My first SOA Exam

Let me start with a confession:
I was supposed to write the SOA Exam FM, but when I saw that the registration was closed, I panic-registered (worried that I would waste this semester away if I don’t do anything) for Exam P instead. That left me with only 10 weeks to study.

Another confession:
I only started wholeheartedly studying for Exam P on the month of my exam! While I made it seem on the outside that I had everything under control (I secured a copy of the reviewers right away, I pulled weekend all-nighters in the company office, I subscribed to ADAPT — all true, except for the “buts”), I had actually been struggling hard. I terribly lacked the will to start (motivation problems due to reasons not worthy of being justified here).

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I assume that the majority of aspiring actuaries don’t have this negative trait. I can’t study much during weekdays because I have to be in the workplace for at least 9 hrs every day, so I constantly revised my study schedule to make sure that I at least fit the minimum coverage and practice into the time I have left. And knowing my weakness (inspired by The Art of War, which I have recently reread), I formulated a battleplan:

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Fun fact: I was really hungry when I came up with this. I tend to work long hours without eating whenever I am in the zone (or just too lazy to get food)

Sure enough, this strategy worked for me. It made sure that I minimized the time I wasted trying to figure out whether a problem should be prioritized.

But it so happens that my other main weakness is being very slow at solving (owing to the fact that I didn’t practice under time pressure a lot). In the end, I didn’t have enough time to review my answers.

To be honest, I found it easy concept-wise but carrying out the perfect solution was tricky. There were numerous instances where the answer I kept getting wasn’t in the choices. Towards the end, I had to make an intelligent guess on at least 5 questions.

In the last few minutes of the exam I was already psyching myself up for the imminent failure. Fortunately, I passed! I personally believe that it was a miracle that I didn’t deserve.

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I do have a lot of people to thank:

  • Actuarial friends: Tristan, Aileen, Nicky & other workmates who gave me valuable exam tips (and constantly pressured me by asking about my exam progress going almost everyday). Also Chris, he got a 10 so if he says the problems are pretty easy that is quite reassuring.
  • Dr. David for providing me the perfect place to study (free electricity, unrestricted internet access, and a huge whiteboard), and the CSRC staff (especially Lei for making the effort to talk to me even if she allegedly doesn’t like it whenever I’m there, haha)
  • Moral support from non-actuarial friends Dara, Ian, James, and my family
  • My dad for taking care of the logistics so I could focus on consolidating the formulae I crammed into my head (good thing the security system in APS and prometric has been his team’s project in the past, and that’s why he knew how to get there, lol!)
  • Youtube channel jbstatistics (https://www.youtube.com/user/jbstatistics), for helping me make sense of the different distributions
  • The OP of this very helpful thread (https://www.reddit.com/r/actuary/comments/3lnf4o/some_suggestions_for_studying_exam_p/)
  • Davette Mosley, who made this calculator tip video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eLVT8x6FbY)
  • Yufeng Guo (for pointing out valuable shortcuts and the things that can be skipped, for emphasizing the need for a strategy especially since I’m the calculation-weak type)
  • The guy who made ACTEX, for making the coverage pretty easy to digest
  • The guy behind the ADAPT SOA sample exam video solutions, for backing me up on solutions that L fail to understand the first time (your voice has haunted me in my dreams several times, haha)

Now I can finally break my 10-week sober streak! B-)

… and study for my next exam.


Check out the study notes I made in case you might find them useful: https://mindgametheorist.com/exam-p-notes/

2nd Sarihay Media Awards

The Sarihay Media Awards, organized by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, “recognizes and showcases the country’s best reportage of environmental issues across traditional and digital media platforms in the past year.” Dr. Custer was chosen as a finalist for his Pinoy Scientist episode entry National Greening Program & the Magic of Mycorrhizae. (arguably one of the best episodes produced since it was also included in our KBP Golden Dove Awards entry) And I’m not surprised that he has been hailed the winner in the Best Radio Commentary category, for the second time now. XD

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In stark contrast with the Golden Dove Awards last April, this time Dr. Custer has a speech prepared. And it was both heartwearming and hilarious when he called on us one by one to highlight our uniqueness as a group and individual strengths: Dr. Guido as one of the Philippine representatives to the International Mathematical Olympiad (aptly called “olympics for math wizards”, haha), Dr. JD for being the “nag-iisang makatang siyentista”, and me for being a “big data analytics expert(???)”. Lol! Thanks for sharing the glory with us (but I’d rather not have the spotlight on myself next time, thanks!)

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The people behind Pinoy Scientist: Dexter (Custer’s supportive BFF), Dr. JD Agapito (Makatang Siyentista), Dr. Custer Deocaris (the main driving force and genius), Dr. Guido David (the cool math whiz in glasses), and (future Dr.) Pamela Sabado (youth representative/host-in-training)

The first media event where all four of us are present, yay! I have long dreamed of this moment. In an extremely introverted and antisocial way, I say this: I am so glad to be part of this group.

