How I passed 2 exams in 4 months

How I passed 2 exams in 4 months

As you know, before you can get your ASA, you do need to pass Exam PA.  I successfully passed PA and STAM while studying for both at the same time.  Not only that, but I went on to win a $500 research prize in predictive analytics.  Read to the end of this article to find out how you can pass PA.

You do not need to give up your hobbies.  You can still watch Netflix, watch the Patriots on Sunday like I did, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and be a happy person.

Tips for anyone taking two exams at once:

Make a plan

Pull out an Excel sheet and make two columns.  First column: Date, second column, number of hours that you will spend studying PA.  Drag the formula down to include every day between now and your exam date.  Do not wait until the end of the day to start studying!  Your brain will be tired.  Set studying as your priority first thing in the morning.

Communicate your plan

Tell everyone who has authority over you about your plan.  This could be your spouse, significant other, manager, children, parents, and friends.  Anyone who is intruding on your time needs to know.  Your time is now valuable!  Ask for their permission to study so that in the future if they ask you to do something when you should be studying you can say “you promised that you would let me study during this time.”  You then need to be really aggressive about taking back your time. 

  • Work remotely instead of commuting to save time stuck in traffic.
  • Stop doing the dishes and buy paper plates and forks instead.
  • Buy frozen meals instead of cooking them.
  • Stop going to the store to buy groceries and have them delivered instead.

Be your own coach

Stay motivated by making plans to celebrate once it is over with.  Make sure that you get recognition for your achievement.  You are a smart person!  You are working hard!  Find accountability partners such as coworkers or friends who are studying for the same exam. 

 Have healthy ways of destressing.

Studying is going to be stressful, so have ways of destressing.  I used to rely on eating to relax, but then when I was stressed, I would binge eat.  Then I tried playing the guitar, but this resulted in me sitting down for yours at a time.  Then I started lifting weights and my stress went away while also making me healthier.  You need to be healthy to take PA because the exam requires that you sit down for over 5 hours.

Some activities that you can try are:

  • Yoga
  • Running
  • CrossFit
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Kickboxing
  • HIIT
  • Strength Training
  • Dance

Keep track of your time

Once you start doing practice exams, you will need to work within the 5 hour and 15-minute time limit.  Practice in the same environment that you will take the test in by setting a timer.  My personal strategy is to use a small kitchen timer that you can buy on Amazon for only $8.  I used to use my phone as a timer, but this resulted in getting distracting text messages. 

  • 9 min; tutorial reading time. You can read the Printed Project Statement to see the types of questions that are on the exam as well as to read the data dictionary.
  • 5 hr; 15 min – Exam time
  • 5 min – Upload time

 Study in the same way that you will take the test

If you are sitting down with cheat sheets in front of you, using two monitors, and are getting email notifications on Outlook and texts from your phone, you will not have productive study sessions.  When I was studying for both exams, I completely shut off internet for my apartment for three months leading up the exams.  That’s right.  The only way that I could get online was with a tiny 3-inch screen on my phone, which was limited to 2 Gb of data/month, or walking to a common area in my apartment building.  I had a printed study manual for STAM and would print out the PA solutions and download the R files on my computer.  For our online course, you can download all our videos to watch them offline.

We all get Instagram photos from friends on vacation while we are stuck in an office studying.  Simply unfollow these people or “mute” them for the weeks leading up to the exam!  Make your morning studying a ritual by training your brain to associate studying with achievement.  Place scented candles or wax on your desk so that your brain will flip into “study mode” as soon as it smells them.  Keep your desk perfectly clean and put motivational quotes and photos of loved ones within sight. 

Prioritize mental health

It is easy to feel isolated during exam season.  After completely neglecting my social life for months on end during study seasons, I would fall into a depression.  It got so bad that I needed to reach out to a therapist from my Employee Assistance Program, but after one month of weekly sessions I bounced back.  Don’t make the same mistake that I did by being proactive with your mental health.  If you are reading this and feeling lonely, stop studying right now and call a friend!  They’ll be happy to hear from you : -)

Use fasting strategically

Fasting can turbocharge your mental energy and give more clarity.  This is the ancient practice of intentionally going without food for a period of time.  There were several Saturdays when studying for PA where I drank only water, turned my phone off, stayed off of social media, and just focused on personal goals for 24 hours.  Some of the benefits of fasting are

1) More mental clarity

2) Resetting your sleep schedule because with an empty stomach it is easy to fall asleep, and

3) Resetting your gut biome. 

During fasting days, I would study in the mornings while I still had blood sugar and then spend the evening doing more relaxed work.  Just be mindful that if your goal is to gain weight then fasting will be counter-productive. 

Enroll in one of our online courses!

We have 11 practice exams that let you test your knowledge under exam conditions.  Watch over 36 hours of tutorial videos.  This will let you simulate what it will be like to take the exam weeks in advance.  You can then quickly correct your mistakes with our lessons and multiple-choice questions.  Learn fast using 14 pages of cheat sheets and 200 flashcards. 

You can have a successful PA experience without sacrificing your hobbies, social life, and happiness.