Exam PA general questions

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  • #1493
    Porkins
    Participant

    I just started studying for June 2021 Exam PA this weekend. I have not gotten very far in the ASM manual yet but I was wondering about the data exploration portions. The manual uses R to do the data exploration but I was wondering if we could use Excel itself? You can do a lot of exploration just using a pivot table. Are we required, or highly encouraged, to only use R or is it a matter of just finishing the tasks by any means necessary?

    #1507
    SamCastillo
    Participant

    Pivot tables are disabled on Prometric computers.

    A lot of people get stumped on the ggplot formatting when first starting out.  Fortunately, the SOA gives you template code to create all of the graphs that are needed.  You can use Excel for inspecting the data, but just not with a pivot table.  In R, just use write.csv(data, “data.csv”) to create a copy and then open it in Excel.

    You can find save yourself time by only learning the R necessary for this exam.  In Chapter 5 of our Spring 2021 Study Guide, there is an explanation.

    Best regards,

    Sam Castillo

    Course Instructor at ExamPA.net

    #1797
    Porkins
    Participant

    Thanks Sam.  Does anyone know if you will be allowed Pencil/Pen, paper, and calculator? In the instructions it sounds like any of the authorized calculators can be used but was not sure if that’s just a generic statement and does not apply to Exam PA. I did not see anything about getting scratch paper. I could just use word or excel to keep notes but I like to scribble as I go along and wondering if I should break this habit now.

    #2046
    SamCastillo
    Participant

    Good question, Porkins.

    In all previous sittings, the Prometric staff have provided candidates with a printed project statement and so you can plan to use a pencil to underline sections or take notes.  There’s no algebra required so scratch paper is not needed.  Excel can be used as a calculator.  You can gain an advantage by building up your typing speed to 70 words per minute so that you’ll be able to write 20+ pages in your report.  Many people run out time before being able to write everything that they plan to.

    Best,

    Sam Castillo

    Course Instructor at ExamPA.net

    #2969
    Michael
    Participant

    Just to confirm, for the report section, for all non-Executive Summary tasks it is written with more technical language where you describe your thought process, but with the Executive Summary task you use non-technical language and try to explain what you did to the client?

    Also in terms of length, I’ve seen that the Executive Summary is expected to be 2 pages long. For the other tasks is there any recommended length or a minimum word count to hit so the response is not too short?

    Thanks!

    #2977
    SamCastillo
    Participant

    Hi Michael,

    It’s great to be thinking of this now so that you will be efficient in preparing.  Many people do not practice writing until the last months before the exam.

    The past two exam sittings have had questions in the Specific Tasks that ask you to use non-technical language.  For example, in June of 2020, there was a question that asked you to summarise a data manipulation processing for your manager.  In the December 2019 exam, there was a question asking you to sell your model to a sales team.  The Executive Summary will always be non-technical.

    There is no penalty for writing too much, but you can lose points for not writing enough.  This grading format favors longer reports.  2-2.5 pages single spaced, or 1,200 – 2,000 words is ideal.

    After you do enough practice exams, you will be able to write more than you thought was originally possible.  We have 9 practice exams in our online course.  There are over 2 hours of tutorials about writing.  The length and number of words is not a good indicator of success because quality matters as much as quality.  Our spelling and grammar lessons give you confidence to craft perfect responses to every question.  Enroll today!

    Best regards,

    Sam Castillo

    Course Instructor 

     

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