# Do actuaries use calculus?

Calculus is one of those subjects that is nice to learn about, but itâ€™s hard to see how weâ€™d actually use it in real life. You may have heard that aspiring actuaries should have some background in calculus. Or maybe youâ€™re writing Exam P and are wondering if youâ€™re actually going to need to use all this calculus at work.

**Well, thankfully, the answer is no! Actuaries donâ€™t use calculus at work.**

But, you will use calculus quite a bit on the earlier actuarial exams. Hereâ€™s how:

## Exam P

Of all the actuarial exams, Exam P is the one with the most calculus on it. Since Exam P is a course about probability, youâ€™ll learn about probability density functions on the exam.

A probability density function is simply a formula to calculate the probability that a random variable is equal to a certain value.

But integration (ie a subtopic within calculus) comes in when you need to determine the probability that the random variable is less than a given value, or more than a given value. Youâ€™ll also use integration for finding expected values too.

Another popular application of integration on Exam P is finding the area under a curve.

Youâ€™ll also need to know how to differentiate (ie another subtopic within calculus). Quite often youâ€™ll need to turn a cumulative distribution function into a probability density function. You do that by differentiating.

## Exam FM

The calculus required for Exam FM is not as complex as that needed for Exam P.

For FM, youâ€™ll just need to know how to integrate once you start calculating present values of streams of continuous payments and/or cash flows with interest that is paid continuously.

Fortunately the functions that you have to integrate on Exam FM are easier and more repetitive than Exam P. Thatâ€™s why most people find this exam to be the easier of the two.

## Other preliminary exams

Calculus is also used on some of the other preliminary exams too. Primarily youâ€™ll just be building off of the topics that you already learned on Exam P and FM though, so it wonâ€™t be that difficult to learn.

Once you get to FSA or FCAS level exams, you can forget calculus! You wonâ€™t need it for exams or for your job.

## Where to get help learning calculus

There are several places that you can go to review calculus for free. I wrote this post about it a while ago. You should check that out!

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