The Distance Between a 5 and a 6






(The longest distance in the world,
it's not the distance of living and dying,
it's not the physical distance that separate us,
it is that I'm standing right in front of you,
and you don't know I love you.)

The few lines above were one of the most memorable things written by Amy Cheung, a popular Chinese writer.

Then I thought, as an actuarial student, the distance between a 5 and a 6 is a very long and significant one too.

This is what's written on the SOA exam result slip:

"The scale of grades runs from 0 to 10. Passing grades are 6 through 10. A grade of 0 does not mean that the candidate received no credit but that he/she had a very poor paper. Similarly, a grade of 10 indicates a very fine paper but not necessarily a perfect one."

So a 6 means a pass and moving on to the next exam, and a 5 means you have to study for the same test over again for the next 4 months. Let say out of 40 questions, if you answer 23 questions correctly, you get a 6. But if you only answer 22 questions correctly, then you get a 5.

What's the difference of the understanding level of the exam material between a 5 or a 6? I don't think there's much of a difference. Probably, it's the factor of luck that makes the difference.