Those of you attending SOA hopefully wrote your first communal SOA mock exam last Friday (I don’t count SOA1) which is the first time you’re getting a good comparison vs. the group.
The final SOA exam is two days, one comp (5 hours) and one day of multis (3 multis in 4 hours) and it’s scored in a similar way to these mocks so it’s a representation of where you might realistically be.
During SOA I scored 8th decile on SOA2 which caught me by surprise since I had been doing well previously and this was not the mark I expected. I screwed up and misunderstood one of the most important aspects of a case and as a result I got punished for it with a low score. If this happens to you, don’t panic. This situation doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it all wrong, it doesn’t mean that now you need to change your study plan and go twice as hard and it doesn’t mean you deserve to fail or will fail. Handling this kind of situation well is key to doing well going-forward.
What did I change?
Not that much, actually. I debriefed the case and figured out why I did badly. It turned out to be that I misinterpreted one of the key parts of the case. I learned my lesson from a good debrief and then I continued with my plan. I already had a reasonably busy schedule, I was doing on par with my other mocks, my study partner didn’t think the mock represented my normal performance and that was it. I had no reason to deviate from my plan based on this one (albeit important) data point.
What not to do
The lesson is that you shouldn’t make this decision too emotionally. At SOA, especially after seeing your first comparative mark, it’s easy to get upset when it’s not as high as you want. You’ll no doubt hear all the 1st decile kids bragging, too. Don’t panic, and don’t take yourself out of the game as a lot changes between this mock and the final. For every first decile you hear about, remember that there is someone in every other decile as well.
Figure out what went wrong and tackle it like you would any other mock.
How did the rest of SOA go for me?
The following week I scored really well on SOA3 and I did well on the SOA final as well. Based on my experience and that of some of the people who have shared their marks with me, performance bounces around. There will always be those that go 1st decile all the way through, but many are great game-day performers and will improve significantly during the final while others overstudy and/or panic on the final and score badly relative to where they were before. This leads to a mixup of all the scores in general, so like with CKE, you may be surprised where you land.
Keep at it. Or.. as all the kids are saying now a days, keep calm and write on.