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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The life story of an exam paper – part 1

I was born in the meagre dwellings of the paper mill, and one summer, I was sent to the wealthy Actuarial Profession to become an exam paper. Here, I was placed under the care of the CA1 family – the only family where exam papers had two-part status – to begin my training.The CA1 family was a small one, with six or seven appointed examiners run by the head honcho, principle examiner. Principle examiner assigned sections of the CA1 Handbook (or ‘syllabus’, as you humans would call it) to each of the examiners to contemplate as they formed my training programme.Training officially began in October. All the examiners played a part in my training, each contributing their own specialist expertise to building up my strength and ability. My mission was to test the endurance of these ‘students’ with my confounding questions, and to report my findings back to the family.However, before I was allowed on a real mission, I had to be tested. I was therefore sent to confound the guinea pig, a previous student, who had fought the exam papers from all 15 families valiantly and hence attained the status of fellow. The guinea pig took one glance at me and with a sneer, dodged everything that I threw at her admirably. Armed with the guinea pig’s messages, i was sent back to the family.At their scrutiny meeting, the examiners took one look at the messages and immediately put me through further training to strengthen my weaker areas. Once I was deemed strong enough I was sent to confound the other guinea pig. The other guinea pig had kind eyes, counterattacked with a smile, and proclaimed my strength satisfactory. The examiners were pleased.Principle examiner took me to meet the other bigwigs – staff actuary and board officer. They smiled down upon me, as principal examiner extolled my virtues, and with the flourish of a pen, I was proclaimed ‘signed off’.My new-found status granted me admission to the in-house printers where I was polished to immaculate perfection. Now I really looked the part! Then the cloning process took place, to form an army capable of confounding thousands of actuarial students worldwide. We were given a personal bodyguard from the Password Protection Company to guard our potent strategies from any spies and prying eyes.Exam day arrived in no time at all. Some of us were sent on overseas missions, while the rest of us stayed in the UK, where we were each assigned an exam centre. My troops and I were assigned to the Hammersmith Town Hall and hastily transported there where our targets awaited us. My target was a particularly nervous-looking student, with neither the charisma nor the confidence of the guinea pig and the other guinea pig. This student made a fair attempt at breaking down my defences, but I fought back hard and strong, leaving him weak in the knees. When it was all over, our exhausted troops were collected, secured in a package, and taken to our transport.This was where our ordeal truly began. Our driver had stopped to take a comfort break, and the next thing we knew, three rough-looking humans had jumped in and hijacked our vehicle! It was in the midst of this chaos that I realised that we may be doomed to never completing our mission and bringing shame upon the CA1 family. I sat there, trembling in the darkness, contemplating my future, and wondering whether I would survive this fate…… to be continued

Please get in touch with Jean and Jen at the addresses on p3.