the first year of the competition, this school from Richmond, Virginia came out strong in the 2018-19 challenge with two out of their eight qualified teams reaching the final competition and both of those teams making it to the podium achieving 2nd and 3rd place respectively. This is a school to keep a keen eye on for the 2019-20 challenge.


The growth in the Modeling the Future Challenge in just its first two years is a testament to the power this competition has to engage and inspire students. “Actuarial Science is a topic that has traditionally been under the radar for students,” said Jason Leppin, executive director of The Actuarial Foundation. “Many students and teachers don’t realize that actuaries use math all the time to help business leaders make some of the most important decisions about the future of their organizations. The Modeling the Future Challenge is our way of demonstrating that math can take you into amazing careers that have a real impact on how we make decisions about the future! And as we can see from our first two years, the students are definitely responding well to the Challenge!”

With two years under the belt, it’s hard to make sweeping statements about which schools are outstanding outliers in actuarial science. Our analysis of the leading schools from the first two years of the challenge doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the schools to beat in next year’s competition. Many schools are still learning about the Modeling the Future Challenge, and the 2019-20 MTF Champions could be from anywhere!

If you are involved with a high school mathematics program and want to learn more about how to participate in the 2019-20 Modeling the Future Challenge, make sure to sign up for the email newsletter here.