Secret Agent Miss Fortune

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The Bounty Hunter, my marksman of choice back when I was active in the League of Legends scene. 😀 I don’t even play anymore due to my increasingly busy schedule, but this cosplay is to bring the dreams of my past self to life. I have always been a fan of the femme fatale look so I really enjoyed working on this one.

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I initially planned to do Arcade Sona but I’ve been constantly putting off any cosplay progress since I started working until I ran out of time, so I figured SAMF is the best choice since I don’t have to put as much of effort into acquiring the materials.

My only regret was that I put off buying the tickets until the deadline of the online selling went by, and I had no choice but to buy the 600php tickets. I gave the skin freebies to my newly discovered LoL player co-workers, and I plan to sell the free shirt to my brother haha!

 

Good thing my friend Tristan agreed to go be my photographer and manager in spite of being antisocial. 😀 I like how I was the only SAMF in the convention, and that things turned out okay in spite of my difficulty in smiling.

Graduation – External

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I wasn’t very excited for my own graduation. Or at least I expected myself to be far more excited than this.

Though that was the case, I had a lot to be thankful for about this special weekend:

  • My whole family (except one selfish brother) came to celebrate with me.
  • I got to spend quality time with Chris (and even met his parents XD)
  • I looked acceptable by my standards (though a bit unsatisfied with the makeup)
  • Several people from the actuarial division were present and we had opportunity for a group photo
  • My photographer friend Tristan was available and willing to work on a photoshoot checklist that I made
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  • I am not close with this batch of graduates (neither with my own), so got to skip the group photos and was off to a head start with the checklist before the venue got very crowded
  • Almost every item on that checklist was checked (Jenny where were you? D:) and a few surprise items happened as well (my mom and Dr. JD’s first meeting, my first pic w/ the oblation statue, etc.)
  • The logistics involving my family went smoothly. Contrary to what I expected, I didn’t get stressed!
  • It didn’t rain! Except for when my close friends and I were already safely celebrating in a restaurant
  • First picture with my video gamer/anime lover friend Lance! And David gave me a creative grad gift 😀
  • I had graduation photos with the PSG team and Dr. JD invited us to her residence for a graduation dinner
  • Update: I didn’t need to pay anything for my grad photos because they only took 7/10

All in all it was a good experience. Hopefully my next graduation ceremonies (hello grad school!) will be at least as nice 😀

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PS co-hosting experience

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It was my first time to be on-air for Pinoy Scientist yesterday. Our guest scientists for the “Science, Technology and Society” episode were Dr. Sonia Jacinto of the UP Diliman Institute of Biology and Dr. Ginny Cruz, soon to be a DOST Balik Scientist.

Dr. Sonia talked about plant extracts in cancer research, while Dr. Ginny discussed chemisthesis, her work as a chemosensory neuroscientist, and the connection between Sci & Tech and society.

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It turns out that the extent of my fear of public speaking happens to include broadcasting. Even Dr. Guido found that a bit ridiculous ’cause it doesn’t involve a physical audience, but… I can’t help but feel uptight about the whole thing because at the very core I am afraid of messing up. PS is a nationwide program after all (and the fact that my family would be tuning in just added to the pressure :(( ). I bypassed the liquor ban and drank a few shots of whiskey before the show but it didn’t completely dispel my nervousness.  I was so awkward and couldn’t even express myself well in Filipino. 😦 Good thing Dr. JD was very considerate and Deewai went with us to give some moral support. 😀

All that stress, and I’m going to have to experience it every other Sunday! D: Well, joining the team has always been my choice and I don’t regret it. I can’t watch the interview video without cringing at this point, but I’m glad that things will get better from here as I gradually improve (otherwise that would suck, haha). I just have to be able to prepare more for the interviews and learn to ask better questions.

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PSG Updates

At last, the Pinoy Siyentista Group was able to hold a successful meeting, thanks to Dr. JD’s insistence and the tempting promise of free food (JK. but Dr.JD really made the effort to prepare a feast for us, and everything was delish). It was of utmost importance since we’ve been really uncoordinated as a group lately, unable to carry out some the projects that were planned for the election season.

I’m impressed that the meeting turned out to be more organized. Of course a lot of new projects were brought up, but this time Dr. Custer took down notes on the implementation brainstorming (I recorded the proceedings on my phone just in case). Our individual roles were given definition:

External affairs: Dr. Custer
General manager: Dr. JD
Business & promotion: Dr. Guido (though I’m pretty sure he’ll delegate some of his tasks to me)
Website: me (ugh, I can’t wait to have a “Dr.” title XD )

Concrete strategies to make the show flourish and win more mass media awards were discussed. And Dr. Custer, being an out-of-this-world thinker, proposed a few ideas exactly of that nature (secret, for the time being XD ).

It’s amusing how my academic “barkada” of 40+ year olds seem to be far more passionate about life than me, whose youth elicits a tinge of envy among them XD but their drive is, as always, amazingly inspirational. 😀